The Ones That Wore It Best: The Shirt

An elegant staple of any man's wardrobe, shirts have been worn by sartorially fluent men for thousands of years. Below is the Babble & Hemp guide to some of our favourite shirt icons through time.

 

Gianni Agnelli

gianni agnelli wearing a hemp shirt

Giovanni “Gianni” Agnelli, Fiat chairman, Italian industrialist, billionaire and playboy.

A style icon of his time, “L’Avvocato” was a symbol of Italian elegance, a tabloid favourite and loved by women. He ruled over the Italian economy and European high society from the 60s to the 80s in his role running one the world’s largest carmakers - controlling 4.4% of the GDP of Italy in the process.

Often praised for his entrepreneurial acumen he sat on the boards of Chase Manhattan Bank and owned Juventus FC.

Agnelli’s fashion sense inspired menswear throughout the world and saw him acclaimed as mastering the art of ‘sprezzatura’, making the hard look easy. 

Renowned globally for his style there is one look that will last through the generations for it’s timelessness - a crisp white shirt - as he can be seen wearing here whilst escorting Jackie Kennedy around the Amalfi coast.

 

Prince Philip

prince philip wearing a white shirt

When not busy making tongue in cheek remarks about the appearance of foreign dignitaries, Prince Philip could be found flying the flag for British tailoring throughout the empire.

His seemingly effortless approach to dressing for any event with ease has made him one of the most iconic dressers since the 1950s. Whether it be polo in Windsor, yachting on the solent or on state visits to the colonies, with his range of outdoorsy, action man-esque outfits or in military formalwear, he possesses a sartorial double act that’s served him well for decades.

A regular on Jermyn Street and Savile Row, he was regularly seen emerging from Gieves & Hawkes or Turnbull & Asser with bags of tailored shirts.

 

Boris Johnson

boris johnson wearing a hemp shirt whilst running

Bringing wiff-waff home, Brexit, Coronavirus, pummelling unsuspecting boys on a touch rugby pitch - BoJo’s done it all, and all of it done in pristine white shirts. 

He might not be everyone's cup of tea, or set out every morning having spent too much time deliberating over his options of double twill, single cuff, cut-away collar, slim fit or regular fit too much, but it is what he achieves in these shirts that we admire. 

Originally employing a look of dishevelment, artful choreography, even ‘shamble chic’, he sought to fit in, appear relatable, funny and unthreatening. It worked a treat, and just when we needed him to - he stepped it up and started ironing his shirts. 

 

Sean Connery

sean connery wearing a pink shirt
From Connery’s first appearance on screen as Bond in Dr No when he announces his suits are from a Savile Row tailor, Bond’s relationship with sartorial superiority is solidified. It’s rare to see Connery out of a suit throughout his six films, as was the way at the time for most working men. 

Usually sporting solid shirts under suit jackets, Connery’s shirts stray from the ordinary at the cuff. His usual choice was a cocktail cuff, a cuff turning back on itself but fastened with buttons, not cuff links.

Other than this, Connery as Bond can be seen in ‘camp shirts’, casual, button-front shirts with short sleeves and a pocket - ideal for warm weather and now more usually described as a safari shirt. 

Connery’s style has stood the test of time and are constantly emulated by Bond’s after him, setting his style decades to come.