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The History and Beauty of the Polo Shirt


If there are two things that make up the backbone of any stylish wardrobe, it’s blue jeans and polo shirts. Although you may already have polos in every color of the rainbow, how much do you really know about this iconic clothing item? Fresh Fam, it’s time to head back to school with a crash course on the history of the polo!

The Original Polo

The polo was born in Manipur, India, in the late 19th century as a button-down sporting garment that bears very little resemblance to the polos we know and love today. Since the original polos were designed specifically for the game of polo and not for golfing, BBQing, or dressing up a pair of jeans, they were more utilitarian than fashionable.

Early polo shirts looked a lot like regular button-downs, but with a twist. They were much more durable and had small buttons affixed to the collar, so that it wouldn’t go flying around during spirited polo matches. During British colonization, soldiers “discovered” polo and brought the game, polo shirts, and jodhpur pants back with them to the U.K.

Featured: Oatmeal Torrey Polo

A Modern, Sporty Twist

The modern polo might be a timeless classic, but the current style is less than 100 years old. In 1951, Jean Rene Lacoste partnered with Izod to create a short-sleeved cotton tennis shirt that would elevate the current uniform. In honor of Lacoste’s nickname, “Le Crocodile,” the new polo came with a minuscule crocodile embroidered on the top.

Today, Lacoste’s croc is synonymous with preppy sportswear and streetwear, and his polos inspired other designers to develop their own riffs on the classic. Fred Perry created a line of stark white polos with tiny wreaths on the breast, and Ralph Lauren brought the polo mainstream, cementing its role in American fashion as the last word in preppy, upper-class style.

Featured: Black Torrey Polo

Timeless and Versatile

The best thing about the polo is its ability to elevate your style without sacrificing comfort. This shirt is the perfect compromise between a button-down and a tee. It looks just as great under a sportcoat as it does with a pair of dark jeans and loafers, and it’s the perfect wardrobe ingredient to give you an instant style boost.

Polos for Smart Summer Wear

It can be tricky to look your best when the mercury starts rising, which is why polos are your closet’s MVPs on those sticky summer days. Pair a breathable Torrey Polo with a pair of shorts for a coordinated look that’s sophisticated and completely comfortable.

Polos for Low-Key Business Outings

Polos are fantastic for those times when a suit seems too stuffy, but jeans and a tee simply won’t do. Pair a neutral-colored polo with a smart sportcoat, a pair of dark jeans or slacks, and a pair of polished oxfords for a winning combo. As an added perk, you can always take off the sportcoat and easily take this look from the boardroom to the bar.

Polos for Smart Casual

The only ingredients you need for a smart casual look are a good polo, a pair of chinos (pants or shorts), and some thought-out accessories. Pair your polo with a good watch and a sporty pair of sneakers for a winning date look. If you want to really raise the style factor, you can focus specifically on neutrals. Black polos and grey chinos are a fantastic combination that’s a bit more unexpected than the traditional black shirt/khaki chino pairing.

So, if it’s time for you to level up your polo collection, Fresh Clean Tees has got you covered with a super-soft, mega-comfy collection of fitted polo shirts!

— Elizabeth Lavis

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