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Sunday, April 14, 2024
The Observer

An oration against polo shirts

How far will you continue to abuse our patience, Polo Shirt? For how much longer will you mock us with that madness of yours? When will there be an end to that unbridled arrogance of yours? Already for a long time now, a pestilence has unleashed its illness on many of our unsuspecting statesmen here at the University of Our Lady. I stand unfazed as the leader of the rebellion to prevent this plague from corrupting the moral character, or more importantly the fashion sense, of our people. 

I must limit the scope of my argument to address the university-aged cohort, whose wills are bound to the overflowing mercy of those who practice du Lac. Also, I speak to the male population of students since I have no knowledge of women or their fashion preferences. What do they look like? What constitutes a business professional outfit for them? Where do babies come from? I do not know. Additionally, I will not be speaking about the garment in the athletic context, where it originally was fashioned. Lastly, I will not address the shirt in the context of a uniform since, as we all know, it is treasonous to make fun of those in uniform. With those parameters established, I will continue.

The illness lies in its deceitful promises of being acceptable in too many contexts. Those who wear the shirt, to their folly, believe that they can unite superlative looks and optimal comfort in every instance of social interaction. 

9:25 a.m. lecture in DeBart? Polo Shirt!

Trader Joe's run? Polo Shirt!

Tailgating? Polo Shirt!

Sleep? Polo Shirt!

Going out to The‘Cade? Polo Shirt!

Interview with Deloitte? Deloitte Polo Shirt!

The fact of the matter is, when this garment promises you everything, it ends up doing nothing for you. What other clothing item affords this much liberty in application? The only ones that come to mind are underwear and socks. If the polo shirt was reserved for only business casual contexts, we would not be having this conversation. The issue is that Mr. Consultant networks 9 to 5 in his Deloitte polo shirt and “networks” 5 to 9 in his Deloitte polo shirt. Moreover, the pairing of polo shirts with other supporting garments is where even more offenses occur. Styling a polo with khaki shorts is the most common application. Oftentimes, there is no regard for harmony with respect to color combination, texture of the cloth or style of either garment. I seriously doubt that one can make a neon green Under Armour Notre Dame dri-fit polo shirt look like a well-thought-out outfit. What went through your mind when you draped on an oversized polo shirt with 9-inch inseam shorts? And when it gets cold, you conceal yourself within the safety of a hoodie and sweatpants? (The khaki shorts are still underneath, mind you.) The over-application of the polo shirt is its most egregious offense. 

Some might say, “But, I just wear it because I need something to wear, and I don’t care what I look like.” This ridiculous declaration of apathy seems insensible for an association of men whose intellectual prowess and superior achievement merited them spots at this University. But I will entertain it. I ask, “Why did you choose this shirt specifically?” If you wish for pure utility with indifference or even rejection of any care for looks, then why not wear a tarp? Under your philosophy, a tarp might be more useful to wear than a polo since you have protection from the elements. It is clear that these crazed utilitarians cannot even follow their own principles. 

Some might say, “But, I just want to be comfortable.” It is apparent that many people forsake propriety, an objectively good thing, since they have an inordinate attachment to comfort, or pleasure for that matter. It is a shame that we shirk responsibility and difficulty in pursuit of that which is comfortable. Why does life have to be all about comfort? Why be obliged to do something that I don’t want to do? Why can’t I just do things that make me happy? You see where that road leads.

Some might say, “But, the polo shirt does look very good, or at least good enough, with all the pairings you, the author, have mentioned.” This sentiment is very reminiscent of the previous. I see too often that people are satisfied with anything less than the best. They are like feathers being blown in the wind, being taken from good times to bad times back to good times since they have no constitution to weigh them down. Why do you cut yourself short when you have so much proven potential for more? I deem you mediocre in all regards of the human person since you yourself have told me thus. Why would you not be compelled to carry yourself in a manner that respects your dignity and conveys such to me? 

It is not just that our standards for fashion are too low; it is that our standards for essentially everything are too low. Relationships are established on a faulty foundation as self-interest trumps the good owed to the other. Romantic relationships are sadly commodified and characterized by licentiousness. How are we to care for one another if we cannot care for ourselves? 

We announce to the world that we do not possess incalculable dignity. We cut ourselves short in so many endeavors out of paralyzing fear or rank ignorance. We are made for so much more than just a polo shirt. 

Jonah Tran is a sophomore at Notre Dame double majoring in finance and classics with a minor in Constitutional studies. He prides himself on sarcasm and his home — the free state of Florida. You can contact Jonah by email at

Jonah Tran

Jonah Tran is a sophomore at Notre Dame studying finance, classics and constitutional studies. He prides himself on sarcasm and his home — the free state of Florida. You can contact Jonah at

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.