2009 October 19

safrugbyA traditional rugby shirt, often referred to as a jersey, was a shirt worn by players of rugby union or rugby league. These days, players shirts tend to have short sleeves, but the fashion garment worn by people who don’t play rugby, almost always has the traditional long sleeves.

What distinguishes a rugby shirt from a polo-shirt? Two things, the first is the longer sleeves, the second is that although both have a button front opening, the rugby shirt tends to have a stiffer collar.

The sports version of the rugby shirt usually has a logo on the chest and the player’s team number on the back, but fashion versions may have an imaginary logo and no number on the back at all. While traditional designs usually had five or six hoops (stripes travelling horizontally around the body) but modern fashion rugby shirts are much more likely to be a solid colour with a contrasting white collar. They are also more likely much more likely to be made of pure cotton, while the sports-based rugby shirts are often made of a blend of cotton and synthetic fabrics for lightness and ease of wear.

A rugby shirt is a durable and extremely comfortable item of casual clothing that maintains its classic status.

2009 September 7

rugby_shirt_royalIf you want to dress well but don’t have the budget, aren’t particularly good at laundry and stuff, and never feel very sure about clothing rules, rugby shirts are the perfect solution.

To begin with, they are a durable garment, so they put up with being washed at the wrong temperature, with the wrong stuff, being used as a dish-towel or a cushion to sit on in the park, or a goalpost for a game of scratch football, and still look great.

Secondly, rugby shirts come in a range of colours and designs, they are ideal casual wear but the longer sleeves give an added touch of formality that a polo-shirt or a sweatshirt doesn’t have.

Rugby shirts keep you warm while looking cool – if you’re one of those people who hate to wear a jacket, or forget to carry one, then a rugby shirt is the ideal option – it keeps you warm enough without looking like you’re bundled up in clothing.

White collars look great. If you’re a bloke and have a hangover or didn’t have time to shave, the collar lightens your face and suggests that you’re rugged rather than wasted. And any woman looks great in a rugby shirt – just ask a bloke!

2009 August 24

long_sleeve_oxford_shirt_atlantic_blueThere’s still a bank holiday ahead but autumn is near and it’s time to get the right clothing out of the wardrobe. If you need to buy new shirts, here’s a few tips to help you get the very best look for you:

Know what you want your shirt to do: is it for work or pleasure, should it be worn with a suit or jeans? Don’t try to buy a shirt that will do everything, because, believe me, it will end up succeeding in absolutely nothing – formal shirts look strange with jeans, casual shirts look silly with a suit – buy for purpose and your shirt will look great.

Get measured: most men don’t change their shirt size from the last time their mum took them shopping! Or if they do, they just guess … this is a really terrible way to buy shirts! Take a tape measure and a piece of paper and a pencil. Measure your torso, arms and neck. Compare the sizes you write down to the sizing on individual shirts. Shirt manufacturers vary slightly in the way they construct a shirt, so when you find a company whose shirts make you feel comfortable and look good, stick to them.

Recognise the different materials and their values: a pure cotton shirt feels fantastic and soaks up a lot of perspiration but it needs ironing every time it’s washed. Cotton blend shirts are harder wearing (but perhaps bit less cosy) but much easier to iron. How can you tell what suits your lifestyle? Easy – if you have a favourite shirt, take it from the hanger and read the fabric label – that’s the best fabric for you.

Get value for money: single colour shirts, and paler shirts, are the best buy because they go with almost everything. Darker shirts can be slightly more difficult to match with clothing, but they are more slimming. Don’t wear joke shirts. Joke T-shirts can be funny, but joke shirts with cartoon characters or other strange patterns are really not amusing at all.

2009 May 4

gym-shortsIf you’re one of the millions trying to get fit for summer, remember that it’s vital to wear the right clothes, not just because bad sportswear can be dangerous, but because it’s important for your motivation to look as if you’re taking your fitness seriously.

Baggy tops, long trackies that trail over your shoes or raggedy T-shirts can all result in injuries to your health, but also make you look, and feel, as if you’re a second-rate athlete.  You might be thinking that because fitness wear is going to get sweaty and crumpled you might as well wear any old thing, but that’s a way, psychologically of telling yourself that you’re not going to achieve your aims.

The gym is like any other aspect of life – if you don’t look good and feel good, you won’t have the right attitude – and there’s always the chance you’ll meet a potential boss or life partner in the weights room, or on a jog, and regret having made such a bad impression on them.

The easiest choice of clothing for the upper body is a T-shirt and there are so many choices that everybody can find something to suit them. If you’re already in reasonable shape and feel confident about your body, go for a relatively form fitting cap-sleeved T-shirt or even a vest. But if you’re a bit (or a lot) overweight or have other reasons not to wish to expose your flesh, choose something which is loose fitting and has short sleeves that will cover your shoulders and the top of your arms where flab is worst. Any teeshirt for exercise should constructed from light, breathable material, such as cotton or a cotton-lycra or cotton-bamboo mix. Avoid anything made entirely of synthetic fabrics as this will make you sweat.

Lyrca for women depends on their confidence, for men it’s pretty well a no-no. While a female who looks like Beyonce can definitely wear skintight sportsware, really, there is no man who looks great in form-fitting shorts or track pants. Instead choose something a little looser and that fits well on the waist. Half-mast jeans are fine for fashionwear but half-mast jog pants or shorts are a disaster waiting to happen. The classic look is cotton shorts an inch or two above or below the knee – they hide a multitude of sins for both men and women and can actually look quite smart.

Equipped with clothes that make you look confident, sporty and stylish and that will help you get the most out of your fitness plan, you’ll be looking and feeling summer ready in no time!

2009 April 28

m109s_lo2There’s no doubt we wear cotton because we love it, from our favourite old much-washed T-shirt that we wear to chill on Sunday mornings, to the brand new crisp white shirt that we buy for an interview, through to the coolest new hoody to impress our mates at the weekend.

And the best thing about our cotton clothing is how easy it is to look after. We shove it in the washing machine and then in the dryer and time and again it comes out looking great. Our T-shirt is snuggly, our white shirt is pristine and our cool hoody looks as good as new.

There are ways to keep cotton clothing looking fantastic – the good news is that most colours don’t fade even after repeated washings, although the very darkest colours used in T-shirts, such as black, navy and very deep browns and greens may lose some of their ‘edge’ over time. To keep deep colours looking great, wash the clothing inside out, try not to use very strong detergents and avoid tumble-dryers. It’s also a good idea with lighter weight cottons to only partially machine dry – if you want your clothing smooth and ready-to-wear, take it out of the clothing while it’s still a little damp, smooth it out and hang it on the line – finish the wash by air drying gives clothes that extra smoothness.

Cotton usually becomes more comfortable the more we wear it, and to preserve its softness, you can also wash your cottons with a couple of drops of white vinegar in the final rinse, which makes the fibres more fluffy. And if you get oil or grease on your beloved polo-shirt or sweatshirt, don’t panic. Simply pour undiluted washing up liquid on the grease spot, making sure it goes over the edges of the grease mark and leave for ten minutes to soak in before washing.

2008 December 15

The latest research by Mintel into clothing sizes reveals that sales of plus-sized men’s clothing have increased by 40% over the past five years.  This growth in XL and above sizes is partly due to spiralling levels of obesity: it’s predicted that nearly a third of men will be obese by 2013 and 90% of all UK adults are expected to be overweight or obese by 2050. The market for men’s clothes sized XL or larger is now worth £1.7 billion, up from £1.2 billion in 2003. The other driver for XL clothing sales is the modern desire to wear loose clothing such as T-shirts that are not tucked in and hoodies that have drooped shoulders and can fit at least two tees underneath.

DEFRA also reveals textiles have become the fastest-growing waste product in the UK. Nearly 74% of the two million tonnes of clothes bought in the UK each year end up in landfills. Meanwhile, the poor quality of the cheap fashion that is sold in cut price stores has destroyed the recycled textile industry. Cheap imported fashion, like t-shirts for a pound, has removed any possibility of selling second-hand tees at charity shops.  And very little of the material that can’t be sold, can’t be recycled either less than 4% of the two million tonnes, around 13% is incinerated and the remainder is either sent abroad or buried in British landfill.

To stop this wasteful behaviour, DEFRA wants us to buy less often, buy better quality and take more care of our clothing. Their suggestions for better clothing behaviour will be revealed in February and are likely to include a focus on buying pure cotton t-shirts, rather than cotton/synthetic blends, for everyday wear and keeping mixed fibres for performance clothing like sportswear; investing in clothing that can be layered: T-shirts under hoodies, sweatshirts under jackets, rather than buying individual garments to be worn alone; and not buying complete holiday wardrobes cheaply that will not be worn again when you return.

2008 December 1

We all have favourite T-shirts, polo-shirts, sweatshirts or hoodies, and we all know that the more you wear the clothing you love best, the faster it fades, stains, and becomes stiff. When times are tough, keeping our cotton clothing looking great for as long as possible becomes a real priority.

The harsh truth is that the frequency with which you wear and wash a tee-shirt or polo-shirt, determines its life. The more often you wash it, the faster it will age. Hand washing a garment, particularly a small one like a tee shirt, is an effective way to lengthen its wearable life, and using the gentlest possible washing liquid (not powder) and not wringing or stretching it, can all help. But it’s not only washing that shortens a shirt’s life – the way you dry it can halve or double its lifetime. A tumble dryer takes years off a cotton garment’s life, hanging it on a washing line or drying it flat will both help prolong its existence.

Many garments, particularly white ones, are prone to different forms of staining – and it can be a real temptation to splash bleach on a favourite white sweatshirt or hoodie that gets marked, but bleach can really shorten the life of cotton fabrics, so using it more than once or twice over the lifetime of a piece of clothing can actually make the fabric ‘rot’ or develop holes.

White t-shirts, and especially polo-shirts, tend to turn yellow around the collar – this is because the combination of sweat from the body and naturally produced oils will congregate at certain points (the armpits are another, and wherever the body moves a lot, (like the neck or upper arms) these fluids get ground into the fabric.

If your white cotton clothing yellows a lot, consider a couple of alternatives – the first is to change your hair products, as some treatments make the hair more oily than others and this can cause the yellowing.  The other alternative is to apply a mild anti-perspirant to the back of the neck!

You can use a stain spray before washing white cotton shirts that have yellowed, but make sure the spray does not contain bleach.  The spot treatment should be left on the fabric for at least ten minutes.

Black cotton clothing will tend to fade, and this can be addressed by washing it inside out, at cool temperatures and using products that are not biological, as that can strip colour.

2008 November 27

The bottom is falling out of markets for everything from mortgages to mohair scarves – even cheap and cheerful Woolworths is not immune.

What effect will the new thrifty behaviour of consumers have on our clothing?

School uniforms are suddenly popular with parents who can see ways to save money by ensuring their kids wear the agreed clothing which is usually a lot cheaper than fashion wear. Uniforms have seen a boost too, as staff benefit from not having to wear their own clothes to the office, but what about those who do have to dress for work or college from their own budgets and want to impress without breaking the bank?

  • Organic clothing matters – ethical wear is going to be increasingly important as people want to be sure that what they buy with their hard-earned cash, isn’t causing misery elsewhere in the world.
  • Vintage returns – the hoodie your uncle Dave wore the year skateboards were invented, and your mum’s old ‘Material Girl’ T-shirt are suddenly back in fashion. Because vintage clothing has stood the test of time, it’s a good investment and rather than just being ‘old’ or ‘second-hand’ it has the cachet of being ‘previously loved’. Be careful though, just because it’s old, doesn’t mean it’s vintage – T-shirts from lousy television series in the 1980s still won’t get you anything but sneers and jeers.
  • Shopping with a list delivers the goods – just as we shouldn’t go food shopping without a list, we shouldn’t buy clothes without one either. List what you have, then list what you need and buy that, not anything else. Shops are designed to lure you into purchases you don’t really need, so buying online can save you a fortune.  If you have three pairs of blue jeans, perhaps you need a pair of black trousers? If you have four white polo-shirts, perhaps you need a black polo? The thing is, once you get into the shop, you’re seduced by what you already know you like and you leave with blue jeans and another white polo and whoops … money gone and still none of the clothes you need.
  • Classic crowns them all – or why black is always the new black.  The reason that classic colours and styles persist from year to year is their incredible ability to make most people look good most of the time. A black top, unless you have dandruff, is slimming and stylish – what’s not to like about that?

2008 November 17

As the recession bites, the idea of Christmas shopping depresses as many people as it cheers up. If you’re one of the 29% of the British population who – in a recent survey – classed ‘shopping for gifts’ as being more enjoyable than filling in your tax return but less enjoyable than having a dental check-up, don’t despair. You can do most of your shopping online, bag some bargains, and please everybody on your Xmas shopping list.

Let’s start with the wrinklies: Gran and Granddad have enough slippers and photo-frames already!  But a high-quality,  top-comfort sleeveless fleece is a thoughtful gift: it can be slipped on over a shirt or jumper to nip outside and bring in the washing or give the dog some fresh air, and it can be worn under a winter coat for longer trips outdoors. Finally, if your grandparents are worrying about their energy bills (who isn’t?) a fleece allows them to stay warm without turning up the central heating.

Parents: Dad gets so many socks, and Mum so many tea-towels, they must sometimes want to tie them all together and make a rope to escape from the hell of Christmas gift-giving! Why not invest in their health? But them each a really good winter jacket that’s good for Sunday afternoon walks (remember how they used to drag you out for ‘healthy exercise – now you can get your own back) and smart enough to wear to the pub for a warming drink on their way home. You’ll be the favourite offspring for sure.

Nieces and nephews, daughters and sons: Can you remember how horrible it was when your parents bought your clothes for you? Well, learn from that. Don’t try to buy trendy gear for your younger relatives because the very term, trendy gear is so unretro it’s nearly squicky (and if you didn’t understand that, you’re just too old). Instead invest in really classic cotton tops. Girls will always welcome more plain black or plain white T-shirts and boys can’t get enough hoodies, as long as they are simple, neutral colours. Pre-teens would love some fabric markers to personalise a new sweatshirt, but teenagers would just see this as ‘lame’ so stick to the classics and earn their grudging respect.

There, Christmas shopping sorted, all available from polo-shirts.co.uk online and only one lot of post to pay – with the money you save, you could take your other half out for a lovely romantic post-Christmas dinner – because you’re both worth it!

2008 August 18


The current spending squeeze has changed our purchasing habits, on the high street and online. Slow fashion is fast becoming the way we buy, even if we don’t know exactly what ‘slow fashion’ means. It’s a term that’s increasingly being used by the top retailers and designers to define the way that customers are moving away from ‘fast fashion’ ie quick knockoffs of catwalk styles that are sold very cheaply and not expected to last more than a season, to ‘slow fashion’ which is increasing seen as multi-seasonal, locally-made, organic, recycled or fair trade clothing.

Multi-seasonal means classic styling – no faddy buttons or strange collars, no odd logos or ‘witty’ messages and in simple, easily harmonising colours. Locally-made means produced nationally or even regionally, like Arran sweaters or Harris tweed, and organic and fair trade clothing is seen as fairer to the planet and more likely to have high quality materials in its manufacture, while recycled clothing is obviously hard-wearing (after all its been worn once!) and usually reasonably priced.

What does this mean for polo-shirts?

It means solid classic colours: white, red, navy, grey, cream and simple styling. It means that people are likely to make fewer, and much better considered purchases, and to want to ensure that all new clothing works with a number of items in their existing wardrobe. It also means more sales at the premium end of the market for organic and fair trade clothing because customers are engaged by the issues involved and will be prepared to save money on other things to ensure they can feel good about the few and essential clothing items they are going to invest in.