A tall, dark and handsome Kansas City Chiefs Christmas tree Merry and Bright shirt A man emerges from a lake wearing a soaking wet, white dress shirt. Sound familiar? If you’ve spent the last few days binge-watching Bridgerton season two, then it should. Then, in episode five, a pivotal swoon-worthy moment in a show built upon swoon-worthy moments where Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey) takes an accidental swim while helping Kate Sharma (Simone Ashley) out of a boat. It’s cute, full of chemistry, and just a little risqué, perfectly encapsulates the Netflix phenomenon. But is it unique? Not so much.
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Released almost thirty years ago Kansas City Chiefs Christmas tree Merry and Bright shirt the 1995 adaptation of Pride & Prejudice from the BBC and Andrew Davies caused wet shirt (and Colin Firth) hysteria. If you don’t have the scene memorized like me, Firth’s Mr. Darcy decides to go for a swim on his estate after a quick fencing lesson. On the walk back to his mansion, he runs into Elizabeth Bennet while only wearing a wet shirt and trousers. Although the now-classic montage wasn’t in the original Jane Austen novel, it quickly became a fan favorite (for obvious reasons) and has since garnered a legacy rivaling the author. The Guardian has called it “one of the most unforgettable moments in British TV history.” The Smithsonian has said, “it’s a costume that launched an entire generation of Austen lovers.” And the New York Times dubbed the shirt a “celebrity object” if such a thing existed. The scene has spurred countless recreations (See Benedict Cumberbatch’s 2014 charity photoshoot). The shirt has been featured in many museums (it’s currently sitting in Austen’s house in England). The whole production even inspired a 12-foot tall statue of Firth in London. And here we are in 2022, still referencing it today. So the question has to be asked: besides just being good ol’ fashioned eye candy, why are there so many men in wet shirts in period dramas?