Luxury cashmere brand N Peal has analysed research to reveal which Peaky Blinders characters are the UK’s favourites, according to online searches for Thomas Shelby and his Birmingham-based clan.
When the sixth and final series of the period BBC drama launched last weekend, it gave fans an opportunity to catch up with organised crime group chief Tommy and his family and friends, whose impeccable vintage dressing continues to provide style inspiration across the globe.
The first series of Peaky Blinders begins in 1919, after the end of the First World War, and the following four series have seen the gang expand their operations nationally and internationally, with Tommy elected as a Member of Parliament in 1927. The fifth series takes place in 1929, ending on December 7, the morning after a rally staged by fascist leader Oswald Mosley. The drama has been filmed at a number of Yorkshire locations inclucing Newby Hall and Leeds Town Hall.
The sixth series, which started last Sunday, begins on December 5, 1933, when prohibition ends in the United States and the Nazi Party have seized power of Germany, leading to a growth in membership of the British Union of Fascists.
Since the beginning, the costumes have played a significant part in the appeal of Peaky Blinders, and the gang’s signature flat caps have been copied and worn the world over by modern-day fans.
But it is the Peaky Blinders’ glamorous female characters who seem to be the UK’s favourites. The research by N Peal, which has its headquarters near Skipton, found that Shelby clan matriarch Polly Gray - played by the late Helen McCrory - was the most searched character, receiving more than 14,000 average monthly searches over the past 12 months in the UK.
On Sunday night, Peaky Blinders dedicated the first episode of its sixth and final series to Helen McCrory, who died from cancer last year at the age of 52. The closing credits included a poignant tribute to "the memory of Helen McCrory OBE".
Grace Shelby, played by Annabelle Wallis, was the runner-up, with 9,900 average monthly searches. Grace died in the third series.
Arthur Shelby is the favourite male character, receiving an average monthly search volume of 6,600 - 1,200 more than the main man himself, Tommy Shelby. Finn Shelby attracts 5,400 UK monthly searches.
With an average of 5,400 monthly searches, “Peaky Blinders outfits” has been a popular topic among viewers throughout the five series, with groups using the theme for parties or even adopting the style in everyday life.
Throughout the series, the Peaky Blinders costume designers have created iconic looks featuring slick 1920s’ tailoring and baker boy caps for the gentlemen, and flapper dresses and fur coats for the ladies. We will see a continuation of iconic fashion styling as the series progresses through the early 30s.
Luxury cashmere brand N Peal has created a how-to guide to dressing like your favourite character.
N Peal says: “Polly’s fashion reflected her role within the criminal gang and the Shelby Company. Her outfits portray her dominance and her accessories are her weapons. With a steel framed purse and pistol in her breast pocket, there’s no denying Polly is the head of the clan.
“Dressed in royal colours and a suit skirt that tells you she’s ready for business, Polly uses her clothing as a way to assert her dominance in a situation. She often takes an unexpected turn by switching up her outfit to something more feminine and soft, but of course she’s doing it for a reason.
“To dress like Polly, add structured jackets, statement accessories, royal colours and a hat for a crown.”
N Peal says: “Arthur came out on top as the most popular male character on Peaky Blinders, with an average of 6,600 monthly searches in the UK.
“Arthur is the eldest of the Shelby siblings and one of the main members of the Peaky Blinders. Acting as his brother Tommy’s right hand man, Arthur is known for his trash talking with more brawn than brains.
“His demeanour is shown through his unadulterated and classic suits. Often sporting blue, brown and grey suits made from a heavier tweed or wool, Arthur’s fierce and brave personality are highlighted through the clothes he wears.
“To look like Arthur Shelby you’ll simply need a blue, brown or grey three-piece suit along with his signature bow tie and newsboy cap. To get the look with N Peal, try their Chelsea Milano waistcoat in elephant grey.”
Ada Thorne (was Shelby)
N Peal says: “Sporting classic 1920s fashion is Ada Shelby, sister of gang leader Tommy Shelby and an iconic character throughout the Peaky Blinders series.
“Initially, she wasn’t involved in the Peaky Blinders, but after becoming bored with her work, she began to take interest in the criminal gang. Ada being a Shelby allows her more freedom when it comes to fashion, stepping away from the working girl appearance so many women had during this time.
“Ada used her fashion for drama, asserting herself in any situation. With a mixture of handkerchief hemline silk dresses, an ode to the 1920s flapper dress, a wrap coat and fur collar, Ada’s style reflects her elegance but also the impact she has in the family business.
“To get the look, add a loose silk dress worn with a fur trim wrap or coat like this fur trim cape from N Peal.”
N Peal’s Jo McLaren says: “Fashion is continuously inspired by previous trends, whether that be from the 20s, 80s or even as close as the ‘00s. When TV shows or movies that are set in a certain time period become popular, the costume designs also become popular.
“Peaky Blinders has seen 1920s fashion trends become apparent in today’s fashion; silk dresses are now a go to for a flattering evening look and fur trim coats are perfect for the winter. For young men it brought back the popularity of a three-piece suit as a smarter ensemble for formal events.”
The company created designs for James Bond and Dr Madeleine Swann in No Time To Die, and designed looks inspired by scenes from films including Goldfinger, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, GoldenEye, and three pieces worn by 007 in the latest Bond movies Skyfall and Spectre.
* Peaky Blinders airs on BBC1 on Sundays at 9pm.