How to Wear a Polo Shirt With Style
Wearing a polo shirt with style is primarily a question of choosing the right fit and selecting the right fabric knit type to complement both your body shape and the occasion. While the polo shirt is often grouped with t-shirts as a strictly casual item, choosing a high quality brand and shirt-like style will elevate it to many more formal uses. There are a few basic rules to follow to get this right every time.
Knit Type: Jersey and Piqué
The most popular fabric knit types used in polo shirts are jersey and piqué. Jersey has a smooth, flat and somewhat elastic surface (see fig. 1) with a slightly more textured reverse. It has a lighter feel which is good for warm weather or those who prefer a lightweight fabric.
Fig. 1 Jersey knit fabric
Piqué, on the other hand, may be either knitted or woven. It features a raised design with a waffle-like appearance (see fig. 2). Piqué’s advantages include durability, showing perspiration less, and its attractive textured detailing. Because piqué is an open weave, it is preferred for hot climates or strenuous activity. It also tends to drape better for those with more around the middle (see further below).
Fig. 2 Piqué knit fabric
For normal to athletic body shapes, you should feel free to choose either jersey knit or piqué. Jersey knits tend to have a smarter appearance due to their construction which has a smooth finish. This is even more so on luxury polo shirts which will often be mercerised to improve colour retention giving the cloth extra shine.
For those carrying extra weight around the middle, we recommend a piqué knit...jersey knits tend to ‘hug’ the body which can be unflattering whereas piqué knits have considerably less stretch meaning they drape straighter.
For those carrying extra weight around the middle (the last three body shapes in fig. 3 below), we recommend a piqué knit. Jersey knits tend to ‘hug’ the body which can be unflattering whereas piqué knits have considerably less stretch in the fabric meaning they drapes straighter. An alternative, of course, is to go up a clothing size for a looser fit in either knit style.
Fig. 3 Body shapes
Jersey knit polo shirts are perfect for almost every occasion save that higher quality polos/those with a more formal style don't work very well for very hot climates or strenuous activities. Piqué knits carry a more informal style which is perfect for relaxed occasions and, being an open weave, ideal for when the temperature begins to climb. For that reason, it is the knit of choice for traditional polo shirt usage and summer holidays.
West Indian Sea Island: The World's Rarest Cotton
Certified by the West Indian Sea Island Cotton Association, Sea Island cotton is only found in the British West Indies where the Caribbean climate is ideal for its growth. The fibres are picked by hand and processed in a traditional method; the result is an unmatchable soft touch and silky texture. With an average staple length of 50mm its fibres are 20 per cent. longer than any other type of fine cotton.
Approximately 110 million bales of cotton are produced each year worldwide. Of this total, around 2 million bales (or 1.8 per cent.) are extra-long staple cotton varieties. The annual production of Sea Island Cotton is just 130 bales. It is quite simply the rarest and most precious cotton in the world. We use Sea Island cotton exclusively in our piqué knit resort polo shirts. A special hologram, guaranteeing the authenticity of the cotton, is included with each of our Sea Island polos.
Egyptian Mako Cotton
Produced in Upper Egypt, Mako is an extra-long staple cotton of exceptional fineness. The result is a fabric which is very soft with a silky hand but also robust. Our Egyptian Mako cotton polo shirts are knitted using a double-jersey technique. Single-jersey - the most common kind - has a 'right' side (facing out) and a 'wrong' or rougher side (facing in) meaning the garment feels softer to touch than to wear. Using the double-jersey technique (with two 'right' sides) and a mercerised finish you will enjoy a silk-like softness inside and out.
How A Polo Shirt Should Fit
The fit of a garment is the most important determinant on how well it looks on you. Many heritage brands still rely on patterns and shapes which are decades old and thus based on outdated body shapes. It is important to identify brands which employ a contemporary pattern block: giving a natural fit which is neither slim nor baggy (depending on your preferences of course). Other aspects to the perfect polo shirt fit include:
Sleeve length: The sleeve should be designed to reach to mid-bicep
Arm holes: The design of the arm holes is crucial to ensure a good drape to the polo. When you try on a polo shirt, ask yourself: ‘Does this fit like a favourite jacket?’ If the answer is ‘no’, you should keep looking
Placket: There are several different types of placket found on polo shirts. The highest quality version is known as the ‘set-on’ placket – it is made from a separate piece of fabric and is considerably more complicated to manufacture but it gives the shirt a more defined, classical appearance. The placket should generally come with no more than three or four buttons as this gives the ideal length so that the polo shirt looks great buttoned up or partially unbuttoned
Hem split: The best polo shirts will have a split (generally no more than an inch) given to the hem to help ensure an even fit around the waist. There should be no extended/tennis tail as these are better suited to sports polos
To wear a polo shirt with style, you need to ensure a comfortable fit using the right fabric type for both the weather/activity and your body shape. The Weekend is a style of polo shirt by Niccolò P. comprising jersey knits perfect for everyday or even special occasion wear, while The Resort is a collection of piqué knit polo shirts ideal for very warm weather or intensive activity.