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The Best Polo Shirts for When a T-Shirt Won't Cut It

It's difficult to imagine a world without this elevated sportswear essential. It's equal parts preppy and sporty and should be a part of every man's wardrobe.

three polo shirts in gray, navy, and blue

As the de facto shirt for tennis players since the 1930s, the polo shirt has transcended its athletic roots, becoming a casual wardrobe staple appropriate for everyone. Polo athletes adopted the style soon after tennis players and by the mid-century, the public recognized the short sleeve, soft collar, jersey-knit shirt as a ‘polo shirt.’

In 1972, Ralph Lauren introduced a polo shirt for everyday wear to his Polo label, catalyzing the design’s dissemination into the western wardrobe. Now, countless brands are offering versions of this preppy, smart garment. The design has remained relatively unchanged for decades and is an easy way to dress up any casual outfit.

Before You Buy

What Is a Polo Shirt?

While there are long-sleeve polos and plenty of short-sleeve shirts, a polo shirt is a short sleeve, soft collar, jersey-knit shirt. You'll find them everywhere, from the tennis court and golf course to mid-size offices and electronics stores. They're a popular component of your usual uniform but a pillar of the prep style, too. And, as mentioned before, the polo is technically sportswear, which has resulted in versions in myriad performance materials.

Are Polo Shirts Business Casual?

Polo shirts are definitely business casual. Dress codes aplenty call for collared shirts and a collar is the polo shirt's defining feature. Plus, plenty look sleek enough to be worn with dress pants and dress shoes.

Are Polo Shirts Meant to Be Tucked in?

While you should probably tuck your polo shirt in if you're headed somewhere with a business casual dress code, the polo can be worn untucked in casual and sporty situations. In the latter context, the polo shirt can be worn with jeans or shorts. When tucking yours in, make sure you're wearing dress pants, not jeans — and put a belt on if your pants have loops for one.

How to Layer a Polo Shirt

Although you shouldn't wear a polo shirt underneath a suit — the sleeves poking out of your jacket are part of the look — you can wear a polo shirt underneath a number of other outerwear options (like a denim jacket, for example).

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