Summer time and polo shirts are essential summer styles that can be seen in many wardrobes from men. Dating back to 1933, the early polo shirt was designed to circumvent stale tennis regulations that forbade certain apparel on the courts. Undeterred, the polo shirt became, despite several early hurdles, a menswear classic. Initially considered sportswear only, polo shirts are now worn by men everywhere, with many styles currently available to suit various tastes. The versatility of polo shirts makes them exceedingly popular as they are not only comfortable and stylish, but can be worn throughout the year.
Polo shirts should be worn for comfort as well as style - with sleeves that extend to the halfway point of the bicep, and a length that is just right to have the option to tuck it in for more formal occasions. Considered one of the essential cornerstones of a man’s wardrobe, the polo shirt has been around for generations as a classic shirt that has remained relevant and trendy for each successive generation. There are now a number of companies that have released their own take on the polo shirt that are worth adding to your wardrobe.
Reintroducing The Men’s Polo Shirt
The basic polo is widely known and is essentially a short-sleeved shirt that features a collar, is typically two to three buttons, and designed from knitted cotton. The most common polo shirts are pique knit and come with crosshatched weaving for a sturdier, thicker feel.
Contrary to popular belief, polo shirts did not originate on the polo field, but on tennis courts via men’s Grand Slam winner René Lacoste, who came up with the designs after venturing to wear something on court that was more ideal for the hot temperatures. The first polo shirts were created with breathable jersey cotton, featuring short sleeves, a soft collar, and a long tail to tuck in the back of trousers. Lacoste debuted the polo shirt at the 1926 U.S. Open, and by the ‘50s, the short-sleeved shirts with the crocodile logo on the breast of the shirt was on its way to becoming the iconic piece it is known as today. Now, polo shirts are worn by tennis players, golfers, bowlers, and polo players, making the transition from its initial place as aristocratic apparel to a mainstay that can be seen on men from all walks of life.
Traditionally worn as casual attire by most men, the polo shirt is still closely associated with the world of golf and tennis, but can be found off the sports fields on men on errands or gathering with friends, or casual Fridays in the workplace.
How to Style a Polo Shirt
Polo shirts are a great selection for men to wear for many casual events, easily matched with just about anything in a man’s wardrobe from shorts, sweatpants, and denim jeans, to chinos and fitted blazers.
Men that are novices to wearing polo shirts should start out with those that are monochrome, and then expand to include more color options and patterns as confidence boosts. In general, thinner stripes on polo shirts are more flattering and offer more versatility.
Casual occasions and polo shirts are a match made in sartorial heaven, pairing well with denim jeans, sweatpants, or chino shorts. There is also the option of wearing them with several types of shoes from sandals and sneakers, to loafers and boots for a laidback vibe. A particularly classic summer look is a polo shirt with shorts as it suits the season and is an easy look to pull off.
Polos match well with many types of trousers, but chinos and khakis are especially complementary for a prepster look that is one of the most classic. Darker colored polo shirts in dark grey, navy blue, or charcoal are great, but don’t be afraid to choose from the broad range of colorful polo shirts that are available out there to truly make an impression.
Polo shirts are commonly associated with casual attire, but they are also versatile enough for semi-formal occasions as well. For events that require a more polished look, men can choose to pair their slacks with a polo shirt in a darker color like charcoal, navy, or black. Alternatively, men can opt for the long-sleeved polo shirt which, although not as common, provides a nice finished appearance that fits a semi-formal setting.
Proving to be more flexible than most items in a man’s wardrobe, a polo shirt even has the flexibility to be worn at a formal occasion. One excellent outfit for fall and winter is pairing a long-sleeved polo and dark blazer coat that is super stylish while also minimalist. With a nice pair of tailored slacks, a sports jacket, and long-sleeved polo shirt, men look great while matching the tone of the event in style.
Styling a Polo Shirt: Dos and Don’ts
As with any style of clothing, wearing polo shirts come with their own guidelines for men that want to wear them properly:
- Button at least one of the buttons
- Tuck or untuck as the occasion dictates
- Include solid, basic colors in your collection as the base
- Add more vibrant colors to the mix for more selection
- Wear the correct polo shirt size
- Wear a shirt underneath
- Layer a polo shirt over another
- Select a polo shirt with a pocket
- Wear a polo shirt with an oversized logo
- Wear long-sleeved polo shirts
- Wear an athletic polo as casualwear
Polo shirts serve as a versatile piece for men that offers the flexibility to wear at both casual and formal occasions. Men should invest in a few polo shirts that fit well and can be worn year-round to put together an attractive outfit.