This $100 Banana Republic Shirt Ended My Knit Polo Odyssey

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When I say I’m a menswear obsessive, I mean it literally. Every few months or so, I latch onto a specific item and obsess over it so thoroughly my entire closet is in danger of being forgotten. Last summer, the object of my fascination was a familiar one, at least around these parts: the knit polo. Starting in June, I went on an absolute knit polo bender; dozens of open tabs engendered multi-transfer train rides to track down old magazines, which yielded a glut of inspiration that only made my copping finger twitch faster.

The hunt was a success, and I walked away with a couple of late-season pickups. I thought I was done with the category and eventually moved on to sweaters (I’m still in the tabs stage, thankfully), until, right around the same time this year, Banana Republic dropped an all-linen collection. It looked good. Like, really good. So good that I resisted eyeing it in person for as long as possible lest it trigger a new obsession. I had a feeling I’d be in trouble. Boy, was I ever.

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Endless summer layering possibilities.

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A close-up of that gorgeous contrast-stitch pattern.

When I finally went to check out the assortment IRL, there was a lot to parse through—the linen V-necks were awesome, ditto the raw-edge crewnecks—but the knit polos were calling my name like Sirens. At that point, the comparison wasn’t far off: I was Odysseus, always one mythic obstacle away from the end of my journey, and Banana Republic’s Giorgio polo was threatening to waylay me indefinitely. Obviously, I had to try it on.

In the least surprising development of the day, it fit perfectly. It was as comfortable as the shirts I normally wear to bed, and a heckuva lot more interesting. The pattern at the torso is achieved by using two contrasting stitches—a herringbone stitch and a 2×1 rib stitch—which create a striped effect absent a second color. It’s breezy enough to move with the wind but not so much that it’s see-through, a testament to the gorgeous linen-cotton fabric, a crazy lightweight blend that’s dry but not itchy.


Linen-Cotton Resort Shirt

If you haven’t caught on by now, I bought it on the spot and haven’t really taken it off since. I’m literally wearing it as I write this, flung wide open over a tank, which is how I justified copping it in the first place—the full placket means it’s not technically a polo, right? Banana Republic calls it a ‘resort shirt’, which makes sense if you’re headed to one, but it’s also just…a really good shirt, period. Does it have any bugs? Probably, but you’d be hard-pressed to find one without performing the sartorial version of a software vulnerability test, and I’ve yet to ID a programming issue.

On a recent 90-degree day, I walked eight inadvisable miles—one bridge, two boroughs—wearing it, and somehow didn’t sweat through the fabric. I wouldn’t say I was “cool”, exactly, but I wasn’t anywhere near as uncomfortable as I should’ve been.

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Looks as good in repose as it does on my torso.

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Not a sweat stain in sight!

Part and parcel of being an inveterate shopper is knowing when to pump the brakes on your latest obsession. Am I mildly tiffed that the Giorgio forced me to revisit a category I thought I moved on from a year ago? Not in the slightest. As Odysseus well knows, the road home is paved with twists, turns, and countless open tabs, but Banana Republic offers plenty of worthy pit-stops at each leg of the journey. If the Giorgio isn’t your jam, the brand’s summer linen collection is as close to exhaustive as it gets, whether you’re looking for a different lightweight knit to throw in the mix (I’m partial to these) or need an airy button-up for that imminent beach wedding. For now, I’m content to ride out the dog days of July in a shirt that feels like coming home every time I wear it.

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