The navy-and-white striped long-sleeve T-shirt as we know it today was born in the mid-19th century as the official undershirt of the French Navy. Legend has it that the stripes were meant to signify each of Napoleon’s naval victories against the British. That may be an, um, alternative fact, but the long-sleeve striped tee is still the truth. Just ask Brando, Picasso, Jean-Paul Gaultier, James Dean, and Warhol, all of whom made a striped replica shirt shine. It’s been adopted by countless style tribes (hippies to preppies), looks good on damn near every guy, and it’s offered up by high-end designers and mall brands. But our favorite is an affordable one from Polo, Ralph Lauren’s fifty-year old label that wrote the book on modern day menswear staples. Here’s why:
3 Reasons We Love Polo Ralph Lauren’s striped cotton-jersey T-shirt
1. There’s no wrong way to wear it: With pressed khakis it’ll channel your inner yacht owner; with a skinny black blazer you’re a chain-smoking Left Bank aesthete. It works with your best suit and your most trashed denim jacket, or all by itself with almost any pair of pants in your closet. The blue stripes—our other two favorites, below, have black—still work with everything.
2. It feels like your favorite shirt: Some replica shirts take years to reach that soft, threadbare idyllic state staple. But Polo’s done all the breaking in for you by using 100 percent cotton woven slightly looser than the usual tees you get in a three-pack. This striped shirt is cozy right out of the bag.
3. It camouflages and flaunts: In cheap Ralph Lauren world, long-sleeve tees are cut with as much care as $3,000 suits, which is to say that this T-shirt works for you: slim and slightly drape-y, it hints at muscles underneath but doesn’t cling. If you’ve been hitting the gym, those hard-earned delts and pecs won’t go unnoticed, while guys who let their memberships lapse will appreciate the easy fit.