To the untrained eye, the henley is merely a long-sleeved shirt with a few buttons on it. Big whoop, right? Those who know about the henley know that, much like a polo shirt, it’s the secret weapon in every man’s wardrobe. The shirt, which owes its name to the fact it was first worn by rowers in the town of Henley-on-Thames, looks good on pretty much everyone and boasts a rugged charm that’s as effortless as it is timeless. Seriously. Worn by itself or as a layer, it just works.
The best henleys for men are flattering as hell and wildly versatile. You can wear one with classic blue jeans or slim chinos, throw one on under a cardigan or a denim jacket, or wear it by itself with a few buttons open. It’s hard to look bad in a henley, but to look great in one, keep a few basics in mind. A henley should fit similarly to your favorite tee. That is, it should cling to your frame but not fit tightly, showcasing your shoulders and chest. It shouldn’t hang too low; rather, it should hit just below or at your belt line. Wear a henley once and it will quickly become one of your go-to shirts. Here are some of our favorite offerings.
Although henley shirts originated across the pond, Filson is another all-American brand doing a stellar job making its own rugged take on the shirt. Here, the company uses two layers of Peruvian cotton for a super-soft feel paired with remarkable durability. It’s the kind of shirt to be worn underneath a waxed jacket on chilly fall mornings.
Faherty makes the kind of pieces that feel like you’ve had them for years, right out of the box. This henley uses a blend of pima cotton and modal to hit the sweet spot between lightweight layering and added warmth. And the Light Blue Heather color is practically made to be worn to a beach bonfire on a late summer or fall night.
Sometimes, your wardrobe needs a bit of rugged edge. This 100 percent cotton henley, in a slightly faded color like Black Caviar, is a subtle way to add some, particularly when worn under a black leather or faded blue denim jacket. Darker colors are also naturally slimming, so you can rock this on its own with, say, your favorite pair of selvedge jeans.
Buck Mason focuses on all-American style staples inspired by hard-working American cities. A henley is such a natural piece to buy from this brand, and it’s why Buck Mason makes such a damn fine one. The pima cotton is lightweight and soft to the touch, but durable and tightly woven. And the curved hem makes your torso look longer and thinner, hiding that spare tire.
The best henleys needn’t all be solid colors. Shake things up and add some subtly stylish stripes to your knitwear rotation. Stripes broaden the chest and shoulders, and the white on navy combination here elevates this above a standard undershirt or T-shirt. This henley is also made in America, so you can feel good about buying a wardrobe staple made with extra care.
AG recently introduced its super-soft Jersey Knit fabric, the kind of fabric that you might commonly find in sweatpants or a hoodie. That means this long-sleeve henley is the perfect sort of shirt to wear on fall weekends around the house. Don’t sleep on its versatility, though. The Heather Sage color is cool enough to wear out of the house with trusty denim or even tailored joggers.
Go right ahead and get henleys for the whole family at Old Navy. Seriously though, if you want an affordable henley that’s more well-made than the price tag indicates, you can’t go wrong with this aptly named soft wash henley. Add some dark-wash Old Navy jeans to build one heck of a stylish budget ensemble
This henley is made from sustainable organic cotton that’s been garment-dyed for an ultra-soft finish. That;s just one of the many things we like. A few others? The shoulder-enhancing stitching that offers a rugged touch, as well as the rich Autumn Gold color (our personal favorite) that's ideal for the season ahead