Thursday’s TPS Report: Basic Check Collar Polo

Our daily TPS reports suggest one piece of work-appropriate attire in a range of prices.

Burberry Basic Check Collar PoloPolos can be great for the spring or summer, because they can be a cool look with a pencil skirt and cardigan, or they can dress up something like a pair of jeans for a truly casual office or networking event.  We’re liking this one from Burberry — the puffed sleeves! the checked collar! the 6 butons!  We also like the price for a touch of luxury — they’re $100 at Bloomingdale’s. Burberry Basic Check Collar Polo (More colors available at



  1. Love polos, and would buy this style, but I’d pick RL – cheaper than Burberry!

  2. Polos at work make me nervous. I once worked with men who were allowed to wear khakis and polos on Fridays but I was told I was too casual in an LL Bean polo and khaki colored wide-leg linen pants (that were not wrinkled yet!). Maybe I was too casual. I found myself forced to wear at least nice pants, heels, a blouse and a sweater to go stand around on concrete at Sam’s Club. And the men were in polos, khakis and penny loafers. Sometimes with no socks. (Kay, rant done :))

    • My favorite is when they whine about their ties when I’m standing there in heels and stockings … definitely not fair!

  3. I don’t think polos + office work for most women, even if the men can wear them. Not fair, but its just the way it is.

    • I think it’s regional. In FL this shirt would probably be fine in many workplaces. The only problem I see with this one is that it looks a little too formfitting for an office environment. It might be nice under a cardigan or v-neck though.

  4. I love polos because they’re a fast way to throw on a shirt and look reasonably neat/preppy/put together — and I do wear them to my business casual office (with a pencil skirt always) – That said I think the checkered collar on this one makes it look more casual. I was in Izod’s outlet store checking out several that were styled the same way and the different colored collar seems odd to me – and almost reminiscent of a bowling shirt.

    Am thrilled by the idea of owning something Burberry for less than $500 though — but not enough to buy this shirt.

    • I don’t believe I have ever seen a female lawyer wearing a pencil skirt and a polo shirt, and I have been in this business (in Chicago) a long, long time. Is it just more common elsewhere?

      • I agree, I’ve never seen in it Chicago. But, some of my Dallas friends do the polo/pencil/cardigan look fairly often. Our silly city :(

        • If we all start doing it at once, maybe it will catch on! :) I love how preppy this shirt it, takes me back to my southern roots.

          • Preppy makes me think of New England and madras and top-siders and summers on the Cape, not southern!

      • Used to practice in Chicago and I’d wear the polo shirt with a skirt (usually not a pencil as the pencil skirt is not my friend) when i didn’t have client meetings or court. Especially in the dog days of August it was easy and comfortable. Add a chuncky necklace, nice shoes, and no one had any issues (my firm was one of the last to go to business casual and it was not without a fight). Here in DC I see lots of women in the summer wear polos to work. When it’s hot I think it’s a good way to look put together.

    • I dunno, the collar screams to me “I want credit for wearing Burberry without having to spend for the trench”

    • I’m in the Northeast (NJ), so it may be a regional thing — have seen it in NYC in the summer as well.

      For the record, the pencil skirts I wear are just very simple solid colored skirts (black or white… but I usually wear black) that end at the knee – not super form fitting, just a very streamlined look overall with low heels or flats (to pull this off it is important to not wear any shoes that could be construed as walking sandals… peeptoes are ok).

      I also only wear solid colored polo shirts, and I know it might be silly, but I avoid wearing ‘girly’ colors like pink and stick to black, navy, green, white, etc.

    • I agree. I am usually pretty against any visable logos and especially the Burberry plaid. However, I have to admit that I do love the Burberry Red perfume… I am assuming that no one will actually notice that it’s Burberry when they smell me!

      (For you anti-perfume people, be kind – I only wear it out on weekends and to weddings. Never to work.)

  5. Love.

  6. On the subject of polo shirts, but in the more casual context, I find myself buying a ton and then not knowing how to wear them. Though it may not seem complicated, I find myself looking like my significant other’s kid sister. To wit:

    Polo with shorts? 5-inch inseam or bermudas? What shoes? All too often, on a summer Saturday, I find myself rocking the polo, shorter shorts, and Sperry top-siders… And looking as if I’m about 11 years old.

    Polo with jeans? Untucked… With a belt? No belt? Again, what shoes? I find myself with no belt and running shoes… And looking like one of my city’s numerous tourists.

    Advice badly needed! I must do something with all these cute polos this summer (other than give them away!)!

    • No advice, but I have the same issue. I cannot figure out what to do with a polo shirt so that I don’t look (a) 12 or (b) like I’m heading out to the golf course.

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      For weekend wear I wear a fitted polo w/ short khaki shorts and flip flops or with while linen wide leg capris and flip flops. I also wear them on the odd-ball “you can wear jeans day” at the office. I wear them with black flats then.

    • I can’t wear them either. I have broad shoulders and find they give me a (highly undesireable) mannish appearance.

    • I am convinced, perhaps wrongly, that all shorts make me look like a teenager. Polos with skirts strike me as a bit odd, so for the summer, I stick to capris and sandals. Untucked, no belt… but then I haaaaate tucking and will only do it in professional contexts.

    • I couldn’t pull them off when I was heavier — polo shirts are not the big-chested woman’s friend since there is no real v-neck to elongate your body so I looked like I had the dreaded “shelf boobs”.

      That said, now I wear them with a pencil skirt to work, or shorts (not Bermuda shorts since those make my already short legs look shorter) on the weekend — I usually wear slightly oversized polo shirts with khaki 5 inch inseam (I guess… would have to check the measurement) shorts… it’s a preppy look, but it works for me. I wear flip flops or white canvas sneakers or boat shoes…

      Also good with cargo pants/capris.

  7. housecounsel :

    I never wear polos anywhere but a golf course. Yuck. But this one is at least more flattering in fit than the average.

  8. Am I the only one who thinks the checked collar would be a bit tacky in many workplaces?

    I’m probably in the minority on this, but I prefer my clothes to not advertise their maker (luxury or otherwise). I get that sometimes a distinctive touch becomes visible anyway & I don’t really have a problem with that (e.g., the same burberry lining inside a trench) but I feel like this polo is a just little too ‘too’ in making the lining the main focus. I do love the 6 button opening and the puffed sleeves; I just wish the collar didn’t scream “BURBERRY” quite so obviously.

    • YES. Burberry plaid shirt = LV logo bag. Might as well hang a sign around your neck that says “Exhibit A: Money can’t buy class.”

      I see a lot of tacky women wearing/carrying stuff like this where I live. Can barely hide refrain from snickering as they pass me by.

      • Oops there should be a “/” in between “hide” and “refrain.” Sorry all.

      • AIMS said it nicely; Erin said it rudely. Amazing how two people can say essentially the same thing but sound so different.

    • I 100% agree!!

      Also, I think polos too casual to the office, even if men do wear them on summer Fridays.

      • The first thing I thought when I saw this was: TACKY. AS. HELL.

        This is totally something a label whore would wear. It’s not cute, but it’s Burberry! Wheeeeeee!

        • lexcaritas :

          Agree with the tacky. Wearing burberry-check accessories still is synonymous with tack for lots of people here london…:

          • Honestly, one visit to the bahamas and seeing all the knock-off logo bags will put you off them forever — coach, gucci, louis vuitton.

            I am even reluctant to buy bags/shirts that have any kind of distinguishing label on them, it;s why I make my bf buy jcrew polos…

          • The Essex Tartan. My thoughts exactly.

    • Totally agree — well put, AIMS. A distinctive lining or small logo (such as the BB fleece embroidered on a man’s polo shirt) doesn’t bother me. But the intentional display feels more “look, I bought this expensive item” rather than “I thought this pattern was attractive.” If the collar had an abstract floral-y black/white pattern, I would think this shirt was quite cute.

      Aside from the general objection — Burberry, like Coach, seems to be turning into a brand that is immensely popular with teens but passe with adults. I blame overuse of logo, starting with that scarf epidemic of 2001-2002.

      • I think that they’re fine as long as you stay away from the uber-branded items. I have a beautiful and classic coach work bag with no distinguishing features. Oh- but please, people, take off those dangly tags that come on your handbag – they’re not meant to stay there!

      • Used to love Coach’s leather bags (~10 years ago) – now that store is a complete nightmare. Scribbly logos and patchwork bags anyone? Seriously, why? And last year I actually saw a bag I loved there – it was a beautiful blue/gray leather – and it was over $600! For Coach! No thanks.

    • Yes – it’s (almost) as bad as those shirts embroidered with dozens of Ralph Lauren Polo horses all over — eek!

    • I agree – why spend money to advertise for a brand (unless they’re giving me an endorsement, of course!)?

      I’ve also been totally uninterested in the Burberry look for at least 3 years now, after traveling for work with a colleague who was wearing/carrying 3 or 4 Burberry accessories simultaneously to our meeting. (Yuck!)

    • Me too! Hate to look like a “chav” – and in the UK you’d get that tag when you wear a visible Burberry pattern! In fact Burberry is moving away from that in the UK as it’s sales really took a hit because of that label.

  9. This is a cute shirt and I like that it is fitted, but it’s too casual for my workplace. I would definitely wear this on weekends or on the golf course (not that I golf).

    I don’t understand the Burberry fixation either. $100 for a polo shirt? Seriously?

  10. I really would not have considered wearing a polo to the office, but I can totally envision this Burberry top with a pencil skirt on a Friday in the summer. Thank you for the suggestion.

    • Same here, I don’t even wear them on weekends but I think this could be a cool combination. I’d pair it with an especially modern-looking pencil skirt, maybe Theory, and high heels. Something to slightly counteract the preppy/casual vibe of the polo while still being office appropriate.

  11. I wonder the same except I feel very masculine in most polos. I am petite and they can really eat me up and look shapeless. I don’t wear them often because of this, although the form fitting one above might work…

  12. mkm: Suggestions for a more put together look with a polo (although this may be too preppy)

    1) try the polo and 5 inch inseam shorts with some cute espadrille wedges — it gives the whole look a more feminine, grown-up feel.

    2) if the polo hits at the hip bone, i’d say untucked, with a ribbon belt or woven leather belt to give it a more feminine detail than a straight leather belt. definitely not running shoes — cute flats or some sort instead. Maybe a moccasin sort, so that it has enough heft not to look out of place with the jeans and polo?

  13. Does anyone have any advice or suggestions on how polos should fit? I feel like they’re always tight in the bust area, but maybe that’s because I’m bigger busted. It just seems as though I can never find one that fits well without either being too tight on the top or too loose around the stomach area.

    • Polos are tough for bigger busted women — The buttons in the front of the polo should not be pulling, and your arms should be comfortable in the sleeves – not squeezed by the edging.

      If you’re a petite height, try a petite sized polo shirt so you might be able to get the chest area wide enough without having the length swallow you whole.

  14. I try and try and try to like polos, but every time I wear one, I feel like I should be working at my orthodontist’s office from back in high school. I feel neither polished nor professional – and I look like an adolescent boy.

  15. I agree. They aren’t in the least flattering to me, and honestly I don’t think they are flattering on most women. Leave them to the boys and men. And I don’t think they look good for the office. They’re definitely casual-wear. The idea of wearing them with a pencil skirt — I don’t get that at all.

    I actually bought a blazer yesterday that was black linen with the Burberry plaid trim. I plan on wearing it with a white tee and jeans for the weekend, but I’d be hesitant to wear it in front of clients. I think Burberry is one of those brands that is sort of on the bubble, caught between old-style elite and so-common-everyone-wears-it-and-so-no-prestige. Kind of like what happened with Gucci bags years ago and what’s happening with Coach.

    • I think Coach’s bubble has popped — every girl aged 14+ seems to have one now (knock-off or real – I can’t really tell).

      • Coach’s bubble popped when they went from a quality full grain leather to a split grain, then logo fabric. Burberry is actually the only logo fabric I care for & that’s just because I like the interesting-yet-neutral plaid — but I agree that Burberry today is the Coach of 1 years ago.

      • LOL – my 17 yo daughter has 4 Coach bags that she’s received as various birthday gifts. 2 are logo and she doesn’t wear them anymore. One is a camel color and the other is shiny gray patent — neither of them scream Coach (unless you notice the little tag) and they’re cute bags in and of themselves.

  16. I don’t wear polos to work, too casual.

    OT rant – my boss just came in to talk to me about keeping a balance between keeping hours up and realization rates….on work that I did LAST YEAR before my annual review. Arrrrrrrrrrrgh! How am I supposed to make retroactive changes???? I hate billable hours.

    • I hate realization rates in this economy. Everyone is getting a 10% discount, so even on my major multi-million dollar litigation where no time is written off, I’m starting at 90% realization. Add into that all the piddly clients that partners take in out of desperation and then write my time into oblivion, and I’m hovering in the low 80s. I used to be 98%+! So there’s my rant for the day! :)

      • Feeling your pain.

      • Same here! Associates are penalized bc partners are taking on fixed fee arrangements and reduced fee arrangements – presumably these arrangements are agreed upon bc they are good for the firm overall, macro level, big picture. So why penalize those particular associates who work on the matters? Very unfair. Morale has plummeted. Has been suggested that associates quiz partners on fee arrangements before accepting projects (as if that would ever go over). Will be glad when the economy gets back to normal levels.

        • what are realization rates?

          • Realization rates are the amount of your billed hours that are actually billed to the client (or in some calculations, actually collected). They are meant to reflect whether the partners are having to write off your hours – i.e., you billed 30 hours drafting that motion for summary judgment, but you should have been able to do it in 15. Now, they reflect the 10% discounts, the institutional clients who get deals (so I’m billed at $170 an hour instead of $250 or something), the write offs because a partner took a case that didn’t make business sense, etc. If you work on any of the “firm” clients at my firm, it’s pretty much a lower hourly rate in a business arrangement that I have no control over. Which is fine, but don’t penalize me for it! It gets incredibly annoying too. I covered an MSJ hearing for a partner and won on the strength of my argument in a case where we should have lost. He cut 75% of my time – time actually spent AT.THE.HEARING!

            Yeah, so I’m worked up about realization rates! :)

    • Making me remember why I left public accounting — which – thanks, because there are so many days when I wonder why I left it (let’s face it, when you’re the one bringing in the money you get waaay better technology, etc. than when you’re a cost center!)

  17. Ugh, so WASP-y. It just screams white privileged housewife from the suburbs.

  18. Realization rates? Wha? Guess I’ve been away from a firm too long to know the lingo anymore. LOL.

    • Realization rate: you bill 100 hours at $300/hr, so value of $30,000. Client wants discount or partner writes off some of your time so client ends up paying $20,000. Voila, a realization rate of 67% (time spent vs. money actually realized). It’s complete and utter BS when applied to associates who have no control over fee arrangements or time write-off.

      • No, but it’s a good indicator of which clients to steer clear of…

        • Because we all have so many options that we can pick and choose what work to accept? Pretty sure at any firm if you turn down work for any partner/client and you aren’t billing full-time hours, its going to be a much bigger issue than your “realization rate.”

          • No, but as a partner, clients with low realization rates and clients that are slow-pay are a real concern. Their work takes up partner and associate time that can be more profitably spent on clients that don’t write off and pay on time (cash flow is a big an issue for big & small firms). If a client’s realization rate drops, step one is to look at whether it’s across the board or limited to some individual attorneys, if it’s across the board, step 2 is to address the problem w/ the client (can we improve performance, bill entry, efficiency to resolve the problem?), if that doesn’t bring realization back up, step 3 is to raise the rate (which sometimes leads to losing the client but an unprofitable client is as bad as no client).

      • Oh, just noticed the explanation, thanks!
        So, how is this applied to associates? Is a low realization rate supposed to somehow imply that you are over-billing? Like if you bill 2000 hours a year with a realization rate of 67% then they say that you only really billed 1300?

        • Basically. But there are so many factors behind what a partner decides to write off that it is impossible to say.

          • Sorry, hit submit too soon.

            Meant to say it is impossible to say what is behind the write-off: Did you take too long? Is the client really stingy? Did the partner vastly underestimate how much time somethin would take? Did the matter get more complicated than expected? Millions of possible causes floating out there…but somehow they always end up making it your fault!

            Also, realization rates factor into bonus decisions, raises, etc. so can be very important.

  19. Digression:

    I bought a gorgeous Dolce & Gabbana suit. It is wool with a bit of stretch to it. It fits perfectly, but I have a curvy figure and the skirt…molds…to my rear end. What can I wear beneath it to tone down the sex appeal?

    • Anonymous :

      Not really sure what you mean by “molds” to your rear end…is it simply too fitted? If so, you may just have to go up a size and have the waist taken in. If the size is ok and your issue is just more that the skirt clings, try a slip in a fabric that’s a bit more substantial than the typical nylon.

    • wouldn’t a slip suffice?

    • Wear lower heels and a button down with it.

    • I think if it molds on the top and bottom of your rear, meaning it is skintight all the way down to the back of your legs, it is too tight for the office. Go up a size and take in the waist. If it’s just fitted on the top and then falls straight down without sticking your legs, you can probably just Spanx it and be ok.

    • Spanx makes a half-slip that I swear by. It holds you in (not nearly as much as the panties/leggings, but some) and it helps pencil skirts glide over parts like that and not cling/”mold.”

  20. Love polos (what can I say, I’m a prep!), hate this one. I prefer not to wear/carry anything that screams its manufacturer.

  21. I love this shirt! I am having a bit of a crisis right now and need some fashion advice. I am wearing a (purchased one week ago) new Ann Taylor dress which I ordered online. The zipper is completely broken (fortunately I have a cardigan which is covering my left side but if I did not have this sweater I would not be able to stay at work in this dress; would have to go buy a new outfit). As luck would have it, I have a presentation in front of a client this evening. I called Customer Service to complain that the $120 dress is damaged and to ask how they could help me (locate another dress in the store?). They advised that I could return the dress by mail and in 3 weeks would be notified if it was defective. The customer service representative then told me that a larger size was available and perhaps I should go up a size (the implication that the size 6 was too small). Needless to say I am offended (the dress is baggy but that shouldn’t even be the issue). Don’t you think that the customer service representative should have told me to mail the dress back asap and I’d be refunded rather than give me advice on the size that I should be wearing? Perhaps I am overreacting. It just seems to me that if you can track my order online (which you can) and you see that I ordered it a week ago you should be helpful. I am very disappointed in the quality of Ann Taylor as of late and coupled with their lack of assistance I will not be ordering from them again.

    • I’m so sorry about your customer service experience! Take the dress back to an Ann Taylor store. I worked at Loft and when something like that happened, we’d happily allow the return and would either grant a refund or give an exchange. The staff will be able to immediately tell that the product is defective and will work with you immediately. As an FYI the AT/Loft telephone customer service is not good — they are even rude to the AT/Loft associates.

      • KM, Thank you for your advice! I went to the store and the manager couldn’t have been nicer!! I exchanged the dress and all is well. Lesson learned that I will not be ordering from in the future!

    • Anonymous :

      that’s just mean.

  22. I was surpised reading all the negative comments about the Burberry check and thinking it was showy. I’ve always liked Burberry because instead of a logo, it’s an actual pattern. I like wearing Burberry because I felt it was a classic look and the colors are great because they go with brown and black with just a pop of red.

    So now my question is, at my summer associate job this summer, should I not wear anything at all that shows a logo? Will people have the same negative reaction as the above commenters if a summer comes in wearing a few expensive items?

    I have two great Burberry (classic novacheck) and Gucci (white gucci logo you can barley see) totes that I just love to carry because of the size and quality. I have a wide variety of clothing ranging from some desinger pieces to lots of The Limited and the like. I hope wearing a few of my nice things wouldn’t make me look showy, I just like to have a few nice pieces. Also- what about recognizable jewelry like David Yurman?

    Would really love any input from practicing attorney’s out there!

    • I wouldn’t say that you shouldn’t wear anything that shows a logo. Just make sure the logo is subtle, that the item itself is conservative and classic, and that you’re not wearing more than one logo item at a time.

      Some people (me) don’t like logos and don’t buy anything at all with them, but even logo haters are not going to assume you’re just trying to show off your designer stuff if it’s just one fairly subtle thing.

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