The origin of the polo shirt

The origin of the polo shirt

In your wardrobe, you can never miss a comfortable polo shirt to wear on casual occasions, right? Have you ever wondered about the origins of this particular shirt and where it gets its name from? Here are some interesting facts about this timeless classic!

The polo shirt is a T-shirt with a collar closed by two or three buttons, sometimes featuring a pocket. Occasionally, the buttons are replaced by a zipper, or they might be absent altogether. Usually made of piqué knit fabric with small raised patterns, polo shirts are known as tennis shirts or golf shirts.


It all started with the French tennis player Renè Lacoste, who, out of necessity and comfort, designed a new type of T-shirt in the 1920s. Jersey Petite Piqué, that's the name given by its creator, who wore it for the first time in 1926 during a match. It's worth noting that tennis was initially played wearing trousers, jacket, and tie. Lacoste took the idea of using this type of shirt from the one already used by polo players, a sport that at the beginning of the twentieth century was adopted as a reference by English aristocrats and facilitated its spread as a stylish garment. Within a few years, it spread worldwide, and in 1933, after retiring from professional tennis, Lacoste began selling his creations along with his friend Andrè Giller not only in France but also in Europe and North America, thus establishing the polo shirt as a style icon.


The term "polo" originally meant "ball" (from the Tibetan "pula"). Players who practiced this sport used long-sleeved shirts as part of the official uniform. The length of the collars and the lack of buttons on them during the game became an annoyance for the players, so in 1896 John Brooks decided to start producing a shirt called "button-down" that featured small buttons on the collar tips to fasten them better. How did the transition to considering short-sleeved shirts as official polo shirts come about? A specific moment when this transformation occurred cannot be pinpointed, but it is known that by the 1950s, even T-shirts used for playing tennis fell into the category of polo shirts. In short, in less than twenty years, there was a radical change. Cotton polo shirts began to dominate the market over the years: in 1972, for example, a famous fashion line called Polo was born, which celebrated the casual look. From then on, the short-sleeved shirt with a collar and buttons officially became a polo shirt. Today, these shirts are used for playing tennis and golf, but, of course, they are also adopted in everyday life.

If you enjoyed this article, stay tuned, our column "The Origins of Clothing" will be updated with many new curiosities!

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