In the early 1970s Ralph Lauren introduced what it called the short-sleeved collared sport shirt. It went on to become one of the icons of clothing.
Not that Ralph Lauren invented the polo shirt, but the preppy look that the brand helped create was epitomized by it. Sure, it has something of a mixed reputation, largely due to being associated with “rich jerks” in films and throughout the ‘80s, but the aspirational Americana style, New England Look or whatever you want to call it is almost the de-facto American look now, and it’s something that works perfectly here in this region.
It’s smart enough to wear to a brunch, yet fine for the hot weather. It looks good with chinos, jeans or shorts, but it’s laid back enough to look like you’re not trying too hard. And there’s nothing that will kill your style like visibly over-trying, which is why pocket squares are so hard to pull off – there’s a fine line between rakish insouciance and looking like a children’s magician.
Of course, Ralph Lauren are not the only brand who make them. The Sunspel one that Daniel Craig wore in Casino Royale is really good, but is a newer brand that doesn’t quite have the cachet. Lacoste makes great shirts but they often feel a little too sporty for some occasions.
Meanwhile Fred Perry is also famous for their polo shirts and they come with a British Mod heritage rather than American Preppy and are equally nice looking – but we’re sad to report that they fade badly in the sun. Trust us, we’ve seen the Middle East sun kill more than a few Fred Perry shirts while they’re hanging on the washing line, so you can only really buy them in white or are forced to dry them inside.
A Ralph Lauren polo though, is a staple, an icon and every man’s wardrobe should have one.
For Vogue Magazine