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Lifestyle Journal

The Ones Who Wore It Well:
The Polo Shirt

The old adage, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, is one that has a great deal of resonance in menswear, which is the very reason that certain staples have been a firm fixture of a man’s wardrobe for decades, or in some cases, centuries. In the first of our series, we take a look at one of these enduring staples – the polo shirt – and the sartorially fluent men who knew how to wear it well.

René Lacoste

The Rise of the Polo Shirt

Sport luxe and Athleisure – the infiltration of sport wear into city dress – are phrases which are regularly peppered throughout the paragraphs of men’s style columns. Although this way of dressing might seem like a relatively new concept, in reality, the world of sport has long influenced the way we dress – and the polo shirt is a prime example of that.

At the beginning of the 20th century, there was a vested interest from governments and scientists to encourage the general population to get fit – this was driven, in part, by the poor levels of fitness found amongst the populace during compulsory conscription during the First World War. It was the 1920s saw a marked interest in sport and tennis was viewed as a respectable pastime.

And it was tennis legends, Rene Lacoste and Fred Perry who are credited with popularising the modern polo shirt. Rene was first to wear the style on court in 1927, which he adopted from mallet-wielding polo players who wanted greater freedom of movement during games, which the billowing shirts that were popular at the time, failed to deliver. It’s comfort and convenience soon prompted him to produce his own branded polo shirt, which was introduced in 1933. Fred Perry followed suit and wore polo shirts on court, launching his own iteration at Wimbledon in 1952.

It’s breathability, comfort and collar that gave it a smarter advantage over the T-shirt, meant that the general population soon cottoned on to the virtues of the polo shirt and it began to appear off the court. And, our five style icons here, certainly knew it’s sartorial worth.


Clint Eastwood

Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood – best known for his turns in A Fist Full of Dollars and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – has the sort of confident swagger that made everything he put on his back look stylish. In this shot from, he takes a clean-cut red polo and teams it with a simple pair of black trousers and a slick timepiece. This signature look proves that often in the world of style, less is more. Of course, it also helps if you’re as handsomely chiselled as Clint.

Clint Eastwood, 1960s


Steve McQueen, 1963

Steve McQueen

Whether it was his trademark folding Persol sunglasses or his TAG Heuer Monaco, the Hollywood legend’s lasting legacy on the world of menswear is hard to ignore. Examining the evidence, it seems that that McQueen could do no wrong as far as his wardrobe was concerned. In this iconic shot, McQueen’s combination of a sky-blue polo, stone-hued denim and classic white tennis shoes, ticks all the right boxes and looks as relevant today as it did when this snap was taken half a century ago. Timeless is a word often overused in the world of style, but in McQueen’s case, he was the real McCoy.


Robert Conrad

A lesser-known star of the screen, Robert Conrad was the leading man in the Western television serial, Wild Wild West, in which he played a suave Secret Agent, James T. West. Not content with looking every inch the hero in his on-screen persona, he also looked the part off camera, too. Conrad certainly knew how to pull off a polo, as illustrated by this shot of him wearing a fitted navy polo with a pair of white cotton chinos – a look that scores full marks for both style and comfort.

Robert Conrad, 1960s


Daniel Craig, Quantum of Solace, 2008

Daniel Craig

Although perhaps better known for his razor sharp tailoring, Her Majesty’s smoothest MI6 agent knows how to do casual in effortless style, too. It should come as little surprise that Daniel Craig’s appearance in Quantum of Solace in dark-navy polo caused a significant spike in navy polo sales. Throw in a pair of selvedge jeans, a prize timepiece and some Ray-Bans and you’ve nailed the look. We’d suggest you omit the firearm, though.


James Dean, c.1954

James Dean

Despite the fact his life was cut tragically short by a fatal car crash at the age of 24, James Dean still had enough time to leave us some of the most inspirational visual fodder in the history of modern menswear. Every look he donned has become as iconic as the roles he played on the silver screen. In these shots, he shows exactly how to wear a polo – with a pair of rakish, wide-leg trousers and a healthy hit of devil-may-care attitude. When you have this much confidence, style comes naturally.


Luca Faloni’s Brera Polos continue the legacy of the iconic essential and this season’s new Lava Red and Forest Green iterations are the perfect accompaniment to the hues of autumn. Crafted in cotton piqué for comfort, easy to style and works equally well worn on down days with jeans, or dressed up with a blazer – like all good staples, they’re the perfect all rounder.

Lava Red Brera
Polo Shirt

Forest Green Brera
Polo Shirt

René Lacoste

The Rise of the Polo Shirt

Sport luxe and Athleisure – the infiltration of sport wear into city dress – are phrases which are regularly peppered throughout the paragraphs of men’s style columns. Although this way of dressing might seem like a relatively new concept, in reality, the world of sport has long influenced the way we dress – and the polo shirt is a prime example of that.

At the beginning of the 20th century, there was a vested interest from governments and scientists to encourage the general population to get fit – this was driven, in part, by the poor levels of fitness found amongst the populace during compulsory conscription during the First World War. It was the 1920s saw a marked interest in sport and tennis was viewed as a respectable pastime.

And it was tennis legends, Rene Lacoste and Fred Perry who are credited with popularising the modern polo shirt. Rene was first to wear the style on court in 1927, which he adopted from mallet-wielding polo players who wanted greater freedom of movement during games, which the billowing shirts that were popular at the time, failed to deliver. It’s comfort and convenience soon prompted him to produce his own branded polo shirt, which was introduced in 1933. Fred Perry followed suit and wore polo shirts on court, launching his own iteration at Wimbledon in 1952.

It’s breathability, comfort and collar that gave it a smarter advantage over the T-shirt, meant that the general population soon cottoned on to the virtues of the polo shirt and it began to appear off the court. And, our five style icons here, certainly knew it’s sartorial worth.


Clint Eastwood

Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood – best known for his turns in A Fist Full of Dollars and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – has the sort of confident swagger that made everything he put on his back look stylish. In this shot from, he takes a clean-cut red polo and teams it with a simple pair of black trousers and a slick timepiece. This signature look proves that often in the world of style, less is more. Of course, it also helps if you’re as handsomely chiselled as Clint.

Clint Eastwood, 1960s

Steve McQueen, 1963

Steve McQueen

Whether it was his trademark folding Persol sunglasses or his TAG Heuer Monaco, the Hollywood legend’s lasting legacy on the world of menswear is hard to ignore. Examining the evidence, it seems that that McQueen could do no wrong as far as his wardrobe was concerned. In this iconic shot, McQueen’s combination of a sky-blue polo, stone-hued denim and classic white tennis shoes, ticks all the right boxes and looks as relevant today as it did when this snap was taken half a century ago. Timeless is a word often overused in the world of style, but in McQueen’s case, he was the real McCoy.


Robert Conrad, 1960s

Robert Conrad

A lesser-known star of the screen, Robert Conrad was the leading man in the Western television serial, Wild Wild West, in which he played a suave Secret Agent, James T. West. Not content with looking every inch the hero in his on-screen persona, he also looked the part off camera, too. Conrad certainly knew how to pull off a polo, as illustrated by this shot of him wearing a fitted navy polo with a pair of white cotton chinos – a look that scores full marks for both style and comfort.

Daniel Craig, Quantum of Solace, 2008

Daniel Craig

Although perhaps better known for his razor sharp tailoring, Her Majesty’s smoothest MI6 agent knows how to do casual in effortless style, too. It should come as little surprise that Daniel Craig’s appearance in Quantum of Solace in dark-navy polo caused a significant spike in navy polo sales. Throw in a pair of selvedge jeans, a prize timepiece and some Ray-Bans and you’ve nailed the look. We’d suggest you omit the firearm, though.


James Dean, c.1954

James Dean

Despite the fact his life was cut tragically short by a fatal car crash at the age of 24, James Dean still had enough time to leave us some of the most inspirational visual fodder in the history of modern menswear. Every look he donned has become as iconic as the roles he played on the silver screen. In these shots, he shows exactly how to wear a polo – with a pair of rakish, wide-leg trousers and a healthy hit of devil-may-care attitude. When you have this much confidence, style comes naturally.


Luca Faloni’s Brera Polos continue the legacy of the iconic essential and this season’s new Lava Red and Forest Green iterations are the perfect accompaniment to the hues of autumn. Crafted in cotton piqué for comfort, easy to style and works equally well worn on down days with jeans, or dressed up with a blazer – like all good staples, they’re the perfect all rounder.

Lava Red

Forest Green


Hollywood icon, Gary Cooper in a crisp white shirt, on the set of ‘The First Kiss’, 1928

There is perhaps no other item of apparel that defines a man’s style quite like the shirt – they’ve been a staple of men’s wardrobes for as long as anyone can remember and although athleisure types would probably beg to differ, it’s difficult to imagine a world without them.

Like most things that have stood the test of time, the shirt’s evolution was a slow and steady affair over millennia, but there are certain milestones in its development worth taking note of, which we’ve helpfully rounded up here.

An illustration of Ancient Egyptian linen attire from ‘The Costumes of All Nations’, 1882.

3500BC

One of the earliest examples of a shirt, was discovered in an Egyptian tomb by the Egyptologist Sir Flinders Petrie, in 1913. It is made from linen spun from flax fibres – as was nearly all Ancient Egyptian cloth – and dates from around 3500BC. It’s safe to assume that there was more than one example made, so clearly, the shirt goes back a long way. The fact they’re still very much a fixture of men’s wardrobes today, means it’s unlikely they’ll be going off the style agenda anytime soon.

Portrait of a Renaissance man by an unknown Flemish artist, c.1524. The subject wears a linen shirt typical of the day.

1500AD

Throughout the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance, shirts were regarded as underwear, providing a washable barrier between the skin and outer garments, which were never laundered – largely due to the labour involved in the weekly wash before the advent of washing machines and also because people weren’t as particular about their personal hygiene as we are now. This idea of the shirt as underwear is still evident today – in certain formal situations, such as black-tie dinners, weddings or race-meetings (think Royal Ascot), it is still considered bad form for a gentleman to remove his jacket and show his shirtsleeves; particularly in the presence of ladies. Back in the day, it was the equivalent of swanning into the office in your boxers and not much else.

At this time, shirts didn’t have buttons either – they were simply slipped over the head and were made of much coarser linen than we would be used to now. Shirts were also viewed as a status symbol on account of their expense – they were so highly prized, in fact, they were sometimes given as wedding dowries in lieu of cash.

A portrait of an artist’, by Michel Martin Drolling, 1819. The subject wears a high-collar regency-era shirt

1827

In 1827, an American housewife by the name of Hannah Montague, became so fed up of scrubbing the grime from her husband’s shirts on a daily basis, that she decided to take a pair of scissors and cut the dirty collars off. Far from being an act of sartorial vandalism, this was a significant moment in the history of menswear. Mrs Montague had invented removable collars – which she could exchange for clean ones, without the need to launder the entire shirt. The detachable collar soon came to be widely adopted and offered the illusion of wearing a fresh shirt every day (which Mr Montague insisted upon), as only the collar would be on show. It also gave the impression of owning more shirts than you actually did, due to the ability to switch collar styles each morning, depending on your mood.

Victorian dandies wearing stiff-collar shirts and cravats of the period, The Gentleman’s magazine, January 1870

1871

Around 1871, the shirt came to take on the form we’re familiar with today. Buttons were incorporated into the design for the first time – with this feature originally patented by London tailor, Brown, Davis and Co. The precursors to modern collars also made their debut around this time.

It’s always been a sign of prestige to wear white shirting, as you would a decent amount of capital to employ staff to keep them looking pristine. It was about this time that the expression ‘white-collar worker’ came into being, denoting someone who was wealthy enough to maintain a clean, respectable appearance and not engage in the sort of dirty manual work which could soil a clean white shirt.

Cluett and Arrow advertisement by J.C. Leyendecker, showing striped shirts with removable collars, 1907.

1900

As we’ve already learnt, the white shirt was always held in high regard by style purists. Printed styles were viewed with suspicion – they could conceal dirt more easily and allowed one’s hygiene standards to slip. By the 1900s however, fashion prevailed and striped and patterned designs began to be more widely accepted. The white shirt still continued to reign supreme in business and formal evening dress, though.

Illustration from Esquire magazine of men’s shirts and accessories, November 1936

1930

By the 1930s, the pace of life was becoming ever faster and the modern world as we know it was beginning to take shape. Men no longer had to time to fiddle with collar studs to attach removable collars (or the funds to employ a manservant to do it for them) and fixed shirt collars became the norm – the blueprint for today’s shirts was bor

John Hamm as Mad Men’s Don Draper,
wearing a 1960s shirt with a chest pocket.

1900

Although they had been around since the 1920s, chest pockets became a more common feature on shirts during the 1960s as the advent of central heating caused a decline in the popularity of the three-piece suit. In the absence of a waistcoat and its many pockets, they provided a little extra storage space.

Luca Faloni linen Portofino shirt in sage green

2014-present

Luca Faloni revamps the linen shirt for the modern man with his signature Portofino design. While still respecting the techniques of traditional shirt making, the brand has added its own touches that make the Portofino style a go-to for the discerning dresser.

Details like its subtle cutaway ‘Paramontura’ collar – which makes it look equally good worn with or without a tie – alongside premium fabric and mother-of-pearl buttons are a testament to the label’s fine Italian craftsmanship.

And the fact it comes in linen, brushed cotton and oxford cotton means it’s a piece for all seasons. In short, it’s the type of shirt the men of yesteryear would have given their right arm to get their hands on – although we might be a tad biased, perhaps.

Hollywood icon, Gary Cooper in a crisp white shirt, on the set of ‘The First Kiss’, 1928

There is perhaps no other item of apparel that defines a man’s style quite like the shirt – they’ve been a staple of men’s wardrobes for as long as anyone can remember and although athleisure types would probably beg to differ, it’s difficult to imagine a world without them.

Like most things that have stood the test of time, the shirt’s evolution was a slow and steady affair over millennia, but there are certain milestones in its development worth taking note of, which we’ve helpfully rounded up here.

An illustration of Ancient Egyptian linen attire from ‘The Costumes of All Nations’, 1882.

3500BC

One of the earliest examples of a shirt, was discovered in an Egyptian tomb by the Egyptologist Sir Flinders Petrie, in 1913. It is made from linen spun from flax fibres – as was nearly all Ancient Egyptian cloth – and dates from around 3500BC. It’s safe to assume that there was more than one example made, so clearly, the shirt goes back a long way. The fact they’re still very much a fixture of men’s wardrobes today, means it’s unlikely they’ll be going off the style agenda anytime soon.

Portrait of a Renaissance man by an unknown Flemish artist, c.1524. The subject wears a linen shirt typical of the day.

1500AD

Throughout the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance, shirts were regarded as underwear, providing a washable barrier between the skin and outer garments, which were never laundered – largely due to the labour involved in the weekly wash before the advent of washing machines and also because people weren’t as particular about their personal hygiene as we are now. This idea of the shirt as underwear is still evident today – in certain formal situations, such as black-tie dinners, weddings or race-meetings (think Royal Ascot), it is still considered bad form for a gentleman to remove his jacket and show his shirtsleeves; particularly in the presence of ladies. Back in the day, it was the equivalent of swanning into the office in your boxers and not much else.

At this time, shirts didn’t have buttons either – they were simply slipped over the head and were made of much coarser linen than we would be used to now. Shirts were also viewed as a status symbol on account of their expense – they were so highly prized, in fact, they were sometimes given as wedding dowries in lieu of cash.

A portrait of an artist’, by Michel Martin Drolling, 1819. The subject wears a high-collar regency-era shirt

1827

In 1827, an American housewife by the name of Hannah Montague, became so fed up of scrubbing the grime from her husband’s shirts on a daily basis, that she decided to take a pair of scissors and cut the dirty collars off. Far from being an act of sartorial vandalism, this was a significant moment in the history of menswear. Mrs Montague had invented removable collars – which she could exchange for clean ones, without the need to launder the entire shirt. The detachable collar soon came to be widely adopted and offered the illusion of wearing a fresh shirt every day (which Mr Montague insisted upon), as only the collar would be on show. It also gave the impression of owning more shirts than you actually did, due to the ability to switch collar styles each morning, depending on your mood.

Victorian dandies wearing stiff-collar shirts and cravats of the period, The Gentleman’s magazine, January 1870

1871

Around 1871, the shirt came to take on the form we’re familiar with today. Buttons were incorporated into the design for the first time – with this feature originally patented by London tailor, Brown, Davis and Co. The precursors to modern collars also made their debut around this time.

It’s always been a sign of prestige to wear white shirting, as you would a decent amount of capital to employ staff to keep them looking pristine. It was about this time that the expression ‘white-collar worker’ came into being, denoting someone who was wealthy enough to maintain a clean, respectable appearance and not engage in the sort of dirty manual work which could soil a clean white shirt.

Cluett and Arrow advertisement by J.C. Leyendecker, showing striped shirts with removable collars, 1907.

1900

As we’ve already learnt, the white shirt was always held in high regard by style purists. Printed styles were viewed with suspicion – they could conceal dirt more easily and allowed one’s hygiene standards to slip. By the 1900s however, fashion prevailed and striped and patterned designs began to be more widely accepted. The white shirt still continued to reign supreme in business and formal evening dress, though.

Illustration from Esquire magazine of men’s shirts and accessories, November 1936

1930

By the 1930s, the pace of life was becoming ever faster and the modern world as we know it was beginning to take shape. Men no longer had to time to fiddle with collar studs to attach removable collars (or the funds to employ a manservant to do it for them) and fixed shirt collars became the norm – the blueprint for today’s shirts was bor

John Hamm as Mad Men’s Don Draper,
wearing a 1960s shirt with a chest pocket.

1900

Although they had been around since the 1920s, chest pockets became a more common feature on shirts during the 1960s as the advent of central heating caused a decline in the popularity of the three-piece suit. In the absence of a waistcoat and its many pockets, they provided a little extra storage space.

Luca Faloni linen Portofino shirt in sage green

2014-present

Luca Faloni revamps the linen shirt for the modern man with his signature Portofino design. While still respecting the techniques of traditional shirt making, the brand has added its own touches that make the Portofino style a go-to for the discerning dresser.

Details like its subtle cutaway ‘Paramontura’ collar – which makes it look equally good worn with or without a tie – alongside premium fabric and mother-of-pearl buttons are a testament to the label’s fine Italian craftsmanship.

And the fact it comes in linen, brushed cotton and oxford cotton means it’s a piece for all seasons. In short, it’s the type of shirt the men of yesteryear would have given their right arm to get their hands on – although we might be a tad biased, perhaps.