Ryan Gosling wears a Henley in Drive

Underwear as outerwear for men doesn’t have to get you arrested. The humble Henley is a very good look indeed, writes Lee Holmes

Way back when, in 1839, a rowing event called the Henley Royal Regatta was established on the River Thames in Oxfordshire. While a suitably regal affair, it was also the occasion on which a fairly unpretentious piece of clothing came into the public consciousness. The Henley top, so called because it was originally worn by the rowers training or competing, has since stood the test of time and is now considered a wardrobe staple.

A forerunner to the ever-popular T-shirt, the Henley still holds its own in the sartorial stakes and has time and again proved to be more than a match for its plainer cousin. Like the T-shirt, the Henley has great versatility: at this time of year it can be worn layered under a shirt, helping to keep late winter chills at bay.


But for some the buttoned placket at the neck is the one major drawback of the style. It can leave you with the odd sensation of feeling ready for bed rather than ready to leave the house. Add a pair of long johns, and there’s a good chance you’ll look like you’ve just stepped off the set of Little House on the Prairie. This can be avoided by opting for a bright colour or stripe if you’re wearing it as outer- rather than underwear.

If you’re still in any doubt, then consider the wardrobe of Ryan Gosling in the 2011 film Drive. His character may have been a man of few words but by sporting the Henley he ensured its survival for another few hundred years at least.