Looking for info on the history of Henley Shirts and where to buy them? Here’s everything you need to know.
You want the comfort of a t-shirt but want to look a bit more put together. A button-down shirt would work, but you’d prefer a garment that’s less wrinkle-prone and allows for a little more ease of movement.
Cue the Henley shirt. Whether you’re dressing up or dressing down, this classic option will have you looking put together while staying comfortable.
It looks good as a bottom layer in winter, with a pair of shorts or jeans, or even under a sport coat. The henley can be a valuable and versatile addition to every man’s wardrobe.
In this article, we’ll cover a brief history of Henley’s, help you to choose the best henley for you, and review Henleys from 40 different companies.
What Is a Henley Shirt?
Henleys are basically a rounded neck t-shirt that has a button placket running from 3-5” down the front. You could think of the Henley as a polo shirt without the collar.
There aren’t any other hard and fast rules about what constitutes a Henley— it can be made from various fabrics and have different cuts (ranging from slim to baggy). Henleys can have long or short sleeves, knit cuffs or hemmed sleeves, and anywhere between 2-5 buttons or snaps.
A Brief History of Henley Shirts
In the beginning, Henley’s were underwear— in fact, they were the first collarless underwear. Since it was before the advent of stretch fabrics, having buttons simplified getting dressed in the morning.
Soon, rowers adopted the shirts because the plackets allowed for greater ventilation.
The town of Henley-on-the-Thames has been the host of the Royal Regatta since 1839. This is where a tradition began that losing crew teams would have to give their “Henley’s” (called “undervests” in 19th century England) to the winners. The new style shirts made this ritual easier.
This tradition helped to increase the popularity of Henleys across the world.
While the first shirts might have been made of wool or linen, with Britain’s Industrial Revolution, cotton gins and steam-powered milling allowed for mass production of other fabrics.
Henleys have never really gone out of style, but they became even more mainstream in the 1970s after being adopted by Ralph Lauren.
How To Choose a Henley
With so many variations of the Henley out there it can be difficult to know what to look for. Here are some things to consider before going Henley hunting.
Henley Shirt Fabrics
Some cottons are extremely lightweight and are ideal for summer wear, while others are French terry (lightweight non-fuzzy sweatshirt fabric that has loops on the inside and a flat knit on the outside) or fleece/sherpa lined for weathering extremely cold conditions.
While the most common fabric for Henleys is cotton or cotton/polyester blend, you can also find linen, merino wool, cashmere, silk, and high-tech fabric Henleys. Linen is a great choice for summer, although it’s more prone to wrinkling.
Merino gives a more finished look and is easier to dress up. Merino is usually offered in long sleeve versions, but there are some lightweight short sleeve options.
There are all kinds of high-tech fabrics that feature odor-free, moisture-wicking properties. These are usually offered by companies that cater to athletic or outdoor activities.
Most fabrics are flat knit. However, some designers use the fabric itself to make a statement. It can be ribbed for a snugger fit, have a “slubby” or bulkier knit, or have a waffle texture.
Usually, you see Henleys in solids, but you can find them in horizontal or vertical stripes, as well as houndstooth.
Cuffs & Hems
Many long sleeve shirts have a ribbed cuff on the wrist. Short sleeve versions are available in both cuffs and hemmed sleeves. The cuffs allow you to scrunch the sleeve up for a casual look.
There are several bottom styles available. The most common is a simple straight hem.
However, some designers offer a curved hem (shorter at the sides).
Not only can a curved hem help the wearer appear taller, but it also means creates less bulk if you’re tucking your shirt in. (Some work-oriented brands make the back longer than the front so when you are bending over the shirt doesn’t untuck and it covers your butt crack if untucked).
You may also find slight vents on the sides for ease of movement.
Buttons & Placket
The number of buttons and the length and width of the placket is a matter of personal preference. There are many Henley placket and button variations available.
Some brands distinguish themselves by having wider, more substantial plackets and larger buttons. There are even some that make the placket a different fabric. These make more of a statement than your average shirt.
I have some Henleys that have a slightly longer, narrow placket with seven small buttons. Buttons may be replaced with snaps (or magnets for the disabled).
Almost all Henleys have the same basic pattern. Some are cut narrower (to skim the body), while others are meant to be loose.
Of course, it’s up to your personal preference but keep in mind that if you are already slim, or if you want to show off your gym body, you’ll want a slimmer cut. If you have a bit of a paunch you’d like to hide, don’t get fabric or a cut that will fit too closely or cling.
Henleys are designed to have the shoulder seam at the end of the shoulder bone. This is usually the most flattering cut for men.
Some styles feature raglan sleeves (baseball shirts have raglan sleeves). This is a variation of a classic Henley.
Some other brands, usually more athletic or work versions, have a side panel instead of just a side seam.
This prevents the shirt from twisting during a workout or in the wash while also avoiding chafing against the side seam. Again, not a classic Henley design, but a modern variation that gives the overall impression of a Henley.
Where To Buy Henley Shirts
From Hanes to Zegna and John Varvados, almost every brand and designer offers a version of the Henley. You can find them in discount stores, from your favorite sportswear and outdoor brands, and at couture houses.
Most menswear brands make a Henley shirt, so you have plenty of options. Below we’ve included Henleys from 40 companies.
If, for whatever reason, you still can’t find exactly what you want or don’t see your favorite brand reviewed, check their catalog because chances are that they have their own iteration of the Henley.
The following section breaks down the best Henley shirts for specific scenarios.
Henleys for Short Men
Many Henley shirts are too long for shorter guys. Since the Henley is a casual shirt that’s usually worn untucked, the excess length can be a problem.
To make matters worse, on long-sleeved Henleys the sleeves are often too long for short men.
Ash & Erie
Ash & Erie makes basic three-button Henley in both long and short sleeves varieties. Depending on the color, these are made from heathered cotton/poly blends or slub Pima cotton.
For more details about how these shirts fit, check out our Ash & Erie review.
Under 510 caters to shorter men. They offer a Henley in a cotton blend. It has a two-button placket, raglan sleeves, and an unfinished hem.
For more details about how Under 510 shirts fit, check out our Under 510 review.
Son of a Tailor
Son of a Tailor sells custom-sized casual shirts, including tees, polos, and Henleys. Right now, they offer a pique Henley, which is sort of like a long sleeve polo without the collar.
SoaT will create a custom size profile based on your answers to a short survey. They supposedly have a 95% success rate, in terms of fit.
But if your shirt doesn’t fit, they’ll remake it for free.
FFLTEES is an online custom t-shirt platform created by a Portuguese apparel manufacturer. They sell made-to-measure tees in PET, Pima cotton, cashmere, and organic cotton.
They only sell a short sleeve shirt right now, but you can add placket buttons to create a Henley style. Plus, you can customize the body length for a perfect fit.
Workwear Henley Shirts
There are a number of companies who specialize in work clothes. Almost all offer Henleys – they’re versatile and make dressing easy.
Carhartt is known for their hard-wearing work clothes that can stand up to just about any punishment. The company has been offering clothing for hardworking people since 1889.
Their Henleys have 3 buttons and a left chest pocket with the Carhartt label, along with a ribbed collar and cuffs, and side seam construction to minimize twisting.
Carhartt stands behind its products by guaranteeing to repair, replace, or issue credit if you’re unhappy with your purchase. They also offer to repair your worn garments for a reasonable and transparent charge.
Dickies began as an overall company in 1918 Texas. Today, they are the #1 manufacturer of work clothes worldwide.
Their relaxed fit shirts come in long and short sleeve versions in either 100% cotton or a heathered cotton/poly blend. The bottom is a box hem (straight across).
There is a left chest pocket with a pencil divider and the Dickies tag, three horn button closure, and a taped neck and shoulder seams that won’t unravel. The sleeves have a ribbed cuff.
Duluth Trading Co.
Duluth Trading Co. has many styles to choose from, including a sleep shirt and a stylized wool version. All their shirts have a 3 button/snap closure and a ribbed collar. The sleeve hems are straight, not ribbed, except where noted.
Their “Wool Be Back” Henley Sweater (see above) comes in heather gray and kingfisher blue. It’s made from 70% recycled pre-consumer goods merino wool. It is Global Recycle Standard certified. It has raglan sleeves, a collar, hem, and cuffs that are ribbed.
Wrangler is known for their jeans, but also for their hard-wearing clothing and their extensive size range.
Their Henleys have vented, taped side seams as well as a taped neck seam for added comfort and strength. There is a front pocket, ribbed collar and cuffs, and a 3-button placket.
Their Riggs Workwear Henley shirt comes with a lifetime warranty.
Henleys for Outdoor Enthusiasts
These henleys come from a group of companies that specialize in outdoor and athletic gear. All of the companies reviewed not only make quality products, but they are extremely sustainable. Some rely on high-tech fabric and cuts to make workouts more comfortable.
Arc’teryx is known for its technical fabrics. They are a sustainable company that explores better ways to help their customers enjoy athletics and the outdoors.
Their Sirrus Henley is made from lightweight, moisture-wicking Dry-Tech cotton/polyester fabric. The snaps are covered by the angle-bottomed placket for a smooth look. They have raglan sleeves that end in a cuff to go with a trim fit in the shirt’s body.
L.L.Bean offers a large selection of Henleys in a variety of fabrics from lightweight short-sleeved shirts, to wool sweaters, and fleece. Most are have three buttons and cuff sleeves.
Their Comfort Camp Henley is slightly fitted — relaxed through chest and sleeve with a slimmer waist. It’s made from a cotton/poly moisture-wicking fabric blend and is available in five colors.
Marine Layer is all about softness. The company started when the founder wanted to replace a worn, favorite shirt with something more comfortable. Their shirts have a curved hem that supposedly elongates your body.
Their flagship Henley is pretty traditional. It’s a three-button shirt with a ribbed collar and cuff, available in five solid colors and five striped colorways.
They make their placket a “touch longer” to have a bit more styling flexibility.
Short-sleeved versions are available.
The North Face
The North Face is a personal favorite for all things outdoors.
They have a short-sleeve Henley made from lightweight, abrasion-resistant recycled material. It has a UPF 15-50 rating (depending on color) and FlashDry technology. There are side slits at the hem for ventilation and ease of movement.
They have also offered a French terry stretch midweight Henley with flatlock seams for extra comfort.
Outerknown makes high-quality, sustainable clothing for those who love the outdoors. Their Henley shirts tend to sell out, so you may have to check in on their shop periodically to find them in stock.
While you’re there, think about picking up one of their famous Blanket Shirts.
Patagonia is another company known for its quality outdoor gear, as well as its commitment to sustainability. All of Patagonia’s clothing is made with recycled materials.
At the time of writing, they have five different 3-button Henleys to choose from, including a long sleeve work Henley, a traditional fit “Better Sweater Henley,” and an organic cotton lightweight Henley shirt.
Patagonia’s youth sizes are worth checking out for shorter or smaller guys.
Tentree offers 4 long-sleeve Henley options this winter. The company plants 10 trees for each item purchased and is extremely ethical and sustainable.
Their Henleys have a 3-button closure and a straight bottom. While their site gives product reviews that include how a style fits, they don’t have as much detailed information as many other sites on our list.
Their Henley styles include a waffle Henley made of organic cotton and “Tencel” (a raglan sleeve Henley made from hemp), as well as a “Space Dye Ottoman Henley” made from organic cotton and recycled polyester.
Athleisure is a newer category that’s sort of a blend between outdoor gear, casual wear, and hi-tech athletic gear.
You can definitely wear it out, but it’s just as good for lounging around the house.
Public Rec makes leisurewear that is not only durable, it is also made to fit well.
Their long and short raglan sleeve Henleys have a classic three-button style and are available in eight different colors.
They’re made from a cotton/Tencel/Spandex blend, which produces a stretchy, moisture-wicking, wrinkle-resistant feel.
These shirts have a relaxed, athletic fit.
Olivers Apparel makes athletic wear built for adventure. They believe that your clothes should be comfortable, and they tend to use technical (i.e. “performance”) fabrics.
Their aesthetic is pretty timeless, and you can wear Olivers clothing in any casual setting, including the gym.
Right now, they make a long-sleeve thermal waffle knit Henley and a merino wool Henley in long and short sleeves.
Mack Weldon takes the basic Henley design and elevates it using luxe fabrics and construction. All of their products work together to create an efficient Daily Wear System to make daily dressing easier.
Their tech Cashmere Henley has natural thermoregulation, a four-button placket, raglan sleeves, and ladder stitching (think zig-zag). It’s ultra-lightweight, soft, moisture-wicking, and antimicrobial.
Ministry of Supply
Ministry of Supply is based out of Boston and was born in the labs of MIT. They design keeping motion, comfort, easy-care, and sustainability in mind.
They want to create clothing that is breathable, stretchy, sweatproof, and machine washable. A nice feature on their site is that you can put your height, weight, and basic body shape into a sliding calculator and it will tell you what, and how, a size will fit you.
Their Composite Merino Henley comes in long and short sleeve versions. They have a standard fit with a relaxed drape (in other words, the shirt is made to follow the natural contours of your body). The fabric is washable 50% recycled polyester/45% polyester/5% merino wool. It has a reinforced 3-button placket.
Reigning Champ is an athletic wear company. Their guiding principles are: respect the details and master simplicity. They emphasize rugged construction and comfort.
They make a long and short sleeve Henley in a year-round premium cotton with raglan sleeves, three buttons, side gussets, flatlock seams, and a trim athletic fit. They’re available in four versatile colors.
Everyday Casual Henleys
The following brands are known for their casual clothing. Some are more upscale featuring unique fabrics; others offer a full line of clothing.
Compared to the outdoor-focused options above, these casual Henleys aren’t quite as rugged.
Buck Mason gives off a laid-back California vibe of easy living, quality, and simplicity. They offer high-quality basics to create the foundation of a casual wardrobe.
Buck Mason Henley shirts are available in both long and short sleeves. They’re made from light or midweight Pima cotton, depending on the color.
They claim that the curved hem falls off the curve of the stomach to make you look slimmer, but your mileage may vary.
These Henleys are available in at least 10 colors (mostly earth tones, grey, and blue).
Fresh Clean Tees
Fresh Clean Tees has basics with trimmer fits available, both raglan and inset sleeve, and in many colors.
They come in foundational multi-packs some with curved hems, signature red contrasting thread on the top button, blends of poly/cotton/rayon, long and short sleeves.
They have a sustainable consciousness and support the Surfrider Foundation.
Goodlife provides high-quality classics engineered for modern living. They focus on quality fabrics in basic styles. Among the fabrics they offer is sueded fleece. Goodlife are initiating recycling programs and offer a “tee-shirt club” (a tee-shirt subscription program).
All of their Henleys have a curved bottom and four buttons and are available in long and short sleeve versions. The sleeves are hemmed rather than having a cuff.
True Classic sells high-quality basic shirts at an affordable price. This is the principle the brand was founded on, one it continues to fulfill.
Their shirts are made from 4.3 oz 60% cotton/40% polyester. They’re fitted around the arms, shoulders, and sides with a little extra room in the front.
You can purchase their shirts in singles or variety packs. In all, there are 10 color choices for their 3-button, long and short sleeve Henleys.
Threads 4 Thought
Threads 4 Thought is another sustainable company that makes casual clothing from regenerated beech trees, organic cotton, and recycled plastic bottles and fishing nets. They focus on casual and activewear.
They make a tri-blend Henley from 50% recycled polyester, 37% organic cotton, and 13% rayon. They sell shirts in long or short sleeves, with three buttons and a straight hem.
They also have matching lounge pants in nine different colors (if you’re into that sort of thing).
Pact is another sustainable company making casual clothing for the entire family. Their most popular Henley is the Thermal Waffle Henley. It’s made from GOTS organic cotton and is available in four colors.
It has 3 buttons, long sleeves, and a relaxed hem with a vent on each side.
They also offer a short sleeve version that we love here at The Modest Man.
HNLY is a brand focused on Henleys and only Henleys (as you may have guessed from their name). They are a sustainable company that uses small batch production to limit waste and minimize mistakes.
Their shirts are garment-dyed (dyed after they are made), pre-shrunk, and have an athletic/tailored cut. Their collars feature a subtle V-neck design that allows the shirts to open naturally when left unbuttoned (great for guys with athletic builds).
In terms of menswear, J.Crew offers just about anything you need. They are geared to a younger demographic, but their styles are classic, well made, and suitable for the entire family.
They sell many different Henley styles, and their offering changes slightly each season. At the time of writing, J.Crew makes a double-knit Henley with ribbed cuffs and two buttons, a fleece-lined “sherpa backed” Henley, garment-dyed slub cotton Henleys, and several other styles.
rag & bone
rag & bone’s goal is to make items that are both original and timeless. They want to meld the easy elegance of classic British tailoring with the authenticity of American workwear and the originality of New York.
They have quality fabrics and interesting detailing that make their items unique.
All their Henleys are made in Peru.
They make several different styles, including a classic slim-fit cotton Henley that was worn by Daniel Craig in “No Time to Die”.
Taylor Stitch makes responsibly built clothing for the long haul. In other words, they are a sustainable company that wants to make sturdy foundational clothing based on classic styles, such as their military-inspired chinos.
Taylor Stitch Henleys include the Heavy Bag Henley— a garment-dyed three-button shirt with short or long sleeves, cut for a tailored fit.
They also make a waffle knit version of that Henley, along with a couple of other styles (including a wool option).
Western Rise makes timeless clothing with an emphasis on design detail and durable fabrications. Their clothing is built to move so while it will look good in the office, you can feel confident taking them outside. They offer a lifetime guarantee.
Their performance Henley wicks moisture and resists odors. The cotton/polyester/elastane blend is heavier than regular tee shirts and has 4-way stretch.
Bonobos Henley selection is vast. Their emphasis is on providing an array of unique fabrics: cotton, merino, linen, hemp, and many blends. All their shirts have three buttons and straight hemmed bottoms and sleeves.
Their fit, fabric, and color selection make them a good choice to explore. To make shopping as easy as possible, they created the Guideshop for a personalized experience. They emphasize fit, especially with their curved waist pants.
Bonobos’ Jetsetter Performance Long Sleeve comes in two fits: slim and standard. There are 15+ colors available in both short and long sleeves.
They also sell a variety of other Henley styles, from lightweight waffle knits to plain cotton and merino wool.
Luxury Designer Henleys
Anyone who believes that Henleys are just for athletic looks will find that this versatile shirt also translates into high style. Designers have adopted Henleys and included them in their lines.
Many designers choose merino wool because it is lightweight, comfortable, thermoregulating, and adds a bit of elegance to a Henley.
While the style remains easy-to-wear, the fabrication elevates it from merely casual to business casual or evening attire.
Some designers choose linen, silk, cashmere, or any of these blended fabrics to elevate their Henleys.
Naadam is a cashmere company that makes quality, sustainable garments for men and women, with a focus on high-quality basics.
If you live in New York City, you may have seen their subway ads featuring beautiful models holding adorable baby goats.
Naadam’s Recycled Cashmere Henley is made from 70% recycled and 30% virgin cashmere, and it’s available in three colors.
And yes, they do have jogger bottoms to match, if it suits your fancy.
Ralph Lauren has been credited with popularizing Henleys in the 1970s as being more than just athletic wear. They continue to carry a number of shirts in this classic style in interesting and upscale weaves.
RL makes a bunch of different Henley styles, including a slub jersey version, a waffle knit cotton Henley, and the luxurious Purple Label Interlock Henley.
Todd Snyder wants to redefine how the modern American man presents himself in stylish and unexpected ways. He believes that a good, playful style can be attainable for all men. The brand offers a complete line from suiting to swimsuits and everything in between.
Todd Snyder has two Henleys at the time of writing: a made-in-LA slub (or premium jersey) raglan sleeve Henley, and a cashmere waffle knit Henley with a modern, tailored fit.
Vince is another high-end brand that you may not have heard of. The styles and fabrications are just a bit outside of the norm. If you are looking for something that is more fashion-forward, rather than outdoor/work gear, this may be a brand to consider.
Vince carries a wide variety of Henley shirts, including a short-sleeve slub cotton Henley that’s lightweight and breathable— perfect for summer.
They also make a long sleeve Pima cotton Henley, along with a few other dressier and more unique styles.
That’s All You Need To Know About Henley Shirts
The Henley is a classic menswear staple. It’s rooted in history and, in an age of fast fashion, about as timeless as a men’s shirt style can get.
As you can see from the above list, there are many places to buy Henley shirts, from “digital-first” performance brands to classic luxury designers.
No matter where you buy your Henleys, focus on fit. A well-fitted Henley is one of the coolest, most flattering shirts a man can wear.
Wear it well!
Questions? Comments? Leave them below!