How to wear a polo shirt

A polo shirt is one of the most  timeless and versatile items a man can have in his wardrobe, creating a look that is equally as fitting for an evening out with friends, as it is for a game of tennis. Coming in a wide array of colours, designs and fits, there is a polo to suit every man out there; however not everyone knows how to style the preppy wardrobe staple. Here are some of our top pointers for how to pull of a polo shirt, from the right fit for you, to what you should pair it with.

Where does the polo shirt originate from?

As you may expect, the sporty garment was first designed to be worn during a game of polo, hence the name! What you may not be aware of,  however, is that it was in fact in India in the 19th century that the classic look first made an appearance. Though the exact origin is unclear, the polo shirt was worn among British soldiers playing the sport, while they were based in India. The soldiers set up the very first polo club, recruiting members of the army and British tea-planters in India as regular players. As the club grew, they decided to produce a kit, which consisted of thick, long-sleeves cotton shirt with a collar that would flap in the wind.

In recent years, tennis may spring to mind when you think of the classic polo shirt. This is owing to French tennis legend, Jean Rene Lacoste, who took it upon himself to design a new kit that is more comfortable and practical than the traditional ‘tennis whites’, crafted from a breathable pique cotton and with short sleeves, ignoring the trend of rolling up long sleeves on the court.

To this day Lacoste are one of the leading retailers of the classic polo shirt, along with the likes of Polo Ralph Lauren who have made a firm name for themselves for their iconic polos, embellished with the signature polo player motif.

3 Ways to Wear a Polo Shirt:

Everyday wear

The polo shirt is most commonly worn in a casual setting and whether you’re going for a preppy look, or a more urban take on the style, the polo is an incredibly versatile garment open to a number of styling options.

Pair your polo shirt with jeans and trainers for the perfect everyday outfit, that’s super easy to pull off. A neutral colour such as a white or grey will make the perfect wardrobe staple that will go with everything you own. The polo shirt doesn’t have to be boring though, thanks to the huge variety of colours, prints and different fits on the market. To make a bit of a statement, go for something in a bright colour or with a bold design. A vibrant colour looks great in the warmer months, whereas a subtle design, such as a cuff detail or brand logo adds a stylish touch to your daytime look.

To change up the look, opt for a long sleeved style. The relaxed design is ideal for hinting at the traditional folded collar polo shirt trend, whilst achieving a bit more warmth and coverage.

casual polo shirts

SHOP:  Polo Ralph Lauren Blue Custom Fit Polo/ Armani Jeans White Jersey Polo ShirtPS by Paul Smith Navy Knitted Polo Shirt 

Smart-casual wear

Polo shirts don’t have to be strictly casual and if paired with the right outfit they can look really sharp for an evening out, or even in the workplace.

To find the perfect balance between smart and casual, pair your polo with some chinos and opt for a slim fit for a more fitted shape. If you want to achieve the classic preppy look, opt for a tailored beige pair and button up to the neck. A darker tone such as a navy blue will create a much sleeker look.

smart polo shirts

SHOP: McQ by Alexander McQueen White Logo Polo Shirt/ Barbour Blue Crest Pique Polo Shirt/ Michael Kors Steel Blue Mercerised Polo Shirt

Active wear

The polo shirt was traditionally designed for sports, so what better occasion to wear one than for when you’re being active? Though a lot of standard polo shirts are suitable for active-wear,particularly those made from a pique cotton, for a lightweight style that will offer efficient breathabilty and comfort during sports, there are performance polos on the market, created with athletes in mind.

Pair with sports shorts for practicality or a pair of slim fit sweat pants for a hint at the sports luxe trend.

polo sports

SHOP: Armani Jeans Pullover Polo Shirt/ Stone Island White Slim Fit Polo Shirt/ Fred Perry Navy Polka Dot Polo

Style Tips

  • Don’t pop your collar!
  • Wear your polo shirt fitted, but not too tight
  • The sleeves should hit around mid-bicep, but avoid anything that is too tight around your arms
  • The shirt should end halfway down the trouser fly
  • Avoid leaving all of your buttons undone