Who’s Your Caddy? The Golfcore Style Edit

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My dad, an avid golfer, spends every hour possible on the green. As kids, we sported awkward polos and chinos, reluctantly driving the cart in circles while he putted. He always hoped we would inherit his passion for the game.

He’s waited approximately twenty four years for golf to explode in popularity among our Millennial and Gen Z generations, his ultimate “I told you so.”

The pandemic boosted golf’s popularity as a socially distant outdoor activity, catapulting it into the mainstream. Its leisurely pace allows participants to play while still relaxing and chatting, appealing to both athletes and more sedentary types. (Although he’d likely object to my phrasing there, many do business over a golf game for this exact flexibility.) And, as it’s grown in popularity, it’s also crossed into the fashion sphere as a major trend and influence.

Not only does it have an associated dress code, but prep in all forms is undoubtedly in. We’ve seen the coastal grandmother trend explode along with dark academia. Golfcore combines the starched, classic feel of country club chic with the relaxed vibe of sporty athleisure. The end result is a summer-friendly, versatile look just as comfortable at brunch as it is eighteen holes into a game. Here’s how to channel it.

The Style

Credit: Vogue Business

We’re delighted to see that this generation of golf wear disrupts the traditional persona of golfers: older white men who always had access to privileged clubs and courses. With new enthusiasts, takes, and spaces comes a new and more welcoming uniform.

Visually, there are certain trademarks that denote the golfcore aesthetic, like knickers and argyle, collared shirts, crisp white fabrics, and leather details. Now, though, you’ll note a cooler (sorry, Dad!) streetwear influence evoked by NBA players and celebrities who have picked up the sport – and invented their own brands. We can think of golfcore as this hybrid end result which emphasizes traditional aesthetics while layering in new innovations and players.

How to Dress 

A literal game of golf usually necessitates following a specific dress code, which is partly why it’s been historically considered genteel: collared shirts mandatory, with shorts or skirts of a conservative length. If you try to walk into a country club in denim, they’ll laugh you out. It’s a “know the rules before you break ‘em” scenario.

Good Collared Shirts.

Credit: Xx

Knowing the rules: As designer Ralph Lauren’s newest book The Polo Shirt proclaims, “it was never about a shirt, but a way of living.” Still, the look is undoubtedly iconic, from yearbook photos to business meals to daily wear. With prices ranging from $29.99 to $110 depending on size and styles (and the option to customize your own), a polo shirt is a classic choice that will last you years. If styling myself, I’d buy this Men’s Classic Fit Mesh Polo Shirt ($79.99) and wear it oversized over a tennis skirt. Or buy it for my dad and “borrow it” from his closet.

Breaking the rules: Rapper Macklemore’s Bogey Boys line is a great place to push boundaries, offering more neutral picks as well as more maximalist shirts. Try the Houndstooth Polo ($90) or the Striped Pique Polo Navy ($80). Bad Birdie is another brand offering performance polo shirts in wild patterns and colors, like this Montage print ($72) self-described as “[throwing all of] last year’s polos in a blender.”

Conservative Shorts or Pants.

Knowing the rules: Traditionally, bottoms should be conservative shorts or pants – think crisp khakis or slacks of the manner you’d see in the office. In recent years, the decision of athleisure brands to wade into the space has provided some much-needed relief to traditional golfers, as they can opt for preferred styles in functional performance materials that keep them cool and comfy. Lululemon is a favorite, with the Commission Golf Short 10” ($98) or ABC Classic Fit Pant 32” Warpstreme ($128).

Breaking the rules: A secret – I recently learned I could wear my deep blue pants from Lunya’s Airy Cotton set ($198) as golfcore and nobody notices; the material no longer seems to matter to the dress code as much as it used to, and I prefer a breezy fabric. Some golf-centric brands, like UK-based Liquor N Poker, have taken this realization to a new extreme, with argyle-patterned denim ($67.45) and embroidered shorts ($56.21). 

Tennis Skirt Szn.

Under par and overdressed. Credit: Byrdie Golf Social Wear.

Knowing the rules: Tennis skirts are unanimously flattering and shockingly useful. Athleta makes my favorites, which last for years, and the cost-per-wear is unbeatable. (Try this Ace Tennis Skort 13.5” for $69.)

Breaking the rules: While you’ll note golf dresses on the green, the exercise dress has really taken off in the past few years (pioneered by the Exercise Dress from Outdoor Voices, $100). In fact, we have an entire edit of them. They’re so easy, look so sleek, and fit any occasion. I’ve been wearing Outdoor Voices’s One Shoulder Dress With Liner ($100) nonstop in the risky-but-flattering honeydew shade. 

You’ll still want to opt for a collared version if you’re playing *literal* golf, but brands have leveled up: Byrdie Golf Social Wear creates fashion-forward styles that combine vintage references with functionality. I’m crushing on this Mimi High-Low Skort ($160) and Myers Flutter-Sleeve Dress ($185).

Proper Footwear.

Knowing the rules: Channel the full-blown aesthetic with these handcrafted leather brogues from Robert August, made to order in Spain ($399). Their delicate leather detailing and frothy color palette (light gray and ivory) exude bespoke luxury.

Mary Janes and loafers aren’t technically golfing apparel – they veer more into “old money” than the sporty line that golf core straddles – but they fit the vibe. Blackstock & Weber offers especially disruptive styles, with tiger print ($365) and canary-colored snakeskin ($345). Pair with some striped compression socks ($17) from Comrad and you’re golden.

Breaking the rules: I personally love seeing this vibe paired with chunky sneakers, especially considering the significant overlap between golfcore and sneakerhead culture. TBH, you’ll see the Nike swoosh everywhere on the green anyways. For a more muted pick, opt for the Nike Blazer Mid ‘77 Vintage ($100). To really make waves, go for the Nike Air More Uptempo Sneakers ($170), a statement design I’m lusting over.

Pop on a Sweater Vest.

When in doubt, try knit. Credit: Find Me Now

Knowing the rules: Sweater vests immediately elevate whatever you’re wearing. Details like contrast stitching and argyle can place these items firmly within the golfcore category, and they make great transitional pieces as you alternate between scorching temps and chilly AC. Bonus: because it’s summer, many are on sale.

Anthropologie is a great place to look for refined pieces. You can get so much use out of this black-and-white Maeve Buttondown Vest (on sale for $59.95). 525 America is similar, with a polished collection of knit tanks and vests. We love this Sleeveless Half Zip on sale for $72.

For an oversized fit, Find Me Now has easy, wearable, small-production pieces made with care (I find that I have to size down several sizes in the brand). You can rent the Romy Weave Knit Sweater on Nuuly at $88/month for 6 pieces. 

Breaking the rules: You can always rebel with a bold graphic print. Manchester-based Neon Rose melds pop culture and on-trend contemporary style with pieces like the Relaxed Sweater Vest in Celestial Knit ($29.95).

Whether you play the sport or just want in on the aesthetic, there are plenty of ways to use its details and dress code to your advantage while styling your next look. 

Shop the edit and meet us on the green.

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