So maybe the rugby shirt never really went away. After all, they tend to show up sometime each decade. From preppy college kids in the '50s and Mick Jagger in the '60s to the shirt's ubiquity in the '80s and '90s. But aside from a brief affair with Kanye West in the early aughts, we haven't been seeing them much lately. That's changing now. From the return to all-things-'90s to menswear's infusion of streetwear and athleticism, we're primed for the shirt's so-called return.
There's something unique about rugby shirts. They're built tough, from sturdy materials—in order to endure someone yanking on them over the course of a rugby match—but they're also refined. You don't often see collars and buttons on most athletic-minded shirts, right? That duality is what makes these shirts so damn versatile. You can throw one on by itself with jeans or chinos or even sweatpants. But you can also sub it into just about any outfit you'd typically wear a sweater with to give a dapper look some sporty ruggedness. They also look pretty sharp layered underneath a jacket or a topcoat to balance out the dressiness. What's more, today's best versions come in a range of styles and materials to suit anyone's personal style and budget.
Traditionally, rugby shirts feature five or six horizontal stripes—or "hoops"—in alternating colors.