Pique is a knitting style using cotton yarn in which thin ribbing is present in the garment. Although the texture of pique is very soft, you can feel the thin ribbing throughout the garment. Looking closely at a pique shit, you can see the tightly raised cords which give a waffle-like appearance. Pique is lightweight and perfect for activewear. A pique shirt can range from formal to casual depending on the style or cut of the shirt. However, the most well-known is the pique tennis or polo shirt. Pique shirts can be found in men’s, women’s and children’s fashions.
The pique polo, or tennis shirt is the most recognizable item of clothing using the pique method. A pique polo is a collared T-shaped shirt with a placket of two to three buttons. However, some pique polos designed for women have longer plackets with more buttons. The pique polo is a durable, breathable and soft garment that is perfect for sporting activities. Pique polos are traditionally short-sleeved, however long-sleeved and 3/4 sleeved pique polos are common as well. A chest pocket may be attached to the shirt, but more commonly a logo to represent the brand or fashion designer is embroidered or affixed to the chest-area of the shirt.
History of the Pique Polo
The first pique tennis shirt that was mass produced was created by French tennis champion, Rene Lacoste in the 1920s after being fed up with tennis attire that was not comfortable. In 1927, Lacoste sewed a small crocodile logo on the left breast of the shirt. After retiring from tennis in 1933, Lacoste joined with Andre Gillier to market his tennis shirts with the well-known crocodile logo in Europe and North America. The term polo shirt dates back to the late 1800s at the Hurlingham Club in Buenos Aires. These shirts were made slightly different than Lacoste’s tennis shirt, but the name polo shirt became interchangeable with tennis shirt.
Wearing the Pique Polo
Because of its breathable cotton and soft feel, the pique polo is perfect to wear during sporting activities such as tennis, polo and golf. However, the polo shirt can be worn outside of its traditional use. Pique polos can be a more casual alternative to the Oxford shirt. Pique polos designed for women tend to be more fitted and can come in a variety of different cuts that are not found on men’s designs including cap-sleeves, sleeveless, or polo dresses. Layering is very common when wearing polo shirts because they are lightweight. Some may layer a polo with another polo of a corresponding color, others might wear a sweater on top of a polo. Turning the collar of a pique polo up is another personal choice when wearing. It is known that Rene Lacoste designed the collar for this purpose so that when playing tennis the sun wouldn’t beat down on a player’s neck.
Other Styles of Pique Shirts
There are other styles of shirts that use the pique method of knitting including dress shirts, or Oxford shirts. Oxford shirts that are pique tend to be more formal because the material holds more starch than regular fabric creating a stiffer, cleaner appearance. Other manufacturers have shirts that do not resemble Oxfords or polos, but are made using the same material.
Price of Pique Shirts
Pique shirts usually vary in price depending on a lot of factors such as brand, style or if it is made for children or adults. The iconic Lacoste pique tennis shirt for men is in the range of $70 to $100, as of June 2010. Ralph Lauren polo shirts are in the same price range as well. Pique dress shirts tend to start at $100.