Life Style

Why Is It Called a Henley Shirt?

Henley shirts – both long and short-sleeved – are among the most popular tee styles for men. They are very versatile, look good on pretty much anyone, and can be styled for almost any occasion (okay, maybe except weddings!). 

Today with the popularity of online retail, you can find endless Henley colors, fabrics, and styles, and that’s why we’re of the opinion that every guy should have at least one Henley tee in his wardrobe. 

But today, we want to ask if you’ve ever thought about where this style came from and why it is called a Henley shirt? Let’s find out! 

History of the Henley

If we don’t even bat an eye when we see a guy donning a Henley and jeans outfit today, it would’ve caused a scandal even a hundred years ago, and even more during the Industrial Revolution, when Henleys started as a cotton shirt for the working class.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, laborers started wearing them to protect their clothes from dirt, sweat, and grime.

In the beginning, Henley t-shirts were called undervests, and because of the new invention of the cotton gin and mass production technologies, most guys had one. 

The name 

Henleys were very comfortable and widespread for a while when athletes in the early to mid 19th century made them a part of their favorite attire. Not only did the tees fit nicely, but they also had a placket with buttons that allowed for ventilation during hot and sweaty matches and training.

Rowers were among those who adopted this tee entirely, and this is where the name Henley comes up. In the year 1839, rowers of the largest rowing races in England’s town of Henley-on-Thames wore them in a race. The t-shirt took the name of the town and the rest is history.

Enter fashion 

It took over a hundred years for Henley to be discovered by the fashion industry, and the innovative designer to bring this garment to the front was Ralph Lauren and his brand in the 1970s.

They transformed Henley from an undergarment to a shirt accepted as outerwear, and that can be worn for casual and smart casual occasions.

Today there are endless choices of Henleys made from soft cotton or cotton blends. They hug your figure nicely, highlighting your hands and chest, and if you get a high-quality white Henley from such brands as Fresh Clean Tees, you’re guaranteed to look stylish! 

In order to use the full potential out of your Henley, there are a few simple guidelines to remember! 

High-quality fabric. Forget cheap, unbreathable synthetics. Yes, they are more affordable, but they’ll keep you sweating and will lose shape after a couple of washes. Pick organic materials like cotton and combinations of cotton-polyester.

Great fit. Make sure your Henley fits you well! Even an expensive tee won’t look good if it’s too large or tight. Perhaps you want it to embrace your body shape, but it should not be overflowing at the creases.

Color. We urge you to get a few base colors such as dark blue or maroon. Think purple, green, or even mustard! The main point of this is – you want to have options.

Styling ideas 

These tees pair with many different pieces. So, we’ve prepared a few suggestions for most occasions, from a casual day at the office to dinner with your friends. 

  • With chinos and a blazer for a casual day at the office
  • With black jeans and a leather jacket for a night out
  • With joggers and a zipper hoodie for a weekend in

Final Thoughts

So, why wear Henley tees? Well, they are comfortable pieces of clothing that go well with almost any piece of clothing. 

Plus, they are quite affordable and can be used for informal or formal gatherings. It’s also the kind of clothing piece that can be used across all seasons, as long as you style it appropriately. 

Christopher Stern

Christopher Stern is a Washington-based reporter. Chris spent many years covering tech policy as a business reporter for renowned publications. He has extensive experience covering Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Federal Trade Commissions. He is a graduate of Middlebury College. Email:[email protected]

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