The polo shirt has gone through some ups and downs, from its sporting heyday of yesteryear to its current sullied reputation as the uniform of emphatically daddish dads. We're here to say that the polo shirt has returned and caught up with the times. So instead of oversized, shapeless reams of cotton, today's versions have a slim fit. And taking cues from both dress shirts and the better T-shirts on the market, today's polo shirts are the ideal summer garment, equally appropriate for beach-based romps or dinner out on the terrace, or wherever else your summer days and nights take you.
Heading the increasingly crowded field is the Pensacola polo from talented son-of-the-South Billy Reid. His version does away with the standard cotton piqué in favor of 100 percent cotton jersey, giving it the instantly soft, comfy feel of your favorite tee. Details like twill taping on the placket and vents, and cotton sheeting under the collar, also mean that his shirts will keep their structure better, and longer, than the polos of the past. We especially like that, contrary to the old laws, the sleeves aren't banded – an oddly constrictive detail that never made much sense to us. Put a Pensacola on and you'll remember why the polo became a menswear essential in the first place. [$88; billyreid.com]