Introduction

The UK has been having a bit of shocker weather-wise recently. In London, we’ve been experiencing the humidity that we’d expect from a month like June – sweaty tubes, an awkward night’s sleep and difficult work commutes – but none of the sunshine that would make it all worthwhile.

What’s more, as the temperature begins to rise, men have fewer and fewer options to turn to when it comes to keeping their competitive edge in the style arena. Inevitably, most will end up making the polo shirt their go-to choice when it comes to beating the heat.

However, with the polo shirt comes two problems: firstly, with little understanding of how a polo shirt can work in a wardrobe, the majority of men end up wearing the wrong polo shirt for the occasion, be it fit or design. Secondly, with so many brands making what is essentially exactly the same item with a different logo, it can sometimes seem a little too obvious of a choice if you want to remain individual.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. With a few simple steps you can incorporate a polo shirt into nearly every aspect of your look and soon find yourself wondering why you never considered it seriously before.

The Polo Shirt
The Fit

Before we delve into how to wear a polo, you need to nail the fit: the sleeves should hit around mid-bicep and the shirt should end halfway down the trouser fly (this avoids showing stomach when reaching for things and allows it to be tucked in, if necessary).

Also, pay close attention to how the neck opening sits on your body. It’s important to make sure that when it’s unbuttoned it does open properly, as it aids in framing your face. Some polos will still stay tightly closed when unbuttoned.

Key Styles

Next, make sure you’ve got the basics down. By which I mean pick up a couple of polos with the right fit in solid white, grey, navy and black. Try to keep them as simple in design as possible as they will become your go-to for events such as casual nights out, lazy Sunday afternoons and anything involving shorts. These pieces will most likely end up being the workhorses of your summer wardrobe.

After that, it’s time to get adventurous. This is where the polo shirt can really begin to come into its own, especially due to the variety that can be found once you start looking. Whether it’s a v-neck with a shirt collar, jersey material or ribbed cuffs, there is enough choice out there to enable you to start adding subtle twists to your looks. My personal favourites are polos that come with a mid to deep placket and a button-down collar – allow me to tell you why:

One of my favourite looks during the summer involves pairing a polo shirt with other smarter items – be it seasonal trousers, a waistcoat or a full on suit. And thanks to the dressy elements of the aforementioned polo, I can do just that.

It helps to combine them with a relatively unstructured, casual piece of tailoring too, so the two pieces can meet halfway. I’ve recently been pairing my beige cotton/linen suit with a dark grey or navy polo for casual meetings or an afternoon in a beer garden. Even if you don’t feel like wearing the full suit, I’d recommend trying a polo with casual suit trousers as they strike right down the middle of smart-casual.

  • Topman Peter Werth Dogtooth Polo Shirt Topman Peter Werth Dogtooth Polo Shirt
  • Button-down Collar Polo ShirtButton-down Collar Polo Shirt
  • Ted Baker Rokpolo – Woven Check Collar PoloTed Baker Rokpolo - Woven Check Collar Polo
  • Asos Polo In Pique Jersey With Button Down CollarAsos Polo In Pique Jersey With Button Down Collar
  • Ted Baker Polo ShirtTed Baker Polo Shirt
  • Asos Polo In Pique With Button Down CollarAsos Polo In Pique With Button Down Collar
  • River Island White twill Shoulder Patch PoloRiver Island White twill Shoulder Patch Polo
  • River Island NAVY JACQUARD COLLAR POLO SHIRTRiver Island NAVY JACQUARD COLLAR POLO SHIRT
  • River Island BLUE SPACE DYE CONTRAST COLLAR POLO SHIRTRiver Island BLUE SPACE DYE CONTRAST COLLAR POLO SHIRT

If you have a solid coloured polo shirt, why not try matching it with trousers made from cotton, linen or tropical wool in a navy pencil stripe or grey Prince of Wales check? Throw on some boat shoes and straw Panama hat and you’re onto a stone cold winner.

I also find that patterned or printed polo shirts are helped if they are slightly smarter in design – the formal edge helps anchor the pattern, regardless of how bold it is. Keep your eye out for striped, floral or gingham versions this year. Just remember to keep the rest of your look simple and let the polo shirt do all the talking.

Lookbook Inspiration

Men's Polo Shirt Lookbook

Michael Bastian x Uniqlo 2013minimum spring 2013jaeger ss13louis vuitton pre spring 2014river island ss13sanahunt ss13CALIBRE ss13uniqlo ss13tesco clothing ss13massimo dutti june 2013pull & bear heritage ss13paul & joe ss13
Men’s Polo Shirts
  • Marc By Marc Jacobs Cotton-piqué Polo ShirtMarc By Marc Jacobs Cotton-piqué Polo Shirt
  • He By Mango Cotton Polo ShirtHe By Mango Cotton Polo Shirt
  • Allsaints Sandringham PoloAllsaints Sandringham Polo
  • Allsaints Saints PoloAllsaints Saints Polo
  • Burton Light Grey Knitted Polo ShirtBurton Light Grey Knitted Polo Shirt
  • Topman Cream Twisted Cable Knit Polo ShirtTopman Cream Twisted Cable Knit Polo Shirt
  • New Look Blue Polka Dot Polo ShirtNew Look Blue Polka Dot Polo Shirt
  • Topman Triangle Pattern Polo ShirtTopman Triangle Pattern Polo Shirt
  • Reiss Montgomery Short Sleeve Check Polo BlueReiss Montgomery Short Sleeve Check Polo Blue
  • Uniqlo Men Dry Pique Printed Short Sleeve Polo Shirt MUniqlo Men Dry Pique Printed Short Sleeve Polo Shirt M
  • J.crew Harbor Striped Cotton-jersey Polo ShirtJ.crew Harbor Striped Cotton-jersey Polo Shirt
  • Polo Ralph Lauren Polo Shirt In Hawaiian PrintPolo Ralph Lauren Polo Shirt In Hawaiian Print
  • Uniqlo Men Dry Shirt Collar Short Sleeve Polo Shirt AUniqlo Men Dry Shirt Collar Short Sleeve Polo Shirt A
  • Reiss Westin Pique Polo Shirt With Logo MintReiss Westin Pique Polo Shirt With Logo Mint
  • Allsaints Bramford PoloAllsaints Bramford Polo
Final Word

Finally, a word on logos. I’ve got nothing against them when they are small and tasteful – preferably placed where the left breast pocket should be and about a fifth of the size. Any polo with a logo that is visible from more than a few feet away, has more than one or has a huge number on the back of it is just a big fat ‘no’ from me.

But then again, that’s just my opinion, so what do you think? Do you like polo shirts plastered in logos? Do you prefer a different version to the deep placket button-down? Are you usually found in a polo during the summer or do you opt for something different?

Let me know in the comments section…

Matt Allinson