Out of all the Y2K trends that have resurfaced, nothing makes us more excited (or nostalgic) than the classic rugby shirt. Despite having functional and sporty roots, rugby shirts have made their mark on fashion time and time again, with their rise in popularity during the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s. Made famous for their contrasting collar and iconic striped design, rugby shirts are back with both retro silhouettes and more modern fits, making them a staple that virtually anyone can rock.
We conducted hours of research on the best rugby shirts to wear during this style comeback, from vintage-inspired color palettes to modern cropped styles. After consulting with Samantha Brown, a wardrobe stylist, and Naina Singla, a style expert and wardrobe consultant, and evaluating picks based on their design, material, and quality, we landed on the following best in show.
Here are the best rugby shirts for women to capture a Y2K aesthetic.
Old Navy Loose Striped Gender-Neutral Long-Sleeve Rugby Polo Shirt
Our top overall pick is the Old Navy Loose Striped Gender-Neutral Long-Sleeve Rugby Polo Shirt. Made from 100 percent cotton with an excellent size range—which includes regular and tall options— this shirt is designed to fit anyone. This classic rugby shirt has that nice, heavy-duty quality of a traditional jersey in more fashion-forward color options, such as the retro-looking turquoise blue stripe hue and a neutral beige.
Price at time of publish: $25 to $32
Material: Cotton | Size Range: XS-4XL | Color Options: Turquoise blue stripe, earth brown stripe
Wild Fable Women's Short Sleeve Rugby Shirt
If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly rugby shirt, we adore this sweet short-sleeved number from Target’s Wild Fable collection. The cropped rugby tee comes in both solid and striped options, is made from a heavy yet comfortable cotton fabric, and has an inclusive size range with plus sizing available. We also love this shirt as a good layering piece with your favorite long-sleeve or oversized blazer.
Price at time of publish: $15
Material: Cotton | Size Range: XS-2XL, 1X-4X | Color Options: Black, blue, pink, purple
Reformation Francesco Cotton Polo Sweater
If you’re looking to splurge on a rugby-inspired top and curate a capsule wardrobe, then this luxe reformation sweater is our top pick. The oversized sweater delivers a sophisticated twist on the sporty classic. Its deep open v-neck collar, slouched silhouette, and large stripes make this top the perfect way to elevate the rugby style. And, if stripes aren’t your taste, this sweater also comes in solid neutrals. The knit staple is the perfect way to incorporate your sporty side into this year’s closet.
Price at time of publish: $198
Material: Organic cotton | Size Range: XS-XL | Color Options: Gossamer/black, gossamer, navy/gossamer, navy
Best on Amazon
SweatyRocks Women's Long Sleeve Button Front Striped Polo Shirt
We love finding fashion-forward styles on Amazon. And for the best rugby shirt on Amazon, we turn to the SweatyRocks Women’s Long Sleeve Button Down, which comes in four fun and statement-making designs. The shirts come in several classic striped styles and a pastel block design. The top also boasts a cropped fit with slightly oversized arms, making it a perfect pair with high-waisted jeans or trousers.
Price at time of publish: $25 to $29
Material: Polyester | Size Range: XS-XL | Color Options: Black/white, teal/purple, navy blue, stripe white blue
Brunette the Label The Not Your Boyfriend’s Rugby Polo
You can’t go wrong with a basic black and white striped rugby shirt, and this top from Brunette the Label is our favorite choice for a sporty chic moment. With slouchy sleeves and a goes-with-anything colorway, this polo is a timeless wardrobe staple piece. Plus, its cotton and polyester fleece blend is sure to keep you extra comfy for all-day wear.
Price at time of publish: $88
Material: Cotton | Size Range: XS-XXXL | Color Options: Black and white
UGG Keon Rugby Polo Shirt
For a modern take on the rugby design, the UGG Keon Rugby Polo Shirt steals the spotlight with its cropped silhouette. Made from a high-quality cotton twill fabric, the shirt has a lightweight yet highly durable feel and serves a boxy and slightly oversized shape. Plus, it comes in two eccentric color options—a muted pink and green for a vintage feel or a vibrant Barbiecore pink and red for a more modern taste.
Price at time of publish: $34
Material: Cotton twill | Size Range: XXS-XL | Color Options: Iris gray and clay pink, lipstick red and crimson pink
Best Short Sleeve
Zara Striped Polo T-Shirt
Although rugby shirts are traditionally long-sleeved, a short sleeve option is a stylish (and much more lightweight) nod to the trend. The Zara Striped Polo T-Shirt has a classic boxy feel with its oversized torso and shoulders. This rugby shirt leans on the preppy vibe with a popped white color and coastal Maine aesthetic. The bright and contrasting colors of this slouchy shirt make it an ideal top to liven up any outfit and channel the Y2K-favorite schoolgirl style.
Price at time of publish: $40
Material: Cotton | Size Range: S-L | Color Options: Pink/blue
Abercrombie & Fitch Essential Rugby Polo Sweatshirt
We consider a rugby-style sweatshirt a winter wardrobe must-have, and this quintessential pick from Abercrombie & Fitch checks all our boxes. The oversized sweatshirt features a fleece lining to keep you extra warm and cozy. The detailing on this sweatshirt adds a vintage touch with striped sleeve cuffs and a white collar. Pair this with some sweats and slippers for an effortless look, or add some baggy jeans and sneakers for an elevated sporty ensemble.
Price at time of publish: $56
Material: Cotton, Polyester | Size Range: XS- XXL | Color Options: Dark grey, maroon, brown, heather grey, dark blue, light brown, navy blue stripe, dark green
Good American Oversized Rugby Shirt
Rugby shirts are intended to have a more oversized fit—and the Good American Oversized Rugby Shirt hits all the marks for us. This shirt has a classic rugby shirt shape, only it’s a little boxier and has the perfect slouched shoulders and sleeves. The shirt also forgoes the buttons and has a more “undone” feel with its V-neckline and collar. Available in stripes and solids (we love the hot pink), the shirt is the perfect addition to a pair of mom jeans and chunky white sneakers, but would also look great tucked into a tailor mini skirt and blazer.
Price at time of publish: $95
Material: Cotton | Size Range: XXS/XS, S/M, L/XL, 2XL/3XL, 4XL/5XL | Color Options: Ivory and pecan, sorority pink and team cardinal, putty, putty and black, black, ivory, emory and black, sorority pink
Best Organic Cotton
Everlane The Premium-Weight Rugby Shirt
Fabric is one of the most important things to consider in a rugby shirt, as they are traditionally made from a heavyweight cotton material. For an organic cotton option, we love The Premium-Weight Rugby Shirt from Everlane, which comes in several solid and stripe colors, including a bright solid yellow and a subtle white and tan stripe. The shirt is designed with a traditional rugby jersey silhouette that fits just like a vintage style. Plus, it’s made more sustainable with the brand’s commitment to improved factory conditions and practices.
Price at time of publish: $25
Material: Organic cotton | Size Range: XXS-XL | Color Options: Bone and natural, orchid and canvas, bone, marigold
NAADAM Recycled Cashmere Oversized Rugby Polo
Made from 70 percent recycled cashmere in Mongolia, the NAADAM Oversized Rugby Polo is our top pick for an eco-friendly option. Apart from its more sustainable creation, the rugby shirt is a luxe way to rock the trend with its premium cashmere feel, more neutral color palette, and vintage silhouette. Since the shirt has more of a pull-over sweater feel, it’s a great in-between option for those looking to try the trend in a more subtle way.
Price at time of publish: $225
Material: Recycled cashmere, cashmere | Size Range: XXS-3XL | Color Options: Heather taupe, heather denim
Rowing Blazers Cropped Vertical Stripe Rugby Shirt
When we think of a typical rugby shirt, color is one of the first aspects that come to mind. And, while they traditionally feature two horizontal striped colors, we wanted something a little louder for this category. Behold, the Rugby Vertical Multi Stripe from Rowing Blazers. This cropped rugby shirt combines retro hues for a throwback pattern that is eye-catching and has just the right amount of color clash. On top of that, it is well-made from cotton material and has a two-button placket that you can wear open or closed for a more put-together look.
Price at time of publish: $78
Material: Cotton | Size Range: XS-XXXL | Color Options: Multi-stripe
AYR The Zoe
For a fun twist on this trend, try a rugby-inspired dress. We are obsessed with the sport and relaxed feel of The Zoe dress from AYR, which has that rugby shirt silhouette, only longer. The preppy dress is made from a high-quality cotton material that is weighted perfectly for the style, plus it puts a more subtle spin on the traditional striped style with a single stripe across the waist and mid-arms.
Price at time of publish: $105
Material: Cotton | Size Range: XS-XL | Color Options: Green and white
The Mayfair Group Mayfair Art Club Oversize Long Sleeve Rugby Polo
If you want a retro rugby shirt without digging through thrift stores and vintage shops to find the perfect one, this Mayfair top is the next best thing. Designed with bold navy and yellow contrasting stripes, the rugby shirt has that worn-in vintage flair while simultaneously leaning into the classic varsity jacket. If you’re trying to build up your vintage street style pieces, you can’t go wrong with this gem of a polo.
Price at time of publish: $88
Material: Cotton | Size Range: S-XXL | Color Options: Navy/yellow
Rowing Blazers Ametora Dad Rugby Jersey
Typically, rugby shirts are all about the stripes. However, you can also rock the trend in a more solid formation, which can feel sophisticated and subtle. For the best solid rugby shirt, we love the Rowing Blazers Ametora Dad Rugby Jersey, which has a vintage shape, is made incredibly well, and comes in eight colors (including more iconic rugby hues like red, green, and navy). On top of that, it’s made from 100 percent organic cotton for an environmentally-friendly fashion choice.
Price at time of publish: $145
Material: Organic cotton | Size Range: XS-3XL | Color Options: Black, navy, Hanover green, Durham blue, scarlet, arctic blue, rose, white
Meet the Expert
What to Look for in Rugby Shirts
When shopping for a rugby shirt, Naina Singla, a style expert and wardrobe consultant, says to highly consider the fabric. Rugby shirts are traditionally made of heavy cotton material, “But now you can look for them in a variety of knitwear fabrics including more lightweight knits,” she explains. The Everlane Premium-Weight Rugby Shirt has a highly breathable fabric made from organic cotton.
If you want a rugby shirt that is more traditional, Singla says to look for classic features. “For a more vintage look,” she suggests wider stripes, a collared neck, a concealed button placket, and a heavier fabric.
“When shopping for a rugby shirt, consider the color palette, particularly if it has stripes,” explains Samantha Brown, a wardrobe stylist based in New York City. “Muted stripes will give it a more vintage-inspired look while vibrant stripes will pop more and feel fresh,” she adds.
“The fit is important, too, as wearing an oversized rugby shirt will feel very relaxed, and a more tailored shirt will lean preppy,” says Brown. From cropped to oversized, there are so many different varieties to choose from when it comes to fit and silhouette. “Have fun with the trend and choose a style that suits your personality,” Brown adds.
What is a rugby shirt?
“A rugby shirt is a top worn by rugby players, having a buttoned white collar, and is typically long-sleeved with broad stripes,” explains Singla. She adds that the style is similar to polo shirts but is usually made of heavier fabric while maintaining a refined look. Rugby shirts were popular in the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s, and with the resurgence of popular Y2K trends, they’re making their way back into our wardrobes.
How to wear a rugby shirt
According to Brown, rugby shirts look best when “styled with oversized jeans or khakis, joggers, or front tucked into shorts or a mini skirt.” To add to the preppy aesthetic, you can also pair them with loafers (or knee-high socks and loafers if you are sporting a skirt). Singla also recommends a rugby polo with a pair of straight leather pants for an “unexpected and nice way to dress up the look.” You can also balance out a rugby shirt with baggy cargo pants. “If you don’t want to show a lot of skin, opt for a high-waisted pair of cargo pants or jeans and add chunky sneakers or boots to finish off the look,” Singla adds.
Do you tuck in a rugby shirt?
“You can leave it out for a relaxed and casual look,” says Singla, explaining that this shirt style is traditionally worn untucked and looks best styled that way. With that said, you can absolutely tuck in a rugby shirt, too. “Tuck it in for a more preppy or polished look,” Singla adds, noting that this looks great with a blazer.
Why Trust Byrdie
Jessie Quinn is a contributing writer for Byrdie who covers everything from the best shoe styles to the latest trendy looks. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion Journalism from Academy of Art University.
Jasmine Hyman is a commerce producer for Dotdash Meredith’s beauty and travel publications. She graduated from Columbia University’s Journalism School in May of 2022 with an MS in Journalism and writes for publications including InStyle, People, Byrdie, and more.