Peaky Blinders

Imbued with compelling performances by renowned actors like Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy, BBC’s Peaky Blinders mesmerized audiences with its slick suits and exceptional hairstyles. This popular crime drama, set in Birmingham post-World War I, revolves around a gangster family entangled in a criminal underworld. Since its inception in 2013, the show has stood out as a pinnacle of style on television, owing much to the distinctive look crafted by the show’s hair and makeup designer, Laura Schiavo.

It wasn’t an immediate embrace for the iconic Peaky Blinders haircut. Convincing the cast to shear off their locks took about a week. Iddo Goldberg, known for portraying Freddie Thorne, led the charge by being the first to undergo the razor treatment, encouraging other cast members to follow suit. The haircut’s inspiration draws from multiple sources, including the book “Crooks Like Us” by Peter Doyle, showcasing 1920s criminals in Sydney police portraits, as well as influences from military styles and historical eras.

Beyond the screen, the Peaky Blinders’ allure lies in the striking contrast of the harshly cut back and sides, accentuating facial features or beards, while the top’s distinct style guarantees attention. The trend of undercut hairstyles and fade cuts, favorites in barbershops even before the show’s debut, has only been amplified by the Peaky Blinders’ signature look. Laura Schiavo, perplexed by the men’s haircut’s widespread popularity, noted the initial desire to conceal it under hats, only to witness a shift as the style became a fashion statement embraced by many off-screen.



Photo by Hannah Skelly on Unsplash

At the introduction of mob boss Thomas Shelby, portrayed by Cillian Murphy, his return to Birmingham from the trenches showcases a distinctive hairstyle. Laura Schiavo describes it as a “disconnected, unblended style that is very short and sharp.” This particular look is inspired by the hair fashion of ‘sloggers’ or hooligans from the late 1890s, adding a historical and rugged touch to Shelby’s character.

Although most Peaky Blinders characters sport the trademark harshly shaved sides and sharp undercut, the diversity lies in the variation of styles on top. The Peaky Blinders haircut presents itself in multiple forms: from a simple side parting to a textured French crop, a quiff, or slicked-back hair. This versatility in styling contributed significantly to its real-life popularity.

Beyond mere fashion, the haircut also aimed to convey a sense of the gang mentality. Laura Schiavo underscores this, stating, “In the post-war era of the ‘Peaky world,’ head shaving was a response to the lice infestation prevalent during that time.” Despite its hipster appeal, the haircut had a practical function, addressing the issue of lice spread among soldiers and the impoverished populace.

Schiavo further elaborates on the design intention behind the series’ cut: “I aimed for a look where skin was visible only when the boys wore their hats, revealing the individual character upon hat removal.” This element not only emphasized individuality but could also have served as a measure to make identifying gang members more challenging if caught in unlawful activities.



Thomas Shelby

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The Thomas Shelby haircut stands as one of the most iconic styles within the show. Tommy, the leader of the gang and a shrewd criminal entrepreneur, flaunts a distinctive look: a short back and sides paired with a cropped top, extending several inches in length. Resembling a French crop, the layered top contributes to a textured appearance, particularly with an extended section at the front.

This longer section is carefully brushed forward to create an asymmetrical fringe, gracefully resting on one side of Tommy’s forehead. Notably, the sides are shaved to a grade between 1 and 3, varying across the series. This style tends to complement individuals with elongated facial structures and defined jawlines. For a more adaptable appearance, a high fade can be incorporated


Arthur Shelby

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The muscle of the gang, Arthur, represents the eldest among the Shelby brothers, distinguished by his volatile nature. Accordingly, his hairstyle boasts the most striking contrast among the characters. Notably shorter on the sides compared to Tommy’s, they’re trimmed to around a grade 0 to 1, while the long top is slicked back, defining Arthur’s signature appearance.

This specific style exemplifies the disconnected undercut previously mentioned. The intentional lack of blending between the two layers creates a sharp and distinct finish, imparting a masculine and edgy appeal, perfectly mirroring the character’s ruthless and cut-throat persona.


John Shelby

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Being the younger sibling of both Tommy and Arthur, John aspires to emulate his brothers, a desire reflected in his distinctive Peaky haircut. Similar to Arthur’s style, John’s haircut involves shaving the sides almost down to the skin, approximately at a grade 0, but differs notably in the length of the top.

John’s cropped top is shorter compared to his brother’s, creating a textured look that allows for side styling, maintaining its form without much effort. Its minimal upkeep makes it an excellent choice, particularly for men with time constraints, as it stands out as one of the most practical Peaky Blinders hairstyles.


Michael Gray

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Michael, a former accountant and cousin of the Shelby brothers, distinguishes himself as somewhat of an outsider within the gang, displaying a more refined appearance. In contrast to the standard styles of other gang members, his hairstyle embodies a longer, more reminiscent 1920s look.

Marked by a deep side-part and natural waves, this traditional cut is achieved through scissor work rather than clippers, reflecting a style partly influenced by the character’s time spent in America. The sides are skillfully trimmed to naturally taper into the longer top section, resulting in a polished and orderly appearance, catering well to individuals inclined towards a more classic and timeless aesthetic.


Alfie Solomons

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Renowned for his dense, untamed beard and enigmatic nature, Alfie stands as a Jewish gang leader entwined in multiple dealings with the Shelby family throughout the series. His robust and impressively styled lumberjack-type beard has served as inspiration for many enthusiasts looking to cultivate their facial hair, though present trends favor more well-kept versions.

In addition to his striking beard, Alfie dons a deliberately disheveled Ivy League haircut. The style features trimmed back and sides with an extended top section, offering the possibility of a combed-over look, though such a precise style might seem out of character for Alfie. The haircut’s longer length blends seamlessly with facial hair, making it an ideal choice for men sporting various beard styles.


Chris knight

Photo by Chris Knight on Unsplash

Assessing the hairstyles of the show’s cast members can provide insight into which style might suit your hair type best. Given the series’ widespread popularity, your barber is likely acquainted with these looks. In essence, when requesting a similar cut, consider asking for a disconnected undercut without a fade or present a picture of your preferred Thomas Shelby haircut as a reference.

“Confidence in opting for a notably shorter cut on the back and sides is key,” highlights Joshua Gibson, principal at the Sassoon Academy in London. “Decide whether you aim to style the hair away from the face or keep it closer to the head in length, worn forwards for a different effect.”

Arthur Shelby, portrayed by Paul Anderson, often embodies the most aggressive persona and consequently showcases the most extreme undercut within the series. This style ideally suits those with straight and fine hair, featuring a longer section left on top that Arthur slicks back to achieve his distinctive look. In contrast, striving to present himself as the face of a ‘legitimate’ enterprise, Tommy, played by Cillian Murphy, opts for a slightly softer crop, pushed forward over his face and swept to one side. Younger brother John Shelby, played by Joe Cole, wears his hair parted straight into short, slick curtains, showcasing yet another variation of the iconic Peaky Blinders haircut styles.


Considering you won’t be concealing the haircut under a flat cap, Gibson offers styling recommendations tailored to your hair type: “For straighter hair textures, styling the hair away from the face using a pomade or wax is optimal. Using a Tangle Teezer helps avoid comb marks, ensuring an added sleekness to the overall look.” If dealing with frizzy hair types, a light oil like Illuminating Oil by Sassoon Professional can maintain a sleek appearance for the textured crop.

Gibson further suggests using a textured product, such as a paste, to add volume for individuals with blonde, fine, or receding hair. For such styled looks, he advises the use of Nioxin Cleanser 2 to prevent product build-up, particularly when using heavier styling products. The ‘Arthur’ and the ‘John’ hairstyles call for a styling pomade that provides high sheen and hold, while the ‘Tommy’ style benefits from a textured finish with a matte appearance.


To attain the desired Peaky Blinders or Tommy Shelby haircut, here are the key styling products you’ll want to have readily available.


Looking to style your freshly cut Peaky Blinders haircut using the endorsed Peaky Blinders kit? Schiavo, the show’s hair and makeup designer, relied on Tancho High-Grade Tique, an uncommon hair styling wax infused with a lavender scent, extensively throughout the series. Encased in a push-up stick, this product adeptly manages flyaway hairs while maintaining a balanced sheen for a refined appearance.


During filming, Schiavo combined the Tancho pomade with a hair serum to achieve the slick, wet look seen on characters like Arthur and John. A recommended alternative, Sachajuan’s Shine Serum, not only imparts a high sheen to the hair but also offers protective benefits for the hair strands simultaneously.


In the fifth series, Schiavo introduced a change by opting for Reuzel pomade, offering various formulas catering to individual preferences. These formulas range from heavy hold and high shine to a matte finish, providing a diverse selection based on the desired styling outcome.


For achieving a precise parting akin to John’s style, it’s essential to work on the hair when it’s damp. A meticulously sharp parting can be accomplished using a precise comb, such as the meticulously crafted example available from Kent, renowned for its handmade quality and precision.


After creating the parting, employ a Tangle Teezer to eliminate any comb marks, a tip recommended by Joshua Gibson. This specialized tool helps to smooth out the hair, ensuring a flawless finish, particularly useful after the combing process to refine and perfect the style.



Achieving the Peaky Blinders haircut involves trimming the back and sides considerably short while allowing the top to grow out, providing versatility to be styled either swept forward or slicked back. When consulting your barber, request a disconnected undercut with minimal to no fade. This haircut technique creates the iconic high-contrast appearance, a signature look reminiscent of the Shelbys in the show.


Historical accounts reveal that shaved hairstyles were prevalent among criminals in the early 20th century. The rationale behind these shorter styles was practical: longer hair had the propensity to impede during altercations, while the shorter, trimmed cuts conveyed a tougher appearance among gangsters. Additionally, the cropped hairstyles made it more challenging for individuals to identify them when wearing hats, providing a layer of anonymity during their illicit activities.


Shaved undercuts and textured crops, once favored by working-class men and criminals, have experienced a resurgence in recent years. With the notable success of the series, this style has re-emerged as an increasingly sought-after haircut for men, garnering iconic status with the Peaky Cut now recognized as a prevailing trend in the realm of hairstyles.

By Josie kohloff

Hello, this is Josie Kohloff a fashion designer, hairstylist and tattoo artist. I love to share the latest designs and ideas regarding fashion, hairstyles and tattoo designs.

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