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Monday Lookbook #4 – The Polo Shirt

Introduction

For this weeks edition of the Lookbook we keep the trend of beginning with basics and one can’t get much basic than the timeless and classic wardrobe staple of the polo shirt. With the temperature on the rise, men need to look for an item that keeps him cool during the summer evenings yet still ensures he is one step ahead of the style game and the polo shirt may just be the item to come to the rescue.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, tennis players ordinarily wore “tennis whites” consisting of long-sleeved white button-up shirts (worn with the sleeves rolled up), flannel trousers, and ties. This attire presented problems for ease of play and comfort.

Rene Lacoste, the French seven-time Grand Slam tennis champion, decided that the stiff tennis attire was too cumbersome and uncomfortable. He designed a white, short-sleeved, loosely-knit pique cotton (he called the cotton weave jersey petit piqué) shirt with an unstarched, flat, protruding collar, a buttoned placket, and a longer shirt-tail in back than in front (known today as a “tennis tail”; see below), which he first wore at the 1926 U.S. Open championship. Beginning in 1927, Lacoste placed a crocodile emblem on the left breast of his shirts, as the American press had begun to refer to him as “The Crocodile”, a nickname which he embraced.

Basics of the Polo

The first thing to consider when wearing & purchasing a polo shirt is the amount of versatility that is readily available; whether you prefer subtle tones or bold statement patterns, there is definitely something for everybody and while this is a selling point of the polo, it can also become it’s biggest weakness.

The key with polo shirts is to understand the context in which you will be wearing it. If you are going for a more formal, clean cut appearance then keep to the plain, neutral type (possibly reach for a polo with pique edges to give a bit of flavour) and pair it with smart separates such as tailored trousers, chinos, blazers & loafers, for example – a navy polo shirt with a pair of cream tailored trousers matched with brown leather penny loafers creates to ultimate Steve McQueen look.

If your looking for something a little more casual, then feel free to experiment with your choice of colour, pattern and print but just remember if you do go the bold and loud route; only one print per outfit. While your polo can be loud as you desire, let it do the talking and keep the rest of the outfit relatively subdued in terms of boldness. Try pairing a red polo with a vibrant print with your jeans, desert boots and a navy Harrington jacket to create the timeless ‘mod’ look – classic and stylish.

Ways to Wear

polos  For a final word, like every piece of clothing, make sure your new polo shirt fits right. The sleeves should finish mid-bicep and the length should just come about halfway down your trousers fly to avoid any unwanted stomach being displayed when reaching for things. As always, I look forward to your feedback and thoughts for future instalments.

Thanks for reading!

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