Thanks to George for joining us for this video and thanks to IWC, one of our favorite watch brands of all time, for helping make this video happen!
A good polo shirt will:
- Fit like a glove.
- Enhance the good parts of your physique and hide the imperfections.
- Make you look more polished and put together.
- Layer incredibly well.
- Only have short sleeves – long sleeved polos have no place in your wardrobe.
Fabric choice is the biggest thing to consider when choosing a polo shirt and heavily dependent on your body type. The fabric you choose will determine how good (or bad) you look in a polo shirt.
Piqué cotton polo shirts are made with cotton yarn and have thin ribbing visible in the garment. The texture is soft, and if you look closely you can see the tightly raised cords that give a waffle-like appearance.
Piqué polos are best for heavier-set men with wider physiques because the textured fabric hugs the body without conforming to the less flattering areas of the chest and stomach. When I’m working with a client who’s worried about his belly being accentuated, I always go with pique cotton. Think of the fabric as airbrushing your torso and hiding the problem areas.
Check out how much more flattering the piqué cotton polo is on the same guy compared to a cotton/silk blend polo. I bet his hands are covering his belly button divot in the cotton polo shirt picture, too. It’s an old photographer’s trick. Notice his chest area looks a little more smoothed out? Please don’t think I’m recommending this polo, it’s pretty bad (that’s a horrible sleeve length) but it highlights the “airbrushing” effect that piqué cotton has very nicely.
Cotton & Cotton Blended Polos
If you’re in decent shape, skip the piqué polos and grab a few cotton/cotton-silk blended polo shirts. The material looks better on your body type and is softer and more comfortable than pique cotton. These polos have a sleek, modern look that are great on their own or underneath a jacket. Beware, it’ll shine a spotlight on your body’s imperfections if you’re not in good shape!
Colors, Patterns, Piping, Etc.
Avoid any patterns or collar/sleeve piping and stick with the basic (and best) colors to begin. Grab a few white, black, navy, and charcoal/gray colored polos. They’ll give you the most versatility with the rest of your Essential Wardrobe and will work with any skin tone and body type.
If you’ve got the basic colors already, definitely get some brighter colors that compliment your skin tone and/or throw some stripes in there, too. I would universally avoid plaids or any other wackier patterns, it’s just too much and looks tacky.
To Tuck or Not To Tuck
If you’re wearing a polo shirt without a jacket, then don’t tuck your shirt into your pants. I know golfers do this, but you’re not on a golf course and it looks horrible tucked in.
If you’re wearing a jacket, then loosely tuck in the front part of the shirt by your belt buckle like in my 3 ways to wear images below. The shirt should still cover the top half of your belt buckle – you don’t want to completely see the buckle. I love doing this on my clients because it breaks up the outfit when you see a little of the belt buckle and gives it a little polish without overdoing it.
Leggo my Logo
Please don’t get a shirt with a huge logo all over it. Just. Don’t. Logos that are small and the same color of the rest of the shirt are passable, but if you have the option, go logo-less.
How Should A Polo Shirt Fit?
Check out my Men’s Polo Shirt Fit Guide for details.
The Best Polo Shirts for Men
For a pique polo, I recommend the Sunspel Riviera Polo Shirt. This shirt was made for Daniel Craig as James Bond in Casino Royale. A black or navy polo pairs well with either dark wash jeans or grey wool trousers. For a silk/cotton blend polo shirt, I love John Varvatos and Burberry. The shirt’s impressive construction and fit is well worth the price.
I’m a big fan of H&M’s cotton polo shirts. Actually, I would probably get those over the designer options a majority of the time. They won’t last forever, but they’re cheap enough to replace every season or two. They have a clean design with a great fit and a price that you can’t beat. The model in the first picture below is wearing the H&M Polo.
3 Ways to Wear a Polo Shirt
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Why do you need a belt?
Most guys only wear belts as utility items to keep their loose pants from falling off. Certainly, a belt is for this, but there’s other reasons to wear a belt.
- You want your pants to hit a certain part of your waist, depending on whether they’re jeans or dress pants. During the course of your day, you’ll be standing, sitting, and moving around – this will tug and pull at your shirt and pants, causing them to move around. A belt ensures they stay in their proper place.
- A belt is necessary to break up some of your outfits, especially with non-suit outfits. Let’s say you’re wearing a sport coat/blazer with a dress shirt, dark wash jeans, and some oxford dress shoes, you’ll definitely need a belt to help break up the outfit in your midsection. People who go belt-less in these outfits… ugh.
- To hold up your pants as they loosen, not because they are already loose. Please wear properly fitting pants!
The Be-All, End-All Buckle Type
I have family from Texas (these are actually my relatives) and they take belt buckles very seriously – which is what every guy should do! All you’ll ever need is some variation of the standard belt buckle with a single square frame and prong – no matter if they’re casual or dress belts. There’s absolutely no reason for having anything else – EVER.
If you have any other type of belt buckle, and you’re not a cowboy, sheriff, rodeo rider or douchebag, replace them immediately. I throw up a little in my mouth when I see guys wearing those horrible box-frame style belt buckles like the guy below. Whatever you do, please, don’t be that guy!
(“This guy f*cks!“)
The 2 Types of Belts Every Man Needs
1. Dress belt
You need a dark brown and black leather belt with a simple, thin and silver belt buckle. Also, is should absolutely be shiny. A matte belt as a dress belt is a no-no. Look how terrible a matte-finished belt looks as a dress belt in my image below!
You want the width to stay as near to 1.5″ as possible. Anything wider will be more bulky and is considered more casual. Anything slimmer than that is a woman’s or a fashion belt and that’s not what we’re going for here. Even though the width is only slightly smaller than a casual belt, it makes a huge difference in appearance. Compare this picture of a guy wearing a wider belt as a dress belt compared to the image of my model. Night and day, in my eyes even though it’s only about half an inch difference.
You only want leather, but if you’re averse to leather, then get a leather substitute belt. You want the luxurious look of leather to match your dressy outfits.
2. Casual belt
Just like the dress belt, you’ll want a black and brown casual leather belt, each with silver buckle. This is where the buckles can be slightly thicker, but not by much. Gold buckles may be allowed if you really, really must have gold, but it may clash with some of your outfits or accessories, so I like to keep it simple and avoid gold all together. Also, in regards to the texture or finish of the belt, you want to avoid super shiny belts. Shiny/Polished-looking belts = dress belts. Most casual leather belts will be pebbled or have a texture or be matte-finished. That and the width of the belt is how you determine whether a belt is dressy or casual.
Have your casual belt somewhere between 1 3/4 – 2″ wide. Anything more than that is too wide and will look out of place. Slimmer than that looks more like a dress belt.
You can go with leather, cloth, or webbed belts. I personally think you should stick to leather until you’re ready to step out and get more adventurous with your belts. That way, your casual belts will work no matter the time of year or outfit.
Be careful not to get a belt that’s too shiny – like a dress belt. They should be more matte-finished. I see guys making this mistake a lot. Look at the differences between my dress and casual belt recommendations below to see the difference between shiny and matte.
What Size Belt to buy?
This is a question more men should be asking! Please check out my fit guide for details about how to choose your belt size.
The Best Dress Belts for Men
A quick note: Allen Edmonds are my absolute favorites because they’re high quality and they match their colors to their dress shoes. A lot of companies don’t do this, but it’s very important to match your belts with your shoes and AE takes the guesswork out of matching them.
Budget-Friendly Dress Belt Options
The Best Casual Belts For Men
3 Ways To Wear
Brooks Brothers Golden Fleece Merino Wool Crewneck Sweater
Brooks Brothers Non-Iron Milano Fit Button-Down Collared Dress Shirt
Levis 511 Slim Fit Selvedge Jeans
True Vintage Revival Glasses
Allen Edmonds Poplar Dress Belt
Daniel Wellington Classic Sheffield 36mm
Allen Edmonds Carlyle Plain-Toe Oxfords
*NOTE: You choose the type of lenses (shaded, etc.) during checkout for the sunglasses above.
Rag & Bone Jayden Workwear Jacket
Brooks Brothers Cotton Henley Sweater
Levis 511 Slim Fit Selvedge Jeans
Daniel Wellington Classic Sheffield 36mm
Allen Edmonds Newland Ave Casual Belt
Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Classic