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Item of the week: the rugby shirt

By Rachel Douglass


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(From left) Lacoste, Madewell and Gaastra. Credits: FashionUnited Marketplace.

What it is:

A brief overview of the rugby shirt’s history would reveal little in the way of surprises. It is often believed that the piece in fact originated at the suitably named Rugby School in England in the 1830s, and grew in popularity alongside its fellow sport. The piece itself has also not changed drastically since its birth. The only dramatic shift would be that of the material, which has since adapted from wool to a more breathable cotton or synthetic fibre. It also still bears a resemblance to the polo shirt, with a key detail being its button-down collar.

Charles Tyrwhitt. Credits: FashionUnited Marketplace.

Why you’ll want it:

Like other sportswear, the rugby shirt has made its way into the more general world of fashion, as brands adopt the classic piece as a prep-centric staple for both men and women. Its current resurgence in popularity can be attributed to the recent rise in the preppy clothing trend, distinctly present in the collections of a slew of menswear designers. Despite fitting comfortably into ongoing trends, the shirt is an item that does often recur each year, largely down to its status as a staple, and therefore rarely falls out of relevance with consumers.

Superdry. Credits: FashionUnited Marketplace.

Where we’ve seen it:

In the collections of many designers, the rugby shirt appeared in its classic form – Dsquared2 and Beyond Closet, for example, exhibited the traditional striped patterns, complete with collegiate-inspired patches. Martine Rose opted for a similar design, albeit layering the shirt with a denim overcoat and chains, departing from the preppy aesthetic it is so regularly linked to. MSGM, on the other hand, offered up a sleeker version of the style, with details like the collar donning contrasting tones to the shirt’s body. In even more of a contrast, JW Anderson presented a vastly different take on the classic piece, displaying a rugby shirt with puffed up proportions yet still holding its recognisable details.

Weird Fish. Credits: FashionUnited Marketplace.

How to style it:

There is not much in the way of styling a rugby shirt. Being such a casual item in the context of fashion, as opposed to sportswear, it is a one that can be utilised in a simple manner. For both men and women, the look works well with jeans and some form of casual shoe, such as a sneaker. However, if the wearer wants to take the look one step further in the direction of its collegiate links, it is also possible to be more daring in the approach. This could be in the layering of other shirts, or the use of shorts in contrasting colours. If prep is not for you, depart from the theme with the use of cargo pants or tailored trousers.

Ralph Lauren. Credits: FashionUnited Marketplace.

The rugby shirt has remained virtually unchanged since its day of origin, largely due to its wearable shape and effortless appearance. With the presence of patches and its typical colour block prints, the piece also fits well into the ongoing trend for preppy clothing, making it relevant in the current day as a casual ‘must-have’.

Ted Baker. Credits: FashionUnited Marketplace.

Similar items available for (pre)order can be found in the FashionUnited Marketplace. You can find them by clicking on this link.
Item of the Week