It’s a mainstay of the weekend wardrobe, every gentleman has one and yet the humble polo shirt has been subject to mixed reception over the years. Introduced by tennis legend René Lacoste in the 1920s as an alternative to the restrictive button-ups that were the on-court norm, the design was soon adopted by polo players, with Brooks Brothers and Ralph Lauren becoming the outfitters of choice.
However, when the polo shirt hit the golf course things took a turn for the worse. Garish colours, unflattering prints and cheap fabrics became the order of the day. It wasn’t long before mass production dealt the polo the final fatal fashion blow of ubiquity.
This season, however, it’s making a comeback thanks to stylish gents – and their go-to brands – who have reclaimed the polo as the wear-anywhere piece that works with denim, shorts and, if you really know what you’re doing, suits. All that remains is to find the one that works for you – here are our summer favourites…
Still not convinced about the style merits of a polo shirt? Dip your toe into classic Casual Friday dressing with a fitted polo in a timeless shade. Look for subtle upgrades in the form of fine fabrics (think cashmere for winter and pure linen for summer), mother-of-pearl buttons or a knitted long-sleeve style that makes for a safer office option.
If you’re feeling a little bolder introduce a modern Brit Pop vibe to your look with a contrasting collar. Just be careful not to take it too far. A white shirt with a coloured collar or vice versa is ideal and, if you absolutely must have a print, stick to stripes. These riffs on an always elegant blue-and-white colour combo are a case in point.
Last seen on holidaying children and Sean Connery in Goldfinger, the towelling polo shirt has been making waves in menswear over the past few seasons thanks to early adopters such as David Gandy and Orlebar Brown. Best reserved for drinks at the beach bar, slip on with this summer’s best swim shorts for an instant hit of surfer style.
The polo shirt is, realistically, an item only likely to appear in the balmy spring and summer months so embrace your inner French Riviera and invest in pastel hues. Keep things smart by choosing a plain polo shirt in a shade guaranteed to look good with a tan and pair with chinos or tailored shorts and shoes (not sneakers).
Now you’ve got your summer attire sorted it’s time to learn how to barbecue like a king with tips from the royal butcher…