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A polo shirt is one of the most classic items of clothes you can have in your wardrobe. It’s a slightly dressier alternative to the classic t-shirt, but there are plenty of ways to style a polo shirt that make it one of the most versatile shirts you can own.
That said, with so many options, knowing how to style a polo shirt can be slightly tricky, but with our guide, you’ll learn enough about polo shirts to be able to wear a polo shirt with style and ease.
Why is it called a polo shirt?
The polo shirt takes its name from the sport of polo. A favourite of the upper classes, polo is played on horseback, so players required the versatility and ease of movement of a t-shirt but the formality of a collared shirt, and thus the polo shirt was born.
It is thought that the first polo shirt was created in 1896 by John E. Brooks of the American Brooks Brothers fashion house, who brought the style back from England after watching a polo match. At that time, the shirt still strongly resembled an Oxford button-down shirt.
The first example of the polo shirt as we know it today was fashioned by French tennis player Rene Lacoste. He donned the short-sleeved pique cotton shirt emblazoned with his now-famous crocodile logo as a part of his tennis uniform in 1933.
While sport may be the original reason a polo shirt is called a polo shirt, the shirt has since broken free from the polo field and into the realm of stylish, everyday dressing.
What is a men’s polo shirt?
A men’s polo shirt is typically a short-sleeved, collared shirt with a placket neckline, three buttons, and an optional chest pocket. Some polo shirts do come with full, long sleeves, but traditionally polo shirts are short-sleeved and are a common sight on tennis courts and golf courses.
Most polo shirts are slim fit and feature cuffed sleeves and a piqué collar that traditionally could be turned up to protect polo players’ necks from the sun. The shirt is often a part of many school and work uniforms.
What is a pique polo shirt?
A pique polo shirt is a polo shirt made from pique fabric. This fabric has a textured, waffle weave that differentiates it from standard smooth cotton. The material is often used for polo shirts as it’s breathable and durable, and so lends itself to the polo shirt’s sporting heritage.
Traditionally, pique shirts have also been seen to be more formal than standard jersey polo shirts, so it’s the perfect option for when a collared shirt may be required, but a dress shirt and tie might be too formal.
How do you wear a polo shirt?
There are plenty of stylish and easy ways to wear a polo shirt. From pairing it with boat shoes and chinos as part of a classic off-duty, holiday look to incorporating it into your on-court tennis whites, here are five simple ways you can wear a polo shirt.
As a part of your summer workwear
When the temperature rises and you don’t want to be stuck in a dress shirt or oxford button-down all day, a polo shirt is a great option. It’s lightweight, breathable and short-sleeved, yet still boasts a collar – making it dressier than a t-shirt and so perfectly office appropriate.
It’s a holiday go-to
When packing for your holidays – whether it’s a weekend stay-cation or longer trip abroad – a polo shirt is the perfect item to take with you. It’s ideal for pairing with chinos and boat shoes for coastal adventures, or with swim shorts and flip-flops for chilling on the beach or by the pool.
To keep cool and comfortable
A pique cotton shirt is designed to be worn when being active – it’s lightweight and breathable, and it will keep you cool while you’re active. So if you’re looking for an alternative to the classic t-shirt, look no further than a polo shirt, especially during the summer months.
To the golf course or tennis court
Keeping true to the polo shirt’s traditions, why not wear a polo to the golf course for a few rounds or to the tennis court for a set or two? While it’s a stylish choice, the polo shirt is just as practical for exercise and sports.
Wear it with a suit to nail “smart casual”
When an invite calls for “smart casual” dress code, it can be a nightmare trying to find the right balance! That said, pairing a smart-looking polo shirt – think single colour, pique or knitted fabric, like our Millers River Jacquard polo – with a linen blazer or suit, will hit smart casual on the head.
With the basic but versatile polo, there’s lots of different styles you can pull off. Whether you’re looking for a polo shirt to wear by the beach, to the office or on the golf course, discover which polo one suits you best from our Men’s range.