Ahh, the humble black polo neck, at this time of year it really should be a staple in anyone’s wardrobe. This week I was reminded of it’s status as a classic when I watched one of my all-time favourite Audrey Hepburn films ‘Funny Face’ and bought a new Bella Freud black polo neck during a Black Friday frenzy — I didn’t do both at the same time, but as a woman I could very well have done because I can do 4 things at once. My youngest son thinks it’s a ‘Parent Lie’ that women can multi-task, but I showed him I could do 4 very important things at once by watching Coronation Street, while painting my nails, eating a Terry’s Chocolate Orange and scrolling through Instagram ALL AT THE SAME TIME!
I digress, back to the black polo neck. It’s an item of clothing that is truly timeless, evidence above, look we have Audrey H Marilyn M, Lauren B, Diane K, Princess Di and JLaw all rocking it. It’s a daytime staple with jeans and a trench or blazer but also an evening basic when paired with a jazzy skirt — look at Sharon Stone, she wore one to the Oscars in 1996. I like to think I started a trend when I also wore black polo neck to the Capital Radio Junior Best Disco in town at the Hammersmith Palais in 1988. It was, after all the pinnacle of London society for those of us who were 15 at the time, and I’m sure that Bros, Brother Beyond and The Pasadenas would have appreciated my stylings had they spotted me from the stage that day.
A brief potted history of the polo neck: Apparently they have been worn for hundreds of years, dating back at least to the 15th century. From the late 19th century on, they were worn by menial workers, athletes, sailors and naval officers. Since the middle of the 20th century black polo necks have been associated with radical academics, philosophers and artists (see! always cool). The term polo neck is thought to derive from garments with similar necklines worn by polo players — definitely NOT to be confused with a polo shirt which is commonly worn by men from Made in Chelsea and also men who support Chelsea.
Here’s some ideas how to style up your black polo neck and not look like Steve jobs, the trick is to stay away from ill-fitting jeans and bad New Balance trainers. Be like Audrey Hepburn instead and go all black…
1. Black Ribbed Polo neck — Uniqlo
2. Top Shop fitted cigarette trousers
3. Hill & Friends Happy Tweency Bag
4. Chloe Scallop leather ballet flats
5. Top Shop Ashley pointed flats
Or like Kate Moss with some excellent jeans, an amazing blazer and some fuck-off heels…
1. M&S Satin Tuxedo Jacket
2. Current/Elliott Cropped Distressed Jeans (massive discount!)
3. & Other Stories Cashmere Jumper
4. Monica Vinader Alphabet Charm (30% off this weekend)
5. Alaia Leather & Suede Shoes
How about a wide trouser and a mannish brogue a‑la Marlene Dietrich or Katherine Hepburn…
1. Warehouse Frill Neck Polo
2. Mango High Waist Palazzo Trousers (30% off this weekend)
3. Top Shop Check Overcoat
4. Tods Fringed Leather Brogues
5. Dune Double Buckle Brogues (on sale)
Finally don’t let anyone tell you that curvy girls can’t rock a polo neck — if Marilyn Monroe can, you can, try with a full skirt to balance out the boobage. This gorgeous velvet one is back in stock at Toppers! get it quick. I have the gold version, it’s the best skirt ever!
1. Reiss Leather Biker Jacket
2. Topshop Velvet Pleated Skirt
3. Vivienne Westwood polo neck (25% off at Harvey Nics)
4. Vivienne Westwood Shoulder Bag (20% off with code at Selfridges)
5. & Other Stories Pointed Ankle Boots
As ever there are exceptions to the ‘Black Polo Necks are Stylish’ rule. Nice Fanny pack…