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Classic vs Modern Polo Shirts - What's the Difference?

by Amna Malik 02 Jul 2024 0 Comments

Polo shirts have been a staple in men's fashion for decades, evolving from sportswear to a versatile piece of clothing suitable for various occasions. Over the years, I’ve accumulated a collection of both classic and modern polo shirts, and I’ve noticed distinct differences between the two styles. I’ll explain the key differences between classic and modern polo shirts in terms of design, fit, functionality, and more.

If you're looking to buy high-quality polo shirts that embody both classic and modern styles, The Xea offers a fantastic selection that meets all your needs.

The Origins of Polo Shirts

Classic Beginnings

The polo shirt originated in the sport of polo in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Players needed a comfortable yet stylish garment that allowed ease of movement. The solution was a short-sleeved shirt made from breathable cotton, featuring a soft collar and a buttoned placket. This design quickly caught on due to its practicality and style.

The Lacoste Revolution

In the 1920s, French tennis player René Lacoste adopted and refined the polo shirt design for tennis. Lacoste’s version featured a longer back tail to prevent it from coming untucked, a soft collar that could be flipped up to protect the neck from the sun, and a buttoned placket. This innovation made the polo shirt a staple in tennis and beyond, laying the foundation for what we now consider the classic polo shirt.

Classic Polo Shirts

Traditional Design

Classic polo shirts stick to the original design elements that made them popular. These shirts feature a piqué knit fabric, known for its textured surface and breathability. The soft, foldable collar and two- or three-button placket are standard features. I find that these elements give classic polo shirts a timeless and elegant look.

Key Characteristics:

  • Piqué Knit Fabric: The textured fabric is both breathable and durable, making it ideal for active wear.
  • Soft Collar: The foldable collar adds a touch of formality while maintaining comfort.
  • Buttoned Placket: The placket with two or three buttons allows for adjustable ventilation and adds to the shirt’s style.
  • Traditional Fit: Classic polo shirts typically have a relaxed fit, providing comfort and ease of movement.

Color and Pattern Options

Classic polo shirts usually come in solid colors or simple patterns like stripes. The focus is on timeless, versatile designs that can be easily dressed up or down. I appreciate the simplicity and elegance of classic polo shirts, which make them suitable for a wide range of occasions.

Modern Polo Shirts

Innovative Designs

Modern polo shirts have evolved to incorporate new fabrics, fits, and designs. They are influenced by contemporary fashion trends and advancements in textile technology. I’ve noticed that modern polo shirts often feature performance fabrics, slim fits, and bold patterns, making them stand out from their classic counterparts.

Key Characteristics:

  • Performance Fabrics: Modern polo shirts often use materials like moisture-wicking polyester, spandex blends, or tech fabrics that offer enhanced comfort and functionality.
  • Structured Collar: Some modern polo shirts feature collars with built-in stays or even different materials to maintain shape and add a sharp look.
  • Slim Fit: A more tailored fit is common in modern polo shirts, providing a sleek and stylish appearance.
  • Bold Designs: Modern designs can include bold colors, intricate patterns, and unique embellishments, reflecting current fashion trends.

Color and Pattern Variety

The variety in modern polo shirts is impressive. From bright, vibrant colors to intricate patterns and prints, modern polos offer a wide range of options for those looking to make a fashion statement. I enjoy experimenting with different modern designs to add a contemporary edge to my wardrobe.

Functional Differences

Classic Polo Shirts for Everyday Wear

Classic polo shirts are perfect for everyday casual wear and smart casual occasions. Their breathable fabric and relaxed fit make them comfortable for extended wear. I often choose classic polo shirts for work, casual outings, and family gatherings because of their timeless appeal and comfort.

Modern Polo Shirts for Performance and Style

Modern polo shirts are designed with performance in mind. The use of advanced fabrics makes them ideal for athletic activities, outdoor events, and situations where comfort and functionality are paramount. I find modern polos particularly useful for golf, tennis, and other sports, as well as for creating a sharp, stylish look.

Versatility and Styling

Classic Polo Shirts

Timeless and Versatile

Classic polo shirts are incredibly versatile and can be styled in numerous ways. They pair well with jeans, chinos, and even dress pants. For a classic look, I often pair a solid-color polo shirt with khaki chinos and loafers. The timeless design ensures that classic polo shirts remain stylish year after year.

Modern Polo Shirts

Fashion-Forward and Functional

Modern polo shirts offer more opportunities to experiment with style. The slim fit and bold designs allow for a more fashion-forward approach. I enjoy pairing modern polo shirts with slim-fit jeans or tailored shorts for a contemporary look. The performance fabrics also make them perfect for active days.


Classic and modern polo shirts each offer unique benefits and styles, making them valuable additions to any wardrobe. Classic polo shirts provide timeless elegance and versatility, perfect for a wide range of occasions. Modern polo shirts, with their innovative fabrics and contemporary designs, offer enhanced performance and style. By understanding the differences between these two types, you can choose the perfect polo shirt to suit your needs and preferences. Whether you’re drawn to the timeless appeal of classic polos or the bold and functional designs of modern polos, TheXea has a fantastic selection that caters to all tastes. Embrace the versatility and style of mens polo shirts and enjoy the best of both worlds.


Q1: What are the main differences between classic and modern polo shirts?

The main differences lie in the fabric, fit, and design. Classic polo shirts typically feature piqué knit fabric, a relaxed fit, and traditional designs. Modern polo shirts use performance fabrics, have a slimmer fit, and often include bold patterns and innovative features.

Q2: Can classic polo shirts be worn for athletic activities?

While classic polo shirts were originally designed for sports like polo and tennis, modern performance fabrics offer better moisture-wicking and breathability for athletic activities. However, classic polos can still be worn for light physical activities.

Q3: Which type of polo shirt is better for casual wear?

Both classic and modern polo shirts are suitable for casual wear. Classic polos offer a timeless and versatile look, while modern polos provide a contemporary and stylish option. The choice depends on personal preference and the desired look.

Q4: Where can I find high-quality polo shirts?

You can find high-quality polo shirts at TheXea, which offers a wide range of both classic and modern styles to suit different preferences and occasions.

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