The story of polo shirt

Simon Skottowe
The story of polo shirt

As the name suggests Polo shirts were first created in the second half of the nineteenth century, in India, for playing Polo and, by the 1920’s, were also seen at European tournaments.

Made from cotton piqué jersey they usually had short sleeves, were relatively close fitting allowing for ease of movement without excess fabric flapping around. Perfect for a fast moving, athletic chukker.


It was René Lacoste who actually commercialised the ‘Polo’ shirt, first wearing his tennis version in 1929. A champion tennis player he found the wearing of normal shirts uncomfortable and impeded his playing. The first time he wore his controversial polo shirt it caused quite a sensation, and not in a good way, as it’s casual styling and jersey fabric were too close to underwear to be decent!

However, polo shirts quickly caught on as, at that time, many sports were starting to become popular with the middle classes.

The Key to Success

Like many design classics the Polo shirt’s longevity is thanks to its simplicity as the perfect design solution to a specific set of problems. Rene Lacoste added a few, tennis related extras to the classic fit, like the wider collar that can be used to protect the neck on sunny days, and the longer tail at the back to ensure the shirt stays safely tucked into the trousers, but fundamentally polo shirts haven’t changed since it’s invention. 

First worn exclusively for sport the Polo shirt has become a staple of most men’s wardrobe. The main brands: Lacoste, Fred Perry, Brooks Brothers and Ralph Lauren each have their own take on the style and over the years each of them has created their own story and logo.

With the advent of dress down Fridays, and a seemingly irreversible trend towards casual dressing, classic Polo shirts started to look a little too sporty for the sartorially sensitive. It was with this in mind that Simon started to develop his version of the classic short sleeve Polo shirt and looked for inspiration to the vintage photographs of the English tennis star Fred Perry. Hence the one piece collar, longer sleeve length and heavier cotton piqué. Using his bespoke cutting skills, he crafted a shirt that fits snugly on the body while allowing ease of movement without unnecessary fabric. The collar was studied to work both alone or under a jacket and the sleeve finishing and construction details were refined to create a elegant, comfortable shirt. No visual logo, the gentleman is wearing the Polo shirt, not the other way around.

He found an historical, local, jersey fabric producer to knit and dye the bio cotton piqué in a range of classic colours and Voila!

Its Place in our Collection

The Simon Skottowe polo shirt collection is now a firmly established favourite with our customers worldwide. The original short sleeve version is now available in seven colours and a long sleeve polo shirts have been added.

The Polo shirt is an extremely versatile garment. Whether in the darker colours under a sports jacket or with a jumper over the shoulders, or the brighter tones with chino’s or shorts in the summertime our tailored cut and understated style always looks chic. 

Our Polo shirts are designed to be worn over your trousers, but this is a matter of taste and how you are styling your look. Collar up or down? We prefer down, but if you’re on the tennis court maybe up is preferable especially if it’s sunny.

Take a look at our Polo Shirts and find your colour!