The modern day Polo shirt, not unlike the humble Tee, has a great history of evolution. Potentially dating back as far as the 1800s when a group of British Army soldiers reputedly set up the world’s first polo club after encountering some locals playing the sport in Manipur, India (those guys rock that polo look don't you think?)
Of course the shirt was different back then, the army chaps preferred thicker fabric and long sleeves. Various mutations have taken place since with perhaps the most significant modern day shaping coming from Rene Lacoste in the roaring twenties, when he developed it into a lightweight, short sleeved shirt for tennis.
So while its roots may be firmly in sport, today the polo is another wardrobe essential sold by a multitude of brands led by forbearers Ralph Lauren and Lacoste.
You’ve got at least one in your wardrobe, but do you know how to wear it? Here’s our first bit of advice to keep you on the right side of cool.
The right fit is almost a tight fit.
A well fitting polo should be slim but not tight. Yes, we know most of us don’t have the perfect 007 physique but baggy isn’t a good look where the polo is concerned. If you’re a right pear, avoid just buying a bigger size to hide those less than perfect abs. That just puts the length, neck, shoulders and sleeves out of kilter. Instead, look for brands that give a looser fit in the body. They might be called relaxed or classic fits. If you’re skinny and ripped, go for a custom or slim fit.
The sleeves should ideally be slim too, not flapping, with the shoulder seam sitting squarely on the shoulder bone. They should reach around half way between your shoulder and elbow.
Finally on the subject of fit is the length. Don’t have it so long that it looks like a dress or so short it’s almost cropped. The traditional polo shirt has what’s called ‘tennis tails’ where the back is longer, designed to stay tucked even under extreme stretching, bending and lunging. It’s here you can sometimes come unstuck on the length. Don’t have the back extending more than halfway down your backside or you could fall foul of the dreaded VPL (visible polo line) where you get that crumpled look. If you prefer un-tucked then go for a shirt without tennis tails and wear it to just below the waistline/belt. Speaking of which…
To tuck or not to tuck?
You may be a serial tucker but let's face it, in some situations, letting it hang is undoubtedly the way to go style wise.
Along with personal preference, and bearing in mind the previous points on length, the other deciding factors are usually occasion and what else you’re wearing.
For the most part, jeans and shorts dictate that your polo should be out, while chinos or ‘slacks’ (we love retro!) on those smarter occasions lend themselves to tuck, particularly if you’re wearing a belt. In fact if you’re not wearing a belt, your shirt needs to be out regardless.
Of course you don’t need to take our advice but be warned we’ll be back with more on this somewhat complex subject, where one wrong move can take you from cool to mule. Hee haw to that!