Polo shirts can be a tricky thing to get right. Do it well and you can effortlessly pull off the ‘smart casual’ look by pairing with some chinos and brogues; wear them wrong and you’ll look like your dad.
Searching for the right polo shirt for your body shape can be a bit of a nightmare, hence a lot of your decision making will be through trial and error. That being said, this guide should help you decide on which brand is right for you.
The ‘classic’ look
Some brands are synonymous with polos, with the heavy hitters being Ralph Lauren and Lacoste. Be careful with these ones. Polo shirts are the only real category of clothing you can get away with showcasing a prominent logo without looking crass – and whilst they do make good quality shirts and are well-recognised brands, you end up paying over the odds just for that logo on the chest. £80 is a ridiculous amount to pay for a standard cotton shirt, so wait for the sales – especially around Christmas time when they are out of season. Also, a word of warning: counterfeit Lacoste and Ralph Lauren polos on eBay have hit epidemic levels. Approach with extreme caution.
The Riviera look
This is the look to go for if you’re travelling to warmer climates or down to your yacht in the south of France (we can but dream). As you’re dressing for hot weather, your trousers/chinos/shorts should be made from a lightweight fabric such as linen. Cotton is also fine for chino shorts. Pastel colours will work best if you’re in the bright sun – yellows, pale greens and blues. The brands which specialise in this area are Orlebar Brown and Sunspel. You’ll hear me go on about them a lot as the construction of the shirts is top notch and the fabric is very breathable.
The mod look
The UK has its own sense of style when it comes to polo shirts, characterised by a tucked in tighter fit with the top button done up. The main brands to look out for include Ben Sherman, Original Penguin and Fred Perry.
Best of the high street
You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a good polo shirt. If you’re sticking to a budget, the best options on the high street are from Mango Man, Uniqlo and Banana Republic’s ‘Luxe Touch’ range. Make sure you try them on before you purchase, as they tend to have a variety of different styles which don’t all fit the same.
My personal favourites
As polo shirts are my ‘thing’, I’ve worn a lot of them over the years. The brands I would personally recommend for quality and fit are, in no particular order: Sunspel, Without Prejudice, Orlebar Brown and Banana Republic.
What have I missed? What is your favourite polo shirt brand?