Italian Polo Shirts: How to Choose the Best Brand [2021 Update]
What do the best Italian polo shirts have in common? How can you choose the right Italian polo shirt for you? To help you in your search for the perfect Italian polo this summer we have created the definitive polo shirt guide for 2021 which outlines all of the key aspects of polo shirt design. So, what do the best brands incorporate into their polos?
Italian Polo Shirt Shape and Fit
Fit is a key aspect of polo shirt design. Many heritage brands still rely on patterns and shapes which are decades old and thus based on outdated body shapes. Italian polo shirts brands tend to deliver a contemporary fit which is neither slim nor boxy. Other aspects to the perfect polo shirt fit include:
Sleeve length: The sleeve should be designed to reach to mid-bicep, to show just enough arm (in true Italian style)
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
Hem split: The best polo shirts from Italy 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
One hallmark of high-quality Italian polo shirts is the use of mother-of-pearl buttons. Unfortunately, many name brand polos now use plastic or imitation mother-of-pearl buttons – neither has the same iridescence or longevity of genuine mother-of-pearl. The very best mother-of-pearl buttons are sourced from the Australian species Pinctada Maxima (known as the largest and rarest pearl oysters). These buttons can be dyed to match specific Pantone colour references so that they match the body of the shirt. Gritti, in Italy, supplies buttons to many of the best Italian polo shirt makers.
Choosing the right weight of fabric for any garment is part art/part science. There are several factors to take into account such as the knit or weave of the fabric (including how open or closed it is) and during which season(s) the shirt will be worn.
For piqué knits, a fabric weight of 200-220 grams per square metre is perfect for wear from Spring through Autumn. For jersey knits, a slighter lighter weight (around 170-190 grams per square metre) is recommended.
The very best polo shirts are sewn using a flat felled seam. Although this adds considerable expense, it makes the garment more durable and less likely to lose its shape. It also makes the inside of the polo neater and, we believe, more comfortable to wear. So well made, in fact, that it could almost be worn inside out.
Mercerisation is a treatment that gives fabric (or yarn) a bright, lustrous appearance while also strengthening it and improving colour-fastness. For these reasons, you should choose mercerised where possible – this will generally only be found on higher quality polos.
Stand Collars and Interlining
A stand collar gives shape and height to a polo shirt collar meaning it doesn't sit flat around the neck/collar bone area. For this reason, if you plan to wear your polo under tailoring (and many do), you should ensure you buy a polo shirt with a stand collar.
One of the major issues with polo shirts are collars which curl and remain difficult to iron through the life of the shirt. This can be avoided by choosing a collar which has the right amount of interlining (a fabric which sits inside the collar and adds stiffness). Interlining which has been added to both sides of the collar should prevent curling at the points - although it is important that the collar is not so stiff as to feel like a formal shirt.
Logo or No Logo?
Whether you choose a polo shirt with a logo or not is very much a matter of personal preference. Logos can be embroidered in contrasting thread or, more discreetly, tone-in-tone to match the colour of the shirt.
A tennis tail is an extended flap of fabric at the back of the polo shirt. These are strictly speaking only for polo shirts aimed at sports use meaning they are less versatile.
Other Finer Details
In this essential guide to the perfect Italian polo shirt we’ve shown how many aspects to polo shirt design are important to the finished garment.
At Niccolò P. we make polo shirts which are more tailored than most. Our polo shirts are made in the Italian style. We incorporate the very best materials in the world and manufacturing aspects to give you the best of all worlds.