Oh the polo shirt, staple sartorial choice of obnoxious frat boys, tennis pros, and the Easter mass-to-brunch transition. But the once-dated piece is back in a big way as street style embraces more prep-inspired, classic menswear pieces — but this time, in a cool way. The versatility of the piece has made everyone from streetwear to luxury designers take it on, especially with the resurgence of a 70s inspired take on dad-style and tennis aesthetics.
The moodboards taking over Instagram and Tik Tok commonly draw from Jude Law in The Talented Mr. Ripley and John F Kennedy Jr, the epitomes of Ivy League style, just as much as they do Rihanna or Timothee Chalamet. And as summer approaches, who doesn’t want to feel like they’re on a beach in Mongi or Nantucket, especially if they’re stuck instead making Zoom calls from their bedroom.
Though to some, the polo feels too much like a signifier of WASPiness or a reminder of the dark side of 2000s trends — shout out to Kanye’s hot pink polo or memories of teens layering 5 popped collars at a time — the shirt’s return is entirely more tasteful, while still maintaining an ironic twist, think dadcore, not prep school.
As we transition out of the ultra casual T-shirts and hoodies of our indoors pandemic life into some semblance of style and structure, a polo might be the one thing missing from your wardrobe. From experimental styles and patterns to elaborate knits and even beachy materials, ‘polo’ is no longer a dirty word.
Jacquemus is the hallmark of contemporary luxury fashion, a masterclass in blending the intricacies of classic French design with a modern touch. True to form, this take on the polo is a structured, well-panelled piece that feels sophisticated and laid back.
The brand’s signature muted neutrals are elevated by the cool blue accents and tonal color blocking. Gone are the days of lime green and hot pink combinations (sorry Marissa Cooper), the boys are in their beige and blue.
Wales Bonner is a brand which always push the boundaries of design, offering refreshing takes on trends with their unique blend of African and West Indian inspiration — which is to say, if its bringing back the polo, then it must be back.
This mesh polo is a crochet linen blend to keep you feeling cool and looking cool, too. The prep-inspired v-neck is offset by the color combination of the rust, teal, white and black stripes for the perfect combination of classic and contemporary style.
Casablanca is a streetwear brand which has made a name for itself for its vibrant use of color and inventive graphics. With one of their most sought after pieces being their “Tennis Court Hoodie,” it’s no surprise that they have taken their tennis inspo a step further with their new polo shirt.
Wearing this polo shirt is akin to manifesting being by the pool or on the beach. Everything about it evokes the perfect vibe: the cotton knit for breathable comfort, the sophisticated blue gradient, the playful wave pattern — a perfect garment which proves that boucle isn’t just for overpriced Instagram sofas.
Streetwear giant Supreme has been making polos for forever. And though some of us might only be venturing into polo-territory now, Supreme has still got us. This color blocked polo shirt is a bold and daring streetwear statement which is, of course, adorned with the Supreme logo for the ultimate cosign.
MHL. by Margaret Howell’s take on the polo shirt is the most sophisticated of the bunch. This iteration leans closer to a button down, but don’t snooze yet — it’s a deceptively simple piece that does it all. The shaped of the shirt makes it both structured and airy. The lightweight linen-cotton blend and clean lines make it the perfect piece for literally everyday, whether you’re dressing it up or down.
Aime Leon Dore have become the cool kids of the SoHo streetwear scene by embracing dad style. The NoLita storefront is the focus of many an-Instagram and their statement pieces and collaborations with New Balance and Porsche get all the attention, but even the more lowkey pieces are worth paying attention to.
The short sleeve knit polo showcases the brand’s attention to detail and revelatory skill at recreating a classic. The basic body draws attention to the weave knit sleeves. An instant classic.
Look in the closet of the coolest beach rat you know and you’ll find one of Tombolo’s cabana shirts. The bold graphics, rich colors, and beach-ready terry cloth made the brand’s initial run of cabana shirts a giant success. They’ve followed it up with a collection of polo shirts with the same, signature v-slit and terry cloth material.
Arbiters of contemporary prep-style, Rowing Blazers offer a refreshing take on everything from rugbies, cricket sweaters, button downs, blazers, and everything in between. Their polo is the most classic on the list, staying true to the best parts of the classic garment and adding their signature racquets motif.
The Folklore sources its artisans from all over Africa, bringing daring and exciting designers to the Western market. Nigerian ready-to-wear brand Tokyo James is the ultimate statement shirt. The bold colors are immediately striking, and the rib knit texture adds another layer of intrigue. Plus that white button collar? Excellent choice.
If you look in the mirror and ask yourself WHSWT (Would Harry Styles Wear This), then you’re doing something right. And if the fit in question includes this embroidered polo, Gucci golden boy probably would wear it. The embroidered symbols are each common motifs in Alessandro Michele’s work, so they’re better than a logo, they’re like a head nod to fellow Gucci devotees.
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