Thursday, March 1, 2018

Polo Shirts

 All Photos by Salt Water New England
Questions about polo shirts typically revolve around:

1. Who makes and sells good polo shirts?

2. How do you select and wear polo shirts?

3. How do you take care of polo shirts?

4. What are opinions on specific polo shirt companies?

1. Who makes and sells good polo shirts?

There are many polo shirt options, made by a variety of vendors and chosen for a variety of reasons.

Some Men's polo shirt providers are:
Links to Women's Polo Shirts:

A few thoughts, observations and recommendations from others:
“Lacoste and RL are my two favorite brand polo style shirts. The cut and material plus to the two button placket make for a perfect casual shirt.” (John D,)
“Lands' End and LL Bean are the real thing.. Both are cut for gentlemen, not for narcissists.” (Boston Bean)
“I buy my husband J Crew Factory polos for about $10 for "everyday wear." It makes me cry to see the abuse he inflicts on the poor polos. We save the Brooks Brothers/ Lacoste/RL/what have you for "dress up" where he can spill a better quality of stuff on them.” (Patsy)

John Glenn

2. How to you select and wear polo shirts?

Others' thoughts and observations:
“The true polo has the tennis tail... to keep the tuck while on court.” (Craig Sevde)

“Beyond navy and white, it always seems a challenge to pick out polo colors.” (Gary) 
“As far as color, I recommend white... because they look really great and natural under pima cotton or fine merino wool navy blue cardigan, which is essential indoor air conditioning in summer.” (Comment) 

“Bottom button always buttoned for men. No flexibility on that. Now, for colors, white one, of course, favors white and navy (the warhorses), with Lacostes one can go wild! Solids only, please. Somewhere in the house I have a photograph of a very young Reggie, ca. 1962, wearing a Lacoste. For the life of me, I haven't a clue where it is, though. Wish I did!”  (Reggie Darling)

“If buttons are there, they are there for a purpose. Old School gents button both of them.” (Dutch Uncle)
“Polo shirts were most certainly completely buttoned up when worn with a jacket in the 60s, by the Ivy cognoscenti in New England, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.” (Lafcadio)

“Besides quality and cost my main concern is sleeve length. RL Polo and Lacoste I have tried on both had very short sleeves. They look fine on women, but on men look silly. I like sleeves that go almost down to my elbows. A company named "Southern Pointe" makes good one. Also Lands End.” (Anonymous) 

“I have always purchased my RL Polo shirts in XL size (and I always wore Lacoste's "Gran Patron" size) because they do shrink in the wash and I like mine a bit loose - not form fitting, especially on hot summer days. I was never concerned with sleeve length, either. RL's seem fine to me, but maybe some don't possibly because many of the more recent versions of those shirts do have longer, elbow length sleeves, which I find a bit baggy.” (Anonymous)

3. How do you take care of polo shirts?

“I avoid the shrinkage by laying the across a patio chair in the sun. Slightly pull them wrinkle free. I never dry them in a dryer. Granted I reside in Florida. They come out wrinkle free and full bodied.” (Craig Sevde)

“My husband wears his Ralph Lauren polos constantly and they hold up very well. The classic fit works nicely for him. Unlike Lacoste, they can go in the dryer with no problem!  I have accidentally put the Lacoste shirts in the dryer and they shrink horribly. However, I have found that if you wash them again, then stretch them out in both length and width while still wet, then hang to dry, they come out close to their original size.” (Anonymous)

4. What are opinions on specific polo shirt companies?

Who makes the best polo shirt?

Brooks Brothers

“I feel the color of the logo on BB polos and the color of the shirt don't match up nicely.” (HP Talk)
“Brooks Bros. polo shirts wear well, fade nicely. I DO NOT RECOMMEND their 346 (outlet) shirts as they ARE NOT the same quality shirts as those sold in the REAL BB stores.  I have almost ALL of the Brooks Bros. polo shirts in the huge variety of colors, including the new ones that come out each year. For the money, when compared to what Lacostes and POLO by RL cost, I believe they are a far better shirt for the money.” (Paul Connors)  
“I cannot abide the "cap sleeves" that BB, Bean and most of the others now put on most women's polos--ICK. So I buy BB men's and size down. Perfect! They drape nicely, the sleeves come down to just above the elbow like the Lacoste women's did in the good old daze, and they're long enough so they don't ride up. Also, the fabrics are nice and heavy, they resist stains, and hold up in the wash. I cannot STAND "clingy" polos!” (Greenfield) 

Ralph Lauren

“[In] ralph lauren men's polo by the way, sizing issue is very significant especially from china made polo shirts.” (Comment)
“Regarding RL shirts, I like them, but they all seem to develop small tears on either side of the side seams which didn't seem to happen to my old Izod Lacostes. t's irritating.” (Dave T,) 
“I am a huge fan of Ralph Lauren polos... I've been buying them for about thirty years, and I think I am just so used to the look, fit and quality that they are my classics.” (Comment) 
“His polos are of great quality.” (The LMM)
“I went to a factory RL store on the way back from the family ranch a few weeks ago and there is a noticeable difference in quality with the offerings. They definitely use different factories for those stores.” (HP Talk)
“Ralph Lauren. Best fit. The colors fade nicely. Wears nicely. Doesn't last forever, but for a very long time. Ages well.” (Paul)

“I am not sure what the issue is but Ralph Lauren Polo shirts just don't quite fit me right. I find they sort of "bellow" out around my waist but are overly tight around the arms. I've tried their 'custom fit' polos, as that fit is typically what I buy in oxfords from Ralph, but I still don't find they fit quite right.” (Joe)
“Polo still makes a decent shirt if you get the "Classic" fit. Polo is probably the easiest to get and has the widest variety of colors, for both men and women.” (Cubanchem)
“I was a Lacoste wearer (bought my first one in 1958) throughout the 80s but stopped once they withdrew from their contract with Izod and, apparently from the US, as well. I then migrated to Ralph Lauren Polo and they are as nice as I remembered Lacoste to have been. I have already worn through (maybe "outgrown" better describes that) my first batch of Polos and am now in my second one-including a couple from college campus stores (my own alma mater and that of and my son's). In the 1990s, I also purchased some from Old Navy and still have them, although some of their colors aren't as subtle as Polo's” (Anonymous) 
“Ralph Lauren: too short and guaranteed to lose length even with cold, delicate washing cycles and line-drying. Yes, my torso is somewhat longer than average, but the shirt that fit me off the rack last year is now closer to fitting my niece, who is in kindergarten. Too bad, as the collar and sleeves are proportioned very well. I have learned my lesson and now stick to pique shirts only.” (JSL) 

L.L. Bean

“My dozen or so LL Bean polo shirts have lasted wash after wash and haven't stretched out or shrunk. They also cost far less than Lacoste. As a bonus, the absence of a brand logo confuses shallow brand-whores because they can't figure out how much or how little I spent.” (Comment)
“I would also like to chime in on LLBean polos. Their mesh, banded arm ones are just fine. Also, instead of polo ponies, alligators or palm trees one can have a monogram, should the shirts be too plain. Works for me, and much cheaper.” (mary anne
“The Bean's Double LL polo shirts at $35-$40 are far superior to anything that Lacoste sells @ $98 the last time I looked. Made of thick, well made material that holds up in the wash. The lack of a logo is also a plus. Why would you PAY Top dollar to advertise someone else's brand?” (Orange Fiji)
“LL Bean makes shirts for giants,” (Cubanchem)
“For the money, Bean is my go- to just size down.” (may anne)
“Being a taller gentleman, I prefer the Bean "Double L" polos for overall fit. I typically do size down though, as they are cut rather generously.” (Darryl)

Vineyard Vines

“I am guilty of picking up a couple VV polos for under $20 at TJ Maxx and they seem to be holding up about the same as my RL polos but I do feel a like a “poser” when I wear them.” (Seas-the-day)


“I remember in college (mid-70s) scrutinizing the "alligator shirts" in department stores and knowing that the banded sleeve, long tail and two button placket were the hallmark of the true Lacoste. Those style differences,and the French-language size tags, "Homme", "Patron," etc. The Izod Lacoste shirts had hemmed sleeves and shorter tails, and we found them somewhat mundane and a lesser prize than a true Lacoste.” (Comment)
“What separated IZOD Lacoste from the Lacoste shirt of that era is the longer tail, the occasional blue gator if it looked better on that particular color and the authentically preppy color palette. The reason for that is that the IZOD Lacoste brand was stewarded by an American, Vin Draddy, who had a keen sense for the American aesthetic, and protected the brand with a narrow distribution and consistent quality until he sold it to General Mills at the end of the 70's. Please note that the Lacoste brand was nothing in the rest of the world till it was something here in the US, (Mr Draddy did a favor for Rene Lacoste when he took on the label and married it with his Izod label in the 40's)where it was soon seen on the likes of Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, John Kennedy and the Duke of Windsor on the links in Palm Beach, all whom were friends of Mr Draddy. So the reason why the 'Izod's' from that error were of exceptional quality is because Mr Draddy demanded it. You'll notice that today's Lacoste shirts sold here in the US aren't even made in France anymore, hence the poor quality and inconsistent sizing. To compare that IZOD with the RL shirt, it never has and never will compare... beautiful colors, but no comparison. Don't believe me buy an IZOD Lacoste shirt that has both the IZOD spool of thread on the label and the Lacoste croc, with French sizing on EBay and 40 years later you'll still have a shirt with terrific color saturation a responsive rib and it will feel as good on as 40 years ago.” (Comment)
“Are the current polos from Lacoste really worth the exorbitant price?” (Comment)  
“I agree on lacoste being bad quality and sizing issue sure, but I would say lacoste polo shirts made in peru are still wearable and nice color (especially light pink, which they call flamingo) and very consistent in sizing. But, unfortunately, it's getting harder finding peru made lacoste shirt today. I see lots of elsalvador made lacoste getting way worse in quality and sizing... Based on my vast trials and experiences, srilanka made polo shirts are better in quality and sizing.”  (Comment)
“[An] important topic - the horrible quality of Lacoste shirts today. I keep thinking I am buying them at the wrong store (Lacoste on Madison Avenue) or that maybe they sell the good shirts to the department stores. Are they of a better quality at Bloomingdales? Is it just me or are these new Lacoste shirts just garbage? Thin, course material and strange fitting. Where does one buy the good ones? Is there a secret handshake of which I am not aware?” (DMA)
“I also remember the IZOD Lacoste shirt circa 1980's was a good shirt if a touch over priced. But today's Lacoste is a terrible shirt. The material is way too thin and the shirt's style is a little too √čuropean" for my taste.” (Orange Fiji)
“A longtime Lacoste Polo wearer, I don't feel comfortable anymore paying $90.00 for these items. Besides, as others have mentioned, the shirts are getting really thin and the quality has taken a nosedive, particularly the past 5 or so years.” (Harry)
“I have some Lacoste tennis tennis shirts with the newest being about four years old. The collar and fabric are a little thinner. The fit is a little off and the perfectly long tail is missing. Not really too big of a deal on any of those counts. Would I spend $90.00 on a new one? Probably not, as there are pefectly good substitutes out there. The only thing that I don't like on some of the newer shirts is the half circle on the top of the back.” (Dave T,)  
“I have long been a fan of the Lacoste polo shirt; my navy blue examples are 15 years old now and fading in nicely. I do agree that the latest ones aren't just as good.” (darkirishtweedboy)
“Lacoste is a mere shadow of it's former self.” (Cubanchem)
“Lacoste are still the best.” (/the weekender!)
“Having purchased Polo shirts at all of the major players Brooks/RL/Jos. Banks/ Nautica etc., I have found the Lacoste shirt to the best by far, more comfortable than wearing a tee shirt and with a collar more formal. Nautica comes in second, their Polo shirts are thicker, and uncomfortable in the heat of summer. RL makes the nicest Polo's but quality and sizing are issues, especially for the $$$'s.” (Pittsburgh Prep)  
“Lacoste shirts can still be found at both their own company stores and other better retailers like Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom and Nieman Marcus to name a few. The pique knits do seem to shrink more than they did in the past.” (Paul Connors)  
“I have tried to get away from polos in recent years, but still on occasion wear Lacoste’s in either white or navy blue. I prefer long sleeve white linen nowadays. Kind of an Amish no-frills-can’t-go-wrong-wearing-this type approach.   The newer Made in Peru Lacostes tend to be too heavy and suffocating on humid days. I get my polos on eBay and stick with the older classic ones that were Made in France.” (RDR) 
“My polos that have held up the best and have not lost any length are all from Lacoste or J. Crew. I do have a few older Izod Lacoste shirts with tennis tails and a boxy cut, but the newer Lacostes fit me better and look tidier. They have a slimmer fit and a longer placket than I think most female readers might like, but they fit my shoulders and arms nicely without clinging around my waist. They are long enough to keep me covered and have not lost any length, even though I have not coddled them as I did the RL shirt. I've been lucky to find them discounted at least 50%, as otherwise I would not be able to afford them.”  (JSL) 
“I have had two Lacoste shirts go bad on me. My blue one faded and with the collar ligher than the body of the shirt. Just like a cheap shirt. A lightly colored long sleeve shirt called vintage wash, the cuffs were falling off. They both got those stupid holes in the corners of the placket, like cheap shirts. I believe they made three years. I have longer wearing shirts from $19.99 house brands. Customer service was unhelpfull. Never again, Lacoste.” (jason_m)


“O'Connell's has an in-house polo which is very good.” (Cubanchem)
“O'Connell's and Andover Shop. No logos. Always been good stuff. Call 'em up.”  (Comment)

Lands' End

“The Lands End ones used to be nice as well but, alas, no longer.” (mary anne)  


“About four years ago I bought a bunch (one of each color they had) of polo shirts at Costco. The brand was called Lady Hathaway. I don't even know if that is a real brand but I paid $12 per shirt. I wear each one at least once every two weeks (some colors more often) and they fit awesome (not fitted, regular fit), the marerial is not too thin, the color has not faded, no threads have come loose or buttons gone missing. And no logo. Sadly, Costco stopped carrying this brand.” (Comment) 
“Collared Greens. Best Polo I have worn and one of the only ones made in the USA.” (Comment)
“I am also a big fan of Hackett and Sunspel, two British brands providing great quality casualwear which doesn't date quickly and stands up to hard use.”(darkirishtweedboy)

“I'm content with polo shirts from Jos. A. Bank and from Charles Tyrwhitt. But I don't claim to be fussy and I don't know whether other companies' polo shirts may be better or worse.” (Anonymous) 

“For me, Orvis fits well and are well made. For Summers in tropical Asia, the J. Crew "Broken-In" polos are the right weight for high heat and humidity.” (James) 

“I still buy Fred Perry M1200 polo shirts. The quality is still good, and they seem to retain their shape after multiple washes.” (Anonymous) 

“In the 80s I always loved the longer tail French made Lacoste originals, these are polo shirts before the IZOD takeover when that happen I started to gravitate to the new Ralph Lauren line of polos and still wear them still. Recently I've purchased some Southern Tide polos with the Skipjack Tuna logo, you might have seen some of the guys on Bravo's "Southern Charm" program wearing them. The polos are a super soft longer tail soft pique cotton, and they remind me of the French made Lacoste polos of the past. They also have a very classic color palette to choose from. So if you want a nice change Southern Tide is my recommendation for this summer y'alll!” (j.mosby)

A Few More Across the Decades

Kirk Douglas