Friday, August 24, 2012

Casual Fridays #1: Fred Perry Knit Polo

Working to look sharp for a rare evening out on the town can actually be easy. The tough job is trying to look sharp on a daily, casual basis. Yeah, you might have your Friday night suit at your beck and call, but what does it matter if you spend the rest of your time in target t-shirts and jeans? Every Friday, I'd like to offer up some style inspiration for tightening up your casual look, because let's face it... sometimes you just don't feel like wearing a tie, but still want to keep it sharp.

Okay, based on an email from a friend, I realized that I wasn't focusing much on casual wear. Honestly, I'm much more interested in the suit-and-tie look which is the original image of Mods that inspired me to get into this in the first place. Plus, we live in a world where everyone does casual because it's easy and takes no real effort.

As much as I love the detailed suited outfits of 1960s Mods, the flip side is that they also helped popularize t-shirts, sneakers, jeans, etc. And now, that's the predominant look the vast majority of people wear. (Only trade sneakers for flip-flops.) Yawn....

That said, you don't have to sacrifice style in an effort to be more casual and comfortable. Well, after little more than a year of Sharp Stylings, let's switch gears and dig on some Casual Fridays!

Let's start off by getting this out of the way now... Fred Perry. Too many times guys fall back on Fred Perry as the one casual look to sport other than a Who or Jam t-shirt. I know it's iconic, I know Mods in the 1960s brought it to the forefront of this culture, but fellas... it's a tennis shirt.

Oh sure, early on in high school, I coveted Fred Perrys. I was lucky enough to find a couple in thrift shops and I wore them. I once tried buying a new one at my local Puente Hills Mall, but walked out after seeing the $40 price tag. And that's when it hit me... why spend so much on a shirt that has no real style. Plus, the Fred Perrys I did have faded after a couple of washings. Why should I be concerned with this label?

During my first year of college, my buddy Jon B. convinced me that I was on the right track. He admitted to me that he was more of a (Munsingwear) Penguin shirt fan because of the detailing on the collars, the contrasting piping, and the more 'vintage' look. Although I never bought Penguin, I did have to admit that they looked way cooler than Fred Perry tennis shirts.

Another main reason why I abandoned the FP look was that during my first year of college I was able to find affordable 1960s polo shirts at vintage shops! Knitted 3-button collars, varying stripes and designs down the front... these shirts blew away Fred Perry AND Penguin for me! Plus, these shirts set you apart from the other 5 guys wearing the same-styled Fred Perry shirts. Vintage polos were the way to go... until you stopped finding them in shops and the ones you did wear stopped fitting as well (thanks Freshman 15).

Well, guess what? All these years later and I'm coming back into the Fred Perry fold. You know why? Long-sleeve polos like this:

This is sharp! This is my kind of casual! No tennis shirt here, just a well-done knitted 3-button long-sleeve polo with contrasting piping down the chest and around the cuffs and bottom. Let's zoom in on that collar:

This is the type of collar I used to find on those vintage polos I mentioned above! John Smedley has the monopoly on this style, but Fred Perry's a strong contender with this take on it. A simple, subtle look that works for those days when you want to be mellow but still keep it stylin'.

Unfortunately, I don't know how easy these are to find anymore and I couldn't find a link that wasn't sold out of them. But if you're able to find one, snatch it up!

Or, if commercialized cliché Mod is more your thing, then there's always something like this:


  1. The Fred Perry long sleeve, knitted polo's still turn up as limited releases on the FP website and in their stores; but you can't beat Smedley for simplicity of style, quality & herritage.
    For a classic look, short sleeve polo you can't go far wrong with the Sunspel classics.
    As for T-shirts, I've not seen one I'd happily wear beyond my front door for many years.

    1. Agreed on John Smedley! My only problem is their price tag. Imagine my surprise when on a trip to London last year, we found discounted Smedleys at T.K. Maxx!

      I'm researching Sunspel now!

    2. John Smedley do have an outlet website , not sure if they ship international ...just looked at their normal site and they ship international, they also have a pretty good sale going on (70% reductions on some things)
      T.K.Maxx does have that ability throw up the odd surprise ...I'll have to venture into my local one soon.
      The Sunspel polos I mentioned are called Riviera , they also have some nice tipped ones .