For the polo shirt being such a basic staple of men’s style, there sure are a lot of crappy ones out there. Whether they’re sweatshirt-thick, boxy pique, old-man golf shirts, or goofball-young-guy polos emblazoned with enormous logos, a lot can go “wrong” w/ the humble polo shirt. Below is the best of the reasonably affordable crop from this year. All polos, unless otherwise stated, are shown on 5’10” / 195. Got a lead on a polo that should have made this list? Send those tips in to firstname.lastname@example.org.
EXPRESS Tech Stretch Polos – $23.94 when 40% off ($39.90)
Appears to be unchanged from last year, and still very, very good. 95% cotton and 5% spandex = quite a bit of stretch. Yet still plenty smooth and soft. Chambray, deeper 4 button placket is a nice touch as well. (Not that you should be unbuttoning all those buttons… hardly… it just makes the shirt look and feel a little more substantial.) Super smooth. Often goes on sale for 40% off and thus, can be had for around $24. Then there’s the usual multi-buy deals that they run as well. Really well done. Size shown above is a large.
A super smooth, jersey knit, 96% cotton and 4% stretch polo shirt. And while it’s lightweight, it doesn’t feel flimsy. H&M makes a lot of weak-feeling stuff. This one feels pretty darn good. Solids and stripes to pick from. Size shown above is a medium.
I don’t like 100% cotton, pique fabric polos. But these are quite nice. Word is they finished the fabric a little different this year. Did a wash similar to how a manufacturer would wash a t-shirt, and it makes a big difference. They feel a little… “crisper” this year. Nice collar, great buttons, well put together placket. Also available in a spread collar. Size shown above is a large on 5/10″ 195.
One of the best, with one big drawback that many won’t like. Just about a 50/50 cotton nylon blend that’s almost cool to the touch. Runs $29.90 a pop, but will drop to $19.90 with select sales and multi buy deals. UNIQLO has really messed with their fits over the years, and here’s proof. A few years back, when I was closer to 175, a medium fit great. Now I’m closer to 200lbs and… a medium, as shown above, fits great. UNIQLO has definitely “Americanized” their sizing templates in the last few years. So strongly consider sizing down. And another thing worth putting in bold (here comes the drawback): The tag suggests LINE DRY. So, dryer shrinkage may be a risk. Be warned.
Back for a second year. Thirty five bucks seems a little steep for H&M, but this thing is the real deal. Lightweight and a bit on the thin side, but not too flimsy feeling. 30% silk lends some great feel to the fabric, and some good strength too. Size shown above is a medium. Lots of colors to pick from.
Cut & sewn here in the USA. Even the supima cotton is grown here in the states. Super soft, extremely well reviewed, and a fit that’s not shrink wrapped nor bulky. Knit into something called “baby jersey” for an unusually soft feel.
Not as nice as the H&M Cotton/Silk polo sweater. But still decent if you’re after a polo that truly does feel like a sweater. That’d be this one. It’s weird how a certain style of knit and the thread chosen can drastically change the feel of a garment. Retro for sure. Size shown here is a medium.
Good. Very good. Super breathable. Stretch is incredible. Size shown above is a medium. So consider sizing down if you’re in between sizes, even though they claim a slim fit. (They are slimmer than their standard fit Amazon Essentials Golf Polos. Those things are BIG.) Tough to top for fifteen bucks. Just wish they made solids. Currently all options are heathered/marled looking.
A bit legendary, and as you’d expect, they’re priced like a legend too. 100% cotton jersey that’s a little thicker than I had anticipated, but not overly bulky. The collars are constructed like a woven shirt, with a collar band and a double layer of self fabric (what the body is made out of). So, none of that limp ribbed fabric that curls, bends, and rumples. Honest to goodness mother of pearl buttons that are THICK and really do stand out. True slim fit. They’re nice. Real nice. $65 nice? I think most will say that’s a little steep. But maybe worth a splurge for some. Size shown above is a large.
Spendy, but incredible. If you haven’t tried a lightweight merino polo or t-shirt or henley just to compare it to a regular cotton option? Be warned. Your world might shatter. Because merino is nature’s performance fabric, and once you try it, you might somehow find yourself spending tons of cash to replace all your old cotton gear with new, cool, super breathable, quick drying, anti-stink, merino stuff. From Huckberry. Called the “72 hour” because they’re designed to be worn for three days straight and still be comfortable and not stink.
Banana Republic SLIM Fit Luxe Touch – $26.70 – $29.70 ($44.50 – $49.50)
Currently 40% off thanks to a flash, no BR exclusions sale. No code needed. Exceptional with one big exception. Many have reported shrinkage problems with these. Especially when it comes to the length. So much so that some suggest ordering a “tall” size even if you’re not. I don’t have this issue, and I can’t tell you why. I wash on warm or cold and dry on medium or cool. Do they shrink up a little in the wash? Maybe. But not to the extremes that I’ve heard. That said, if you struggle sometimes in the laundry department, you might want to heed those warnings. Anyway, it’s the fabric that sets these apart. They’re all cotton, yet somehow manage to be super smooth, stretchy, and soft. Like there’s almost some silk in there. Plenty of colors and patterns to pick from. Style seen above is this year’s retro, tipped model. Size shown above is a Large Slim.
Quite nice for the price. Tail isn’t chopped and this can be tucked in or left out, making it hugely versatile. These are one of the softest shirts around (almost as soft as BR’s famous Luxe-Touch Polos). You might end up buying multiple colors. And they have options. Fourteen different colors to pick from. “Light Aqua” is shown above in a size small on 5’10” / 170-175 lbs.
Surprisingly decent. Old Navy has had some real duds in the past, but this doesn’t appear to be one of them. A pique-style knit, but the weight of the fabric isn’t suffocating, it actually does feel like it breathes pretty good, and it moves great. Size shown above is a medium, since Old Navy stuff tends to run big. So consider sizing down. Available in solids too.
***BEST IN SHOW*** I was shocked that this year’s best in show polo came from Target. But here it is. These feel close to the EXPRESS option, if not better, and they’re obviously a hell of a lot cheaper. NOT pique. Super smooth, 100% cotton fabric that isn’t paper thin nor is it bulky. Nice collars, nice placket, and under seventeen bucks. Lots of colors to pick from too. Collar is the same style of fabric as the body of the shirt, and not some flimsy, curl-ridden, ribbed junk. Much, much better. These are cut in a “standard fit” and thus the size above is a medium. Shown above in “Williamsburg Navy.” Feels closer to a Kent Wang or Criquet polo. Not quite that fancy, but not what you’d expect for $17 either. Very impressive. Fingers crossed they don’t shrink like crazy in the wash.
Got a favorite polo that didn’t make the list? Send in a style tip. They’re always welcome at: email@example.com.