An ode to polo – and why too many men wear it so badly
II set out to write a piece on the classic basics that every man should have in his wardrobe. One of the first items that came to my mind was the polo shirt, and I realized that this in itself deserved an autonomous function.
Given the Texas climate, polo shirts are really an item that can be worn almost every 12 months of the year. You can’t say that for a lot of items (like sweaters that maybe rotate four months at the top). It’s also a piece of clothing that boys of all ages – whether toddler or in their 80s (like my dad) – can wear and still look great.
Polo shirts are also one of the most versatile items in a man’s closet. They are perfect with jeans of all shades and shapes (from skinny to loose or boot cut). They make a pair of khakis less boring if they’re in a vibrant shade. They can be worn with pants of any type and most certainly shorts.
The key to taking off a polo shirt and looking polished is the fit. Can we all say this together – FIT!
The Curse of the Polo Tent
Too often I have seen men look completely neglected because of an ill-fitting polo shirt. In general, this seems to be the case with those specially designed for the golf course. Men seem to wear sizes three times too big for them. As if they were saying, “In the last year, I have lost 50 pounds, but I insist on wearing my old clothes from my old bigger self.”
Golf polos have their place on the greens and perhaps in the clubhouse for lunch or the last drinks of the afternoon. Never outside of these circumstances. Yeah, I know a lot of men want to show their National Augusta logo polo shirts as if to shout – I attend Mastery every year. It’s the equivalent of women who want to spend their entire day in their Lululemon sportswear.
A wonderful example of a well-fitting polo shirt elevating the most casual outfits can be found Luca Guadagninothe shiny and lush film of 2009, I am love. First of all, if you haven’t seen this movie, stop reading it right away and go watch it. It’s one of my favorite best movies of all time and the fashion is quite brilliant. Raf Simons, while still at Jil Sander’s, created the wardrobe of Tilda Swinton’s main character, Emma. But I digress.
There are a few examples in the film of Italian men wearing simple polo shirts, but looking incredibly well put together, possibly due to their fit. I am not trying to suggest that all Italian men are slender and have exceptional bodies. Many have a certain girth and maybe love handles, however, they make sure they don’t run around like they’re carrying something from a tent company.
I’ve never mastered and I’m actually not a huge fan of the polo shirt under a blazer set. You really have to do it right on several levels: the juxtaposition of color, size (this is how many men go wrong – often a loose polo shirt under a tight blazer), fabrics working together or in opposition. . Kudos to you if you can make this suit your friend for business-like situations.
Must-have polo shirts
Hope you already have a few polo shirts in your wardrobe arsenal, but if not, here are some of my suggestions. First of all, the classic go-to is Lacoste. The line was founded by a tennis player, RenÃ© Lacoste in 1933 with AndrÃ© Gillier and has since reigned supreme. He’s been my friend for as long as I can remember and I’ve probably owned all the colors of the rainbow. In my 20s, I preferred pastels, but maybe that was because I lived in sunny places like Miami Beach and Los Angeles.
In my 30s, my palette became more earthy and neutral with lots of undertones of browns and grays. What’s good about Lacoste is that it’s a far cry from throwaway fashion (see lines like Gap, J.Crew, or H&M), but the prices aren’t insanely higher as the classic knit version is now costing about $ 90.
My second favorite, but at a much higher price is Thom browne. He is the genius of American sportswear revisited. His aesthetic is WASP but in the style of Wes Anderson. (BTW: I can’t write a post like this without mentioning another iconic Lacoste polo moment via Margot Tenenbaum’s uniform which was a striped dress version.)
There is always a spirit in the Thom Browne collections. It can add a whale or duck feel and make it cool and somewhat edgy and certainly not heavy and boring.
Other must-have classic lines are Ralph Lauren, Burberry, Boss, Rag & Bone and Theory. I recommend Boss if you are a taller or taller man as their fit seems to accommodate heights over 6ft 2in (if you are this height or even taller some lines may appear cut at your section. median – for example, Thom Browne).
Each season, most of the high-end designers and labels offer new versions of the polo shirt that fall within the limits of their aesthetic. You can find standard versions that don’t stray far from their target audience from Brunello Cucinelli, Tom Ford and Prada. For more daring, take a look at the collections of Gucci, Kenzo and Saint Laurent. If you want to go out a bit with a high-end line, while still sticking to a standard fit, then definitely invest in one from the Play line from Comme des GarÃ§ons.
Make a few for the coming season. Remember though that for the basics always have at least one in black, white, navy blue, and gray. Stay tuned for my next features on other items every man should have in his wardrobe.