How to wear a polo shirt

Older man wearing a blue polo shirt relaxing on the sofa


The timeless polo shirt should be a staple in any gentleman’s wardrobe. Originally the attire associated with tennis, the short-sleeved garment is now one of the most versatile pieces of clothing in the world. From casual days out and evenings at the pub to summer weddings and family gatherings, the polo shirt can be worn to a range of different events.   

You might be considering buying a stylish new polo or perhaps you’ve found one that’s been hiding in the back of your wardrobe and you’re just not sure how to wear it. If so, you’re not alone. Do you wear it tucked in or out of your trousers? Do you button up the collar or leave it undone? We’ll talk you through all of the ways polo shirts can be worn and how they can be styled. First things first though...

What is a polo shirt?

A polo shirt is a mix between a shirt and a t-shirt. Imagine an average short-sleeved top, but with a shirt-like collar and three buttons forming the placket neckline. They come in different variations, so you’ll often find polo sweatshirts as a long-sleeved alternative. Usually made from knitted cotton, you can also find some lighter polo tops made from a mix of cotton and polyester.   

Polo shirts are sold in a variety of different styles, prints and colours. Stripes and squares are always a popular choice as they never go out of fashion and bolder options, such as brightly coloured tailored shirts, never fail to be eye-catching. Plain, button-down polo shirts are classics. They can be worn around the house for comfort or dressed up for dinner parties - sometimes less is more after all. The huge versatility of the traditional polo shirt, along with the flattering shape designed to suit all body types, ensures that this garment will never go out of style.

How should I wear a polo shirt?

●     Undone buttons   

For casual days and occasions, leave your shirt loose and buttons undone for maximum comfort, regardless of your choice of bottoms. Undone buttons can also be quite a fashion statement. If you’ve got an event or day out approaching this summer, you don’t want to be worried about overheating from your buttoned collar. Pairing a cool open polo shirt tucked into your favourite pair of chinos, corduroy or suit trousers is the perfect ensemble, mixing comfort and style.   

 ●     Fastened buttons   

If you have a more formal event approaching, you can’t go wrong with a classic buttoned-up polo shirt tucked into a pair of smart trousers. If you choose to fasten all of your buttons, then you should follow the general rule of tucking in your shirt. This way you’ll look more formal and won’t disturb the balance of the outfit as a whole. 

How to wear a polo shirt with shorts

With summer around the corner, you might be trading in your cargo pants for a pair of shorts. Opt for a light cotton polo-shirt with the top button undone and tuck it into chino shorts for a relaxed daytime outfit. 

How to wear a polo shirt with jeans

Style your polo shirt and jeans in the same way as above for a smarter appearance, although, wearing the top tucked out of your jeans is an equally great look for more relaxed occasions. You can also add a belt if you’re wearing your shirt tucked in to give your outfit more character. 

Are polo shirts smart casual?

Polo shirts are the epitome of smart casual. They are, after all, a mix between a t-shirt and a shirt, t-shirts being the ultimate casual top and shirts being the smartest. Their versatility is key to their success and popularity. If the sun is shining and the temperatures are rising, the short-sleeved wonder will deter any uncomfortable sweating due to its light-weight form. In the depths of winter, a long-sleeved polo sweatshirt in navy or grey will ensure that you look smart while staying warm. 

What to wear over a polo shirt

●     Knitted jumper 

V-neck or rounded neck jumpers are a good idea when you want to layer up. For winter formal occasions, wear a white polo shirt under a dark navy jumper for a modern but elegant look.  

●     Corduroy or suit jacket   

If you want to appear especially smart, try layering a bespoke polo shirt underneath a sophisticated suit jacket. A light grey jacket would look great with either a natural white or dark burgundy polo shirt. Corduroy jackets are more relaxed, but equally stylish alternative.   

●     Cardigan   

For more informal settings and to avoid catching a chill, choose a natural or beige cardigan to layer over any coloured polo shirt. The perfect combination, you could wear this ensemble to numerous occasions.                

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