What is a polo shirt

What is a Polo Shirt: Explore Rich History

Muhammad Saleem Shahzad

A polo shirt is more than just a piece of clothing. Originally designed for polo and tennis players, this garment has transcended its sporty origins to become a staple in wardrobes around the globe.

This article goes ahead in looking at the essence of the polo shirts, by tracing through its history, design features, and the many ways one can make the best when styling these timeless and classic shirts.

What is a Polo Shirt?

A polo shirt is the classical mash-up of a much more casual T-shirt and a classic button-up oxford dress shirt. They're usually made out of either knit cotton or pique with a collar and placket that boasts a few buttons.

This design is ideal for sports like tennis, golf, and polo because it is breathable, elastic, and absorbent. Of no great surprise, the polo shirt got its start in the game of polo in 1930s.

What is a pique polo shirt?

A pique polo shirt is a type of polo shirt made from pique fabric, which features a textured, waffle-like pattern. This texture is created by a weaving style known as pique knit, which results in a raised, geometric pattern on the surface of the fabric.

Pique polo shirts are popular for their durability and breathability, making them a common choice for both casual and sportswear.

They typically have a collar, a placket with two or three buttons, and short sleeves, embodying a classic and versatile style.

Who Invented the Polo Shirt; History of Polo Shirts

The polo shirt, often called a "tennis shirt" or "golf shirt," has a fascinating history dating back to the late 19th century. Its creation is credited to the renowned French tennis player, René Lacoste.

The first polo designed by Lacoste, who felt it more suitable than the long-sleeved, fully buttoned-up shirts worn until then during tennis matches, this innovation had short sleeves with a ribbed collar and placket front to allow more freedom of movement on the tennis court.

The design was later duplicated and sold in huge quantities with the label of Lacoste, which is now symbolized by the well-recognized crocodile logo.

White Polo Shirt

The Design and Features of a Polo Shirt

Over the years, the design of the polo shirt has evolved, but its essential characteristics have remained intact. Today, you can find polo shirts in a wide range of styles, colours, and materials. Some of the key design elements of a classic polo shirt include:

1. Collar Styles

Polo shirts come in various collar styles, the most common being the traditional ribbed collar and the more modern spread collar. Each collar style adds a unique touch to the shirt's overall look and can cater to different fashion preferences.

2. Fabric Choices

The choice of fabric comfort and durability of a polo shirt. Typical fabrics used include cotton, piqué cotton, and blends. Cotton provides a soft and breathable feel, making it a popular choice for warm weather, while piqué cotton adds texture and style.

3. Sleeve Lengths

While the original polo shirt had short sleeves, you can now find variations with long and even three-quarter sleeves. This adaptability allows individuals to wear polo shirts year-round and for various occasions.

Men sitting in the chair wearing polo shirt


The Role of Polo Shirts in Popular Culture

Polo shirts have been embraced by various subcultures and demographics, signifying everything from preppy to sporty looks. They have been part of uniform ensembles in schools, military institutions, and corporate environments.

Future Trends in Polo Shirt Design

Innovations in fabric technology and fashion design promise to make polo shirts more comfortable, sustainable, and fashionable. Expect to see more eco-friendly materials and dynamic, adjustable designs that cater to a wide array of body types and preferences.


In conclusion, the polo shirt is a versatile and enduring piece of clothing that has stood the test of time. What had once started as an offering of sportswear moved on to be an offering in the world of fashion, and emerged as a basic item in every well-dressed wardrobe.

Classic in design, comfort, dexterity, and ability to be worn with absolutely anything, it is a must-have pair for one who needs style and comfort without effort.

Click here to learn about different brands of polo shirts


Q2: What is the difference between a polo shirt and a T-shirt?

Ans:  Polo shirts typically have a collar and a buttoned placket, while T-shirts are collarless and have a round neckline.

Q3: How should I care for my polo shirt to maintain its quality?

Ans:  To prolong the life of your polo shirt, follow the care instructions on the label and avoid using bleach or excessive heat during washing and drying.

Q4: Can women wear polo shirts as well?

Ans:  Absolutely! Polo shirts are unisex and can be styled to suit both men and women.

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This article was written by Muhammad Saleem Shahzad, Managing Editor of Fashion and Manufacturing. With more than a decade of experience in the Fashion industry, Muhammad reports on breaking news and provides analysis and commentary on all things related to fashion, clothing and manufacturing.