As a person who juggles three careers with his passion for sports, it’s no wonder that Theron Carmine DeSousa, 32, likes to “play with fashion”, a phrase you hear him use often as he talks about his sartorial choices. DeSousa owns Café Goa Bistro & Grill in Mumbai, and is an advertising consultant who also moonlights as a dubbing artiste. And he spends all his free time riding horses and attending the races at the Mahalaxmi Race Course. His work in the creative fields and his passion for riding has influenced his sense of style, and it doesn’t come as a surprise that polo shirts are his attire of choice during the day and at night. Edited excerpts from a conversation:
Thoroughbred: DeSousa’s passion for riding has influenced his style choices.
Why are you so fond of wearing polo shirts?
The utilitarian T-shirt became an outfit of choice for all occasions a couple of years ago when I quit as a strategist of an advertising firm and decided to become a consultant. As far as I can think back, I only remember wearing collared T-shirts. My dad introduced me to riding and he would make me wear polo shirts then. I think the only time that I ever wear V-neck or round-neck T-shirts is to bed. My dad dressed in what made him happy and that’s exactly what I have learnt to do now.
How does your daily schedule lend itself to wearing polo shirts all day?
I work in a creative field and I don’t need to be dressed formally. I made a conscious decision to dress comfortable at all times. I like polo shirts for the flexibility that they provide, seamlessly going from the field to a client meeting and to a night out with friends.
Utilitarian: (above) DeSousa prefers polo shirts in soft fabrics and solid colours; and his Hackett polo belt.
After work, I often stop by at the Mahalaxmi Race Course, where I love (to) ride. I don’t play polo, but while riding I’m comfortable in polo shirts, jodhpurs and knee-high leather boots.
Why is a polo shirt most comfortable while riding or for outdoor activities?
On the field, it serves a more utilitarian purpose. The fabric (of these polo shirts) is comfortable and keeps you cool, the stiff collar can be turned up to avoid neck burn and the fit is great. I even own a (polo) T-shirt with rivets under the arms that prevent sweat accumulation.
What do you keep in mind while shopping for T-shirts?
As a rule, I avoid loose-fitting clothes and shirts. Fitted T-shirts force you to hold yourself better. There’s no room to hide anything and so you take care of yourself. Even your posture is different.
Earlier, I used to wear mostly muted colours but recently I switched to wearing bright colours. I thought if I am wearing T-shirts I may as well have fun with them. Although charcoal is still my favourite (colour).
Blue detail: Fred Perry polo shirt with a narrow contrast collar.
How do your accessorize your polos?
When I’m wearing polos in colours such as black, grey, navy or white, I add colour to my look with argyle-patterned socks and multicoloured polo belts. These belts were originally worn by cowboys in Argentina. I found them at Hackett while I was travelling.
How do you take your polo shirt from work to an evening out?
I always have a semi-formal linen-wool jacket in my car that I pair with polo shirts in solid colours, a dark pair of denims or khakis, and tan brogues for a client meeting. In the evenings, I switch the semi-formal jacket for a sporty one, the brogues for loafers, and I’m ready to hit the bars. This is how the fashion aspect of the polo shirt came about. I suddenly realized how convenient it is.
We went shopping with DeSousa to understand how to choose a polo shirt
We wanted to find out how DeSousa decides which T-shirt to pick or reject from the large variety of polos available. We went to the The Collective, a menswear store at the Palladium, and as we walked to the Ralph Lauren section, he immediately picked a polo in light pink with the ubiquitous logo in bright green on the chest. He prefers T-shirts without noticeable logos or numbers. “The new Ralph Lauren polos have large logos. I did buy a few in those but only because they fit better.” He rejects the Hugo Boss zippered polos. “Too avant-garde. I’m an old school guy,” he laughs, and ignores a striped T-shirt for the same reason. The section with Hackett polos excites him the most. It’s one of his favourite brands besides Ralph Lauren, Abercrombie and Fitch and Real Crush, which he loves because it has “the softest fabric”. DeSousa is surprised and impressed by the price points. “They are pretty competitive to those abroad. United Colors of Benetton is another brand that’s priced well and has good polos.”
Avant-garde: Hugo Boss’ zippered polo.
Photographs by Abhijit Bhatlekar / Mint