Vogue featuring KULE rugby shirt

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Why a Sports Skeptic Is Leaning Into Rugby Shirts by Christian Allaire

Growing up as a kid in Canada, you played sports. My whole childhood revolved around soccer leagues, hockey teams, and gymnastic practices. You name it—I did it! I wasn’t very good at any of them; In fact, the only goal I ever scored during my short-lived hockey career was when I accidentally slapped a puck into our own team’s net. From a young age, it became very apparent that I am just not the athletic type. However, all of that seems to be changing in my 30s, as I’ve suddenly found myself entering a sporty era. Well, a fashion sporty era that is, thanks to my new spring obsession: Rugby shirts.

Though I’ve never actually attempted rugby, I’m very much into spring’s new, colorful assortment of rugby-style shirts. The striped top—originating from England in the mid-1800s, often complete with a contrasting collar—first became a staple in the sports arena as a way for teams to differentiate themselves. But now, it’s become much more of a fashion statement—a graphic top that can make any outfit feel instantly peppy and upbeat. They were everywhere on the spring 2024 runways. Brands like Dries Van NotenJW Anderson, and Dsquared2 all put their stamp on the classic rugby shirt, styling it casually with tailored shorts or jeans.

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Though it’s been around for ages, the rugby top feels totally fresh this season. Mostly because, after years of rejecting anything remotely sports-related, it’s a look and style vibe that I’ve rarely experimented with—and isn’t spring all about a rebirth and trying new things? Admittedly, seeing celebrities like Hailey Bieber and Taylor Swift rock them has also cemented the idea that rugby shirts can read as elevated and stylish (with the right styling). So, feeling inspired by the piece, I decided to invest in my very first one and test it out. I landed on a Wales Bonner striped rugby in black, yellow, and white.

Like Bieber and Swift, I’ve enjoyed approaching the sporty staple as something that should be dressed up. (I don’t want to look like I’m actually heading to rugby practice.) The key to making it feel smart? Pairing it with my go-to pleated dress trousers, or a pair of flared jeans, for a more ’70s slant. Ditto for the shoes, too: Instead of sneakers, consider pairing it with chunky loafers or oxfords. All together, I’ve found that the balance between athleticism and dressiness creates the perfect off-duty vibe. The is outfit is casual, but put-together casual. And even better, it’s a pretty light-lift styling job: The rugby shirt does the most of the work for your statement look.

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Who would have thought that a rugby top could turn a sports skeptic into a fan? Unexpectedly, the shirts are fast becoming my everyday fashion staple, and I even plan on adding a few more styles to my wardrobe (like this one from Guest In Residence). Does this mean I’m suddenly going to join a rugby team? Hardly; I still can’t perform a dropkick or punt to save my life. But I do enjoying looking like I possibly could.

On board with the spring rugby shirt, too? Shop 7 stylish styles below.

KULE Rugby