What is a polo shirt?

The simple answer is that polo shirt is a T-shaped shirt, usually of a knit rather than woven cotton, which has two or three buttons extending downward from the collar. As is the case with many types of clothing the polo shirt originated as an innovation in sportswear which then caught on in the general public.

You may have also heard the polo shirt referred to as a tennis shirt or a golf shirt and that's because like polo these two sports had a large influence in the development and popularity of this style of shirt. The polo shirt was first created and worn by French Grand Slam tennis champion, Rene Lacoste. Lacoste felt that conventional tennis uniforms, which at that time featured a full buttoned down long sleeve shirt and even a tie, was far too restrictive and uncomfortable for playing a sport which required as much movement and flexibility as tennis. So in 1926 he first premiered his creation, which he called the tennis shirt, at that year's U.S. Open championship. In 1927 Lacoste added an interesting personal touch to his shirt by placing an embroidered crocodile emblem on the shirt's left chest. The addition of this emblem was a reference to his tennis nickname of "The Crocodile" which he gained through his aggressive play.

The design was instantly a hit with tennis players and became very popular in the sport. When he retired from the sport in 1933 Lacoste partnered with his friend Andre Gillier to form the Chemise Lacoste clothing company. The Lacoste clothing company immediately hit success selling their crocodile embroidered "tennis shirts."

Soon these shirts caught the attention of polo players as well, who at that time were wearing button down long sleeve shirts made of Oxford Cloth Cotten. The original tennis shirts featured a collar which could easily be raised to protect players' necks from the sun; however, this aspect of the design was less popular with polo players who found that the collar often blew around in the wind and so they made a modification which featured a buttoned-down collar. Brooks Brothers' president John Brooks took notice of this while at a polo match and soon began selling these modified versions as "polo shirts." The term "polo shirt" became even more popular in 1972 when Ralph Lauren launched a line of "polo shirts" which featured an embroidered polo player on the left chest in a similar style to the Lacoste crocodile. Soon "polo shirts" were so popular that even tennis players were referring to this type of shirt as a "polo shirt."

As you might have guessed golf players soon jumped on board as well and soon these shirts became so popular with golf players that few players were wearing anything else. In fact they became such a staple at golf courses that soon they were part of the official dress code. Appreciating the style and comfort these shirts afforded the corporate and retail world soon took notice as well and began using polo style shirts for their company dress codes. Thanks to this, polo shirts have become synonymous with the phrase "business casual."

Nowadays, regardless of whether you're playing sports or going to work, just about everyone owns at least one of these popular polo shirts. They can be found in almost all areas of the public and here at You Design It were are pleased to offer several of these crowd pleasers as well!

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