There is just something about the polo that makes it such a big-game player in a man’s wardrobe. Perhaps it’s because it possesses the capacity to hit the sweet spot between the formal and the casual – a collar gives it a more serious edge over a T-shirt, but the short-sleeves allow for a softer, more relaxed feel than a poplin button up.
Since its introduction by tennis’s René Lacoste in the early 20th century, who it used as an alternative to the restrictive court dress code (starched shirts, pleated trousers), the design has hit the mainstream, being popularised by Brooks Brothers and Ralph Lauren, golfers in garish colours and prints, and it was cemented in the public imagination by the likes of Elvis and Clint Eastwood.
With warmer conditions on the approach, it’s time to start considering this failsafe spring-summer must-buy – to find one that works for you, here are the best options to put on your list…
The timeless polo
Double-down on the polo’s versatility by reaching for one that’s not only designed in a dress-code-spanning colour, but is also made by the finest label in this particular department. Sunspel, famed for its British craftsmanship and for dressing the likes of 007, is a failsafe – its Riviera option is made from a cotton mesh, making it both ventilating and lightweight, and the cut is exact. Plenty have this model in navy, as it was made famous by Daniel Craig in Casino Royale, so pick up something that’s a shade different, such as the slightly cream-toned ‘Archive White’.
Riviera Polo Shirt
The towelling polo
Evoking a feeling of being next to the waters of Ocho Rios, poolside in Miami, or on a lounger in Okinawa, a towelling polo is both absorbant and breathable, making it a suitcase essential when going to destinations with claggier, more humid terrains. Aurélien’s, made from a butter-soft cotton-terry towelling fabric, works superbly well when paired with tailored trunks.
Aurélien navy terry towelling polo shirt
The knitted polo
If you feel like injecting a degree of retro into your wardrobe options, a knitted polo not only provides a textured quality, but it also gives you a base from which to wear some off-duty 60s-style gear – think of an all-Americana tennis club outfit of straight-cut beige chinos and Ralph Lauren boat shoes. This Mr P polo is knitted from a cotton that has a slight stretch, and its zip, in lieu of a placket with buttons, is a subtle contemporary touch.
Mr P knitted cotton half-zip polo shirt
The bold-colour polo
It is always a safe move to fall back on wear-anywhere shades, whether navy, black, white or grey. However, if you do intend to trial some colours that are slightly more daring, we direct you towards Orlebar Brown’s gold polo. It too is made from a towelling material, and both its open, spread collar and relaxed fit provide an air of nonchalance; the main draw, however, is that its rich, deep hue sits on the right side of colourful, allowing you to stand out from the throngs without drawing attention for the wrong reasons.
Orlebar Brown resort collar towelling polo shirt
The long-sleeve polo
As you are fully aware, the UK’s weather is never a sure thing, so wearing a resort-appropriate short-sleeve polo may not be the best look when trying to navigate your way through downpours, or when walking against heavy breezes. A longsleeve alternative, therefore, is a safer bet, as it’s a transitional piece that can work as a fine alternative to a jumper or a flannel shirt – made from merino wool, we have a particular liking for Turnbull & Asser’s Cecil polo, as it is suitable to wear either under a blazer or a harrington jacket.
Turnbull & Asser Cecil polo shirt
Need some warm-weather fragrance inspiration, too? Here are the lightest, brightest, freshest spring fragrances to buy right now
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