From its earliest beginnings as a strictly sporting garment, the men’s polo shirt has evolved to become a casual-wear essential. Here we list five diverse figures whose distinctive approach to style demonstrate the endless versatility of the polo.
Regularly described as one of the most stylish men to take the White House, John F. Kennedy’s dressing is a masterclass in New England elegance. When not in office, ‘JFK’ could be found at sea aboard his sailboat Victura, or relaxing at his holiday home in Hyannis Port. There, he drew attention for his understated pairing of a classic polo shirt (worn open except the last button, with the collar down) and tucked into a pair of slim cut khakis with carefully chosen shoes and Wayfarers. Kennedy’s approach to style was all about subtlety and ease.
Arnold Palmer U.S. Open Pro Golf Legend Masters Tournament, 1965
Arnold Palmer, or ‘The King’ as he’s affectionately known was a star of the course, often credited for bringing his personal brand of cool to the links.
Renowned for his fearless shot-making, Palmer’s distinct style of play carried through to his dressing.
Often opting for a fitted polo shirt worn completely undone and short on the arms to show his biceps, Palmer wore the polo tucked neatly into a flat front trouser – a sleek look that was all about ease of movement and presenting an athletic man firmly in control.
What does the ultimate man of style wear in the heat? A polo shirt of course.
Though he may be more at home in a Savile Row suit and a freshly pressed shirt, martini in hand, James Bond has been known to sport more casual styles on a mission or two. In Dr. No (1965), Sean Connery’s Bond gives a lesson in warm weather style, wearing a light blue polo shirt cuffed at the sleeve and worn unbuttoned and tucked into light blue trousers.
For the filming of the movie “Casino Royale”, we created a polo shirt for James Bond himself; Mr Daniel Craig. Tailored to fit a 007 with a more muscular physique, the Sunspel Riviera Polo Shirt is short on the arms and features a leaner fit, allowing Craig effortless ease of movement in demanding action sequences. Paired with classic khaki chinos and Aviators, James Bond’s classic yet contemporary styling places him firmly in the 21st century, while providing the blueprint to casual style for men across the world.
Jack Kerouac by Tom Palumbo, 1956
A pioneer of the 1950s Beat Generation and author of one of the most enduring American Classics of all time, Jack Kerouac is amongst the most influential literary icons of the 20th Century.
Published in 1951, On the Road, explores the themes of freedom, hedonism and the quest for self-understanding, in a novel that captured the imagination of the counterculture generation of the time and subsequently propelled Kerouac to become a posterboy of rebellion and youth.
On the subject of getting dressed, Kerouac favoured functionality.
This was a clear reflection of his strong anti-consumerism beliefs and resulted in something of a signature look when it came to the polo shirt. Worn open at the neck and layered over a classic white t-shirt, Kerouac unwittingly demonstrates the art of effortless style.
A figure not commonly associated with the polo shirt, John Coltrane – affectionately known as ‘Trane’ – wore it with style. A gifted composer and legendary saxophonist who was at the forefront of the Free Jazz movement, Coltrane can be credited with being one of the most pioneering and influential jazz musicians of all time.
Despite the dizzying heights of his success, Coltrane maintained an innate sense of cool which is just as appealing today, several decades after his untimely death, as it was throughout his prime in the late ’50s and early ’60s. For fresh inspiration on how to wear the polo, take your cue from Coltrane and keep it classic and casual: unbuttoned, untucked and paired with relaxed trousers.