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Henley shirts have come quite a way in the last 200 years. Today, they’re a go-to for celebrities such as David Beckham and Idris Elba (to name a couple), and are favoured for being seasonless and versatile. But their origin and name can be traced to Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire, where rowers would wear the shirt as their uniform in the 19th century. Beyond the realm of rowing, their popularity is thanks to a buyer at Ralph Lauren, who saw potential in the casual style in the 70s.
Whether you’re racing in the Regatta or not, getting the fit of a Henley shirt right will help you to look more rugged than ragged. After all, Beckham wouldn’t go around wearing a loose-fitting Henley, would he?
With a round neckline and a placket with two to five buttons, Henley shirts are essentially collarless polo shirts, and can be worn in the same way. “You don’t want yours to fit too loosely, as Henleys are meant to be an underlayer,” says Thread stylist Luke McDonald. “If yours is baggy, then you run the risk of looking sloppy. You should be able to pinch about an inch or two of fabric so that it’s not clinging to your skin – it should be slim, but comfortable.”
The seam of your sleeve should line up to or be slightly over your shoulder, and there should be room for movement. Henleys can be short- or long-sleeved, so if you’re going for the former version, ensure the sleeves come to about halfway down your biceps and don’t fit too tightly.
“Do the buttons up until your collarbone, leaving one or two undone, so that you’re not flashing any chest,” Luke advises. And finally, unless you’re going down a streetwear-inspired route with an oversized fit, keep the length to your hips.
Words: Ashiana Pradhan
Photography: Angus Williams
Styling: Freddie Kemp
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