How to wear a polo shirt

Dressed down or dressed up, polo shirts have become a style staple. This is everything you need to know on how to wear a polo shirt for men.

A man wearing a polo shirtA polo shirt is a classic piece in any man’s wardrobe. It is actually far more versatile than many guys think, as you can style it for both casual and formal occasions.

It can be a great addition to your closet, however it is important that you learn how to wear a men’s polo shirt without looking too basic or old fashioned. It is an all-time classic, but you need to know how to update it and make it look modern throughout time.


What’s a polo shirt?

We could say that a polo shirt is almost in-between a regular t-shirt and a shirt. It looks a lot like a short-sleeved t-shirt, but then we have the collar and a three-button neckline to top it off.

Some polo shirts come with breast pockets too, but it is not that usual and they are not functional. They’re only there for aesthetic purposes, so you are not supposed to store your keys or sunglasses in them.

In terms of fabrics, the most common one is knitted cotton 一which is a little heavier than regular cotton一, yet you can also find blended formulas, such as cotton with Spandex or polyester.

Polo shirts made of 100% cotton are always better because they are comfortable for all seasons, they offer higher quality and more breathability. However, they can also be a little bit more expensive, so you can opt for cotton blends, which are a good alternative as well, if you are on a budget.

As we said earlier, polo shirts have become an iconic garment within the fashion industry and therefore many brands have their own signature collections. While heavily branded polo shirts are very easy to find, it’s best that you avoid them: they don’t look as good as they are advertised and they will be very hard to style too.

When it comes to shopping for a polo shirt, fit is everything. It doesn’t matter how stylish the polo shirt is, if it doesn’t fit well, it won’t look good either. So, make sure to keep that in mind when trying it on:

  • the fit should be slim, but not too tight;
  • the shoulder seams must sit on top of the shoulder bones;
  • sleeves must rest between your elbow and shoulder, right in the middle of your biceps;
  • And the length of your polo shirt should be about 2/3 inches below the belt.

If you are having trouble finding the right size for you, remember that you can always go to the tailor to get it fitted or shortened.


How to wear a polo shirt for men

Casual styles

Denim pants are always a go-to option and they literally look good with almost everything. Nonetheless, in this particular case, polo shirts pair much better with chinos.

Picture a pair of olive green chinos and a white polo shirt. Add a pair of white sneakers or slip-ons, a modern backpack and aviator shades, and you’ve got an easy casual outfit for spring. It could also be a pair of khaki chinos along with a blue polo shirt and loafers for a classier take.

This is a smart-casual match perfect for going to work. For more tips on how to upgrade your look, here’s what every man needs to know about bags.

During the summer season, you might want to opt for a fresher look. Fortunately, polo shirts look great with cotton or linen shorts too, an outfit you can top off with a pair of boat shoes or loafers as well. This combination is an upgrade of the traditional summer shorts and basic t-shirt.

Formal styles

As we’ve said at the beginning, polo shirts are quite versatile, meaning they can also work for formal outfits. Here are two important tips you should live-by.

On one hand, dark-colored polo shirts work best for formal than casual styles. And, on the other hand, you should always tuck in your shirt for a flawless formal look.

A black polo shirt matched with a pair of white dress pants and leather loafers gives expensive vibes. You can complete the look with a watch and some minimalist jewelry too.

A black monochrome look is very elegant as well and you can make the outfit more interesting by adding contrasting leather shoes or chukka boots, and a matching belt. Speaking of which, this is how to correctly match accessories.

A subtle patterned polo shirt can be paired with dress trousers and an unstructured sports jacket for a higher level of formality.

Another alternative for fall are wool dress pants. They look great with polo shirts and you can add a contrasting coat, a matching leather jacket or a knitted cardigan on top. Bear in mind that long-sleeved polo shirts exist as well and they are great for layering during winter.


Polos DOs and DON’Ts

If you are new to polo shirts, it’s best that you stick to the plain ones. That is, classic colors like white, burgundy, navy blue, olive green and gray. But if you want to step up your styling game, then you can try patterned or two-toned polos.

A main rule on how to wear a men’s polo shirt is not to wear an undershirt. A polo shirt is already a slim cut single layer for itself. As well, try sticking to minimal or no logo polo shirts, in order to keep things tasteful and sharp. Heavily branded polo shirts are a no-go.

As we mentioned before, polo shirts have become a style staple in sportswear. However, athletic polos should only be worn while playing sports, like golf or tennis, as they are not designed for casualwear.

Loud patterns and stripes can be too casual for formal styles. Therefore, if you are going for a more elegant approach, it’s best that you opt for solid colors and subtle patterns.