Benedict Browne


What makes you think of summer? Is it the simple, salivating delight of strawberries and cream? Perhaps it's a generous pint of Pimms? Or even the smell of freshly cut grass? The answer could, of course, be all of them, but for me, it's the seasonal coming of the polo shirt – that wardrobe staple that you can never have too many of, that I often fantasise about wearing throughout the bitterly cold winter. Finally, it's back on the menswear menu.

You can, of course, wear a polo shirt in the winter, but it's traditionally a summer piece, underlined by its roots in the sporting arena. As the name suggests, it comes from the sport of polo, but it's better known for its role in tennis. In fact, it should probably be renamed but who I am I to challenge the canon of menswear?

The originals were all made from pique cotton, an instantly recognisable fabric that's pleasingly textured and a delight to wear. Why? Well, cotton is fantastic in summer - it's cool to the touch and helps regulate your body temperature better than most fabrics. On top of that, the weave structure of pique, with its raised parallel cords, allows better air circulation and makes it durable - there's a reason why you've still got that polo shirt from yesteryear. Johnstons of Elgin has three options in this area - Cerulean, Mondrian Red and Black - each one as timeless as the next. You might wonder what makes them special – after all, doesn't everyone offer a polo shirt in some shape or form? Allow me to inform you.

Johnstons' polo shirts have all been made in Scotland using exclusive seamless knitting machines. Seamless polo shirts are beyond superior to their cut and sew counterparts, as the construction gives you a better and more comfortable fit. They hug all areas of your body equally, and there are no single weak points. Lastly, it has a three-button placket and a ribbed hem that sits well with tailored trousers.

Pique Stitch Superfine Cotton Polo Shirt
Pique Stitch Superfine Cotton Polo Shirt
Pique Stitch Superfine Cotton Polo Shirt
Pique Stitch Superfine Cotton Polo Shirt

Now, Johnstons of Elgin doesn't just offer pique cotton polo shirts, after all, it's the Cashmere and wool specialist. This brings me to their extensive offering of worsted Merino Wool polo shirts. Let's get something squared up – the polo shirt is generally considered a casual garment, more suited to the pub than the boardroom. However, when it's made from Merino Wool, it's another game entirely.

Merino Wool polo shirts are smarter than cotton pique, because the worsted yarns are much finer and stronger, offering up a sleek appearance. The pick for me is undoubtedly the Plaid Superfine Merino Wool Polo Shirt in Silver. There's a red version too that's wonderfully punchy. I have last year's version in blue, and it gets a lot of wear. If patterns aren't your bag, fear not, as there are four plains on offer – Granite, Prussian, Slate Green, and Dark Navy. Merino Wool is a clever material that's worn year-round - it keeps you warm in winter and cool in summer. Two for the price of one, you could say.

Superfine Worsted Merino Polo Shirt
Plaid Superfine Worsted Merino Polo Shirt

All in all, this summer's polo shirt offering from Johnstons of Elgin is concise and serves its purpose brilliantly. All of the tones add something different to an outfit, and with lockdown measures slowly being lifted, now's the perfect chance to get prepared to come on to centre court looking your best, hopefully with a pint of Pimms at an arm's reach!

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