A GoodFellas rewatch is a nostalgia-inducing practice that I regularly partake in and, if you do the same, you'll likely also have been reminded of how off the charts the styling is. Granted, they may commit murder for spilled drinks, but they sure look good while doing it.
With the narrative beginning in the '50s and weaving through four decades and several sartorial shifts, there are plenty of rewind-worthy talking points when it comes to style. A particularly standout one, though, is the wild knit shirt rotations that are on display.
Everything you need to know about knit shirts for men in 2023
In post-war Italy, the design's ribbed bottom and distinct colorful stripes became hugely popular, often worn above a tank top to ensure that your favorite piece of shirting doesn't get too dirty in hot weather.
The look would go on to spread far beyond the Mediterranean coastline and, in particular, found popularity in America. Goodfellas is a time capsule that shows this era, with the character Henry Hill, played by the late Ray Liotta, bringing the style to the Italian-American neighborhood of Brooklyn most frequently.
Wearing the top half of the buttons undone or leaving it completely open, his signature cross-pendant necklace could be seen poking out from underneath to create a now-iconic look. Whether it be with a suit over the top or worn together with formal trousers and loafers, it's a classic look that remains every bit as cool today.
Going beyond the screen and across the pond, the signature Italian look also found fans in Britain's infamous subcultures during this time. Starting in London during the late 50s, Mods based their look on Italian sensibilities: their famous Vespa scooters were an Italian import and so were their signature slim-fitting three-button suits.
Naturally, knit shirts also became a part of the look. Along with polo shirts that had the same ribbed bottom, most commonly by Fred Perry, the shirt was a more casual option for members of the working-class British subculture during the summer months.
From this history, the style has reached the status of being an instantly recognizable classic across different continents. It might fluctuate in popularity, but its reputation of being worn by menswear's finest dressers (namely, mods and the GoodFellas cast) means it can never truly go out of fashion. Streetwear brands have caught on to this, with labels such as Stussy, Fucking Awesome, and Supreme releasing their own knit shirts in recent seasons.
At Highsnobiety, we've also had a go at creating our take on the style. Featuring front accent panels borrowed from 50s bowling shirts, you can check it out along with more shirting options below.
Shop some of our favorite men's knit shirt below
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