Often, TV shows focus on women but if you take a closer look at the men’s style can be quite interesting and it’s often used to define characters and underline their authority or just underline certain quirks they have.
On TV, as in real life, clothes speak volumes about who you are as a person and it’s very interesting to see how it’s utilized. Of course, you’d also get some inspiration for yourself. In my opinion, all these shows are good and they’re worth watching but the clothes are really the icing on the cake.
TV Shows For Menswear Fans
No, we don’t have shows from the ’70s, ’80s, or ’90s because their styling was just too heavily influenced to be considered classic in this day and age. Instead, we picked shows that we hope you can learn from and implement items from into your everyday wardrobe.
1. Babylon Berlin
It’s one of our most favorite recent shows and it first aired in 2017 and is now in its second or third season because they split things up in Germany and the US differently. It’s set in Berlin, Germany of 1929 which was the Weimar Republic or the post-World War I period. It was very difficult in Germany because of economic hardship under the Versailles Treaty.
At the same time, it was the roaring 20s, and Berlin was center stage for an elaborate stylish nightlife. It’s a fantastic time for men’s clothing; as you can see the transition away from traditional Edwardian clothes and standards towards a more modern aesthetic that works for the everyday man.
The 1920s Style is Prevalent
The main character is a police detective by the name of Gereon Rath, who comes to Berlin from Bonn and his suits are a little above the average but he still wears the same suits on a regular basis, because that’s what he would have done as a regular person in his position. His suits are almost exclusively three-piece suits and the fabric that is used looks very original; both in the pattern, the color depth, as well as the weight, which means it drags very nicely and the cut is also distinctly 1920s.
One of the shirts he wears very often is a pale gray with a stripe which is something that has fallen out of favor these days but in our opinion, it’s one of the most underrated things; it’s very easy to combine it with other items in your wardrobe.
If you want to see more formal style such as stroller suits or even frock coats, you can just look at the older characters in the show or you want something a bit more flashy, you can see what the gangsters wear, which is typically striped suits, double-breasted overcoats with fur collars, and nice fur felt hats with contrasting headbands.
If you’re interested in hats, it’s a great show because there’s lots of top hats, Bowlers, Homburgs, and all kinds of other hats. I particularly like seeing men wearing those short ties that were prevalent in the 20s, they’re in fact much shorter than what men wear today.
Generally, one of the biggest style takeaways is that you can wear something like a suit and something that they wear 90 or 100 years later and don’t look out of place. Some may argue that a hat makes you look very dated but it can be a personal style hallmark, as Preston shows on an everyday basis.
2. Peaky Blinders
It’s unlikely that you haven’t heard of them because we’ve written about them before and it’s a very popular show in its fifth season. It’s a British production, and as usually the case with English TV productions, the period clothing is spot on and much superior to anything you see in US movies or shows. Peaky Blinders starts in 1919, so a decade before Babylon Berlin, but because of the unique setting, it has quite a different style and feel.
The show features a curious mix between the British working-class style and a rebellion towards the stiff, upper-class British style. It, too, shows us a transition from the Edwardian style with lots of stiff detachable collars at the beginning towards a slightly different style towards the end of the fifth season.
Popularizing British Style
Today, the show has become rather influential in terms of grooming and men’s style because the high and tight haircuts with strong undercuts are now much more popular than they used to be when they started. Likewise, work boots and boots in general, as well as flat caps are probably now more popular than at the beginning of the show.
In our minds, Peaky Blinders is a masterclass in creating identities through clothing. Main character Tommy Shelby, his brothers, and his crew all wear three-piece suits with detachable collars and sometimes no neckwear. They wear nice overcoats that are typically dark and flat caps, even though they could afford nice, fur felt hats these days. They got their name Peaky Blinders because they always attach razor blades to their flat caps that they use to make people blind. Interestingly, they hem their pants rather short and they often skip neckwear but rarely the flat cap.
The camera mark, the style, and the music for the show are in a class of its own, but the clothes as well are worth paying attention to.
It is an American legal drama that ran from 2011 through 2019. It’s set in New York and centers around two lawyers who are known as the best closers in town. The main character Harvey Specter wears mostly suits which are made-to-measure, single-breasted with a peak lapel, and that’s just his style. He’s once quoted saying, “People respond to how we’re dressed so like it or not, that’s what we have to do.” While you don’t have to convince us that clothes make the man, American TV shows often underestimate the accuracy and importance of clothing in their shows.
Modern-day Office Wear
Even though the overall look is targeted more towards a younger audience, what the characters wear is typical modern-day, white-collar office wear. Harvey typically pairs his signature suit with widespread, collared shirts and large Windsor knot ties. I’m personally a fan of it; it’s definitely a hallmark choice that he makes that’s very characteristic. He wears it to command authority unlike his associate Mike, who wears skinny lapels and skinnier ties. It’s less authoritarian because it reflects on his young age versus Harvey who wears wider ties in materials such as grenadine and it just makes him look less young.
That being said Harvey wears suits more like an armor or a uniform that helps him further his agenda; because of that, it lacks the elegance of a man who actually likes to dress, puts a bit more thought into it, and has more variation. Even though one might argue that the white-collar men’s fashion world is not that broad, you could maybe check out Wall Street where you could see a broader range of styles. I personally think Suits can get a bit boring stylistically. Nevertheless, it is a better-than-average modern production and because of that, it made the list.
Even though it only lasted for three seasons, Hannibal was lauded for his visual style. Just like in the movie Silence of the Lambs, the main character Mads Mikkelsen is a cannibalistic serial killer. He also happens to have a taste for clothes and style, in general, and because of that, he wears a typically formal attire which gives him the illusion of charm and trustworthiness.
A Feast of Great Aesthetics
In contrast with his deeper character and the disturbing content of the show, the celebration of food, the interior design, and the way and the type of clothes he wears are really what makes this show worth watching, in our opinion.
So, what does it look like? Well, three-piece suits, white-collared shirts, bold ties, bold shirts, bold accessories, and even things like dinner jackets. He sometimes even wears an ascot. While some people may argue his style is a bit showy, especially for modern American shows, I think it’s fantastic to see someone with a definitely more formal aesthetic and a color characteristic that is usually unseen.
While I don’t say you should dress like him at all times, maybe you can get some inspiration out of it. It’s not just the character who’s really into clothes and aesthetic style. To learn more about what Hannibal wears and how you can emulate the look, check out this guide here.
5. Mad Men
You’re probably not surprised that it’s on the list. It ran from 2007 through 2015, it’s a setting of a typical advertising office in Manhattan of the 1960s. With their trim, lean suit silhouettes, mostly skinnier ties, and skinnier lapels; Mad Men’s style was very favorably received with modern-day men. At the time, a suit was obligatory and so you’ll see everyone wear suits at all times. Of course, laying the English character is a bit more flamboyant than Roger Sterling, which has a slightly older style than Don Draper, which has a more streamlined modern and his sixties style.
Roger Sterling has three-piece suits with wider lapels and wider ties, Don Draper has slimmer suits without the vest and a slimmer tie, and Lane Pryce may wear, for example, a red waistcoat. Many obligations put the character, Don Draper, on this style pedestal, in my opinion, his style isn’t that great. It’s very uniform and he uses it like that. It’s not a person who truly enjoys dressing, it’s just the regular ad executive who happens to wear suits because that’s what you had to do at the time. Of course, the short-brimmed hats to slim lapels and the skinny ties or something that you can totally wear these days. You can learn more about Don Draper’s accessories in this guide here.
6. Downton Abbey
Downton Abbey lasted for six seasons, had a few movies added on, and was the quintessential British upper-class drama against which all others are measured. It starts the day after the Titanic sank in 1912. It continues well into the 20s but unlike the Babylon Berlin or Peaky Blinders, it has a very different aesthetic.
It centers around the titled Crawley family and most of the show is set around their estate in the English countryside. Historically, the dress and the clothes at the time we’re strictly dictated by different occasions and because it’s a British production, it’s very accurate. It’s a trip into an era where wealth and privilege were still prevalent, and people didn’t know what a weekend was. Of course, ladies had their maid and gentlemen had their valet and so they were able to dress very elaborately and change many times a day.
In the early seasons, the Edwardian style is still very prevalent. White Tie for dinner, formal outfits, and morning wear during the day and it gets a little more casual along the way. There’s even one scene where the Dowager of Downton mistakes her son for a waiter because he’s not wearing Black Tie.
The show reveals how the changing of styles and fashion was often disdained by the upper-class as well as their servants. One of the seasons spans World War I and so you get to see a lot of accurate military clothing which is quite fascinating.
We covered different men’s styles of Downton Abbey quite thoroughly and you can check them out on our website here.
7. Boardwalk Empire
It’s set in the 1920s Atlantic City and it evolves around the main character, Nucky Thompson. It spanned from 2010 to 2014, it was one of the most expensive productions at the time and because of that, they didn’t skimp on the clothes. While it may not be entirely historically accurate, the clothes, the suits, the colors, the patterns that men wear in this show are fantastic.
The 1920s American Style
As expected, the American style was a bit more flamboyant and louder than the British style in Downton Abbey, but that makes it all the more interesting. You can see many Winchester shirts, collar clips, three-piece suits, boutonnieres, hats, and everything a clotheshorse is interested in.
Nucky Thompson has a different style than the younger Jimmy Darmody, than Chalky White who’s a lot louder and even wears like orange suits. It can also be interesting to find little mistakes, such as a center pin tuxedo with notch lapels. It’s not something people would have actually worn back in the day. Typically, Black Tie jackets had no vent. I’m sure the Brits would have never let that happen.
Apart from that, you’ll find lots of pastel shirts, large plaids, and nice fur collars, so definitely something to watch if you’re into clothes. We also talked about the show more in-depth on our website here.
8. The Crown
Again, it’s a British TV series that focuses heavily on Queen Elizabeth II as well as her husband, Prince Philip. Said to have been the most expensive TV series to have ever been produced, they did not skimp on the clothes either.
Prince Philip and later son, Prince Charles are two of the most prominent male characters in the show and you can see their conservative style of sometimes country suits, blazers, or formal clothing.
It also shows us the Duke of Windsor who obviously is very much into clothing and matching patterns versus the other men don’t really make a big fuss about clothes, it’s just something they have to wear.
Nevertheless, for modern standards, the degree of naval uniforms, Black Tie, and White Tie is not something most men can wear today comfortably. You can also see the style of Anthony Armstrong Jones or Lord Snowdon, which is different and more modern and upbeat than the classic Prince Phillip, for example. I’d say from my own standards, the ground is a great show for formal attire in menswear and British tailoring.
9. Agatha Christie’s Poirot
It started in 1989 and lasted all the way through 2013. During his 24-year run, David Suchet was always Poirot, and he really perfected this role, that is not a benchmark that every other Poirot film is measured against. In over 70 episodes, Poirot, who has an interest in Art Deco interior design, central heating, and his clothes, as well as solving murders and crimes using his little gray cells.
Even though the show is set in 1930s England, Poirot has a much more Edwardian style; wearing button boots, spats, and canes. In combination with his finely groomed mustache, his clothes make him look permanently overdressed, but that’s just to underline his quirky character.
Of course, the show also has many other male characters and in the earlier episodes, you’ll see his companion Arthur Hastings, who was not the brightest bulb but always has a very nice typical 1930s clothing style. This is a clever character of the show, which is entertaining for the whole family.
While it may not be the most interesting show in terms of clothing, it is overall a fantastic watch. At first glance, the clothes people wear are not very defining but once you get more into the show, you realize that every outfit is very characteristic of the person and their status in the show.
Building Characters’ Identity with Clothing
The main character Logan Roy, who is a media patriarch and mogul billionaire always wear cardigans because he can. Of course, it could also be a nod to the fact that he’s becoming an old man but people below him typically wear suits. Interestingly, most clothes are understated. You rarely see labels, but you also get to dive into the lifestyle of the rich and famous.
None of the main characters in the show seem to particularly like clothes or fashion but it’s still interesting to see how they dress to portray themselves in a certain light. The daughter Shiv, for example, tries to wear power suits but it’s not really working out for her. Second-born son Kendall Roy who always tried to impress his father all of a sudden wears Lanvin sneakers when he invests in a tech startup, and that also backfires.
Likewise, the family accused son-in-law Tom Wambsgans to dress like a lawyer from the Twin Cities. Even though you won’t see men wearing fur coats or diamond-studded watches, this show really emphasizes that understatements can sometimes be a great virtue in men’s clothing.