One article of male clothing that is completely taken for granted is the polo shirt. As a step up from casual wear and a step down from formal wear, the polo shirt plays a rather unique role in a man’s wardrobe, but because it’s design seems so safe and predictable, few worry about how to style it properly.
Then there is the mass adoption of polos as a uniform too. Everybody from the pizza delivery boy to the car tire salesman is wearing these shirt-cum-tees with company logos emblazoned on them, which makes the garment seem even more invisible.
But true men of style know the incredible value of a well-constructed polo. They look fresh and fun when they pair it with shorts, dashingly elegant when they show it off with well-cut denims and divinely smart when going business casual. What’s more, they don’t make terrible fashion mistakes that many others do with polo shirts because unless they are worn right, they can make you look really, really dorky.
We’re dedicating this article to all men out there who have questions about how to wear a polo shirt. We will explain various facets of the shirt, what’s good, what’s not, and we’re fully expecting you to rock a polo like Ashton Kutcher by the time you’re done reading this!
6 Mistakes Men Make When Wearing A Polo Shirt
# 1: Wearing Big Logos: It’s a signature styling detail in most polo shirts to have a logo on the breast. But these logos are getting bigger and bigger, and they’re not cool. Not if you’re hoping to wear your polos in a classy, tasteful manner. Stick with the small, classic ones and don’t be tempted by the idea of wearing a 6-inch logo of a Ralph Lauren horse or something equally distracting that takes away from the overall look you’re trying to achieve.
# 2: Wearing Bright, Bold Colors: Stacks of colorful polo shirts do look pretty irresistible on store shelves and can make even the most conservative of dressers wonder how he might look in a hot, fuchsia pink polo. But don’t do it. Stick to the classics like black, grey, navy blue, light blue, white etc.
# 3: Letting Collars Go Limp: Polo shirt collars that are curling or splaying in shape look incredibly sloppy. Make sure your collars are rigid and standing up when you’re dressing to impress in a polo shirt. Use double-sided adhesive dots if necessary to stick the collar down.
# 4: Wearing An Undershirt With A Polo: Polo shirts are designed to be worn as a single layer. Don’t put on undershirts that will add bulk, peep out from under collars and cuffs and look really, really bad.
# 5: Keeping All Buttons Undone: Never wear a polo shirt with all buttons undone because it makes the neckline seem untidy. Keep one buttoned at least to keep the shape looking crisp.
# 6: Wearing A Polo For Too Long: There are a number of design details in a polo shirt that starts looking faded and worn out after several washes. The sleeves get stretched, the collar becomes floppy, and maybe even the shirt shrinks. Polo shirts, especially non-premium ones, become ratty pretty quickly, so you must notice when it is time to retire your old one and buy another.
How Polo Shirts Should Fit
• A polo shirt will never look right unless it fits you perfectly. The first criterion is length, which should not be longer or shorter than halfway down your pant’s back pockets. Or mid-crotch, when looking from the front. The next thing is sleeves. They should stop at about midway down your biceps. The overall fit should be tapered, and adhere to your body shape without looking snug.
How To Wear Polo Shirts With Pockets
• Breast pockets can be tricky in polo shirts, because they sag over time and lose their shape, making the whole garment look old and untidy. You do get some styles though that have enclosed pockets with flaps or buttons. But stuffing a polo shirt pocket isn’t the look you’re after if you want to wear it right, so avoid pockets altogether if possible.
Popping The Collar On Polo Shirts
• Okay, we absolutely have to draw the line on this fashion faux pas. The only time that popping the collar (raising the collar and making it stand straight up) is vaguely acceptable is when you’re out in the sun and want to protect the back of your neck. Otherwise, don’t do it because it sends out all kinds of unsavory signals about who you are. (Read: cocky, brash, pompous, pretentious.) True, David Beckham can pop his collar and look undeniably sexy while doing it, but well, he’s David Beckham…
Using Athletic Polo Shirts As Casualwear
• The main difference between athletic polo shirts and fashion polo shirts is the material. Sports polos are constructed with synthetic mix fabrics that breathe well and manage perspiration. The cut/style is also relaxed to allow free body movement. They are functional clothing and therefore best worn while playing golf, tennis etc. They don’t carry over as casual clothing that you can wear in social circumstances.
What Is A Piqué Polo Shirt
• Piqué (Marcella) is a knitted, textured fabric that has been made popular by Lacoste and traditionally used for making polo shirts. It’s durable, flexible and offers the sort of ventilation that tennis players and polo players (original wearers of these shirts) need. The sleeves typically end with a smart, ribbed band. The term `double piqué’ refers to the use of two different threads instead of one in the weave. Piqué looks more impressive than other polo shirt fabrics because it is heavier and holds its shape well. It’s also more suitable for dressier and semi-formal occasions.
What Is A Jersey Polo Shirt
• The second popular fabric used for polo shorts is jersey. It’s similar to common T-shirt material and cheaper than piqué, though it does not have the same crisp silhouette or the distinctive piqué sleeve band. A lot of people favor jersey polos anyway, because they are more comfortable than piqué for everyday wear.
How To Wear A Polo With A Blazer
• In answer to a very common fashion question about polo shirts, yes you can wear them under a blazer. The problem, however, with carrying off this look is the flexibility of the collar that does not hold up as rigidly under the blazer as a regular button-up shirt. Wearing a polo shirt under a blazer dresses it down and keeps things casual. It’s a very cool and doable look for hot, summer months. Provided you get the collars right.
Tucking In A Polo Shirt
• There are no hard and fast rules about whether or not you can tuck in a polo. It’s a matter of personal choice.
How To Iron Polo Shirts
• Polo shirts tend to lose their crisp shape after several washes, which is why a lot of people starch and iron them to maintain the sharpness of its form. Here’s a video that shows you how to iron polo shirts the right way: