In Praise Of Vintage Polo

November 9, 2012

In Praise of Vintage Polo

The more I lurk on eBay and flip through thrift store racks, the more a conclusion starts to form in my mind: if you want to dress well, a great place to start is vintage Polo.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no ‘Lo Head, but there are some really important factors to consider here.

  • First, Polo tailored clothing have bent with the passing trends, but they’ve never abandoned classic ideals. If you grab a Polo sportcoat off the rack at the Goodwill, its styling can pass for current two times out of three.
  • Second, Polo tailored clothing is freely available. You can buy vintage Polo suits and sportcoats on eBay for $50 or $100 without breaking a sweat. There’s probably not a thrift store in America without a piece of Polo on the rack. Even a nearly-new suit won’t cost more than a couple hundred bucks. It’s accessible.
  • Third, it’s of good quality. Would I pay the $1500 retail price for a new Polo suit? Probably not. (Then again, I’ve never spent $1500 on a clothing item in my life.) But over the last forty years, Polo tailored clothes have been of consistently good quality. Maybe not superb or exciting, but consistent and solid.

There’s no other brand you can say those three things of. Maybe Brooks Brothers is closest, but while its styling has always been conservative, it’s never had the elegance of Polo. Polo’s always hung on to a bit of the Gatsby flair. Classic, but sharp.

I’ve got a couple of old Polo suits from the 70s. Union made in the US of A. Beautiful heavy fabric and solid, sophisticated styling. I’d say the same of the Italian-made tweed sportcoats I bought at the outlet store a couple years ago. These days, after years of thrifting, I’ve got higher-end stuff in my closet, but I reach for the Polo just as often. That’s really quite an accomplishment.

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