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Me & Henley

Posted on April 28 2020

Me & Henley

So we love a Henley here at Me & Henry - so much so we could almost rename ourselves as Me & Henley...but what IS a Henley?

We've heard customers call them Mandarin collar, Nehru collar...but actually the heritage of a Henley comes firmly from here in the UK ... thanks a little town called Henley-on-Thames just outside London.

Men in the 1800's used to wear round neck tops as an undergarment in the UK but the weight and comfort made them an ideal piece of clothing to be worn for sport. The lack of a collar meant there was no flapping of anything in the wind and the placket of buttons (only ever between 2 and 5 buttons by the way!) aided ventilation.

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an example from 1882

 

In 1839 the first Henley Royal Regatta was held on the Thames and the top which then became known as 'the Henley' made its first appearance.

Henleys were always made of unbleached cotton or cool white gauze fabric for the Summer months and made in wool for the Winter.

A crew tradition of the losing boat handing over their shirts to the winners just added to the Henley's popularity.

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Henley-on-thames, henley, royal Henley regatta, rowing, rowers, vintage rowing, Henley top, sportswear, vintage sportswear, vintage sporting

The use of a Henley in athletics started to spread to other sports such as skiing and American baseball. In fact, it was used almost exclusively as a piece of sporting clothing until the 1970's when t-shirts and similar tops became more acceptable as a casual option of clothing.

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Famously a buyer from Ralph Lauren apparently saw the potential of the henley when a New York merchant was trying to sell him underwear. The Buyer apparently shouted "now THIS is a new shirt". He felt it would make a great casual shirt rather than a sporting item or underwear. And since then there has been no looking back.

Praise for the Henley is everywhere - GQ has called it 'the sexiest shirt in the world' and it is one of the most favoured tops a boy can wear.

More interesting than a t-shirt, it is simple in construction and details but at the same time it is sophisticated and cool without trying too hard to be a preppy polo shirt. Over the years, long sleeve, short sleeve, angled button plackets and styles made from woven fabrics as well as soft jersey have emerged to become fashion looks people go crazy over.

Check out our amazing collection of Henleys HERE - you will become a fan if you're not already one.

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