An Unconventional Guide to Polos
If you are expecting a formal walk-through, complete with the history and resurgence of the polo, then this is the wrong article. If, however, you want to take a walk on the wild side and consider some unconventional (okay, some aren’t that unconventional) ways to rock your polo, this is the guide for you.
A polo shirt is the ultimate piece of apparel. It can transition from the office to the open sea without pause, and go from a chic outing to a beachfront rager with just as much ease. The versatile polo is not unisex, as there are variations among the cuts for each gender, but the rules of the polo are similar for men and women.
Before we jump into some great ways to show your style, let’s consider a few “rules” when purchasing or wearing the polo.
- Length is critical. A shirt that is too short defies the entire premise of the polo’s extra-long tail. At the same time, the shirt tail should not extend beyond the middle of your back pockets (when pants are worn pulled up properly). “Swimming” in your shirt is not part of any modern style trend.
- To button or not to button. The general rule for the day is to leave the buttons undone. However, this must be taken with a grain of salt. Each manufacturer has a slightly different approach to the placket and the length it extends down the front of the shirt. If the buttons extend down far enough so that the “V” is going to flop open, then at least one button needs to be done up (many Lacoste polos have deep plackets and the bottom button should be done).
- Check the shoulders and arms. Some styles have tight ribbing on the sleeves. Others have arms that are quite spacious. You want a shirt that is going to accent your arms but not cut off blood supply. You also want to consider sleeve length. Some are cut so that the sleeves hang nearly to the elbows, others stop mid-bicep. The mid-bicep length is much more popular; just don’t go with a shirt size that is too small to get this look. The shoulder stitches should cross at the outside edge of your shoulder blades. If the seam is on top of the shoulder in any way, the shirt is too small. If the seam is edging toward the elbow, it is no wonder the sleeves are too long.
- Leave the undershirt at home. Not only are you missing the purpose of the polo if you are wearing an undershirt with it, but if your undershirt arms stick out from beneath your polo sleeves … ewww. Besides, a polo is meant to lie well and extra layers simply bulk you up.
Now that we have the ground rules established, let’s take a look at some ways to sport the ultimate sports shirt:
- Embrace the Stripes. Polos may have been born and bred in one color, but today stripes offer bold new choices and can complement many different pant and jacket pairings. Stripes go especially well with light colored pants or skirts.
- Bold is Beautiful. Get those bright primary colors out and let them shine. Reds, blues, greens … mix them and match with slacks, jackets, and accessories that command attention.
- Casual Is Still Okay. The traditional white polo with a pair of jeans or light slacks is never out of style. Add some leather shoes to keep is simple, or pump up the volume with a pair of stilettos.
- Business and Casual. This is not your father’s casual Friday; pair your favorite colored polo with a mid or full-length skirt and a pair of stylish heels, and you are ready to lead your industry while turning heads. Don’t forget the clutch!
- Welcome to the Jungle. Animal prints are back in style. Pair printed slacks or a skirt with a classic polo and the clash in style is just enough to scream “Trendsetter.”
- Welcome to the Dark Side. Dark slacks, dark polo, and a black leather jacket. Add a pair of fashionable sunglasses, and you will have redefined what stylish and tough can look like.
It is important to note that rocking a great look with the ever-classic polo does not need to break the bank. In fact, the style gurus have spoken, and icons emblazoned across the chest are out. The material and proper fit are in. Choose between the cotton pique, jersey, or performance materials, size it up right, and follow the style guide above. Or, if you are bold enough, create a style of your own.
One last thing. The raised collar: It’s back!