John Shelby’s Glen Plaid Suit for Peaky Blinders’ Gypsy Wedding
Joe Cole as John Shelby, impulsive Peaky Blinder gang member
Birmingham, England, September 1919
Series: Peaky Blinders
Episode: Episodes 1.04
Air Date: October 3, 2013
Director: Tom Harper
Creator: Steven Knight
Costume Designer: Stephanie Collie
Week of Weddings continues with a look from BBC Two’s Peaky Blinders. In the fourth episode, the Shelby brothers gather the Peaky Blinders for what ostensibly seems like an attack on the rival gypsy Lee family. John, the hotheaded younger brother of gang leaders Tommy and Arthur, has recently come to his family requesting their blessing to marry the neighborhood’s most prolific prostitute. The Lees, on the other side of town, have a girl that’s “gone a bit wild”. Tommy sees the opportunity here to end things without blood. (Not including the blood symbolically drawn from each new spouse’s hand.)
On the morning of the big showdown, John shows up especially itching for a fight… until Tommy pins a boutonniere on John’s left lapel and directs him to his new wife Esme.
John is initially hesitant (and that’s putting it nicely), but one look at Esme – and, of course, the realization that he is helping align the family with the Lees against Billy Kimber – allays John’s reluctance.
What’d He Wear?
John’s fighting suit, which quickly became his fighting suit, is a black and white Glen plaid wool three-piece suit with a light blue windowpane overcheck.
The single-breasted suit jacket fastens high on John’s torso with short notch lapels rolling to the top of the three-button front. The jacket has natural shoulders, roped sleeveheads, 2-button cuffs, and a ventless back. There is a welted breast pocket and two straight flapped hip pockets.
John prepares for battle with a natty pinkish-gray silk handkerchief poking out of his breast pocket. Tommy further dandies him up for the day with a white boutonniere on his left lapel.
John’s matching suit vest is, like his jacket, single-breasted with a high-fastening front. The five-button front closes over a notched bottom, and there are four welt pockets. John wears his gold pocket watch in the lower left pocket, strung on a chain through the third buttonhole.
The suit’s trousers rise high under the vest with a slightly tapered leg to the plain-hemmed bottoms that break high over his black leather boots. His boots may be front-laced “boondockers” like his brother Tommy wears.
John also takes after Tommy with his choice of striped shirt, club collar, and no tie. John’s shirt alternates between light blue stripes and white stripes, in turn broken by a thin blue stripe. The front bib and cuffs close with white buttons, and the white detachable club collar is secured by a single brass stud in the front and a second in the back.
A proud Peaky Blinder, John wears a dark brown wool newsboy cap with his “blinder” razor stitched above the brim.
Go Big or Go Home – Wedding Edition
As the family of the bride, the Lees are gregarious hosts for the Shelby family’s visit to their camp.
A potential battle turns into a reception to remember. Certainly a new spin on a “shotgun wedding”.
The entertainment is boisterous, as one would expect, with a violin providing the soundtrack for much of the liquor-fueled dancing.
How to Get the Look
John’s style is clearly influenced by his brother Tommy, wearing a simpler version of the “Shelby uniform” without some of the extra personal touches that Tommy incorporates in the form of details or accessories.
- Black and white Glen plaid wool three-piece suit with light blue windowpane overcheck:
- Single-breasted 3-button jacket with notch lapels, welted breast pocket, straight flapped hip pockets, 2-button cuffs, and ventless back
- Single-breasted 5-button vest with notched bottom and four welted pockets
- Flat front high-rise trousers with side pockets, slightly tapered legs, and plain-hemmed short break bottoms
- Light blue-and-white striped collarless shirt with front placket, white collar band, and button cuffs
- White detachable stiff club collar
- Black leather front-laced “boondocker” half boots
- Off-white long-sleeve undershirt
- Dark brown wool newsboy cap
- Gold pocketwatch, worn on gold chain with fob
For the big day, John wears a pink-ish gray silk pocket handkerchief and a white boutonniere on his left lapel.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Buy the first season if you want to see this episode… and the rest of the six brilliant episodes that kicked the show off. The show’s impressive first two seasons are currently available on Netflix, and the showrunners have confirmed (luckily!) that a third season will be coming our way soon.
Tommy, I’m not bloody marrying some fucking mushroom picker!
In case you weren’t convinced that John was a romantic at heart… he later bends and adds only one caveat:
She’d better be under 50.
I love this suit. So much so in fact that I’d like to get a similar patterned one for my wedding. Any idea of some British retailers who sell something like this?