Are you thinking about making a polo shirt the next addition to your suitcase? Allow us to assist. In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to know about our favourite holiday style, including outfit inspiration and its sporty beginnings.
WHY IS A POLO SHIRT CALLED A POLO SHIRT?
Contrary to popular belief, the polo shirt that we recognise today was actually invented for tennis. In the 1920s, French tennis player Rene Lacoste wanted to design something more comfortable than the traditional long-sleeved button-up shirt. His marvellous invention? You guessed it: the polo shirt. The garment he created was a white pique cotton shirt with short sleeves. The wearer could turn up the unstarched collar to prevent sunburn and unbutton the placket for comfort. It also had a slightly longer tail to prevent the shirt from untucking during a game.
By the 1930s, polo shirts were so popular that polo players reclaimed the innovative style, and the term ‘polo shirt’ was born. It wasn’t long before the polo became popular in the celebrity world. Clint Eastwood, James Dean and Pharrell Williams have all earned style recognition with a little help from this reliable garment.
HOW IS A POLO SHIRT SUPPOSED TO FIT?
Polo shirts are super-versatile but choosing the right fit depends on the occasion and your personal tastes. We have three hero styles that combine classic tailoring with quintessential Orlebar Brown details you can’t find anywhere else.
The Sebastian has always been a bestseller, owing to our unique tailored approach. Every man looks his best in a tailored fit polo as it streamlines the silhouette. We’ve taken the principles of a finely tailored man’s shirt: smart two-part collar, shaped hem and sewn-on buttoned cuffs. The Sebastian’s deep three-button placket creates an open, non-restrictive neckline (practical as well as flattering), while the shaped hem can also be worn untucked to elongate the torso.
Our Terry towelling polo shirt is the perfect poolside companion and mimics James Bond’s look in Dr. No (1962). The Terry has a retro-inspired resort placket, tailored silhouette, and side vents to retain shape when seated. The straight hem is excellent for wearing untucked.
Finally, the Jarrett is our most laidback option—great for a bit of downtime. Its fit is more relaxed than our other hero styles, with a short two-button placket for simplicity. The ribbed collar, in addition to being robust, also offers a sporty accent.
HOW DO YOU WEAR A POLO SHIRT?
Wearing a polo shirt is straightforward, but naturally, there are many ways to style it for different occasions and destinations. The first big question is: are polo shirts smart-casual? The short answer is yes. Sure, you can rely on the Jarrett to get you through a heated game of beach volleyball, but style our tailored Sebastian with a blazer, and you have yourself a smarter option. Read on for more style advice
Partner one of our Jarrett Washed polos—‘washed’ in referring to the colour treatment—with navy Bulldog swim shorts. The ‘lived-in’ appearance of the cotton ties in with the laidback beach aesthetic. Alternatively, if you’re off to the pool, pull on our classic Terry and wear untucked to show off the straight hem.
Top tip: Neatly turn up the sleeve to create shoulder definition when you cool off from the heat.
The key to creating a smart-casual look is to add polished details. Wear a plain white or cream Sebastian tucked into a pair of cotton twill Bulldog shorts and add a blazer—perfect for lunch at the beach club. The shorts keep the look casual while the blazer lends a sophisticated layer. Finish with plain sneakers for a final casual touch.
Top tip: Add a belt to a tucked-in polo and day shorts combo and button up the placket to smarten your outfit further.
By opting for the Sebastian's traditional two-part collar over a casual ribbed collar, and chinos over shorts, you'll already have the basis of a smart outfit. Pair with a blazer and ensure the colour matches your chinos for an chic appearance. Alternatively, replace the Sebastian with an open collar polo knitted in silk or cashmere. The polo’s fabric texture and tailoring are anything but casual, and the open collar is great for when the music in the bar gets you moving.
Top tip: If you are ever unsure, keep the colour palette of your outfit classic and it's hard to go wrong—think white, cream, black or navy.
Now that we’ve answered all your polo shirt questions, there’s only one thing left to do: browse our Polo Shirt assortment and begin your O.B collection.