By Tom Demerly.
The polo shirt is bad. It is dated and ugly. The polo shirt is a dreadful set of unsavory compromises that removes all that is good from its influences, the collared shirt and the t-shirt. It leaves only the fashion detritus of its origins. It needs to go away once and for all.
The polo shirt has become the default uniform of the panderer. It is silk screened and embroidered for groveling sales reps at trade shows, annoying, bushy tailed clerks in corporate mall stores and men and… God forbid, women who can’t decide if they are laid back enough for a t-shirt or need to put on an actual dress shirt.
The polo shirt is the no-man’s land of the fashion world and like the unfortunate souls who made the term “no-man’s land” common in WWI, it needs to die an unsavory death between the trenches and never return. It is the uniform of the fence-sitter.
No one aspires to wear a polo shirt except Rick Astley and pop-collar adolescent males in coastal regions who are a guidance system for a penis at frat parties. The sales reps that don them do so out of fashion ignorance or, for the few of them that know, a resignation that it is a kind of corporate retail uniform, a dreadful reality that customer service and selling things is still relegated to the dregs of the vocational spectrum.
Never put on a polo shirt.
The polo shirt typifies everything that is bad about compromise. It is not attractive, functional or comfortable. Most of all it makes the statement that the wearer is entrenched firmly in the most ghastly netherworld of compromise: The pus-colored middle ground. The pointless attempt to try to be all things to all people.
Forward thinking fashionistas know there is an alternative to the polo shirt. Look at Steve Jobs’ iconic black turtleneck. Look at Roy Halston’s attachment to the turtleneck, and look at Karl Lagerfeld’s pointed assault on the mamby-pamby with his operatic mega-collars that, I’ll respectfully suggest, are a male compensational accoutrement. They are, nonetheless, not a polo shirt.
Pick a side people: Either put on a t-shirt, join the 21st century and wear a turtle neck or just get on with it and put on a real shirt with buttons. But God forbid, use the poor, unfortunate fabric demeaned to the pattern of the polo shirt for something else, like wiping a dipstick clean to check engine oil.