an empty shirt of a man


Senior Member
Hi everyone,
in the book The Hunt for Mt Everest by Craig Storti, I read this:

Not for the last time the proposal fell foul of diplomatic and geopolitical considerations. Or, to put it another way, it fell foul of ‘an austere, joyless, empty shirt of a man’ by the name of John Morley, also referred to by his Cabinet colleagues by turns as ‘Aunt Priscilla’ and the ‘petulant spinster’.

What does the expression in bold mean? I haven't found anything anywhere. Or maybe I don't know where to look.
Any ideas?

  • sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    It's similar to the more common (at least to me) empty suit

    noun Slang.​

    an executive, manager, or official regarded as ineffectual, incompetent, or lacking in leadership qualities such as creativity and empathy:Their executive search came up with one empty suit after another.