Almost everyone wears a polo shirt. From Presidents on golf courses to rap moguls on stage. If you love wearing the shirt, there is no reason it shouldn’t be a staple in your everyday wardrobe. To get the most from it, you need to wear it well.
To help you out, Sunday Swagger has come up with this list of polo shirt dos and don’ts that you should consider:
Do button the buttons
When wearing the shirt casually, it’s tempting to leave the buttons unbuttoned, but you shouldn’t do this as the shirt will look sloppy and loose.
When you are in a casual mood, leaving one button unbuttoned is okay, but don’t leave all of them unbuttoned.
At the same time, if you button all of them up, the shirt looks different and, ironically, a little more “anti-establishment.” Unless this is the look you’re going for, don’t button all the buttons.
Do wear a fitting shirt
The fit you choose for your polo will significantly determine your comfort and how you look. To ensure that your shirt fits you well, you should look out for length and sleeves.
When it comes to length, the shirt should be long enough to tuck it in but short enough to wear it untucked without looking like you’re wearing a nightgown.
The bottom hem shouldn’t go any farther than halfway down your pants’ fly or back pockets. It also shouldn’t go any higher than the hip or lower than a few inches below your belt or waistband.
When it comes to the sleeves, they should go about halfway down your bicep and no more than two-thirds of the way down your upper arm.
Overall, the shirt should fit close to your body without being too tight. The shirt can be tighter in your chest and arms and get looser as it goes down to your waist.
The more fit you are, the closer the polo fits, but it shouldn’t be too tight. Ensure you can still fit a few fingers under the sleeves for comfort.
Don’t wear an undershirt.
It’s easy to be tempted to wear an undershirt, especially if you sweat a lot, but you shouldn’t. This is because the polo is meant to be worn as a single or base layer close to the body.
An undershirt adds extra bulk and can show through the collar or neckline, giving you a bad look. If you must wear an undershirt, choose one that doesn’t show at the neck.
Don’t wear a polo with a pocket unless it’s secured. The reason is that a pocket on the breast of a polo adds some visual interest, but it’s rarely used and tends to sag and get out of shape, making the shirt look less sharp.
So, to keep your polo looking great, avoid pockets in general, except for ones with flaps and buttons to keep them closed.
Do choose the right fabric
There aren’t many technical details about the polo shirt, but it’s helpful to know about its fabrics, especially its two main types.
Polos come in a wide range of materials, from natural to artificial. Most of the time, these are the common blends used in making sports polo shirts.
Silk polos are an option, but they’re not a good choice because they show sweat easily, lose their color when wet, and look cheap after a few wears.
Polyester and cotton/poly blends make shirts last longer, but they don’t breathe as well, smell worse, and look cheap.
Since polos are usually worn in warm weather, the most common and recommended fabric is 100% cotton, which is cool, comfortable, and breathable.
When buying cotton polos, you should remember that there are two main kinds to choose from:
Pique: Pique is the original fabric for polo shirts. It is knitted in a woven pattern that gives it a textured surface. The fabric is thick and heavy, but the holes in the weave allow it to breathe and keep sweat from showing.
Usually, the sleeves end in a ribbed band or cuff. The pique polo is more formal and professional because it has more structure and weight.
Jersey: A jersey polo shirt is made from the same fabric as a t-shirt, and it has the same flat, smooth, soft, and stretchy feel.
Most jersey polo sleeves end in a simple hem instead of a separate band. The jersey polo is cool but will show your sweat more and won’t last as long. It looks more casual because it is light and has a loose fit.
Both pique and jersey polos have their look and feel. For a great experience, wear jersey polos when you want to be comfortable and pique polos when you need to dress up a bit.
Don’t wear a long sleeve.
Long-sleeved polos do exist, and it may be possible for them to look good, but most don’t. The polo was originally made as a short-sleeved shirt for warm weather and outdoor activities.
Extending the sleeves goes against its style roots and makes it look funny, like a short-sleeve dress shirt.
Do feel free to wear the shirt tucked or untucked
Most people say you should only wear the polo tucked, but this isn’t the case. You can wear a polo shirt either way.
Tucking your shirt in makes you look more formal while leaving it out makes you look more casual. If you aren’t sure whether you should tuck or untuck, look at the back of the shirt. If the back is longer than the front, then it was made to be tucked in.
Be ready to pay for premium quality.
Polos can easily look schlumpy and dumpy, so spending a few extra dollars on ones that fit well and look like they’re made properly is worth it.
Of course, sometimes a high price tag has nothing to do with quality and everything to do with marketing, so make sure you’re paying for a durable, high-quality shirt, not just a brand name.