The Do's and Don'ts of Wearing Polo Shirts

The Do's and Don'ts of Wearing Polo Shirts


Erin Gray

Erin Gray (Pronoun: she/her) is a Portland, OR based writer with an affinity for working behind the scenes with companies that offer something unique to their market. When she’s not writing, she likes to roam around mossy hiking trails, wear leather hats, and build stuff. You can find her on instagram @rawhidelaces or email her by clicking on the little envelope below:

Ah, the polo. That ultra comfortable middle ground between a t-shirt and a button-down. 

This is the shirt that gives you that little extra bit of style compared to a plain t-shirt, while also freeing you from having to worry about things like ironing and undershirts. 

Polos are perfect for taking things up a notch on casual occasions, especially ones that have the potential to be a bit more active. 

Because they’re made of knitted material instead of woven material (like a button-down) they give you more freedom of movement. 

After all, they get their name from a sport where the object is to hit a ball with a mallet while riding on horseback. 

Image Source: Shutterstock

There’s no time to worry about your dress shirt during horse hammer ball, that’s to be sure. 

That’s why it’s no accident that the polo shirt makes an appearance in many sports uniforms. 

When you need to look sharp, get physical, and not worry about popping a button - a polo is the shirt for you.

So how does one style a polo, assuming you’re not wearing it on the field? 

Read on to find out, and remember: Once you know and are comfortable with the general rules, that’s the perfect time to start breaking them if you’re so inclined. 

DO think beyond jeans.

Polos and jeans are classic, but there are so many more ways to wear a polo. Why limit yourself?

When you’re going for classy casual, polos and chinos are an absolutely dynamite combination. 

Our favorite ultra casual combo? Polos and joggers. The sporty yet structured nature of these two items play well together to create the perfect look for when you want to look put together yet effortless. 

DON’T tuck your polo shirt into shorts.

Unless you’re intent on going into full on prep mode, rock the polo untucked (or a french tuck if you absolutely must) when you wear shorts. 

But if you are cool with going full prep mode, then throw caution to the wind and tuck that bad boi in. Don’t forget the boat shoes.

DO wear your polo fitted, but not too tight.

Pay attention to the fit of your polo in two major areas: the waist and the arms. 

The waist of your polo should fit the same way a comfortable t-shirt does. Skimming your body with enough room for free movement without becoming baggy. 

The collar and ribbed cuffs of most polos give them more structure than the average t-shirt, so you want to make sure these elements don’t draw attention in a bad way. 

You want the ribbed cuff of the polo to hit around mid-bicep and be snug, but not so tight that it’s leaving a mark on your skin. 

Also watch out for polos where the cuff of the sleeve goes down farther than it should. If the cuff is touching your elbow, the polo is too big.

DON’T stress about the buttons.

There is no hard and fast rule about whether or not to button the buttons on your polo shirt. 

But if you can’t decide, default to leaving them unbuttoned. 

It creates a “V” shape that gives your neck the appearance of more length (v-neck shirts take advantage of this same effect). 

More neck length is never a bad thing, even if it’s just visual trickery.

DON’T be afraid to layer with your polo.

Wanna keep things cool and comfortable at dressy occasions in the summertime? 

Rock a lightweight suit with a polo instead of a button down. 

Or skip the suit entirely and layer the polo under a blazer paired with chinos.

In either case, make sure to tuck the polo in and wear a belt to avoid looking sloppy. 

When fall hits, don’t shelve this sporty shirt until next summer. Layer it under your favorite sweater to create a more textured look than you would with a regular t-shirt. 

In short, if you’re stuck rotating button-ups and t-shirts as your go-to inner layers, swap a polo into the mix and see what happens!

DON’T pop your collar.

Even as a joke.

DO look for solid, neutral colors. 

Polos with stripes can have you looking a bit like a frat boy. 

A solid color polo in a neutral tone will look more sophisticated and be easier to pair with other items in your wardrobe. 

Don’t think this advice applies only to solid dark colors!

A white polo is quite possibly the most versatile shirt on the planet, because it can be easily paired with any other color in your wardrobe and see you through almost any casual occasion (and even some slightly dressier ones). 

If you want to spice things up, choose a polo with a contrasting color on the collar or sleeve cuffs. It’s a great way to add a pop of color and stand out. 

But if patterned polos are truly your thing, no need to throw them out. Just save them for the daytime and switch things up after dark.

What’s your favorite way to rock a polo?

Let us know in the comments!

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