Ask Tug: Where can I find vintage short sleeve henley undershirts like the one in the movie Flyboys (2006)?
9/19/2011 – Update: What Henley Shirt Was Ryan Gosling Wearing in His New Film “Drive”? (Scroll to the bottom of this Ryan Gosling article, found a great resource for vintage Henleys in Los Angeles – might be the actual Henleys Franco wore in the Flyboys movie as well since they look the same)
– Original Email –
Whoa, now that’s a pretty tough question to answer! But I love good challenge!!! Never fear, Tug is here
Here’s the original email from a female reader:
I came across your site and its been very helpful but I’m still not finding exactly what I’m looking for.
My boyfriend and I were watching the movie Flyboys the other week and he loved the undershirts that the flyboys wear throughout the movie. I found the costume designer was Nicholas Ede but beyond that I cant get any information.
On your site I was able to determine that it’s a vintage henley undershirt that I’m looking for but they were also short sleeved.
I’m hoping to find… [have to keep this paragraph secret for now and will wait till she writes back in]
Thanks so much
Well, let me first say, THAT IS SO SWEET OF YOU. I mean, how many women would go to the trouble of tracking down some guy on the internet who writes about undershirt stuff in hopes of tracking down a vintage undershirt for her boyfriend. That’s love if you ask me. Now, on to the task at hand.
The good news is that I was able to find some undershirts that look awfully close to the one pictured here to my right, but before I provide that information (see down below), let me offer up some additional information.
Here’s the situation: when you see certain clothing in the movies, especially time pieces like Flyboys 2006, which was set in the early 1900′s, it’s pretty likely that the clothing is specially made for the movie by the costume design staff. In this case, Nic Ede was the costume designer for this particular movie.
My guess is that’s the case with these short sleeve vintage henley undershirts that were used in the movie. But to be sure, I’ve been trying to track down Nic to see if s/he could let us know for sure. I did track down one Nick Ede in London, and he was kind enough to email me back quickly, but he’s not the Costume designer — he’s actually a designer who dresses celebrities! (of course I offered my undershirt consulting services just in case). I’m going to continue to see if I can track Nic down, so stay tuned. If anyone knows how to reach someone who was involved in the movie, please email me.
Option #1 – Have the shirt custom made by a tailor or seamstress. Most folks who offer sewing services like this typically need a pattern first, so of course there are pattern makers to help fill that void. Most good pattern makers can make a garment pattern from a picture. Another way is to find a pattern of these vintage henley undershirts, take it to a seamstress and have them make you the shirt for you. I was able to find some vintage undershirt patterns on line, but I could only find patterns that date back to the 1940 undershirts. If you do a little more digging, you might be able to find the exact pattern. Also, I’m not going to lose hope that we can track down Nic and maybe we can get the pattern that way too. If we find a pattern, I can refer you to some seamstresses.
Option #2 – Try looking at army surplus stores (online or retail). I did not spend too much time doing this because I did find some undershirts that may fit what you are looking for, but this might be a good back-up plan in the event the shirts I found aren’t what you’re looking for.
Option #3 – Here are some websites I found that offer very similar styled undershirts to the short sleeve henley you are looking for:
- I kinda hit the jack pot when I ran across Fogey Unlimited: Home of the Elegant Gentleman. They have a bunch of short sleeve henley undershirts to choose from that look like what you’re looking for. Here’s a few of them:
Button Front Undershirt SHORT Sleeve – Winter weight
Button Front Undershirt SHORT Sleeve – Mens Thermal
Button Front Undershirt SHORT Sleeve – Wool-Nylon Collection
High Cross Underwear
French button front Undershirt
- Ballyhoo Vintage Clothing has a few actual 1940s Henley undershirts available. They’ve got one or two made by William Balbriggan and another made by Lackawanna underwear (both of these companies manufactured underwear in the mid 1900s). Absolutely beautiful pieces. The pics are so good, that you could probably take them to a pattern maker and have them custom make you an undershirt pattern.
- Find IT on eBay. Well I did find two vintage 40s/50s undershirts that are still available on eBay, but they might be a little too big for your boyfriend. Here are direct links to the undershirts there:
Vintage 40′s-50′s Undershirt-Deadstock-Henley-Sz. XXL
Vintage Onieta Undershirt-Henley Style-Deadstock-Sz. 50
- There’s a site called REVOLVEclothing.com that offers several different kinds of Henley undershirts, like this long sleeve henley. I couldn’t find one exactly like what your looking for, but it could be another back-up source for you.
I’m going to keep trying to track down Nic Ede, but hopefully the above information can help you find something you think your boyfriend will love.
Thanks for writing in! Please feel free to email back with any questions.
Update: Here’s another similar looking shirt, although it’s not called a Henley. The shirt that Hugh Jackman is wearing here (from the movie Australia) is actually a “shearer’s shirt”. Here’s a quote from Catherine Martin, the costume designer for the movie Australia. Says Ms. Martin:
The T-shirt he is wearing is, in fact, a shearer’s shirt, a traditional shirt that has been in that style since the late 19th century…
I’ve emailed blogger Elisabeth Rappe at Cinematical to see if I can get in touch with Catherine to ask more questions about how she created the shirt (or possibly ask I can get the pattern from her).
Sites That Link to this Post
- Short Sleeved, Short Legged Union Suits? | Undershirt Guy Blog | March 3, 2011
- Ask Tug: What Undershirt is Hugh Jackman wearing as Wolverine in X-Men Origins? | The Undershirt Guy Blog | March 25, 2009
- Ask Tug Update: Short Sleeve and Long Sleeve Henley T-Shirts | The Undershirt Guy Blog | January 10, 2009