There may not be a more ubiquitous or versatile work shirt than the polo shirt. From grocery stores to hotels, and in almost every industry, the polo shirt can be used as a work uniform for anyone. But how exactly did this particular piece of clothing become so popular, and why is it considered appropriate for almost any work environment?

Origins

Surprisingly, the polo shirt has only been around since the 1920’s when Rene Lacoste (yup that Lacoste) designed the shirt as an alternative to the long-sleeved white button up worn by professional tennis players at the time. Lacoste, who was a seven-time Grand Slam champion, first wore the shirt at the 1926 U.S. Open championship, and began mass producing the shirts after retiring from tennis in 1933. Despite the fact that the shirt was originally designed for tennis players, polo players liked and adopted Lacoste’s new shirt as their own and the name stuck. Polo players liked the new shirts because, much like tennis players, the standard uniform in those days was a thick long-sleeve shirt that was uncomfortable and difficult to play in. Golf players started wearing the shirts for the same reasons they were so popular with polo players, and many golf clubs started requiring the shirts as part of their dress code. Golf did make one addition to the shirt, a pocket on the left side large enough hold a scorecard and pencil.

Nowadays

Today polo shirts can be seen just about everywhere on a daily basis. Many businesses use them as their employee uniform because of the combination of the casual look of short sleeves and professional look of a collared shirt. Polo shirts also come in a huge variety of color and design, and companies can easily have them customized with their logo or an employee’s name. Many employees in workplaces that do not have mandated uniforms still decide to wear polo shirts instead of a more formal dress shirt.

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