A tennis shirt, polo shirt or golf shirt all refers to a type of t-shirt that is made of knitted cloth, usually pique cotton. Its style is customarily with some buttons down a slit below the collar, two small cuts on the bottom of each side of the t-shirt and maybe with or without a pocket. On rare occasions are tennis shirts made of silk, merino wool or synthetic fibers.
Between the nineteenth and early twentieth century, tennis players had a tough time playing their games as a result of poor design of their attire. In those days, they had to wear long-sleeved shirts, trousers and even ties to the tennis court. These formal cloths were akin to what the white collars of today wear to work and were simply too heavy and cumbersome for professional playing. Therefore, a French tennis player called Rene Lacoste decided to start his own line of tennis shirts named after himself, Lacoste. The 7-time Grand Slam tennis champion came up with a loosely-knitted un-starched pique cotton tennis shirt with a collar and longer shirt-tail at the back. The collar is thicker so that it could be upturned and provide the neck protection from the sun while playing. Actually, before Lacoste invented the revolutionary tennis shirt in 1929, polo shirts already had the button-down collar design since the late nineteenth century. While this design was able to prevent the wind from flapping the collars against the players neck, the long-sleeved polo shirts which were made of Oxford-cloth cotton were clumsy to wear on the field. As a result, Lacostes tennis shirts were promptly taken on by the polo players as their apparel in the 1930s.
Soon, the polo shirt and tennis shirt were considered the one and the same. In the US, the two terms were very commonly used interchangeably in the 1950s to describe this very popular apparel. It was so popular that the tennis players openly refer to their shirt as a polo shirt", even though the t-shirt was first used in tennis and even though polo only adopted it many years later.
The t-shirt was made even more popular, thanks to Ralph Lauren. In 1967, he added a Joules Polos shirt into his already famous clothing line called Polo. However, his polo shirts were not meant to be worn by professional players. They were only imitations of the style of what the polo players were wearing at that time.
Before long, golfers became aware of the advantages of Lacostes tennis shirt. As a result, when golfs customary wear grew more relaxed and informal some time in the twentieth century, golfers did not think twice about adopting the tennis shirt. Until today, most golfers wear nothing else. For the ladies, they can have their tennis shirt custom made in colors that they like. The only difference is that the monicker golf shirts" have various golf cuts necessary to incorporate into the standard tennis shirts. Today, the tennis shirts popularity is so widespread that it has a line of fashion of its own. Most of the main clothing producers have a version or variation of Lacostes tennis shirt since it is worn extensively by both men and women today and not necessarily for athletic purposes. Tennis shirts are regarded as smart casual wear. Many semi-professional and retail workers wear tennis shirts to work because round collar t-shirts are considered too informal and yet business suits are too formal.
Field guides, laborers and others who work outdoors love to wear tennis shirts to work because the material and design are resilient and durable. Sometime in the 1990s, the tennis shirt also found favor by the high tech industry and was made its standard business as well as casual wear. Other industries followed suit. Usually, a company logo is printed on the shirt to make it look more business-like. In some of Indias government departments, tennis shirts are standard office wear.
In many schools with uniforms, especially junior schools, tennis shirts are part of a compulsory uniform for both boys and girls. The tennis shirt continues to be popular in sports, even used by officials such as caddies, some retired golf professionals, umpires and sports announcers. Thanks in part to the outdoor nature of the sports with which they are linked to, the shirts often come in light colors, for example in tennis the color white is most often used.
Like in the original Lacostes design, sometimes a tennis shirt is cut so that the back hangs a few centimeters lower than the front also known as a "tennis tail". The longer tail is meant to keep the shirt tucked into the back of a man's tennis shorts when he is bent over to survey the court. The easily-upturnable collar remains another athletic aid to protect against sun burns.
The tennis shirt or Joules Clothing polo shirt will continue to occupy a niche in the fashion industry, regardless of the changing trends and times. It has become an essential wear in our daily lives.
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