In a world overrun with t-shirts, there’ll never be one as aspirational as the polo. A halfway house between smart and casual, this deceptively simple collared variety has always upheld its reputation as being a little bit posher than your average piece of jersey.
Historically, things are a bit blurry, with some folk claiming the first version emerged at an early 19th century Argentinian polo club while others are adamant it was the invention of a bunch of ex-pats in India. Regardless of origins, we have the French tennis player René Lacoste to thank for putting this collared shirt into the wardrobes of the world. He wore one to play the US Open in New York in 1926, and after that, everyone wanted a piece of the action. It was thanks to this so-called ‘influencing’, that the polo shirt exploded in popularity.
Photo credit:Tenis is Fame of René Lacoste
You don’t have to be into tennis, polo, golf or sailing to wear one. Far from it. Thanks to the mods, this sporty little stalwart crossed over into the mainstream, and became popular with 1980s football fans, Silicon Valley tech wizards and even upmarket preppy types. Pure pique genius, the shape seems to work across the board and flatters all physiques. If you’re going for that mid-century brainiac vibe it looks good teamed with chinos, or if you’re flummoxed by the thought of a ‘smart casual’ dress code – this is your man. You can even bang it on with some shorts and Birkenstocks for a beer garden soiree, or pair it with jeans if you fancy looking like a member of The Housemartins.
However you wear yours, it’s good to know that Universal Works have got the category covered for summer 2023. We asked U.W. founder David Keyte for some insider intel on his inspiration behind the fabrications. Always a fan of this short-sleeved, fair-weather friend, he explains,
“We all know a polo shirt is a classic staple of every man’s wardrobe, but we wanted ours to be a bit more ‘vacation-ready’. Designed to be worn with an open collar, these updates are made with premium fabrics, but cut to feel relaxed and give the feeling that you’re already on holiday as soon as you pull it on.
Available in vibrant colours, we’ve got the traditional cotton pique and even a luxury terry towelling edition. We’ve even added a chest pocket, just to make it a little more special than your average run-of-the-mill polo. Super chilled is the look we’re going for here, regardless of whether you’re jetting off, or stay-cationing on home turf. The U.W. Vacation Polo should be the absolute beacon of laid-back sophistication. Right – where can I order a Banana Daiquiri?...”