Polo shirts for men are like a good pair of jeans: versatile and essential to any man’s wardrobe. Perfect for the preppy gentleman, polo shirts are a common sight on golf courses, tennis courts, and beaches around the world. With the right accessories, a polo shirt can be dressed up or down, but an ill-fitting polo shirt is a sure way to ruin any outfit. Oversized or too-small polo shirts can make men look shorter (and heavier) than they actually are, which is why finding the perfect fit is so important. In this article, we’ll walk you through some sizing basics and explore the question of how a polo shirt should fit.
Slim, But Not Tight
The common misconception is that polo shirts for men should fit baggier than a t-shirt, but the opposite is true--they should sit close to the body, with no overhang at the shoulder seam. Of course, polo shirts shouldn’t be too tight, either. You want a bit of breathing room around your midsection, especially if you’ve been skipping the gym. If you can’t nail the fit right off the rack, don’t be afraid to have it tailored. If something doesn’t fit quite right, there’s no shame in having it fit for your body. And while you’re tailoring your polo shirts, why not get your business casual attire tailored, too?
The Neck & Collar
The size of the collar isn’t something you should pay too much attention to, as they’re pretty standard across all brands. Instead, focus on the buttons. First, the buttons should end no further down than the top of your armpits. Anything longer than that will resemble a deep v-neck when unbuttoned, which is something to be avoided at all costs. Next, make sure the shirt looks good with the top 1-2 buttons left unbuttoned. You don’t want the polo to lay completely flat on your chest, but you also don’t want it so stiff that it doesn’t move when left unbuttoned. Finally, make sure the buttons themselves are of good quality--the last thing you want is for the buttons to pop off after the first wash.
The Question of Sleeves
If there’s a lot of room between the outer edge of the sleeve and your actual arm, this will make your arm look thin (and not in a good way.) The sleeves should hit around mid-bicep and lightly hug your arms. If you have naturally thin arms, consider purchasing a polo shirt with a ribbed band at the end of the sleeve. This will make the sleeves appear tighter than they actually are. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you should avoid sleeves that are so tight it gives off the impression that your biceps are being strangled. Again, if a shirt fits great everywhere else and the sleeves are a bit too baggy, consider having a tailor slim down the sleeves to better fit your arms.
Find the Right Length
When shopping for polo shirts for men, you should also pay special attention to the overall length of the shirt, especially since most polos are too long for men under 5’9”. As a best practice, you want your polo shirt to go past your waistband, but no further than mid-fly. If you’ll be doing a lot of physical activity while in your polo shirt, like golfing or other athletic activity, it’s acceptable to go a bit longer, as this avoids showing your stomach when reaching for things. Although most designers are getting rid of tails, some of your older polos may still have them. In these cases, make sure the tail is no more than two inches longer than the front.
Build a Polo Shirt Wardrobe
Once you find a shirt that fits, it’s time to build out your polo shirt wardrobe. Include a variety of fabrics and styles in your collection, from super breathable polos that are perfect for the golf course to trendy, patterned polos that are perfect for BBQs and other outdoor events. The point is, if you only own white, gray, and black polo shirts, you’re doing it wrong. Mix things up, and don’t be afraid to take some risks with your clothing. With short and long-sleeve polos available in a variety of colors and patterns, Johnnie-O is a great place to start building your polo shirt collection. Also, don't forget that little man in your life with our collection of boy's polo shirts. And with free returns and exchanges within 30 days, it’s a pretty risk-free place to start, too.
Want to know more? Read our Complete Polo Shirt Guide.