The Kray Twins are synonymous to this day with violence, fame, the east end and surprisingly, fashion. Affected by Italian gangster culture and the elevation of men's style in that decade, read on below to discover how to dress like the Kray Twins and inject some 1960s flair into the modern day.
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They're an unlikely duo that you would look to for inspiration, unless you're a criminal, particularly for style tips. But it seems these two knew how to look sharp daily. Particularly mastering the suit and formal look. And it's a style they were renowned for.
And surprisingly, it's not hard to pull off. You can adapt their slick style into your look with ease. Idle HQ have created a few top tips on how to master the Kray twins mafia inspired styles. The criminal lifestyle is optional.
How to Dress Like the Kray Twins
Ronnie Kray was thought to be gay, but came out as bi-sexual, and had a relationship with top Tory Lord Boothby. His sexuality has been highly documented, but it's his psychopathic tendencies, and eventual mental diagnosis which has seen greater interest.
Ronnie Kray was renowned for this clean, sleek appearance that wouldn't fault regardless of the crimes he was committing. For that extra polished look, do a Ronald Kray and invest in a three-piece suit to give you that commanding aura, with or without a jacket. Finish off your look with a tie, polished formal shoes, and not forgetting additions such as pocket square and tie.
Despite being bi-sexual, Reggie Kray did have a wife, Roberta Jones who he married in 1997. Before this marriage, he was married to Frances Kray for all of two months. They met when she was only 16 and married in 1965. However, after the honeymoon, she moved back in with her Mother. The brother's notorious lifestyle was something she despised. Reggie was imprisoned and Frances died of an overdose at only 23.
Looking at the two, Reggie's look was more relaxed when compared to Ronnie’s, and he showcased his shirts and ties more because of it, leaving his suit jacket open and casual. For a sharp, relaxed look, take inspiration from Reginald Kray when it comes to fashion and explore elegant suit options. Unlike Ronnie Kray, you can ditch the pocket square and waistcoat, but still go for the tie and glam jewellery to keep with the Italian Mafia style.
Charlie Kray was the older brother of the Kray twins, and apparently the brains behind the Kray empire. It was actually Charlie who encouraged the twins to join a local gym and box, something he later said he regretted. Charlie helped to train them and thought the discipline that was being instilled would stand them in good stead in later life. Charlie also kept to the slick style, opting for suits to show his high stature.
Violet Kray was the mother of Ronnie and Reginald. She apparently spoilt them, leading to their life of crime. They also had a sister called Violet Kray, who died during infancy.
On 11 August 1982, Ronnie and Reggie Kray were allowed to attend the funeral of their mother who had died of cancer the week before their imprisonment. However, they weren't allowed to attend the graveside service at Chingford Mount Cemetery in East London, where their mother was buried in the Kray family plot.
The British Twins
In order to incorporate their style in modern day, mix the old with the new to achieve a genuine, vintage 1960s look. Although this look isn’t for everyone, the narrow fitting Mod cut is popular now, so be bold and experiment with this style if you can pull it off.
Colours and fabrics can cause a statement in their own right when it comes to suits. Feel free to experiment and be bold. Make use of fabrics like dogtooth, tweed and colours from a wider palette, like blues with light colour shirts and browns with dark colour shirts. The twins opted for neutral shades in order to keep slick, but would occasionally wear a checked suit, again in dark neutral shades to up the formality.
Ronnie & Reggie Kray
Accessories can often pull an outfit together, something the Kray twins ensured they did as they injected it into their suits of choice. This upped their class society factor, making them look rich, slick and well preserved. Style, particularly accessories was essential for this duo.
- Tie Clips
- Pocket Squares
- Watches (specially silver and gold chain styles)
- Jewellery (again specially chain styles to suit the Italian Mafia edge)
The added attention to detail can elevate the look you are going for, which would help with how to dress like the Kray Twins. Pieces like ties pins, watches, handkerchiefs, ties and cuff links, can add an elegant touch to a suit and individualise your look.
The 1960s was an incredible decade, where fashion and music changed and developed throughout. Men's fashion adapted and their suits became sleeker, often accessorised with bold, bright shirts, heeled boots and jewellery. The flamboyant look was fabulously in, coupled with wider trouser pants and lapels.
This was the period where designers got their mitts on the new daring, shiny waterproof material with a modern day look, known as PVC and Perspex. This was also the era designer Paco Rabanne, established the path for dresses to be made of metallic links and plastic discs. He made his pieces look more like sculptures instead of clothing. With creativity ingenuity like that, the 1960’s was indeed an incredible decade for fashion.
The London Gangsters
Looking past the explosion of creative dynamism in that decade, 1960s London wasn’t just about the fashion shift. It saw the rise of the notorious Kray Twins. The Krays are probably best known as THE notorious east end gangsters, leading perpetrators of organised crime in the East End of London during the 1950s and 1960s. Although the English gangsters ran parts of London with an iron fist, they also managed to amalgamate gangster culture with fame and with that, came a taste and flair for stylish suits and jewellery.
From a fashion viewpoint, the Kray brothers could be described as quite conservative. Their world was not part of the happy, go-lucky, swinging sixties as they spent a lot of their time in nightclubs. In this arena where the dress code was always formal, it was either suits or tuxedos for men, and glamorous cocktail and evening dresses for women. They were smart, sleek and stylish. Finished off with expensive jewellery from watches to chained bracelets, and slick polished shoes, mostly brogues.
The Kray Twins
Growing up, the brothers were inspired by the Italian gangster culture they saw on screen, and they brought that to life in their own neck of the woods. That arena and its cultural leanings also filtered down to their fashion sense. Looking back at photographs and old press cuttings, their overall suit style was inspired by the Italian cut of suits. This look was extremely popular at the time, predominantly in Europe. The suits were fitted showing off their athletic physique, finished off with all of the trimmings, even a pocket square.
The Kray Twins Movies
The impact the Kray's had on London, crime and style was greatly recognised, both during their reign and after. Seeing how fast paced and dramatic their lives were, two movies have been made about them, allowing an insight into the criminal masterminds psychopathic tendencies.
The Krays (1990)
This was a British fact based movie, which followed the lives of the Kray twin crime-lords in London's '60s underworld. From their childhood to adulthood, this film shows their style and crime changing and dominating their lives. A great insight into how it all began.
Legend Film (2015)
The latest adaptation of The Krays lives was in the film, Legend (2015) starring Tom Hardy. He acted as both twins Ronnie and Reggie Kray, and was able to maintain two distinct characters with two distinct fashion tastes. Throughout the film, Ronnie wore three-piece suits, mostly with double-breasted jackets, whereas Reggie mainly wore single-breasted jackets, worn open or fastened. Their style stays constant throughout their reign, showing how fashion influences class and allowed to seem 'normal' and fit into high class society.
Kray Twins Funeral
Ronnie was eventually certified insane in 1979, and lived the rest of his life in Broadmoor Hospital, Berkshire. He died on 17 March 1995 of a heart attack, aged 61. Reggie died of bladder cancer in 2000 having been released from prison on compassionate grounds, after having found a new life with Christianity. His wife was by his side. The Kray twins grave is in Chingford Mount Cemetery with their family plot. The Kray twins family tree didn't continue with the Kray twins, as they had no children.
Your Quick Guide to Dress Like The Kray Twins
- Born in Hoxton London, the Kray twins led a life of crime, resulting in life sentences. But their style was always impeccable.
- 60's style saw men's fashion adapt and their suits become sleeker, often accessorised with bold, bright shirts, heeled boots and jewellery.
- The brothers were inspired by the Italian gangster culture, which filtered down to their fashion sense. Slick fitted suits, polished formal shoes, and accessories from ties, to tie clips, to pocket squares, to watches were all present to show off their high society look.
- Ronnie Kray was renowned for his clean, sleek appearance. Opt for a three piece suit with all of the formal look trimmings, particularly a pocket square.
- Reggie Kray's look was more relaxed than Ronnie’s. Showcase your shirts and ties more under your slick suit, and you can keep the accessories on the low key compared to Ronnie.
- Always finish off your look with polished black shoes, and 'glam' jewellery, such as watches and chain bracelets.
And On That Note
Whatever the era you choose to glean inspiration from, when it comes to suits you can afford to be comfortably conservative or adventurously bold. It is entirely up to you and how far you would like to push boundaries. Push the boundaries and go all out like Ronnie Kray, or keep it low key but slick like Reggie.
Most shops online and otherwise have a great range of suit selections and fit most body types, however, investing in a tailored suit, where possible, is an excellent move as every man should have one in their arsenal. The rewards it can reap are endless. The Krays would opt for tailored cut in order to look slick, but with such a wide variety now available, you can pull off this style on a budget.