Like many pop culture phenomena before it, Peaky Blinders' impact has spread beyond the screen. In terms of the series' impact on popular tastes, it has been particularly notable for spearheading the unlikely resurgence of the flat cap in modern fashion.
As the many fan-art murals and posters that were part of the sixth series’ promotion show, the sartorial style depicted in Peaky Blinders is instantly recognisable, having quickly shot to iconic status.
In this fourth Discovering the Real Peaky Blinders video, historian Carl Chinn compares the unmistakeable fashion sense of the fictionalised characters with their real, historical counterparts.
Newsboy-type caps , tweed jackets, well-cut waistcoats, those are the clothes of choice of the Shelbys of Peaky Blinders. And emphasise their sartorial elegance. Since the series took the UK by storm in 2013, this style has been the catalyst for a new fashion in Birmingham and other cities, as this mural shows. But were the real Peaky Blinders as well-dressed?
Life was very hard in the early 20th century. Poverty was everywhere, and poorer people couldn’t afford to buy fashionable clothes; and the essentials for any family to spend money on was the rent, food, and fuel. Most men — as most women — bought their clothes second- or third-hand from wardrobe dealers locally or else from the rag markets in the middle of Birmingham. Unlike in the series, the real Peaky Blinders were not powerful gangsters. They were violent men like my great-grandfather Edward Derrick. He was also a common thief, a man who would steal things like a slice of bacon from outside a port butchers, the real Peaky Blinders could not afford to dress with sartorial elegance. They didn’t earn enough money. By contrast, the real Billy Kimber, the real Darby Sabini, the real Harryboy Sabini were very well-dressed.
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