Back to all articles

The History of Polo Shirts

Polo shirts have their roots in Manipur, India in the 19th century. Polo originated there, and players often wore cotton shirts with the collars buttoned down for active play. British military officers adopted the look and brought it back to England with them. Inspired by polo player's shirts, John E. Brooks added button-down collars to all of Brooks Brothers dress shirts in 1896. Then in 1920, Argentinian polo player Lewis Lacey opened a sports shop in Buenos Aires where he sold shirts branded with a polo player on a pony, a trend that has stayed with the style. The polo shirt as we know it today debuted in 1933, when French tennis star Jean René Lacoste (“le Crocodile”) replaced his tennis uniform top with a pique cotton short-sleeve shirt. Significantly, he also embroidered a tiny crocodile logo on it. Then in 1951, he partnered with Izod and made his shirts available in America, while British tennis star Fred Perry launched his own version (a white polo branded with a laurel wreath) around the same time across the pond. Finally, Ralph Lauren launched his Ralph Lauren Polo line in 1967 and debuted his famous shirts five years later, officially bringing polo shirts to the masses and solidifying them as a status symbol. Since then, they’ve become a style staple for ordinary citizens and celebrities alike and are especially popular in preppy and hip-hop fashion circles.

Share this article

card showing the history of rocking chairs

Your go-to guide for weird history facts

Subscribe to the FREE daily email that makes learning about history fun.