Polo Shirt Etiquette – DO’s & DON’Ts

Let’s face it. People wear polo shirts interchangeably with everything from dress slacks to ripped denim jeans. They wear them ill-fitting and stained with ketchup to football games and perfectly tailored under a navy blazer to dinner on a yacht. Even James Bond is famous for wearing his Sunspel polo shirts, which pair perfectly with his Rolex Submariner or Omega Seamaster.

Despite this broad use of the shirt, there are a few rules we must impart on the elegantly dressed gentleman to help you look dapper.

1. Never Wear an Undershirt
A properly fitted polo shirt is tight but not too tight, and it’s just long enough in all the right places. Wearing an undergarment almost guarantees it will slip from under your sleeve or crumple at the collar. Polo shirts aren’t made for undershirts and undershirts should never be worn with a polo shirt. Just wear a bit more deodorant or carry an extra shirt with you.

2. Wear them Fitted but not Tight
If you can’t stick a finger between your bicep and your sleeve, get a bigger size. If there’s a lot of slack, get a smaller size. Good quality polo shirts are made from light materials like cotton. Therefore, they should drape nicely over your body without showing your body.

3. Size Them to Your Height
Unless you have a penchant for wearing dresses, make sure the tail of the shirt doesn’t go midway past your buttocks. Not only will it crumple and show when tucked in, but it looks plain ridiculous if left untucked. Also, avoid tennis tails if you plan to wear your polo shirt untucked.

4. Don’t Pop Your Collar. You’re Not 12.
That trend of popping your collar is over, and it’s not coming back. Unless you’re lifting it to protect your neck from the sun, just keep it down. Do that and wear sunscreen and you won’t have to pop it in the first place. Popping your collar is kind of like wearing sunglasses at night. Leave it for the bar crowd and teenagers trying to look cool.

5. Avoid (Large) Logos
Recently a trend has hit with large oversized logos appearing on polo shirts. It started with Ralph Lauren and has progressed to other brands. Normally, we advocate avoiding visible logos at all costs, but when it comes to polo shirts, having a small logo on the breast is often unavoidable since it has become the standard. Some companies offer logos that are tone-in-tone with the knit, which is preferable to contrasting logos. In any case, oversized logos are nothing short of atrocious. Unless you wear one as part of your work uniform, leave the logos to the kids.

6. Don’t Wear Polo Shirts with a Blazer
Some men think they look smart sporting a polo shirt with a blazer, even though the soft collar doesn’t lay flat. No matter what situation you are in, a blazer will always look better with a dress shirt. Therefore, skip the polo and go right to the shirt.

7. Tucked Or Untucked Depends On The Situation
It would be wrong to stipulate a rule never to tuck or untuck your polo shirt. Rather, it depends on the outfit and the occasion. With a pair of madras shorts, you don’t want to tuck them in, but with a pair of seersucker slacks or chinos, it will look better when it is tucked in.


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