There was a time when I thought polo shirts were only for people who dressed like they were about to golf. I was 13 at the time, and the latest trend was wearing baggy t-shirts with gigantic pants that didn't compliment my small, lean frame at the time. But I did it anyway, with Vans to boot.
A decade later, fashion has become a much more important part of my life, both as an outward projection of my identity and a superficial glimpse of myself. An outfit gives the world a snap judgment of one's personality, or at least how they are in that moment. People judge all the time, and it's a normal and healthy way to take in the world and organize it. But, it's only an outer portrayal.
So what does this have to do with polo shirts? Well, I want the world to know I like to dress sharp and slightly waspish, and a good form-fitting polo shirt says exactly that. (and that I may be golfing in a few hours)
My favorite polo shirt is the classic from Ralph Lauren, who popularized the brand in 1972. Today these shirts retail at $75, so owning one or two is enough. More polos can be purchased from top notch brands like LaCoste (you gotta love the alligator), Abercrombie, Puma and less expensive brands that retail at $20.
Polos are a step above a t-shirt thanks to the collar and buttons. Having the option to unbutton and show off chest hair or a Hollywood-hairless, artificially-tanned chest can add sexiness when needed, a trait I've noticed women tend to use by buttoning as little as possible when strolling LA's 3rd Street Promenade.
A little skin and midriff go a long way for this foxy lady.
Like vermouth to gin, a polo and a sweater are a match made in heaven, a casual look that works at the office or on a date. I'm a more conservative dresser, so while Polos come in many colors, black is my favorite because it works with everything.
And now an aside on the popped collar: Yes, it IS super preppy. But, it is also a bold move, adding a touch of cool to your look AND providing some sun block.
Warning! The popped collar can be abused. This guy should have stopped at ONE POLO SHIRT, but instead continued until he reached 23.
Another poor use of the polo is when it is too baggy and draped over the human body like a knee-length cape. You're not Superman! If you're a medium, resist the urge to buy extra large. PLEASE
Every good review needs an anti-thesis, so here's Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall rejecting our hero, Chris Messina as he sports the Polo in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. You can't win 'em all.
But Brad Pitt likes Polo and he's the epitome of being cool while raising a small culturally-mixed tribe of children.
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René Lacoste, the French 7-time Grand Slam tennis champion, decided that the stiff tennis attire was too cumbersome and uncomfortable He designed a white, short-sleeved, loosely knit piqué cotton (he called the cotton weave jersey petit piqué) shirt with an un-starched, flat protruding collar, a buttoned placket, and a longer shirt-tail in back than in front (known today as a "tennis tail" which he first wore at the 1926 U.S. Open championship. Beginning in 1927, Lacoste placed a crocodile emblem on the left breast of his shirts, as the American press had begun to refer to him as "the alligator", a nickname which he embraced.
Lacoste's design mitigated the problems that traditional tennis attire created