The Polo Coat: The Aristocrat of Topcoats

From athletic essential to Ivy League staple

The game of polo has inspired countless icons of modern style: the polo sweater, the chukka boot and of course, the iconic Brooks Brothers Original Polo Button-Down Collar. Each time there’s a bit of tweaking by the deft hands of our designers to give it a modern, wearable update. Such is the case of the polo coat.

Called by menswear authority G. Bruce Boyer, “the aristocrat of topcoats,” the double-breasted, camel hair outerwear finds its roots as a simple cover-up. Worn by polo players on the sidelines in between chukkers, it was originally robe-like: oversized, deconstructed and closed only with a belt. But when Brooks Brothers introduced it to America in 1910 the piece had evolved to a version of the double-breasted, notch lapelled icon that it is today. You’ll still find iterations of this classic design here at Brooks, including horned buttons, a martingale in the back and flap patch pockets.

 

 

The first version of the Brooks Brothers Polo Coat was done in cream-colored cloth and featured mother-of-pearl buttons. In quick order, the coat was offered in grey and then in camel hair, becoming a staple of the Ivy League undergraduate’s wardrobe in the ’20s. Men’s Wear magazine reported in 1928: “While the vogue of this style with the best dressed men of the world is indisputable, it is only getting started, so far as national popularity is concerned.”

By the 1930s, more polo coats were being worn by the students at Miss Porter’s School for Girls than at any boys’ prep school. And now, having been cut into a female-specific style as well, the piece is truly an icon of Brooks history and the well-stocked wardrobe.

 

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