How To Wear a Polo Shirt: A Men's Style Guide
A polo shirt is a perfect medium between dressy and casual. If you think about it, it’s essentially the combination between a t-shirt and a button down. It’s got the collar and a few buttons, but often features casual fabrics and the athletic fit common to the t-shirt.
It has features of both but is in fact neither. Since the inception of the polo shirt by tennis superstar Jean René Lacoste in 1933, the polo shirt has been in a category of its own. It nods towards the traditional upper-class tailoring, as well as the cutting-edge athletic performance that the sport represented at the time.
Today the polo shirt is a versatile and essential piece of clothing that has a place in any man’s wardrobe. This style guide will cover three types of polos to keep in your wardrobe. It will also include several outfit ideas for how to wear your polo shirts casually, dressed up, and as an athletic staple.
As a classic wardrobe staple, the polo shirt has seen a number of different iterations over the years. For seamless integration into everyday men’s style, solid color polo shirts are a can’t miss. The three types of polos mentioned below are all you need to have a polo ready for any occasion.
A solid polo shirt provides style versatility, that’s been covered already. But in order to be truly versatile, in order to be incorporated into a number of different outfits for different occasions, it has to be wearable; It has to fit right, and it has to be comfortable.
If it’s ill-fitting or uncomfortable, you aren’t going to want to wear it, and therefore its versatility goes out the window. A comfortable, well-fitting polo shirt is what you’re after in order to maximize its versatility as well as the confidence you get out of wearing flattering clothing.
The polo shirt has its origins in athletic wear, and is still part of athletes’ wardrobes everywhere, particularly in tennis and golf. Whether you’re looking to perform at a sport, in the gym, or in the office, you’ll want a polo that’s ready to keep up with the hard work you put in. Keep a polo created for peak performance in your wardrobe.
You’ll look sharp and your best efforts will be unhindered. A polo with antimicrobial material will stand up to athletic intensity, as well as a long day's work at the office. You can work hard without smelling like it.
A long-sleeve polo is a unique variation of the shirt that makes room for different styling options. Its full-length sleeve makes it a great option for layering when the temperature drops. Long-sleeve polos will appear more formal than its short sleeve sibling, while still maintaining a neutral position between dress and casual. They look great both tucked and untucked and work well with a vest to create several different looks.
You can wear a polo casually as part of a number of different looks. The ideas below should get some ideas going as to how you can rock a polo with what you have in your closet already.
Wearing your polo untucked gets the most out of the juxtaposition between formal and casual. The collar is traditional while leaving your shirt untucked is definitely more contemporary. Let your polo hang untucked with a pair of smart pants and sneakers for a polished casual look. Try it with dark jeans and boots for something a little more rugged.
Check out this guide if you’re not sure when to tuck or when to untuck.
A polo and shorts are a fresh summer look. Our Workday Short will make for an adaptable and professional look that’s perfect for the hot weather. Denim shorts or lounge shorts with a polo will create a relaxed weekend look. Avoid wearing a polo shirt with swim trunks unless you want to look like a frat boy on spring break.
A crisp polo tucked in with a belt is a quick way to create a preppy, university-inspired look. Match a brown belt with brown derbies, and tuck in a solid white or grey polo into navy or olive pants and your look is A-plus. Throw a cardigan on top and carry a messenger bag for a complete outfit.
Pulled up sleeves look cool and casual. It stands out because it is an alternative way to wear a shirt. Was that long-sleeve shirt designed to be worn with the sleeves pulled up? Who cares. Pulling up your sleeves is cool because it goes outside of the lines.
A long-sleeve polo is equal parts formal and casual. Wearing it with the sleeves pulled up makes it decidedly casual and carefree. It makes for a critical detail to your outfit that comes across as so cool and casual that people won’t realize you put any thought into it at all.
Wear a polo with joggers and a bomber jacket for a stylish athleisure outfit that is ready to go wherever you are. This pairing makes the traditional side of the polo dissolve into a cool and modern iteration of dress that is both sharp and functional. You could wear the same outfit with a t-shirt instead, and you should at some point, but just keep in mind you’ll get a bit more sophistication with the polo.
For as easygoing and casual as the polo can be worn, it can also be dressed up for a more traditional look that makes the polo appropriate for additional settings as well. Start by buttoning all the buttons, even the top one.
A simple way to think about dressing up a polo shirt is to use it as a stand-in for a button down. It’s not always appropriate to replace a button down with a polo, but as long as it’s not a business professional or formal setting, you can probably get away with a polo if you style it right. Of course, it’s also a great way to tone down a dressier outfit and make it more casual.
Wearing a blazer over your polo will immediately make it appear more traditional. With a black blazer, a white polo will look classy and a black polo will be sleek and elegant. A neutral blazer can be paired with colored polos to show some personality.
Matching the color of your pants with the color of your polo will make for a neat, uniform look. You can wear it by itself for a monochromatic scheme, or couple it with a contrasting color jacket, sweater, or cardigan to create a simple color palette that pops. This look works particularly well with a navy, grey, or black polo and pants combination.
Wearing a polo with a suit and sneakers is a cheeky combination of formal and casual. The polo and sneakers are casual elements to the look that balance with the suit to create a dynamic combination. It’s a confident movie star-type look that not everybody tries, but everyone secretly wishes they would. It’s not that hard, give it a go.
The straightforward, minimal look of a polo is a great option to reach for when you want to wear a pair of patterned slacks. Pair a white polo with houndstooth, plaid, or pinstriped pants for a balanced look. In this case, the pants are going to be the most prominent piece to the outfit, and a polo is a classy option that is perfectly cast for a supporting role.
Mix up your workout fits by incorporating performance polos into the rotation. It’s surprising you don’t see polos in the gym more often, as they are one of the most aesthetic cuts of shirts out there. A well-fitting polo complements the muscles in your arms and chest.
Wear a polo shirt with athletic shorts for a tennis-inspired look. It’s classy, focused, and aggressive, just like the sport’s top athletes.
A polo with a half zip is a match meant to be. The functional versatility of the half zip sweatshirt mirrors that of the polo from another garment category. Pull down the zipper and it contours the collar of your polo perfectly.
This look is a favorite for golfers and coaches everywhere. The pairing makes for a timeless athletic style that you can wear before, during, and after your exercise. It’s also a look you can bring to the office with work-friendly pants and footwear.
A simple combination of joggers and a polo makes for a modern, streamlined look. Joggers and polos both have a form-fitting look that compliments the natural shape of your body. Together, they make for a sleek and fast silhouette. Find a color combination that works for you, or match the polo and joggers to push the athletic look and make for a more uniform look.
A long-sleeve performance polo worn with a warm and comfortable vest is a functional and professional athletic fit for a cold day. This look appeals to golfers especially, as a stretchy long sleeve polo is ideal for a colder day on the golf course, as is a vest to keep up core body temperatures without restricting the range of motion.
However, this look doesn’t have to be limited to the golf course. Wear it with a pair of jeans and boots, and it’s a whole different vibe that leans more towards outdoor wear.
Wearing a cap will add a sporty element to any outfit. A cap especially brings out the athletic appeal of a polo shirt, because it’s a classic combination among golfers and tennis players. You won’t necessarily look like a golfer or tennis player while wearing a polo and cap unless you happen to have a club or racquet with you as well.
Wear a polo with a cap, joggers, and a minimalistic bag for an on-the-go professional look that’s ready for travel and adventure.
Looking sharp should not be reserved for special occasions. Looking clean and professional can be part of your everyday look, and a polo shirt is a versatile wardrobe staple that will help you achieve the look you want. Include a selection of well-fitting everyday polos, performance polos, and long-sleeve polos in your closet to have the right option for any occasion.
Paired with the timeless style and versatility of the polo shirt, there are so many great outfits waiting in your closet to be discovered. Create looks around your favorite polo shirts by dressing them up, wearing them casually, and sporting them for a refined athletic look.