The Naturalist’s Shirt

The Naturalist’s Shirt was a staple of the brand from 1983-1988 (and beyond) and is distinguished from other BR shirts by front pockets that do not have closure flaps, as well as no epaulettes. Most commonly, these shirts have smooth dark copper snaps rather than buttons. However, they did switch to buttons for a brief time in 1986, and then brought the snaps back in 1987 claiming there was a public outcry. (See photos further below for discussion of buttons) The poplin material is light, crisp and has a faded quality due to the repeated washings they describe. 

Naturalist’s Shirts came in an astonishing variety of colors over the years, as evidenced in this photo from Abandonista Scott Dodds.

The catalogue copy varies a bit, mainly as relates to snaps and buttons. At first, snaps are mentioned, then buttons. When the snaps come back (with some fanfare) they are not mentioned in the copy but are usually a note next to the illustration, though sometimes there is no mention whatsoever.

From the Fall 1983 catalogue: “Cotton fresh from the gin is an undistinguished grayish hue. It needs color, but subtle color–color reminiscent of t he earth itself. Thus, to dye our Naturalist’s Shirt we’ve used colors inspired by plants and natural earth pigments. We’ve dyed the raw cotton poplin, dyed it again, then washed it and washed it again. The result: a pre-shrunk, broken-in distinctive natural shirt with tiny copper snaps for closures. A shirt without artifice for naturalists who would accept no less.”

The return of the snaps!
This amazing mint condition dead stock Naturalist Shirt includes a tag instructing against dry cleaning the shirt. The petroleum solvents in dry cleaning would react with the pigment dye causing “unpleasant color changes”. Don’t use stain removers either!
The hangtag reproduced the catalogue copy.
Top: Post-1988 Safari & Travel Tag. Middle: 1986 Button version. Bottom: Standard Snap Naturalist Shirt
Top: Standard Snap Naturalist Shirt. Middle: 1986 Button version. Bottom: Post-1988 Safari & Travel Tag.

Naturalist Shirt with snaps.

A coral version of the Naturalist Shirt
Two snap cuffs

Button Naturalist Shirts

For a short time the Naturalist Shirt came with buttons instead of snaps. The artwork does not really indicate this, it’s only in the text on the Spring 1986 entry. “…tiny horn-and-resin buttons for closures.”


Post Safari

The shirts below are from the post-Safari era, with the “Safari & Travel” tag..

The Naturalist Shirt (buttons, late era tag)


Flapless pockets with brass snaps.


Stylish cuff. Note it does not have the second snap on the upper cuff. 

About The Author

Robyn Adams
Robyn's fascination with Banana Republic began in 1984 when her Alaskan adventurer father began buying the clothing and giving her the catalogs. She loved the clothes and as an artist she was drawn to the illustrations. She went on to study illustration at art college in BR's hometown of San Francisco and worked for years as a background artist for animation. She is now based in Oakland, CA as a graphic designer and illustrator with Secret Fan Base . She's been collecting and archiving at Abandoned Republic since 2011.


  • Doug Kinnaird on May 14, 2014

    I still have two of several Banana Republic Naturalist’s Shirts I bought between 1987 and 1989 – still my favorite shirts, even after 35 years – and would like to know if anyone can tell me if this shirt is still made/sold by any business today. I know BR got them from a Hong Kong source – probably not made-to-order, as I know BR sourced clothing from multiple other small retailers.

    • David Krause on April 4, 2017

      If you find some, let me know. I had three and they were my favorite shirts.

  • J.P. on February 19, 2023

    I’ve poked around here every so often the last couple years ever since I first stumbled here while looking up some of the Akubra-made safari hats BR sold in the 80s, but this is the first time it’s coincided with me also having a bee in my bonnet about trying to ID the non-Western snap front shirt Tom Selleck wore in later seasons of Magnum PI. Lo and behold I finally bother looking at the men’s shirts section of the site and stumble on the most likely candidate, though I suppose the show could have used another company’s knockoff.

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