This week’s Hey Sid question came from an interview Sid recently did with a writer who was covering “golf style” in honor of the Masters tournament happening this week in Augusta. Not to scoop our friend, but he got to the heart of the matter really quickly with his question. We’re all about a quick win. Here in Georgia, it is kind of impossible not to have golf on the brain this week… so we thought we’d go all in and tackle it here, too. Here’s what he told Mike.
That’s an easy one. Get a solid-colored polo shirt made with one-hundred percent cotton… in a pique or mesh knit… with a fit that’s not too tight… and ideally with a stand-up, cut-and-sewn collar. Which is to say, buy our polo shirt. And wear it. I’m sorry to be so self-serving here, but there are categorically not a lot of other companies out there making this shirt. Just make it easy on yourself and get it from us.
We are pretty excited to have our friend Keith Mitchell playing in the Masters this week — when you’re a relatively small operation, it’s cool to see your clothes on TV — and the question I keep getting asked is “how did y’all start dressing him?” Let me set the record straight here. Keith has always dressed himself. Keith’s style is all Keith. He has been shopping with us for about a decade now and just really liked what we were doing. But he came to us with a very specific vision from the get-go (we went into that in this column a few years ago). And it just so happened that it was pretty much the same way that I would want to look if I had a fraction of the talent he did and could spend my days on the golf course as well. I grew up in the 60s and 70s at the peak of Arnold Palmer and Seve Ballasteros. For me, that’s what a cool golfer looked like. And still does.
When I think about all the heroic, romantic vintage photos that circulated in all my previous design positions… the thousands of springtime moodboards… it lined up perfectly with Keith’s vision. We had the same pictures in our heads. It didn’t take much tweaking or extra work — the polos and trousers and the cashmere sweaters have been on our line from the beginning. His sponsors are embroidered on there, but underneath, it’s the same stuff you can come and buy in our shops. His pants are most often our standard high-twist wool dress trousers that happen to have some natural stretch built in. Not elastane, they’re pure wool all the way, but the way that the yarns are twisted gives you this incredible springiness and bounce to the material. They hold up. They breathe. They move. So maybe it’s not what you think of when you say ‘performance fabrics,’ but I would argue that he’s performing. I am not a snob about synthetic fabrics or performance wear. That stuff is engineered to, well, perform, and can have its place. It’s just never been my bag. And it’s not everybody’s bag. And it wasn’t Keith’s bag either, because previously he was working with a pretty major athletic company that’s known for exactly that. Most would say they’re the best at it. But he came to us and wanted to try something a little different.
Okay… but, back to the polo. You’ve got to have all cotton. A pique knit is going to be the most breathable — if you get super up close you’ll see that it almost looks like a honeycomb. The Italians call that cellulare, or what we would describe as ‘cellular’. Bottom line, it’s breathable. And the texture means it doesn’t show sweat as easily. Not to get too technical on you, but this kind of knit is different from a jersey knit, which feels more smooth, like a t-shirt. That’s not to say you can’t wear jersey on the course, but it's not what I would recommend because it’s not going to breathe as much as the pique. The fit should be easy and not too tight. Ours are cut pretty generously because I don’t like to see a guys’ pecs and ripples too closely. That’s another reason the pique knit is so important is that it doesn’t cling to you.
And then the collar. I will never stop talking about the cut-and-sewn collar on our polo because to me that’s such a differentiator. It’s got structure to it. It doesn’t flop around. It gives a more formal, polished appearance. You’re not just wearing a golf shirt. You can throw a jacket on over it without the collar kind of shrinking down underneath the lapels. It’s heroic.
And speaking of heroic. Last thing I’ll say here. The polo is an easy pickup, and it’ll take you a long way. But in the end, golf is a game of confidence. Every single guy on the tour is pretty amazing, and on the right day, a lot of them could probably beat one another. It’s a head game. I think that the heritage of well-fitting, classic clothing — just like what the greats wore — can give you that kind of confidence. In fact, that’s kind of the backbone of what we do every day, golf aside. It’s not that innovative fabrics or shapes or color don’t do that, too… there are guys out there that totally dig having the latest and to them it is the greatest. That is their confidence builder. Great. But for us, we love the classic, legacy look that has stood the test of time. The heritage kind of breeds some of that confidence. That’s a big part of what makes the Masters so magical. That sense of legacy is part of what makes the Masters so magical… “a tradition unlike any other.” That and the $1.50 pimento cheese sandwich. Also pretty magical.
Anyway, Mike, that’s the one thing a guy can do to look better on the golf course. Get yourself a pique polo shirt. Extra credit for high-twist wool trousers. For the 19th hole, maybe a jacket that looks great with the polo collar. And… oh yeah… some cashmere. Knock it out this week, Cashmere Keith. We love seeing you out there.