When a simple look that’s a bit more dressed up than a t-shirt, a polo shirt is a fantastic tool to have in your wardrobe. Sometimes a button-down shirt is, well, too buttoned-up for the look you’re trying to achieve, but you still want a collared shirt to make yourself look a bit more formal.
If you’re going to head out of the house in a polo shirt, make sure you understand how to work with a polo shirts buttons, how it should fit, and what you want to pair one with so you can create a look that’s super stylish and comfortable.
1. Polo Shirt Collars and Buttons
The key to looking good in a polo shirt comes down to understanding how to wear the collar and buttons. It’s not a cut and dry situation—the look you’re going for will determine how you should position the top portion of your shirt.
To make it simple: the more buttons you leave unbuttoned, the more casual the look is. And yes, you can actually button the top button if you want to create a clean, polish outfit. It’s not something you want to do in all situations, but if you’re wearing a polo shirt with a blazer, for example, then it’s perfectly acceptable to button all the way up.
The same goes for leaving all the buttons undone but in reverse. If you’re wearing some boardshorts and hitting the beach, feel free to go fully unbuttoned.
For most situations, you’ll end up wearing one or two buttons closed, and the top one or two open. This is a nice middle ground that’s appropriate for a wide range of situations, but you can definitely have fun playing with how you wear the buttons for different settings.
And should you pop your collar? Nope.
2. How Should Polo Shirts Fit?
Like all men’s shirts, the current trend is to err more on the fitted side and less on the baggy side. However, because a polo is a bit more casual, you can get away with a little bit of breathing room, as long as the shirt doesn’t look baggy and sloppy.
Basically, just follow the same fit rules you would for any other shirt, and you be able to rock a polo shirt like a truly stylish gentleman.
3. What to Wear With Polo Shirts
The thing that makes polo shirts such a must-own item for stylish guys is their versatility. What you wear a polo shirt with will determine the feel of the outfit. Unlike a t-shirt, which is almost exclusively casual, or an oxford, which is almost exclusively formal, a polo shirt sits right in the middle, which means it can go with pretty much anything.
Beach Day Polo Outfit
A polo shirt is a perfectly acceptable top to wear for a trip to the beach. You can pair it with some board shorts and flip-flops and look completely natural. Personally, I prefer this look over a t-shirt because it shows that you still put forth a little effort even in a casual situation. If you don’t plan on hitting the water, you can swap the board shorts for a pair of chino shorts and still fit right in.
Casual Polo Outfit
A polo shirt is actually perfect when paired with some joggers and low-top sneakers (it’s also a good idea to pair the sneakers with no-show socks). This is a look you won’t want to wear when you’re going out on a night on the town, but for something lowkey like hanging out with friends, going for a walk around the city, or something along those lines, it’s a smart look.
Standard Polo Outfit
When you think about someone wearing a polo shirt, the first outfit that probably comes to mind is the shirt, a pair of contrasting chinos, and some smart shoes. It’s a truly timeless look that stays popular. Even as the cut and fit of chinos have changed and evolved, the polo shirt has remained a constant.
Formal Polo Outfit
Believe it or not, you can actually wear a polo shirt with a blazer to create a more formal look. No, you can’t replace a shirt and tie for truly formal situations, but when you want to ramp things up a notch, swap the chinos out for some dressier pants, add a blazer, and put on a pair of nice shoes, and you’ll have a semi-formal outfit that’s as comfortable as it is good-looking.