The polo shirt is the perfect example of how a garment originally designed with a practical sporting function has become part of everyday dress. Its name provides an indication of its sports heritage, but over the years it has become a versatile garment, suitable for a wide range of looks from the most relaxed to smart casual.
The polo shirt first appeared in 1927 as a garment for tennis that was more practical than the long-sleeved buttoned shirts that had been used up until then. The new shirt was made in cotton piqué, with an unstarched collar, a placket with two or three buttons, and short sleeves. The garment was soon adopted by polo players, who for decades had been using heavy long-sleeved cotton shirts with button-down collars, and who appreciated the extra flexibility of the new shirt. By the time that the pattern reached the global market in the early 1930s, it became known as the polo shirt even though it could equally be described as a tennis shirt or a golf shirt.
Today the polo shirt retains its links to the world of sport, and its basic pattern has remained unchanged. But it now plays a more transversal role in menswear. Any guy will inevitably have a series of polo shirts in a selection of different colours, providing many looks ideal for the summer. The breathability of cotton piqué makes it perfect for the hottest days of the season, easy to pair with denim or 5-pocket trousers, and also with Bermuda shorts and a pair of moccasins.