Polos have been a staple of men’s fashion since the 1950s — and it feels like it. These days, the polo-shirt-and-khaki combo is the hallmark of the man who lacks an eye for style, and even pairing polos with jeans feels tired and overdone. If you love your polo shirts and want to keep them, you need to work to make them fresh and interesting — and here’s a guide to do just that.
Choose the Right Polo
Not all polos are created equal. Some polos inherently have more style than others, so you should start this process by weeding the outdated polos from your collection. It should go without saying that shirts that are torn, stained, faded or otherwise not in the best shape should not longer be part of your wardrobe. In fact, you might need to invest in some updated polo shirts for men if your closet only contains polos of a particular, unattractive style. You should buy or keep hold of shirts that boast the following trendy features:
A Unique Placket. The placket is the opening on the sides of the polo’s collar, where the buttons are located. These days, you want your placket to add something to the shirt, which means you want it either to be longer (which makes the polo useful for formal occasions) or to contain no buttons whatsoever (a carefree casual style).
Different fabrics. Traditionally, the polo is 100 percent cotton, and shirts of either pique or jersey cotton are still in style. However, you might consider branching out with fabrics like silk, linen, terry towel and more. Different fabrics add different textures to the shirt, which can drastically change the look and feel of an outfit.
Stripes and piping. For decades, men have been told to stay away from patterns, unless they were retired and donning a Hawaiian shirt. As men’s fashion opens up, more patterns are coming into style — especially stripes. Piping around the color and sleeves adds a tasteful flair, but vertical or horizontal stripes are perfect for creating a variety of fun and casual looks.
A polo doesn’t have to have all (or even just one) of these features to be wearable in 2020; styling polo shirts is as much about the other elements of the outfit as it is about the polo itself. However, if you start with a fresh and trendy shirt, the rest of your look is more likely to come together in an attractive way. Thus, if you love wearing polos, you should consider purchasing some of the latest styles brand-new.
Add the Right Bottoms
The polo offers the perfect balance between formal and casual, giving any informal experience a hint of professionalism and class. That means you can’t carelessly pair your polo with just anything on the bottom. Big don’ts for polo fashion include cargo shorts or jeans, or anything that is quite low-rise; these especially relaxed bottoms throw the outfit out of proportion in an unattractive way. Instead, you should wear polos only with the following types of pants:
Pleats. When the men’s fashion greats of the 20th century (Cary Grant, Fred Astaire) wore polo shirts, they did so with pleated trousers. In the 21st century, you should opt for pants with a slimmer leg and perhaps a shorter cuff, so you can show some ankle.
Sporty shorts.Typically, you will opt to wear a polo shirt on a hot day when you plan to spend some time outside. Thus, it makes sense to pair your polo with shorts — but these shorts shouldn’t be any denim cutoffs or baggy Bermudas. Semi-casual shorts should fall above the kneecap and fit relatively snugly. You should avoid buying shorts with an excessive number of pockets, and you should stick to neutral colors, like khakis, grays, greens, blues and black.
Even if your polo shirt isn’t perfectly trendy, you can freshen up its look by adding fashionable accessories. One of the best is an unstructured jacket, which further enhances the professionalism of the shirt and makes it appropriate for more formal events — though never anything above the cocktail level. Additionally, you can always add a watch to the ensemble for a bit of glitz. When it comes to your shoes, you are the best judge. In some casual cases, it is acceptable to wear a clean pair of sneakers with a polo and trousers; in other cases, you definitely want to opt for smart shoes.
Polos can be old-fashioned, or they can be the height of fashion — it is all in how you wear them. By investing in high-quality shirts and knowing what to wear with them in what circumstances, you can make your old polos fashionable again.