History of the Polo Shirt

Ok, who doesn’t own at least one polo shirt…one in every color!

The Original Polo Shirt

Lacoste: The Original Polo Shirt

Polos are the brainchild of the 7-time Grand Slam champion, René Lacoste. Called “the Crocodile” by his fans, Lacoste was unsatisfied with the stuffy and confining tennis attire of the 1920s. He took matters into his own hands and designed a short-sleeved, breathable piqué cotton shirt, which he premiered while playing in the 1926 U.S. Open. His meticulously designed shirt had thoughtful details ensuring comfort, wearability and style. For example, the shirt featured a longer shirttail to stay tucked-in and a stiff collar to protect his neck from the sun. In 1927, Lacoste placed a crocodile logo on the left side of his tennis shirt, ushering in the dawn of the Lacoste and logo clothing. Upon retiring from tennis, Lacoste formed Chemise Lacoste, a luxury sportswear company, who manufactures the ever-popular crocodile tennis shirt.

…but how did it get its name?

Preppy Prince William plays polo in a polo shirt. Photo by Simon Taylor.

Tennis players were not the only athletes dissatisfied with their athletic wardrobe. Disgruntled polo players took the field in long sleeved buttoned-down shirts called polo shirts. Hearing about Lacoste’s fabulous tennis shirt, the players tried it. Before long, Lacoste’s shirt was the standard garb for playing polo and referred to as the “polo” shirt. A young Ralph Lauren included the polo shirt in his fledgling 1972 clothing line, Polo.

Forty years later, and the polo shirt is still going strong. Hundreds of clothing companies have created polo knock-offs, but nothing can beat Lacoste, a true preppy original.

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