If you have vague, partially-buried memories of wearing polo shirts in the early 2000s with the collars popped, you are not alone. It may not be a particularly good memory (I can personally recall layering polo shirts, too), but it may be coming up more and more now that polo shirts are becoming trendy again. This time, though, they are being styled a bit differently, and there are more options than ever. Kat Collings of Who What Wear explains that polo shirts offer a surprising way to layer textures and colors within any look.
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“They still feel polished, but are a little more approachable and casual than a typical button-down shirt,” Collings says, noting that polo shirts make a perfect option for a business casual look (while also looking great dressed down with ‘90s-inspired denim). In other words, polo shirts are versatile, and though they may remind you of your teenage years, they’re taking on a new, fresh life in the current season.
Read on for the best polo shirts on the market right now and how to style them.
Best Overall: Old Navy Uniform Pique Polo Shirt
This polo shirt from Old Navy is the perfect intro to polo shirts if you’re still a little iffy on the trend. Plus, its incredible size range allows you to experiment with tighter and looser fits, no matter what size you wear. For under $20, they are hard to resist.
Material: 97% cotton, 3% spandex | Colors: Red Tape, Monet Blue, Bright White, Heather Gray, Black Jack, Ink Blue | Size Range: XS-4X (plus tall and petite)
Best Cropped: Abercrombie Cozy Rib Polo
For a cropped polo shirt that doesn’t remind you of what your grandparents wore to go golfing, try this cropped option from Abercrombie. With a material that allows some stretch, it’s sure to be comfortable and versatile. Plus, the ribbed material adds some texture to the piece.
Material: 80% viscose, 17% polyester, 3% elastane | Colors: Light Blue, Light Gray, Navy | Size Range: XXS-XL
Best Designer: Burberry Frankie Check Merino Wool Sweater Polo
When investing in a designer item, it’s good to consider two things: One, how often you’ll wear the piece, and two, the material of the item. This luxurious knit polo is made of 100 percent merino wool, so you know it’s going to be worth the price tag. Plus, the classic silhouette of the top and legacy check pattern means it will look as on-trend now as it does in 20 years.
Material: 100% merino wool | Colors: Dark Birch Brown | Size Range: XS-XL
Best Zip-Up: Abercrombie Long-Sleeve Slim Zip Polo Top
Abercrombie has a ton of polo options right now, which is how you know it’s a trending style for a basic layering piece. This zipped option is surprisingly sexy, but it also makes for a great transitional piece in fall and spring.
Material: 72% viscose, 18% nylon | Colors: Brown, Black, White | Size Range: XXS-XL
Best Sweatshirt: Alo Yoga Henley Polo Pullover
The oversized, boxy fit of this long-sleeved fleece polo would pair well with high-waisted, straight-legged jeans and some chunky dad sneakers. Plus, it looks incredibly cozy. While the size range is pretty limiting, the oversized fit of the polo gives it a little flex room.
Material: 65% cotton, 35% polyester | Colors: Green Emerald, Pink Sugar, Tile Blue, Magenta Crush, Black, Athletic Heather Gray | Size Range: XS-L
Best Classic: Ralph Lauren Classic Fit Mesh Polo Shirt
For a polo shirt that is a great combination of style, quality, and timelessness, you can’t go wrong with a classic Polo Ralph Lauren shirt. Whether the polo shirt trend lasts for one year or 10, you know this long sleeve polo will be worth keeping in your closet. Plus, it's made from 100 percent cotton meaning it is ultra soft and will last for years.
Material: 100% cotton | Colors: White, Red, Country Club Pink, Resort Orange, Sunset Green, Billiard, Polo Black, Barclay Heather +more | Size Range: XXS-XXL
Best Knit: Good American Ribbed Polo
For an elevated take on the classic polo, check out this chic knit top by Good American, complete with all the polo shirt details. It’s a great, completely un-boring interpretation of the trend and is available up to size 5X.
Material: 78% rayon, 22% nylon | Colors: Fog, Dusty Violet, Mink | Size Range: XS-5X
Best Sporty: Athleta Everyday Polo Tee
For a sporty, workout-appropriate polo, this option from Athleta has every feature you’d want. With breathable, wicking, and quick-drying material, it’s great for sweating. Plus, it has UPF 50+ for excellent sun protection.
Material: Recycled polyester and spandex | Colors: White, Dress Blue, Black, Gulf Green | Size Range: XXS-3X
Best Oversized: Everlane The Retro Jersey Polo
Everlane has done it again with this retro-inspired polo that's perfectly boxy and relaxed. We imagine wearing it with loose denim and our everyday white sneakers for weekend activities, morning errands, and everything else in that vein. It comes in four color combinations including one striped version and is made from 100 percent organic cotton, meaning it's both durable and breathable.
Material: 100% organic cotton | Colors: Smoke/Bone, Pale Orchid/Canvas, Mauve/Bone, Atlantic/Smoke | Size Range: XXS-XL
Best Dressy: Simple Retro Alyssa Half Sleeve Knitted Polo Shirt
Polo shirts are typically associated with sports like golf and tennis, but today there are trend-forward options that are perfect for matching with skirts and dress pants for more elevated occasions. This pick from Simple Retro is perfect for the office, a client lunch, or date night in the city.
What to Look for When Buying Polo Shirts
“The collar is one of the most important aspects—you want to avoid a collar that's too oversized because then it can look overly retro in a costume-like way, and similarly a collar that's too small can feel unintentional,” Collings explains. “I also look for special details like a contrast collar or a textured material to make it stand out from your run-of-the-mill polo shirt. Lastly, if you want a super smooth look, consider a bodysuit version, so you'll have the perfect tuck all day long.”
The polos of the early 2000s featured different cuts than the polo shirts of today's trends. Back then, they were usually fitted polos with short sleeves made from the classic cotton mesh fabric. Today's polos offer a lot more variety, playing with different textures, like cashmere and wool, and different cuts, including cropped, long sleeved, and oversized renditions. With all the variety, pick a style and color that will fit best with your current wardrobe and lifestyle.
How do you style a polo shirt?
If you’re finding yourself at a loss for how to style a polo shirt, don’t stress too much—it’s not as complicated as it seems. Collings has a few quick ideas for you, too.
“I love the way a polo shirt can look with a suit,” Collings says. ”It's unexpected and feels fresh for spring. If you want to make the look feel a bit more casual, swap the trousers for your best pair of '90s fit denim.”
Are polo shirts business casual?
According to Collings, yes, polo shirts are a business casual option thanks to their polished, approachable feel. Consider pairing a knit polo shirt with a pair of trousers and an oversized leather jacket for a more professional/edgy look, or drape a sweater over your shoulders for a more preppy feel.
Why Trust Byrdie
Olivia Muenter is a fashion commerce contributor for Byrdie, and she has been published in Refinery29, Bustle, Fashionista, Glamour, and Woman’s Day, among others. Her search for this piece covered retailers of all types. For criteria, she evaluated customer reviews, size range, versatility, and style.