The casual collarless Henley shirts that became very popular in the 1990s started out as uniform tops worn by rowing crews in Henley-on-Thames, England. They are distinguished by their buttoned placket, which contains anywhere from two to six buttons. Many tend to be oversized, which makes them popular among larger men who appreciate their roominess and improved ventilation.
Henley shirts can be made from a variety of materials, but cotton or a polyester-cotton blend is most popular. Traditional shirts could have short, three-quarters or long sleeve lengths, depending on the season. In practice, they often look like a cross between a polo shirt and a casual collarless t-shirt, with the addition of the buttoned placket to pull the neckline together.
Many Henley shirts are used as an alternative to other team uniform tops such as t-shirts or polo shirts. Team logos or player numbers can be embroidered or printed on the shirts just as easily as any other team jerseys. The oversized quality also provides for ease of movement and more ventilation of body heat. Some sports teams, however, find the additional buttons to be problematic during full-contact events. It is more common to find Henley shirts on professional rowers than rugby or soccer players.
These shirts became popular primarily during the early 1990s, perhaps as an improvement on the traditional polo shirt. The buttons make them easier to put on and remove, and they can be opened to provide more ventilation if necessary. Henley shirts can be worn with almost any casual pant, especially blue jeans and khakis in appropriate shades. Many are designed with solid colors, but some feature stripes or complementary color schemes.
Henley shirts did fall out of fashion briefly during the late 1990s and early 2000s, but they have since become popular again, especially among larger men who seek a stylish casual shirt that isn't as form-fitting as a t-shirt and more accessible than a standard polo-style pullover. Many clothing outlets offer regular sales on their shirt collections, especially during seasonal changes, so savvy shoppers can often find good deals by consulting catalogs and websites for specials and discounts.