You know the polo. Chances are you were forced to squeeze into one at some point in your childhood. Now you’re discovering that just maybe they’re actually worth wearing. All that stands in the way are punishing flashbacks of your school uniform polo. For this entry in our basics series, we dish out what you need to know about men’s polo style so you can look more smart-casual and less disgruntled child.
History of the Polo
Military workwear has birthed many a great menswear staple. The same goes for polo shirts which came about in the eighteen hundreds. British soldiers in India discovered the sport of polo and it quickly became all the rage. As the sport grew in popularity, players clamored for a more effective uniform. The long sleeve, button-down shirts of the off-duty military men weren’t cutting it. Renovations to the look came with transitioning to short-sleeves and keeping the collar buttoned down. Thus the polo shirt started to take form.
In the early nineteen hundreds, tennis legend Jean Rene Lacoste invented what is the modern take on it. In addition to completing the look aesthetically, he switched up the material as well. He transitioned to pique cotton, making his shirts far more breathable due to its style of weaving. With that Lacoste started to popularize the polo. Soon other companies like Ralph Lauren and Fred Perry jumped on the trend. From then on, it has been a part of menswear ever since.
Understanding the Polo
Polos get a bad wrap. When done right they are, dare I say it, cool. A good polo is somewhere between preppy and badass. To avoid the schoolboy look, you’re going to want to amp things up. Here’s just how to do it.
Every Color you Could Want:
Look for colors out of the humdrum, bright pastels that all of your dad’s golf buddies wear. Try blues, browns, and blacks with pops of color in the logos. Muted colors work great too.
The color you choose goes a long way in making your polo more of a sartorial move rather than a quick mall pick up. Overly bright colors like lime green or neon pink should be avoided at all costs.
Polo Styling Done Right:
Making a polo actually look cool isn’t as hard as it might seem. Pair them with tailored chinos or a beat-up pair of jeans. Finish things off with a leather jacket or bomber. Some cool accessories aren’t a bad idea either. Now you have a put together look that still is stylish as all hell.
All about the Materials:
As far as the polo itself, there’s no need to stick to the traditional piqued cotton. Materials like velour or toweling are unique choices that’ll definitely steer you away from boring. Just make sure it’s still comfortable and breathable.
The wrong material can make wearing these a sweaty affair.
The Fit is Crucial:
Fit wise, a polo is a dressier option than a t-shirt so it should resemble that. Nothing too baggy. Instead, they should be tailored pieces that cling well to your body and make for a sleek look. Focusing on fit also helps to modernize the look.
Shelling out a few extra dollars will only make this easier. Cheaper prices mean more uniform cuts which rarely look good on anyone.
Our Polo Picks:
The OG in polos. Lacoste polos bring classic and trendy colors to their looks. With great cuts and fitted designs, you’ll have a hard time going wrong.
A mainstay in the polo game, Ralph Lauren has a plethora of polos to choose from. If none of the colors or styles fit exactly the way you want, their “design your own” feature is the answer.
Throwing any notions of stuffy Catholic school style out the window, Fred Perry polos brings some serious coolness. If you’re ever wondering what polo’s the most stylish men are wearing, a good bet are these. Whether you care about that or not, you’ll look damn cool in one.
Perhaps the pinnacle of cool meets fashion, John Varvatos polos are a solid choice for guys looking to make the most of their basics. While usually on the pricier side, their polos are a steal. Pair with some dark-wash jeans and you’ll have a winning combination.
Polos have so much untapped potential. Any of these choices will hit the smart-casual look right in the bullseye.
Tell us how you style your polos below!
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