Thanks to Rene Lacoste’s tenacity on the tennis court, he was not only able to change the game, but its attire, too. In 1926 he wore a shirt he designed himself that would soon become a staple in everyone’s wardrobe.
Tired of the traditional “tennis whites” that consisted of long-sleeved woven buttondown shirts, ties and flannel trousers, Lacoste designed a short-sleeve, loosely knit shirt with a flat, protruding collar, a simple buttoned placket and a long shirttail in the back (know today as a “tennis tail”).
He wasn’t intentionally trying to make a fashion statement with his new shirt. Truth be told, his design was all about function.
- The knit pique cotton he used was much more breathable and durable.
- The soft collar could be loosened by unbuttoning one of the buttons.
- The collar could be “popped up” to block sun off the player’s neck.
- And the “tennis tail” prevented the shirt from pulling out of his pants during a match.
Throughout the years the polo shirt has adopted some different names – like “tennis shirt” or “golf shirt”. It has embraced every known color and pattern. And it’s taken on different shapes and fabrics – like the polo dress, sweater polo, T-shirt polo and the mesh polo.
But its fundamentals have stayed true. It is still the most versatile, functional, low-maintenance and dependable style in anyone’s closet.
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