It’s come to be a hallmark of so many sub-cultures and sports, yet the humble polo shirt sometimes doesn’t get the credit for how adaptable and iconic it truly is. So with summer still clinging on and hopes for a mild autumn, here’s our guide to the best polo shirts out there.Read more Men's Style Guide features and check out our Store.
If you’re unsure what the best options are this summer, then keep on reading for our guide to some of some of what we think are the best polo shirts out there, as well as a quick guide to wearing your polo shirt.
The Best Polo Shirts
It’s a genuine crossover item of clothing that looks equally at home in the sporting arena as it does in the world of fashion. Due to its simplicity it can often be overlooked, it's without doubt a staple that every man should have a least one of in his wardrobe. There are loads of polo shirt brands to chose from, so we take a look at twelve of the best Polo shirts out there right now.
Long Sleeve Polo Shirts
We’re approaching that time of year when sunshine is no longer a guarantee, but it’s not quite time for the autumnal wardrobe yet either. This is obviously one of the infuriating quirks of the great British summer, but the long sleeved polo shirt may be the answer to the problem faced. While it's still pretty much the same clothing as the short sleeved version in terms of fabric and fit, it makes allowance for those slightly cooler end of summer, start of autumn days too with the introduction of the longer sleeve. Take a look at the outfit below to see how a long sleeve polo can turn your look far smarter effortlessly. Pair them with a pair of dark chinos and some boots and you've got a look that's easy to put together.
Black Polo Shirts
The black Farah polo shirt, this time of the short sleeved variety is effortlessly cool and features a subtle golden Farah logo. As the father of the polo shirt, Lacoste deserve another inclusion here with their simple black polo shirt with white piping detail and of course the embroidered crocodile logo which has become synonymous with the polo shirt. Black is effortless and works well in most outfits to give a sophisticated look.
Red Polo Shirts
One of the classic red polos has to be the red Lacoste polo shirt. It features the famous crocodile logo embroidered on to the chest of the polo in the classic contrasting green colour. This small but classy detail is the finishing touch to any good polo shirt, and as with any of their products, you're guaranteed quality. Trust us, they're a lot better than cheaper polo shirts and will last longer. Ralph Lauren polo shirts are also great for a huge selection of bright, eye-catching colours and also offer custom polo shirts. Below we've singled out the Lacoste red polo which works well with darker chinos or shorts and pairs well with some colourful plimsols. A burgundy polo is a nice alternative if red is a bit much for you.
Blue Polo Shirts
Navy blue polo shirts are a nice update from black, and give a slightly more summery feel without being too eye-catching. The usual piqué fabric is a staple of Lacoste polo shirts, but navy also looks really good on a smooth cotton polo shirt. A navy blue polo shirt is a great transition piece - casual, but can easily be dressed up with a pair of chinos or smart trousers.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Polo Shirts
You may think that wearing a polo shirt is simple and in truth it should be. But unfortunately, we’ve witnessed too many occasions when men have got it wrong with the classic polo shirt and when it goes wrong it’s not a good look. So try and follow these simple rules to make sure you don’t make a fool of yourself.
Don't Pop the Collar
No matter how cool you might think you look when you pop the collar on your polo shirt, just remember this, you don’t look cool. You are not Eric Cantona or a pre-pubescent school boy or Des from Australian soap Neighbours in the 1990s, so keep the collar down, it’s as simple as that. To be honest, we get what you’re trying to do by popping the collar on your polo shirt, it’s a symbol of confidence and standing out from the crowd, but it’s a bit too try hard for our liking.
Not Too Tight, Not Baggy
Like with most items of clothing, the most important part of pulling a specific look off isn’t the quality of the item or the colour or the fabric. These are all important, but it’s the fit that counts. A poorly fitting piece of clothing simply ruins the look. Too baggy and the polo shirt simply looks scruffy and unsophisticated, think middle aged PE teacher who’s let himself go. If it’s too tight, you’ll be leaving nothing to the imagination. If you’re not in peak shape, then your beer gut will be exposed for all the world to see and even if you have washboard abs a polo shirt just isn’t the piece of clothing that should look like it’s been spray painted on.
Get the Right Length
As with the point above, the polo shirt should be fitted and that includes the length too. If you’re wearing your polo shirt untucked, then make sure the tail of the shirt only runs down to the middle of your buttocks as a maximum. Otherwise, there’s a serious danger that your polo shirt will be mistaken for some kind of night dress and we don’t want that.
Avoid Unsightly Logos
With polo shirts, logos embroidered on the breast of the shirt have become a signature of the type of shirts and so it is near impossible to find a shirt that doesn’t include a logo of some kind. However, it has become pretty common recently for some brands to include overtly oversized logos on their polo shirts, to keep the look clean and classy try to opt for a shirt that has a slightly more understated logo.
Sports Polos Are for Sports
You might have thought that the polo shirt you saw Roger Federer wearing looked pretty cool and he’s a popular guy, so why don’t you get the same one. Unless you are going to be playing tennis or some other sporting activity, just don’t do it. Polo shirts made for sports should be confined to these activities, although the materials used are great for breathability and keeping you cool, they just aren’t for looking good outside of the sporting arena.
How a Polo Shirt Should Fit?
Although the beauty of the polo shirt is its simplicity and comfort, it is still vital that its fits well. A poorly fitting polo shirt can look scruffy or expose the less flattering aspects of your physique. So to avoid the pitfalls check out this quick guide to how a polo shirt should fit.
What is a Polo Shirt?
A polo shirt is a knitted, rather than woven shirt, normally from cotton cloth or cotton cloth blends. Polo shirts include a collar and an open neck which can be buttoned up, usually with two or three buttons. Typically, polo shirts are worn for sports such as tennis, polo and golf, as well as casual attire.
A Brief History of the Polo Shirt
It’s become an absolute essential on tennis courts, golf courses and polo pitches around the globe, as well as a staple item in almost every man’s wardrobe. Of course we are talking about the classic piece of leisure wear, the polo shirt. To most of us, the simplicity and classic nature of the polo shirt makes it seem like it’s probably been around forever. But, in truth the origins of the design classic only date back to the mid-1920s.
The Innovator: Rene Lacoste
In 1926 the US Open, one of the great players of his generation, Rene Lacoste introduced, what we now know as the polo shirt on to the world stage. In the years proceeding Lacoste’s intervention, the accepted attire for male tennis players were tennis whites. What the tennis whites consisted of were flannel trousers, with a white shirt and tie. Understandably, Lacoste believed that the traditional uniform for sportsmen of the day was too restrictive and hindered both performance and comfort. At the time of his innovation, the Frenchmen Lacoste was part of what was known as the four Musketeers of French tennis, a quartet of players who represented a golden generation for their nation in the sport. At the helm of that quartet was undoubtedly Lacoste, who in the year of introducing the new shirt was world number 1 and took home the US Open title that year, his third of seven grand slam singles titles and two Davis Cup wins. The following year, once again at the US Open, Lacoste made a further modification to the polo shirt, which remains synonymous with the design today, a small crocodile emblem was added to the left chest of the shirt. Lacoste had become known by fans, fellow players and the world’s press, as the crocodile, after he was promised a crocodile leather bag by his national captain, as reward for winning the Davis Cup for France.
The Crocodile Brand Spreads
After his retirement from tennis due to ill health in 1933, Lacoste teamed up with his friend, a clothing merchandiser, Andre Gillier, who then formed the company Chemise Lacoste. Together they began making and selling the shirts that Lacoste had made famous around the world and all their shirts included the famous crocodile emblem. The practicality and in turn popularity of the shirts designed by Lacoste quickly took off and became equally popular amongst proponents of other sports and leisure activities, in particular polo and golf. Practitioners of both of these sports had endured similar issues to those experienced by tennis players, in terms of having to wear ungainly and uncomfortable attire, the polo shirt was the answer to their prayers and the shirts were well on their way to becoming a design classic. The sight of the then US President Dwight Eisenhower donning a Lacoste polo shirt in 1952 on the golf course, only added to the desirability of the look, particularly in the states.
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