What actually is a polo neck sweater? I would define it as a close-fitting round high collar, which when folded over covers up the complete neck. It can come in any number of textures from the chunky cable look through to the lightweight cotton. Black appears to be the most popular colour, much favoured by academics, intellectuals and artists.
|image Marks and Spencer|
Now, as regular readers will know, I have a more streamlined approach to my middle-aged wardrobe and I now only own one polo neck sweater. After so much experimentation I finally invested a little bit of extra money five years ago in a sale in Marks & Spencer's whilst on a trip to England and purchased a camel coloured cashmere one at almost half price. The soft material means I can wear it for up to 12 hours without any irritation on my neck, it is light enough to wear on its own, or under a tweed jacket, I've even worn it underneath a suit. Over the years, despite regular cleaning, it has kept its shape and is one of my favourite items.
As someone who enjoys the influences of the 1920s and 1930s I was fascinated to know that, although polo neck clothing has been around since the 15th century, it really only became mainstream in the 1920s when Noel Coward the playwright started wearing different coloured polo neck sweaters and began a trend as famous as his polka doted dressing gown and ivory cigarette holder!
|Noel Coward still wearing a polo neck in the 1960s|
|Sean Connery as James Bond in Diamonds Are Forever|
|Michael Caine sporting a 'fisherman' version of the polo neck sweater|
Overall, the polo neck adds an essential item to the middle-aged man's stylish wardrobe, it accentuates the face, elongates the figure, it is very flexible in its uses, and as John Berendt once wrote: “The polo neck sweater is the picture of masculine poise and arrogance."
|Image Mr Porter|