Blame it on business casual. When the dressed-down revolution swept America’s workplaces in the 1990s, spaces that had once required a dress shirt downgraded to “collared shirts,” and polos rushed in to fill the void.
However, the polo shirts adopted by countless pencil-pushers and sales attendants were less inspirational than the athletic-minded garment first designed by René Lacoste to replace tennis whites in 1926. And years of shapeless, discounted-to-death polos made us forget how anyone could make a fuss over them in the first place.
Or did it? Take a fresh look, and the polo is one of the most diverse garments in the male wardrobe. Cut close and slim, the polo is a sporty classic ready for chino shorts and court sneakers. Relax the fit and add ribbed trimming, and it suddenly gains a retro gravitas that goes with pleated trousers and your best loafers.
And that’s not even touching on the wealth of fabrics, from velvety terry cotton to slinky silk blends, that make the polo shirt one of the least predictable styles around. Check your notions at the door and read on to discover the glorious state of the polo in 2020.