The Sunspel Riviera Polo Bond wears in the Bahamas is one of the iconic looks from Casino Royale, which is a little surprising because in a lot of ways, it’s so … basic. He wears a navy polo with tan trousers. I’m sure thousands of people wear the same outfit every day but there’s something special about it in Casino Royale: the polo shirt from Sunspel.
While a classic wardrobe piece, it’s easy for polo shirts to go horribly wrong. I think that’s why the Sunspel polo stands out––it gets every detail right. The point collar stays in place all day, the straight hem ends right where it should so you can leave it untucked without looking like you’re wearing a skirt, and the tailored fit is slim enough to accentuate your physique without being too tight or restrictive. In short, it is the perfect polo.
The Sunspel polo has become a staple for Bond fans looking for a low-cost way (relatively speaking) to buy a Bond brand. Compared to brands like Tom Ford and even Orlebar Brown, the Sunspel Riviera Polo’s $135 price tag is modest.
But $135 for a polo shirt is still a lot of money. It’s hard to find budget-friendly options that replicate all the details from the Sunspel polo, but not impossible. For me, the most important details are the breast pocket, the collar, the length of the hem and the overall fit.
Here is a list of budget-friendly alternatives. Are they exact replicas? No. But they capture enough of the Sunspel polo’s features to help you replicate that Casino Royale look.
This polo shirt from J. Crew Factory is a great budget option. The breast pocket has the right shape, the collar has a slight point (though not quite as pronounced as the Sunspel collar), and the hem looks just about right. Unfortunately, they don’t have any pictures of it on a model so it’s hard to know for sure, but it looks pretty close. And I’ve never seen it priced higher than $30, so you really can’t go wrong.
This Goodthreads polo doesn’t look like it has many bells and whistles, and it looks less fitted than some of the other options on this list. But it has a nice collar, a straight hem, and a breast pocket (although it’s the wrong shape). It’s definitely not the closest match for the Sunspel polo, but if you’re looking for a basic navy polo to pair with tan pants, this will definitely do the trick.
This polo sneaks in just under the $50 mark but it also has more fine details than the other two in the “Under $50” category. Like most things at Mango, this polo has a short hem so you can wear it untucked without any problems. The sleeves also end right at that mid-bicep point, which is exactly where they should. The breast pocket and collar are both the right shape. What I like the most on this shirt is the subtle vertical striped texture because it’s a bit more refined than the flat textures on the other two shirts in this category.
The Suitsupply polo is an elegant option. Its straight hem ends right where it should and the sleeves are a little shorter than mid-bicep length, which makes this shirt ideal for showing off your muscles. The collar looks just about right but the breast pocket is the wrong shape. One caveat is that this shirt’s tailored slim fit looks like the most fitted of the polos on this list, so steer clear of this option if you don’t like really fitted clothes.
The Vesper Polo from Mack Weldon is the most expensive alternative on this list, but it’s also the closest match to the Sunspel polo. (In fact, Mack Weldon designed their Vesper Polo after the Casino Royale polo, hence the name “Vesper.”) The Vesper Polo gets just about every detail right, from the hem and fit to the sleeve length and breast pocket.
Mack Weldon have gone a step further than any polo on this list by recreating the Sunspel’s mesh-style, which makes both shirts light and breathable. There are only two subtle differences between the two polos: 1) the Vesper Polo collar is less pointed than the Riviera Polo, and 2) the Vesper’s “total eclipse blue” color is a bit lighter than the “navy” Sunspel. Other than that, I think most people would be hard-pressed to tell the two shirts apart.
Personally, the Vesper polos are my go-to polo shirts. I have a couple of them and I’ve been extremely pleased with both. I also have a Riviera polo –– don’t get me wrong, it’s a great shirt. Like I said before, I think it’s the perfect polo. But I don’t want to spend $135 on every polo shirt. If you’re looking for the Sunspel polo for half the price, you can’t go wrong with the Mack Weldon Vesper Polo.
What do you think? Do you have other budget-friendly alternatives that aren’t on the list? Let me know in the comments below!