The polo shirt is made with soft cotton yarn. It is three-ply, mainly, so light enough to be worn under a jacket, but of sufficient substance to be worn with nowt else. It is hand-framed — i.e. made by a single skilled knitter on a hand-operated contraption, which is how things should be but very seldom are.
The polo has in-set sleeves, but with the shoulder seam pushed forward for a smoother line. This is a tell-tale sign of fully-fashioned knitwear, which is an approach to knitting wherein each piece of the garment is individually shaped and engineered — tailored, almost — for the best shape and fit.
The sleeves of the polo shirt are noticeably thinner than the body. They are two-ply vs. three. This frees up space for layering the polo with, say, a smart jacket the top. With the very same rationale, the sleeves are also a flat plain-stitch, as opposed to the more textured and chunky tuck-stitch employed elsewhere.
The polo is entirely hand-linked — meaning that, where the neck joins the body, or the sleeve joins the neck, there is no discernible seam or bump. Just a flat, smooth, every-tiny loop-of-yarn-looped-by-hand-and-knitting-needle-onto-the-next-one link (as time-consuming and skilful as it sounds).
The yarn is cotton, but cotton of unchartered softness. Superlatives besides soft are second-best, but spongey is another good one. It makes for a polo that has a warmth to it, so that it feels comforting on cooler days, but is also light and springy enough to have its uses through summer, too.
Two shades of yarn at play here — two blues of the darker order. They intermingle both in the plain-stitch sleeves of the polo, and the tuck-stitch of the body (right). The latter is the main event. It is a dense stitch, but also springy and breathable. And just look: marvellously textured is the tuck.
Him, here, is 6'1", a hair above 11 stone, and as standard a 38 chest as you could hope to meet. He's wearing a size S in the polo, which seems to fit him about right.
Same gent, same polo, but a different colour.
More peppy polo-wearing, same size as above, and this time in cotton in carbon grey.
The garment is hand-framed by a knitwear maker founded 100 years ago. They work with small, hand-operated machines overseen by one person, rather than automated machines, making them one of the last makers still to do so in Britain. It is slow going, but the results always bear out the work put in.
The horn buttons were cut, shaped, and polished by the last such factory in Britain (now defunct). It was part of a tradition in the Midlands first linked to the meat industry of the 18th century. "It is no easy task," said William Hutton in 1780, "to enumerate the infinite diversity of buttons made in Birmingham."