With the World Cup in full swing, it’s time we converted our wardrobes to sporting autumnal style. But feel free to leave any uncomfortably tight shorts or cumbersome scrum caps in the changing room — because we’re here to champion the humble rugby shirt.
Commonly long-sleeved, with a button-neck and stiffer collar than the softer, sports-derived polo shirt, the rugby shirt has several design quirks that may be functional on the field, but can also be fashionable off it. The smaller collar, for example, was initially designed so there is less material for potential tacklers to grab. And the stronger material, originally for hardiness, makes them the perfect transitional shirt for this colder weather.
So as the tournament charges on, here are the three best designs you can buy — to add a little sport, strength and style to your wardrobe this autumn.
A bold, block colour will tackle any outfit
Like the sportsmen competing out in Japan, we like our rugby shirts tough, dependable and fit for the job. The simpler your shirt is, the more versatile it will be — able to weave, loop and switch all over your wardrobe and score every time it breaks through.
From the sports sophistication kings over at Ralph Lauren, this navy blue shirt is the perfect place to start. It’s preppy tones and ribbed edged complement the casual aesthetic, while the smooth cotton piqué will keep you comfortable. Similarly, Levi’s Mighty Made shirt in a soft olive is perfect for an off-duty look — or why not opt for British Barbour, whose merlot shirt offers up a pop of colour?
Ralph Lauren Rugby Cotton Shirt
Levi’s Mighty Made Polo Shirt
Barbour Shield Rugby Polo Shirt
Stripes are the classic rugby shirt look
Of course, one must only look to the fields of Japan to see that block colours aren’t all too common on the field. From Argentina’s bold blue stripes to Japan’s red and white bands, horizontal lines are common within rugby kits — and offer subtle patterning without making your shirt seem too busy.
If you want to follow in the cleated footsteps of these teams, we’d suggest heading to Gant — where the brand’s Heavy Rugger collection brings collegiate-cool to the rugby shirt style. Alternatively, British-based Kent & Curwen has created a sumptuous silk-knitted shirt, with a fine cream burgundy stripe. Or, for a big barstripe, Joules Onside offering is soft, sturdy and classically coloured.
Gant Original Barstripe Heavy Rugger
Kent & Curwen Silk Knitted Rugby Shirt
Joules Onside Long Sleeve Rugby Shirt
Push your personal style with an alternative pattern
The rugby shirt is a unique canvas in fashion. For reasons unknown, designers have adopted this sporting garment as an ideas pad of sorts for their most outlandish and striking patterns. So, if you want to push the boundaries of your personal style and score some design points, look to the more singular shirts for inspiration.
From Ralph Lauren, this double-V rugby shirt takes its cues from vintage styles, with bold chevron patterning and a roomier fit. Hackett, too, has shown bold initiatives with its quad-detail shirt — inspired by traditional British shirts and finished with a woven collar. Or, for a softer pattern, go pastel with J. Crew and this 1980s flavoured offering.
Ralph Lauren Vintage Polo Shirt
Hackett Quad Detail Rugby Shirt
J. Crew 1984 Flamingo Rugby Shirt
Looking for more World Cup insights? Listen to Gentleman’s Journal Rugby World Cup podcast…