Although the polo shirt is an all-time classic, it doesn’t necessarily have the best reputation on the fashion scene. You rarely see the polo shirt as the star of Fashion Week or showcased by stylish influencers. Why so? Probably because so many middle-aged men display the polo shirt in bright colors, poor fit and tasteless combinations that have made the polo synonymous with a cringe-worthy dad look (think polos paired with functional Bermuda shorts and pulled up socks). Leaving aside that the dad look can almost be considered ironically cool again, the perfect polo shirt in the right fit and classic colors can be an absolute statement piece. But how should a polo shirt fit perfectly? Find out more in this article.
We are aware that no one would take fashion advice from their parents. Quite the opposite actually, as we always try our best to rebel against the tastes of our out-of-touch “old folks”. But just because many dads and their friends from the golf course don’t know how to wear the polo shirt properly, doesn’t mean we should have to give up on an iconic fashion item. Especially not when we are talking about an item with as much potential as the polo shirt! That said, there is one and only condition for this: the perfect fit. That’s why we at SANVT have put together a guide with the most important tips that will help you choose the perfect polo shirt in no time.
Here’s a quick overview of the 6 key criteria for how a polo shirt should fit:
- The collar – always choose a discreet cutaway collar.
- The button placket – go for a seamless button placket with buttons made from real mother-of-pearl.
- The length – ideally ending at the level of the hips.
- The width – it’s all about striking the right balance.
- The side vents – look for subtle side vents to have the functionality and aesthetics of a classic polo shirt.
- The material – always go for high quality piqué fabric to guarantee elasticity, softness and stability.
One of the most prominent features of a polo shirt is the collar. The collar of a polo shirt is therefore at least as important as the collar of a classic oxford shirt. But given the variety of different collars (straight, button-down, spread, cutaway, picadilly, club or snap tab), it’s easy to take a wrong turn here. In fact, polo shirts often come not only with inelegant collar shapes but also with odd patterns like multicolors and stripes – or other garish elements. Probably with the intention to look modern and casual. To no avail. But it becomes particularly painful for an aesthete’s eye when those multicolored collars are worn open and standing up. So rule number one for how a polo shirt should fit: always choose a discreet cutaway collar that looks timeless and minimalist at the same time.
The collar and the button placket are probably the most prominent features of a polo shirt.
The button placket
Generally, where there’s a stand-up collar, there’s also a button placket. The button placket is therefore another element that differentiates between the polo shirts of your dad and the polo shirts you should wear. While many polo shirt button plackets are decorated with patterns or colorful stitching, a seamless button placket with buttons made from real mother-of-pearl, gives the polo a subtle, luxurious touch. When it comes to button plackets, the key is simple: less is more. It’s a general rule of thumb that applies not only to polo shirts, but to minimalist style in general.
When it comes to outerwear, fits are frustratingly only designed based on the width in almost all cases. Yet the length of a polo shirt (and any other outerwear) plays an equally important role in achieving the perfect fit as the width. That’s why at SANVT we have developed a fit concept that includes both length and width. The ideal length of a polo shirt ends approximately at the level of the hips, while the length of the sleeves should end about 10 centimeters above the elbows. Under no circumstances should the polo shirt be excessively long. When in doubt, go a little shorter rather than too long.
The length (including sleeve length) of a polo shirt plays an equally important role in achieving the perfect fit as the width.
As far as the width is concerned, it’s all about striking the right balance. The perfect polo shirt should not be too wide, but also not too tight. At best, the fabric should flow around the body. Choose the width of your polo shirt so that it doesn’t look like oversized, yet at the same time doesn’t look like a slim-fit shirt.
The side vents
A small but important detail of a polo shirt is the integration of side vents. These not only give the shirt a more sporty appeal but also ensure maximum freedom of movement. Look for the subtle side vents to have the functionality and aesthetics of a classic polo shirt but avoid deep side vents that feature a longer back. These can negatively affect the fit of the polo shirt.
Subtle side vents give functionality and aesthetics to a classic polo shirt.
An essential feature of a high quality polo shirt is that it should be made from versatile piqué knit. The innovative knit pattern of this fabric provides comfortable softness, as well as enhanced breathability and superior durability. The material also significantly influences how the fabric drapes, and thus how the polo shirt fits. Today, you can find polo shirts made of jersey or mixed polyester textiles. These materials not only deliver a completely different aesthetic and quality, but also a far worse fit. We therefore recommend that you always go for high quality piqué fabric to guarantee elasticity, softness and stability. Ideally the piqué should be made from organic cotton for added sustainability, to make the polo even better. Read more about the technical cotton piqué knit here.
If you choose your polo shirt according to these six criteria, the question of the perfect polo shirt fit should be answered once and for all. With that in mind, you can choose a timeless and elegant polo shirt that you can integrate into your everyday styles as an all-rounder and as a statement piece for special occasions. One thing is certain: a polo shirt with a great fit looks anything but like a dad look.