How should a polo shirt fit?
Smarter than a T-shirt but still supremely cool and casual, a polo shirt is a wardrobe essential no man can be without. Its origins in horse-related recreation and later tennis mean the garment will instantly add some subtle sportiness to your shorts or jeans, though you can easily incorporate a polo shirt into your workwear by styling it with a blazer, tie, and chinos.
Whether you’re wearing your polo smartly or casually, the cut is always key. Get it wrong and you’ll either look uncomfortable because the shirt is too tight, or scruffy because it’s too big. For optimum elegance in every situation, examine the fit of your polo shirt’s collar, shoulders, sleeves, torso, and hem to ensure it fits correctly.
Regardless of whether your polo shirt is buttoned up or not, your collar should always sit fairly flat without pulling too tight on your neck—a sign the garment is too small. In extreme cases, this tightness may even cause unseemly rippling along the placket (the strip of material where the buttons are sewn in). Check you can fit a couple of fingers between your neck and the collar, as you also would with a standard button-down shirt.
Your polo shirt’s collar needs to have a little stiffness to look refined. Rather than lying completely horizontal across your chest, it should be slightly standing and structured even as it spreads. Finally, pay attention to the position of the buttons. Any that extend past the top of your armpits are too low, which when unbuttoned will leave you with a deep, and dated, v-neck.
Our Top Polos
As the shoulders of your jackets and T-shirts should be just as wide as your frame, the same principle applies to your polo shirt. The material needs to lay seamlessly on your shoulders, never floppily extending past them. You’ll know you need a larger size if the stitching stops closer to your collarbone. Well-fitting polo shirts will sit where your shoulder meets your arm.
Polo shirts look particularly stylish when the sleeves end at the middle of your biceps. Shorter lengths appear shrunken while longer lengths may remind your friends of a boy dressed in his father’s clothes. Neither are good looks.
We don’t recommend polo shirts that are tightly fitted on the arms, as they look best when worn effortlessly. The ideal fit for your sleeves is when you can slide a finger between the fabric and your skin. If you’re covering up with a long-sleeved polo shirt, the fabric should lightly hug your arms and extend all the way down to your wrist.
Even if you’re wearing a slim fit polo shirt, tight styles can be very unforgiving, on any body type. The standard rule is that you should be able to pinch 1-2 inches of fabric on either side of your torso—even if you have a fuller body type. Many men mistakenly believe that baggy polo shirts will hide excess weight but these only work to make them look wider.
There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to the perfect hem length. Anywhere below your belt and between your mid-fly is fine, though longer length polo shirts are generally a safer bet. Not only will you have the option to wear your polo shirt tucked in, but the extra material also prevents your stomach from being exposed when you lift your arms.