For the polo shirt being such a basic staple of men’s style, there sure are a lot of bad ones out there. But these aren’t those. These are not your grandpa’s boxy, logo emblazoned golf shirt. These are slim or athletic, clean lean and mean. Below is the best of the reasonably affordable polo crop from this year. Got a lead on a polo that should have made this list? Send those tips in to email@example.com.
Six different “stripe” varietals to choose from. Soft, mid weight cotton. Not beach blanket thick, not paper thin either. Seems to shrink up maybe a touch in the wash, so know that. One of those that if you’re in-between sizes and you prefer a slightly longer tail, maybe opt in for the “tall” size option. Size shown here is a medium standard fit on 5’10″/190. Not their slim fit. It is available in slim too. Currently 25% off, but has been up for deeper discounts in the past.
And for the sake of comparison, here’s one of J. Crew’s polos in a large slim fit on 5’10″/190. Slub fabric again, so it’s got a bit of texture and encourages airflow. Garment dyed for that vintage look, without looking worn out. Tons of colors to pick from. Three button placket + pocket keeps it from looking like a super basic “uniform” polo you’d see school kids wear. It’s intentional, it’s got a bit of style, but it doesn’t shout.
The retro styling, tipped sleeves and collar, the cool pique texture, and the dashing overall feel are great. 55% cotton, 45% poly, and a loose pique weave means it can be a touch roomy. It’s not uncomfortable by any means, some may find the sleeves to not skim as close as they’d like. Lots will be happy with this one, though, and offers a lot of solid value for $15. The fabric here is also on the substantial side, but the pique weave makes it nice and breathable. Size shown above is a small on Ryan, who is 5’9″ / 155.
***BEST IN SHOW CHEAP CASUAL*** A hit that Amazon debuted a couple years back, and they’ve kept on on making because… they’re a hit. 4.5/5 stars after (wait for it) 1200 ratings. And genuinely 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. You might end up buying multiple colors. And they have options. Nineteen different colors to pick from at post time, although being that it’s Amazon, selection drifts in and out of stock depending on what color you’re after. “Light Aqua” is shown above in a size small on 5’10” / 170-175 lbs.
The stretchy, super comfy, mostly cotton EXPRESS performance polos have gotten the piped treatment once again this year. Spendy at full price, but… this is EXPRESS. There’s always another 40% off train a comin’. Four colors to pick from. Size shown above is a medium on 5’10″/190.
***BEST IN SHOW MID PRICED*** Always a favorite. All cotton, yet somehow manages to be almost glass smooth, stretchy, and soft. (As if there’s some silk in there.) They’re so smooth they’re almost cool to the touch. There does seem to be a catch for some though. Many have reported shrinkage problems with these. Especially when it comes to the length. 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. If you’re 6′ or over, maybe order a tall instead of a regular? Precise polo shown above is a large slim fit in one of their basic solids, on 5’10” / 195.
These run very slim. Size shown above is a LARGE on Jason’s 5’7″ 175-180 pound athletic frame. A restricting, uncomfortable fit for him, but! If you’re a slimmer fellow, you very well may find your new favorite polo. The 30% Silk, 70% Cotton blend is buttery-smooth and luxurious, and the ribbed cuffs and hem keep the garment in place and offer a Euro-modern aesthetic. Real Mother of Pearl buttons add to the luxe appeal, and the true teal blue color is excellent – a seasonally ideal color. It’s just a shame it isn’t more accommodating to more body types.
Another size large from Suitsupply on 5’7″/175. Like the Cotton/Silk polo from SuitSupply, this is more formal than most. The choice to use 100% merino wool makes sense on the surface for temperature regulation, but the implementation here makes this more of an early Spring or early Fall polo. This wool fabric wasn’t nearly as smooth as the cotton/silk blend, and I could see this feeling a bit scratchy in high-heat. The dark brown color is unique, but there are other more colorful options for the warmer weather. The wool piece did have a slightly more forgiving fit than the cotton/silk version, but still fell squarely in the true “slim” category. The good news? SuitSupply offers free shipping and returns, so you can have peace of mind if it doesn’t work out.
Yes, the famous UNIQLO button down collar polo. Which a lot of us love, since there’s no curling of the collar as the day wears on, and, they also look great under easy wearing, spring/summer sportcoats. 51% Cotton, 49% Nylon fabric does a solid job breathing and staying cool, although you’ll find better wicking/drying with either merino or true tech (read: all synthetic) fabrics. The huge drawback of these in the past is that they often would come with a straight up CHOPPED tail. And while the tail isn’t as long as tall-fellas would like, it’s not as short as it used to be. If you’re around average height or shorter, you should be happy here. As long as they don’t shrink badly in the wash/dryer. And speaking of… the tag says “line dry.” C’mon UNIQLO! These are affordable if not downright cheap (sometimes they go on sale for $19.90) polos! Let us machine dry them! Size shown above is a medium on 5’10″/190.
***BEST IN SHOW CHEAP DRESSED UP (when they’re on sale for $19.90)*** Oooh these are something. Huge fan of that covered placket. 73% Cotton, 27% Polyester, smooth jersey fabric here. Dressed up but could still easily be worn with shorts. Nice collar here too. Crisp and well constructed. Lays nicely. But like the Airism Pique, the tail runs a touch short. Not chopped, but short. And this ALSO says “line dry”. But at twenty bucks a pop with the every-so-often sale, they should be worth the risk and extra bit of effort. Size shown above is a medium on 5’10″/190.
Size/fits shown above are a large STANDARD for the navy, and a large SLIM for the “sage”, both on Jason’s 5’7″/175 frame. As is typical, Bonobos nails the “elevated basic” theme. This fits like your favorite t-shirt, but with the casual polish of a polo. Because Bonobos excels at form-fitting without squeezing, and along with offering this polo in both standard and slim fits, this is a strong recommendation for most folks if you can swing the price Bonobos likes to charge. Like the rest of their casual jetsetter items, the cotton/drydex blend produces a soft, luxurious feel with moisture-wicking, odor defense, and UPF35 protection. Smooth, cool comfort and style all Spring and Summer.
If you’ve never worn bamboo, the instant you put it you’re welcomed with a delightful cooling sensation. Free Fly, an outdoor-leaning brand, utilizes a 50-50 blend of viscose (bamboo) and cotton. Soft and cool, this is a great polo for a day on or near the water, or even at a barbecue on a hot day. Wear this when the temperature kicks up, but you want to wear something nicer than an average t-shirt, especially if you’re going multiple places in a day with no time to change. A generous fit, but perhaps too generous. On Jason’s 5’7″ barrel-chested body, this shirt in size large ran a bit long compared to others in that usual (for him) large size. So more of a regular fit here.
Big, big potential for many. Not going to lie, these are truly slim-fitting. Not quite Express extra slim, but the front, back, and sleeves are more fitted. Asking price is steep when not on sale, but the quality is there. Little details such as the locker loop, tags on the bottom side of the shirt, no logos present all definitely make it look “grown-up”. Softness of the A&F air knit fabric also applies to the feel of the shirt here too. There’s just one detail that may make this a soft pass for some. The collar has no shape on its own. Unless you fully button this up, there’s going to be flopping happening here. Yet I can see this paired with linen-blended blazers and fully buttoned up as a working combo when Summer temps approach us. 13 color options to pick from. White/Blue stripe option shown above has actually moved over to clearance. Size shown is a Medium on Paul, who is 5’10″/175.
Size shown is a large on Jason who is 5’7″/175. Proof built this bad boy with merino wool, but in an “89%”wool, 11% nylon” blend. The nylon aides in creating a cool, smooth fabric that Proof claims can go 72 hours of wear with no stink. The shirt drapes well, and offers plenty of room for mobility without being boxy. Spendy at $88, but Proof made this one to move and do-it-all over the course of not just one day, but a few. Hence, the “72 hours” name. So some of us would rationalize the splurge as it really being three (days worth of) polo shirt(s) in one? While this isn’t as aesthetically polished as say, the SuitSupply polos or a Banana Republic luxe touch polo, it fills a very simple yet valuable need – a shirt that looks good and stays out of your mind all day long. No fuss.
Made in the USA is tough to do these days. 100% supima cotton in a “baby jersey” knit. Nice and soft. Certainly not a boxy fit, but not a super slim fit either. More athletic. Size shown in a large on 5’10″/195. Color shown is the “vintage navy” which has a bit of a, you guessed it, vintage look. But also available in black, “carbon”, oxblood, and white.
I (the Joe guy) don’t usually don’t like 100% cotton, pique fabric polos. But these are threatening to change my mind. Super soft, but still has a bit of welcome crispness thanks to the pique weave. Terrific collar, great buttons, well put together placket. Also available in a spread collar. One note on laundering: They say lay flat or line dry. So no machine drying here. UPDATE: And word from reader Alexander M. confirms this. DON’T machine dry these. He had a couple of his accidentally go through the dryer and… yeah, they shrunk up enough that he couldn’t wear them anymore. Sizing might run a touch big, but maybe that’s in case they shrink a little in the wash? Shown above is a medium on 5/10″ 195.
Blasted Lululemon. They make great stuff, but man do they make you pay for it. Lightweight, breathable, flexible… the works. You could easily run a dang 10k (or more) in one of these things and feel great. Raglan sleeves are terrific, and sure seem to add more range of motion. Six colors to pick from. Size shown is a large on 5’10″/195.
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 on 5’10″/195.
***BEST IN SHOW SPENDY*** Going to be a game changer for a lot of us. These have everything. Breathable, wicking tech Polyester/Lyocell/Spandex “Delta” Pique material that’s lightweight but strong. Hidden, under the points, button down feature that really does a great job keeping the collar looking good all day and in all conditions. Raglan style sleeves & stretch infused fabric for ease of movement. Athletic fit that’s accommodating but not bulky or boxy. Machine wash, but like many other polos on this list, the tag says to lay flat to dry. I HAVE accidentally thrown these things in the dryer once or twice, but so far, no damage or shrinkage. Laying flat to dry for these is super easy. 100% tech fabric (not a cotton tech blend) means they dry SUPER fast, and almost totally wrinkle free as long as you get them down flat. The one draw back is the logo three/overlapping Xs on the right shoulder. It’s noticeable on some colors due to the contrasting thread they use. And boy was that Vin Diesel movie terrible. (I saw it in the theater! What was I thinking?? And now I do pushups and have tattoos! I blame Vin!) Could be a deal breaker for some. Size shown above is a medium on 5’10″/190. Enormous thanks to our man Adam for the tip on these. Although now my wallet is a lot lighter because of his suggestion. I’ve started to replace all of my polos with these. Dang stress shopping. $88 is steep for sure, but if you buy three they drop the price to $66. Which while hardly cheap, is certainly more palatable.
Also receiving votes: Target Goodfellow Performance Polos – $19.99. Todd Snyder Made in the USA Tipped polos – $98 (ninety eight!). arc’teryx A2B Merino Wool bike commuters polo – $99, GAP Vintage Soft Polo Shirt – $20ish. Amazon Peak Velocity Performance Athletic-Fit Polo – $15ish