Dressing estate: how the polo collar came back into fashion | Tops for women
Pturtlenecks are smarter than other sweaters. In both ways. Smarter, because a sleek high collar has a polish that the common or garden crewneck falls short of, and a balance the cardigan can never hope for. But also smarter, because a polo collar is smarter than other sweaters. Steve Jobs. Phoebe Philon. People who wear polo collars run the world. In the knitwear directory, the polo collar would be the most likely to be successful.
Most strong dressings are uncomfortable. High heels and pointy cuts are great, but not what you want to wear to snuggle up on the couch. But the comfortable polo collar is different. It’s fall’s Christmas sweater, a seasonal sensory treat, like the scent of cinnamon or the crunch of leaves underfoot, or the rich velvet of Craig Revel Horwood’s Saturday night sleigh.
Around this time, every year, I drag a chair across the room and go upstairs to retrieve the heavy artillery from my knitwear collection from the top of the cabinet, where it is in the summer. The plush, charcoal gray, extra long to prevent drafts from all angles; navy blue with the oversized funnel neck and cropped hem (more fashionable, that one); a red fisherman’s knit rib that is sheer Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally. And hanging that in my wardrobe is to October what going down the balls and dressing the tree is to December.
It wasn’t always like that. Polo collars used to be boring. If they were fat, they were the “chunky sweaters” your mom wanted you to wear if you were wearing something you could catch your death in. If they were tight, they were cheesy (see Ron Burgundy in Anchorman). Then, one day in October 2011, there was this Celine show. There were 35 outfits in the series but the one everyone remembers was the 36th. At the end of the show, Phoebe Philo herself emerged and bowed in a thick camel polo neck sweater with her long hair tucked into her back. The next day, everyone at the Paris salons had their hair tucked into a polo collar. I know you think I’m exaggerating for the comedic effect, but I’m not; I’m talking about fashion week, which is doing the hype for comedic effect for you.
Since then, the polo collar has been the last word in authority chic. Samuel L Jackson (always cool) matched his with his black eye patch in the Avengers movies. Emmanuel Macron (not as cool as he thinks, but at least French) likes to wear one under a blazer. Elizabeth Holmes, now disgraced, made it her uniform when she was still a Silicon Valley pin-up. Today’s TV costume designers – today’s Phoebe Philos, thought leaders in the style universe, more influential than any name you see in the weeklong lights of the week. fashion – have adopted a high collar as a key look for the alpha maverick woman. Suranne Jones in Vigil resisted the shoulder-padded pomp of Navy uniforms in her thick black high collar.
But the queen of polo on the small screen is, of course, Succession’s Shiv Roy, that firm chin lifted Nefertiti above the coveted, stealthy knits. (By the way, a polo collar requires good hair. Try Audrey Hepburn’s sleek pony in Sabrina, Philo’s half-tuck, or a sleek bob, as seen in Vigil and Succession.)
I’ll put it like this. A woman wearing a cardigan looks friendly, helpful – the kind of woman you might ask to help you. A woman wearing a polo neck seems to tell you what to do, and you would. Ask yourself: what would Shiv do?