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The classic polo shirt is a timeless men’s top today. Ever since Rene Lacoste – the tennis pro and original polo engineer – decided the back-then 1920s tennis uniform wasn’t so trés bien after all, the player-turned-designer eschewed the frumpy uniform worn by contemporary athletes at the time, for something plus chic. Enter the polo shirt.
From a simple base layer to a dress shirt replacement, today we’re showcasing five distinct styling approaches, all of which exude a sense of timelessness for the polo. Then, once persuaded of the shirt’s importance in your summer wardrobe, click through the slideshow for the best polo brands for men and how to wear a polo shirt.
The polo shirt is an icon of preppy style, but you’re missing out on a lot of sartorial opportunities if you think that’s all it is. The classic polo is actually incredibly versatile – it can be dressed up or dressed down to suit the occasion.
Sports-luxe is everywhere in menswear. And, the tennis-derived polo plays the active code well. Especially, when paired with jogger pants (tracksuit bottoms). For summer, try lightweight silky, linen harem pants with an open neck polo (rocking the half-tuck) and leather sandals, opting for comfort and a sense of vacay charm, even if you haven’t left your neighbourhood.
Headed seaside? Pack one or two polos. In pure cotton pique jersey – softer than classic pique, the beach is where your pattern polo game amps up. Structurally, revere collars match those fedora-feels, with a split hem and again, keep it untucked. Go for melange stripes and brighter colours with navy, beige or white as an anchor somewhere in your outfit. Tailored shorts or swim shorts are your bottoms of choice, switching in espadrilles, boat shoes and even sandals, do away with rubber thongs altogether.
In 2018, a polo shirt can be a little preppy and a lot of badass.
The polo shirt universe can be divided neatly into two camps: the baggy, shapeless collared shirts (the kind beloved by a certain breed of golfer) and the streamlined versions favored by style gods like Aziz Ansari, Idris Elba, and Justin Theroux. And just in case you weren't 100% sure, right now the second category is where you should want to be. Some of the world's most stylish men trust in this version of the menswear staple for it's ultimate goes-with-everything-ness. It's a smart summer office style fix under a blazer, it can dress up any casual layers, and it looks as cool buttoned-up as it does opened up. Like the color-blocked polo worn by Lucky Blue Smith in the pages of GQ, these fashion-first polos come with luxe touches, in uncommon colors, and with details like tipped cuffs and collars.
If you have one already, you should be wearing the hell out of it right now. And if you don't, well there's still plenty of time to wear one—even into this fall. Like our man Lucky, the best way to make sure you get the most style miles out of a proper polo shirt is to wear it with a leather jacket. Think of it as a greaser-meets-do-gooder mix that brings a little badass edge to your wardrobe. Just make sure the jacket and shirt you choose are a solid pair by mirroring the jacket's color and a secondary or tertiary color in your polo's design. Still not sure how to pull the look off? Here are three examples of how it's done (that you can buy right now).