Not quite a shirt, but not a t-shirt either. The polo shirt could quite literally be the definition of smart-casual; something that made it a favourite of the mods in the 60s as they looked at it as the perfect piece to pair under timeless tailoring.
The polo shirt may have been adopted as everyday wear by British youth, but it has its beginnings in the world of sport. Designed by René Lacoste, founder of the eponymous crocodile-bearing brand, as a practical solution to the traditional bulkier uniform at the time. Since then, the shirt has been adopted into various other sports including golf and of course, polo.
Today’s feature piece was featured at number five in our run down of the Top Menswear Picks For Spring/Summer 2012, making the point that if it’s good enough for Mr Ralph Lauren, it’s certainly good enough for us; something any good man will continue to stand by.
Glee’s very own Blaine Anderson makes use of the preppy connotations of the polo shirt by pairing them with tank tops, bow ties and boat shoes. Of course, the polo’s versatility means that it doesn’t have to be confined to the preppy archetype (or even the modish associations) as I’m out to show you. However, Blaine is a fantastic example of how to put together a preppy, youthful look and make use of polo shirts while doing so:
Create an easy, everyday summer look with your polo shirt by pairing it above shorts. This is a great way to get in on the print trend, as printed shorts – a look recently covered – are the best way to ease you in to this summer’s hottest patterns.
A neutral polo would be my suggestion alongside the shorts; but if your dare to rock double, then by all means go for it. Just remember to vary your prints, neutralise your top half and keep the tones similar.
This look also has the potential to incorporate the short suit ensemble. Throw a blazer – matching or separates – over the polo to smarten up a little while still keeping that casual edge. Footwear options are limitless. For me, the loafer is king, but some simple trainers or a buck shoe would also look great.
This look also the potential to incorporate the short suits trend. Throw a blazer, matching or not, over the polo to smarten up a little while still keeping that casual edge. Footwear options are limitless, for me the loafer is king, but some simple trainers or a buck shoe would also look great.
This second look is inspired by the aforementioned Mod culture of the 60s. Rock a tipped polo, in a neutral tone, under a more colourful Harrington and anchor with a pair of slim/skinny jeans and a great pair of loafers.
For a bit of detail, turn-ups on the jeans would look fantastic – you could also consider doing up all the buttons on the polo. Avoid any VSL (visible sock line) and this look just can’t go wrong.
Look number three takes another shot at making use of print, but this time it’s the polo that’s getting the treatment. Tone down the print with some block-colour chinos and desert boots.
Turn-ups are once again given the go-ahead, especially if the weather’s taken a turn for the better. If not, throw a denim jacket on top or, if you prefer the smarter option, a blazer.
A jacket or blazer presents an entry-level opportunity to work double prints, whilst you can also contrast the polo shirt with a pocket square in the left hand pocket – I wouldn’t worry about getting a precise fold, quickly stuffing the square in the pocket should suffice for this more casual look.
Short sleeve, long sleeve, coloured, patterned or plain – there truly is a polo shirt for every single personal style. Whether you prefer soft, lightweight jersey construction or the traditional pique cotton variety, take a look at some of our favourite picks available on the market today:
It wouldn’t quite do a polo shirt justice to confine it to sports and Mod culture. It has become the staple of a variety of pursuits and settings – some albeit less fashionable than others – and its seemingly endless versatility deserves celebrating.
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