A stylish polo shirt is an essential addition to the wardrobe of a man who’s aiming to look both dapper and ready for action.
Whatever your body type, be it heavy set or tall and skinny, we will review some of the best polos in 2021, which will add a distinct and classic look to your repertoire. We cover the key points to keep in mind when buying polos, like fit, size, sleeve length and price point, but also some extra features you want to look out for and what colors and patterns might work for your look.
In addition to our comprehensive review of some great polos, we will cover how to wear a polo stylishly, as well as some frequently asked questions about wearing polos and how they differ from other styles of shirts.
Let’s take a look:
What to Know When Buying A Polo Shirt
Below we have outlined the eight key factors that you want to be familiar with when picking up the perfect polo to fit your unique style. It’s a good idea to take some time to familiarize yourself with them before moving on to the reviews.
- Sleeve length
- Color and patterns
- Price range
- Popular brands
1. Fit / Intent
There is a vast difference in the “feel” of different shirts that are identical in all but their fit or cut, and also the style they present, so you want to pay attention to this when deciding on a new polo.
The classic or regular fir polo is a fairly loose-fitting shirt, in contrast to what you expect from a slim fit button-up or any kind of sportswear. There is very little tailoring or fitting involved in a classic polo, which makes them comfortable and easy to move around in.
This aspect also makes them more versatile than other fits of shirt, as they can be worn in both very casual and moderately formal settings. The classic cut of polo is not the most flattering, so if you’re looking to accentuate your features this might not be the fit for you.
The slim fit polo is slightly more, but not overly fitted – it certainly should not be skin tight. It can be harder to find a suitable slim fit than a classic fit polo, which are more forgiving to different body types and statures.
Slim fit polos can be worn to a variety of different styles and occasions, making them a bit more versatile when compared to a regular cut given their slightly tailored fit.
However, they can be more restrictive and are tighter across the chest than a regular fit. So, if you are a slightly larger built man, it’s important to keep this difference in mind.
Ultimately, slim fit polos are more flattering than a regular fit polo, so you’re making a trade-off between style and mobility here.
There are several types of polos that are particularly suited for different occasions and styles or come from different traditions altogether. Be aware that the type of polo changes its versatility greatly.
Cotton mesh polos are the most adaptable of all of the types of polos and therefore fit many occasions and styles. They’re the most popular type of polo and are quite common.
Cotton mesh is also more environmentally friendly (source) than some of its synthetic counterparts, because unlike synthetic fibers which are generally made from petrochemicals, cotton is fully renewable and biodegradable.
They are breathable and lightweight, lending themselves to casual events, but may stain or retain moisture easily, so are best worn on occasions where there will not be a significant amount of strenuous activity.
Performance polos are commonly used as golf shirts and tend to be worn in an athletic setting. They are designed to be breathable and lightweight and are made from moisture resistant or moisture wicking material.
The synthetic materials that these types of polos are usually made from are less environmentally friendly than options like cotton mesh. However synthetic materials carry with them other benefits – they are often resistant to wrinkles and are more durable than cotton.
However, performance polos work with fewer styles and on fewer occasions than more general use types of polos. They work quite well in showing off the features of more muscular men.
The rugby polo’s defining feature is its long sleeves, in contrast with the previous two polo types. This long sleeve can add a unique style to the polo aesthetic which often is characterized by a short sleeve.
This type of polo is also likely to have a patterned fabric, particularly with bold horizontal stripes of two colors, a classic rugby polo look. If you’re looking for a slimming effect in your polo the horizontal pattern does the opposite, so keep that in mind.
This polo type is usually made from heavier material that is a part of the polo’s tradition of being used in rugby matches – the shirt provides minor protection to the elbow and is warmer than other polos.
While rugby polos are usually made from organic material that is more environmentally friendly than even standard cotton mesh polos, they do not fit everyone’s style, and aren’t the best choice for more formal occasions.
3. Sleeve Length
Sleeve length drastically changes the look and feel of the shirt. A long-sleeved polo is a rugby polo, whereas a short sleeve polo is either a classic or performance polo.
A short sleeve polo should fall to the mid-bicep, and a long sleeve polo should extend just to the end of your wrist.
A long sleeve polo is good for Fall days or cooler weather in the Spring.
Long sleeve polos can also mask arm tattoos if the occasion demands it and can also be rolled up to fit your outfit, so that’s something to consider if you’re looking for a versatile shirt.
Polo shirts are great for warm Summer days or in cooler weather paired with an appropriate pullover or jacket.
There are two main size ranges for polos, the regular size, and the big and tall size.
This is a regular fit for regular guys. This does not mean one size fits all though, be sure to pick the right fit in terms of a slim or regular cut. Follow the size chart provided by the company when making your purchase.
Big & Tall
These polos are designed to fit and complement a larger frame, be it tall, wide, or both. When looking at slim and athletic fit polos, this size range can help balance a tighter fit with your torso size.
Aside from material, fit and size, there is a distinction between polos when it comes to extra features. These features are an important piece of finding the polo that will best fit both your look and needs.
During our research, we found these common extra features to look out for:
- Easy care
- Moisture wicking
- Quick dry
- Stretch fabric
- Tag free
Easy care means more than just less stress when dealing with laundry – it also means that the polo is less likely to shrink, lose its shape, and fade in the wash. This is an important consideration if you’re buying a polo that you need to last more than one season.
Embroidery is often found in high quality, high-end brands. The embroidery may be a brand identifier or support a sports team or business.
While this embroidery can add a distinctive personality to a polo, they’re not appropriate for all occasions and styles, so be aware of how this might affect where you can wear your polo.
Like compression shorts, moisture wicking polos wick water away from your body more easily than other fabric and are thus good for high intensity activities.
Moisture wicking polos are great for cool and wet days because they lead wetness away from your skin that would otherwise make you colder. They keep you dry and comfortable on cooler days where you’re still outside – perfect for Fall and early Spring.
Quick dry polos are great for hot or wet days. They’re for high intensity activity because they dry more quickly than other fabrics –when you don’t mind getting wet but don’t want to stay wet, a quick dry polo is a perfect choice.
Stretch fabric is typically more comfortable than other fabrics because it has less of a tendency to chafe and is more flexible, thus giving you a greater range of motion. Because of this, they’re a great choice for high intensity activity and are far less likely to tear during sports or other outdoor activities.
Stretch fabric is not appropriate for all occasions though and may come off as too casual in some contexts.
With a tag free polo, the care instructions are printed on the inside of the shirt instead of on a tag, which is a great feature if comfort is a priority. But be aware that these labels tend to wash off over time.
Some polos have a single breast pocket that’s typically on the left-hand side. This pocket adds a bit of utility and is a stylish addition in place of embroidery. A pocket is a great addition to a solid color polo that might otherwise lack personality.
Polos come in a wide variety of colors, that are either solid or patterned. They range from very bold and saturated colors to more muted pastels.
Solid color polos are the most adaptable of polo color choices because they fit the largest variety of styles and occasions. If picking a solid color polo, fit, extra features, and color choice become important factors to convey your unique style.
The design or micropattern gives a polo a decidedly modern look as compared to some of the more classic patterns. It adds personality that lets the polo make a stronger fashion statement than some other patterns but can be difficult to match in a complete outfit, making them less versatile.
Stripes are a classic look on a polo, especially rugby polos. They come in two types: horizontal, a distinctly retro look that harkens back to the polo’s origins, and vertical – a classic sportswear style.
Collar (and Pocket)
There are two main collar and pocket types, the full collar and the edged pocket and collar.
A full collar distinctly frames the face by contrasting with the color of the rest of the polo. The style of the shirt is often pulled together with a matching pocket color which is also contrasted against the bulk of the shirt. It’s a strong look that’s not appropriate for all occasions, especially if modesty is key.
Edging can add some of the color, style, and personality of a full collar while not being so distinctively bold, and therefore can fit a variety of styles and tends to work well with multiple outfits.
Arms and Body
Some polos contrast the fabric color of the arms with that of the body, typically in solid colors. It’s a classic polo look but it can be harder to match with some outfits and can be too bold for some occasions.
While brand tends to play the most important role in the pricing of a polo, additional features and specialty fabrics also raise the price point.
The average price of polos we found in our research was within $50 to $100. Polos over $100 tended to be well known luxury brands. If you’re looking to upgrade your look on a budget, there were quite a few polos that were under $50 as well.
While the polo market is largely dominated by classic menswear brands like Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers, and Calvin Klein, polos wide popularity means many other brands have started to market polos with distinctive features and great price points.
Good Man Brand, John Varvatos, Original Penguin and Ted Baker all offer great polos.
Even companies like Under Armor are in the polo market and have great shirts to offer for a guy who is willing to break the boundaries of classic polo brand recognition.
The Best Polo Shirts of 2021 Reviewed
1. Best Overall: Bonobos Classic Pique Polo
This polo is a great choice for those who like the feel of cotton but don’t want to give up any of the other features that come with more specialized polos.
It has a variety of colors and patterns to choose from and has a ribbed sleeve which is an excellent touch for a polo in this price range.
With the three-button placket, you have the choice of keeping it casual and unbuttoned or adopting a more formal look.
- High quality at a great value
- Wide variety of color and pattern choices
- Slim fit only
- Will shrink if tumble dried
What You Need To Know
2. Best Fitting Men’s Polo Shirt: Flint & Tinder Supima Air Knit Polo
This is the best fitting polo we found during our research for more reasons than the actual cut. It’s also one of the softest polos out there because of the cotton and stitching method used to make its fabric.
This stitching technique also makes the shirt more breathable than other cotton polos – and it’s preshrunk so that you don’t have to worry about ruining the perfect fit after the first wash.
If you’re looking to be environmentally conscious, this is also a good choice as the cotton is farmed in California and the shirt itself is also made within 20 miles of Los Angeles.
- Cut and sewn in California
- Low cost shipping
- Free returns
- Limited size choices
What You Need To Know
3. Best Men’s Polo Shirt for Travel: Proof 72 Hour Merino Polo
This polo is unique in that it is made from merino 89% wool and 11% nylon, which makes it odor resistant, moisture-wicking, and temperature regulating – great features for the traveling man.
The extra nylon in the fabric allows the shirt to be machine washed (unlike other wool garments) and retain its shape. The collar rests around the neck, which also is a great feature to keep the polo looking like it did the first day you bought it.
Huckberry recommends sizing up if you’re worried about fit, so that is something to keep in mind, especially for the active guy. They also have a great sizing chart that you’ll want to take a look at if you decide on this polo.
- Free shipping and returns
- Unique color choices
- Retains its shape and repels odor
- A bit pricey
What You Need To Know
4. Best Men’s Fitted/Slim Fit Polo Shirt: Everlane Polo Shirt
This is a new take on a classic look. The polo comes in only slim fit, but a variety of sizes, so buy accordingly (you may want to get a larger size than you’re used to if you haven’t bought slim fit shirts before.)
The has the classic texture of a polo because of its pique knit, but the shirt itself has clearly been updated for a more modern look, as is seen in its slim collar.
The variety of color schemes available in this polo is an excellent feature, as you can pick from both solid and edged choices.
During our research, we also found that many reviewers thought that this polo was surprisingly soft, so if you don’t want to sacrifice comfort for style in a slim fit polo, this is a perfect choice.
- Choice of solid or edged colors
- 93% cotton, 7% elastane
- Transparent pricing
- Not dryer friendly
What You Need To Know
5. Most Fashionable Men’s Polo Shirt: Burberry Eddie Pique Polo
Burberry’s brand name recognition certainly is not the only thing that makes this the most fashionable polo we found during our research. This will be a great shirt if you’re going to an event or occasion where you’d like to be noticed for the subtlety of your fashion choices, perhaps to an upscale café or cocktail bar.
The embroidered monogram and three-button collar add a classic look to the shirt, which is not overbearing or out of place, but uniquely refined. The cut considered a slim fit, as it is tighter around the chest.
Ribbed cuffs also give the shirt a finished look which is uncommon in other polos, and the fabric composition (96% cotton, 4% elastane) gives the shirt a light stretch, which will help prevent rips and deformation.
Although this polo only comes in a few solid colors, the name brand recognition combined with the monogram and ribbed cuffs gifts this polo a distinctly unique feel that stands out among polos we reviewed.
- Excellent name brand recognition
- Unique three-button collar and monogram
- Pricier than other options
- Limited color choices
What You Need To Know
6. Best Affordable Men’s Polo Shirt: Amazon Essentials Men’s Cotton Pique Polo Shirt
This is an excellent value buy from Amazon. If you’re new to wearing polos and want to try one out with your go-to outfit, this is a great choice – especially if you’re going to be at an event that might get messy, say a birthday party or work event.
During our research, we found that many men found that this polo was a bit larger than labeling indicates. Be aware of this, but as a 100% cotton shirt, it will also shrink considerably in the dryer.
The number of options for color here is quite impressive. From solid to striped, Amazon has you covered. When it comes to fit however, not so much: you only have one option, regular. Will this works for casual settings, it may cause problems if you’re looking to attend a slightly more formal event.
- Great value
- Large selection of color choices and patterns
- Free returns
- Will shrink in the dryer
- Only one fit
What You Need To Know
7. Best Men’s Polo Shirt for Work: Brooks Brothers Tailored Pique Polo Shirt
Brooks Brothers has created the perfect polo for the workplace with its Tailored Pique Shirt.
It comes in a variety of colors, both vibrant and muted. The fabric is lightweight which lends itself both to long days at the office but also an after-work meet-up.
The embroidery is placed on the left hip, which a unique touch that can suggests the attention to detail of the wearer. It’s also made from 100% cotton, but Brooks Brothers has treated it to resist shrinking, color fades, and deformation, which makes it an excellent everyday choice.
A special touch that is unique to polos we researched is the extended back, which makes this polo perfect for staying sharp when sitting – you can choose a more form-fitting size and not have to worry about the back of the shirt riding up.
- Unique embroidery location adds style
- Extended back makes shirt perfect for sitting or standing
- Resists shrinking, fading colors
- Pricier than similar polos
What You Need To Know
8. Best Striped Men’s Polo Shirt: Brooks Brothers Heathered Stripe Polo Shirt
This striped polo is the epitome of a classic look for polos. The striped polo design works well with a variety of pants and is very versatile.
This polo has both a ribbed collar and sleeves, which not only give this shirt a quality feel, but also protect it from deforming. This polo also has the classic insignia on the left chest.
While it has a limited number of color options only blue or burgundy, it comes in both slim and regular fits and a wide range of sizes. This polo has a split side which allows it to sit well on your waist.
It’s also a great value as Brooks Brothers will sell 2 for $109, which actually makes this high-end polo a great value option.
- Embroidered emblem on chest
- Free 2-day shipping
- Color options limited
What You Need To Know
9. Best Men’s Performance Polo Shirt: Under Armour Men’s Performance Polo
Under Armour has outdone themselves with this polo that is brimming with features that make it great for active guys.
The fabric really is what makes this polo a cut above the rest for performance: it’s 95% polyester and 5% spandex, so it has both flexibility and durability. You certainly don’t need to worry about this polo deforming in the wash, and it both wicks moisture and dries quickly, making it perfect for active days whether they are hot or cold.
With outdoor activity in mind, this polo was also designed to have SPF 30 protection, which is a great feature for guys who are going to be out in the field all day.
While all these features lead to a top of the line performance polo, what’s sacrificed here is sustainability—the polyester fabric is less environmentally friendly than classic polo materials like cotton or wool.
- Moisture wicking and quick dry
- Flexible and designed for movement
- Odor resistant fabric
- Not environmentally friendly
What You Need To Know
How to Wear A Polo Shirt Stylishly
There are two general categories of polos– relaxed athletic polos, and semi-formal polos – and both are worn differently.
Relaxed or athletic polos are just that – they’re generally worn for action so they’re less picky than semi-formal polos. Wear them untucked over jeans or shorts, or tucked into jeans or slacks, usually with a belt.
Semi-formal polos are a little bit more particular, but they can also be tucked into slacks or jeans with a nice leather belt. This look is sharper when paired with a unstructured blazer but be sure not to wear a tie with your polo.
Common Questions Men Had About Polo Shirts
Polo shirts are simple. Wearing them can be complicated.
Is it ok to wear a polo shirt with a tie?
In a pinch, a solid color cotton mesh polo shirt, worn with a tie and blazer, can pass for a dress shirt; but this is not ideal and should be avoided.
If you’re not trying to pass your polo off as a dress shirt, leave the tie at home – they’re made for dress shirts, not polos.
What is the difference between a polo shirt and a tee shirt?
Traditionally speaking, polos are made of heavier materials, like wool and thick cotton. Polo shirts always have a collar, sometimes they have buttons to keep the flaps down. Also, polo shirts often have piped sleeves (the cuff of the sleeve is smaller than the rest of the sleeve) which is unique to this style of shirt.
Is it ok for a guy to tuck a polo shirt into jeans?
While it’s okay to tuck a polo into your jeans and this might bring your look up a half-step in terms of formality, it’s certainly not a requirement.
What’s the difference between golf shirts and polo shirts?
While laymen may not be able to see the difference, there are distinctions between the two styles of shirt. Golf shirts have a double-seamed collar which is meant to lie flat on the shirt, whereas a polo collar can support itself when opened to protect the back of the neck.
Golf shirts are also more likely to have a chest pocket than polos. While golf shirts favor polyester, polos favor cotton—this reflects attention to activity and comfort, respectively.
Polos are also more likely to have a piped sleeve, whereas golf shirts have a more loose fitting sleeve, reflecting their purpose-built design.
Can you wear a polo shirt underneath a v-neck sweater?
Although it can be done, we don’t recommend it – it’s best to let your polo speak for itself.
Can you wear a polo shirt to a job interview?
There is no black and white answer to this question because the nature and level of the job dictate the level of formality you should bring to the table, however it’s good to know that polos are not considered formal wear.
Polo Shirt vs. Golf Shirt vs. T-Shirt
As you research a variety of shirts, many will wonder how they differ from one another – such as the polo shirt vs. a golf shirt.
To help alleviate any confusion, we wanted to go ahead and outline a few of their key differences:
As you saw in our reviews and what to know when buying a polo shirt, these shirts tend to be cotton-based, have a single-seamed collar that lends itself to opening, piped sleeves, and are less likely to include a chest pocket.
Polo shirts can be both dressed-up and down slightly to accommodate a variety of scenarios.
Polo shirts are most often substituted for button-down shirts when it comes to style. Their slightly more relaxed and airy nature make them particularly well suited for warmer climates.
Golf shirts typically use a polyester fabric, have a double-seamed collar, standard sleeves, and a pocket.
Beyond the basic features of golf shirts, this type of shirt will often have performance-based capabilities (i.e. moisture wicking) in order to draw moisture away from the skin.
In addition to the fabric properties, golf shirts are typically much more tailored and will allow for greater range of movement – especially when swinging a golf club.
T-Shirts never have a collar or piped sleeves, although they may have a pocket. In addition to their design, t-shirts are the most casual of all the top choices for men.
Typically paired with another garment (such as a hoodie or jacket), t-shirts are great for adding depth and layer to your overall style.
Our Criteria for Choosing the Best Polo Shirts
The best polo shirt should be made to last and should fit your tastes and priorities. So be honest about what those are – if you tend to wear athletic wear because you’re on the basketball court every day, you might be disappointed with the restrictions of a more traditional polo choice. The same goes for someone who likes to keep their look a bit more formal.
There’s a reason why cotton and polyester are so widely used in apparel. They’re availability and price is one reason, but they’re also both considered quality and long-lasting materials.
The most important criteria for choosing an appropriate polo is an objective appraisal of your lifestyle. While both traditional polos and fitted and athletic polos are great choices, be sure to pick the one that best suits you and your life.