How to Polo

The Polo Shirt

Today I am going to talk about how to polo. Nope, not the sport, but the ubiquitous short-sleeved shirt. While the polo shirt has been cast as one of the bad actors in the crime that is business casual it does have some redeeming qualities. One is that it can help you stay cool in the heat and the other is that it at least is has a collar.

I have pulled together two of my recent polo based looks as examples. The first look is the tucked in chino with shorts. This is a great look if you are doing something outdoors, but still want to look kind of put together. This could be anything from a company picnic, to one of the many summer festivals, and anything in between. What to note. When it is hot I like to wear baggy shorts to stay cool. Baggier shorts also provide room to tuck in the polo. Surcingle belts are a nice touch to keep it all, excuse my french…preppy. Lastly, ditch the socks and wear boat shoes, camp mocs, loafers, or even a simple canvas sneaker.
Polo in Casual Setting My second variation is even more casual. Here I have went with the untuck and a pair of purple Patagonia Baggies. If you are curious what I was doing in this outfit I was going to the car wash, running a few errands, and as you can see ended the outing at the driving range. You know when you see people wearing gym shorts and t-shirts well this is my spin on that. I am sure that this far too casual for some of you, but for those that it is not give it a go. I actually get a ton of compliments when I wear this.
Polo in Super Casual Setting You may be asking, but Jerrod you did not tell us much about polos? That my friend is the awesome thing about polos. There is not much to know. What I will say is do not overthink it. In the past I have referred to polo shirts as t-shirts for adults. I think that this is a good outlook to have.  As far as colors go I recommend white, navy, and forest green. In terms of material I recommend cotton pique polos.

Another great thing about polo shirts is that you can find them anywhere and everywhere. In the pictures above I am wearing old Gap polo shirts, but you can currently find some good looking ones at O’Connell’s, Lands’ End, J.Crew, and probably a ton of places that I overlooked.

oxford cloth button down
Jerrod Swanton is a simple man interested in simple, classic, and traditional style.

14 Comments on "How to Polo"

  1. Jon DiBenedetto says:

    They really are perfect in summer. Personally, I just feel much too hot in long sleeves in Summer. Ben SIlver stocks a nice store brand one.

  2. Tim says:

    Interested to hear your thoughts on polo fit. My philosophy is that summer shirts should fit the opposite of long sleeves: long sleeves should be loose and baggy, whereas polos and short sleeves should be trim and close to the body (without being tight of course!).

    My personal judgment is that your polos are too big, your popover short sleeves are just right.

  3. Dutch Uncle says:

    Fortunately, Jerrod disagrees with you about the proper fit of polo shirts.

  4. oxford cloth button down says:

    Tim – I prefer a little looser fit in hot weather. It helps to keep you cooler. Luckily for us there is room for multiple opinions!

    • Tim says:

      Thanks for sharing your opinion Jerrod. What’s cooler or hotter is subjective: I’ve seen people argue that the extra billow traps more heat. To each his own.

      My personal ideal is high armhole, extra 1-2″ on the sides.

  5. Lennart says:

    I also prefer the polos to be a bit more trim, but I agree on the keeping cool part Jerrod. Colors that must be in my closet are navy, burgundy and hunter green. As for Lacoste, I used to love them in the 80’s and 90’s. However, nowadays, unforetunately my opinion is that the sourcing teams has been to rough within the Lacoste company. They are much too thin and price does not match quality any longer. At least not here in Europe.

    • Tim says:

      I was under the impression that the Lacostes available in EU were still Made in France and higher quality. Is this impression totally outdated?

  6. Lennart says:

    Tim, I am not sure where it’s made, I am at the office now and I am not wearing any Lacoste, will check. But quality is definitely not what it used to be, thin and close to look through. I bought two last year and I had to return one of them.

  7. Jon DiBenedetto says:

    I prefer Polo’s trim also: I don’t been slim tho, just not billowy.

  8. JJ says:

    A timely article and great points on both color (white, navy, forest) and material. Stripes quickly date. A quality pique will last and get better with age. PRL is the obvious gold standard. Their Classic fit is a perfect blend of clean lines with room to breathe. Unfortunately, the average American male sporting a dri-fit polo with pleated chinos to the office (particularly unflattering on a ‘dad bod’) has firmly dented the image of a classic polo.

  9. Superb! Booth excellent warm weather looks and very similar to my own summer uniform, which also includes a number of twill, seersucker, and Madras short-sleeved shirts just to mix things up bit.

    Best Regards,


  10. andrew says:

    Solid polos work great with Madras shorts too. with solid shorts, I have a Madras fabric belt (no leather, loops through two metal rings) that offsets both nicely.

    do people generally prefer lighter or heavier weight polos? LL Bean sells inexpensive and thick polo shirts that I like a lot and that cost nothing like an actual ralph lauren polo. I used to get lighter-weight polos from Orvis made from jersey fabric, but the quality wasn’t there – they got holes around the placket far too quickly. i seem to be a landing spot for golf shirts as gifts that wear pretty well, but the patterns don’t thrill me – much prefer solids in this kind of shirt.

  11. Richard says:

    I think more than anything the belt makes or breaks the polo/khakis look. Around the office you’ll see mostly black calf belts with this looks, which is all wrong. Your recommendation of a surcingle is on point as usual.

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