For as cyclical as fashion can be, some menswear staples earn their stripes through simply standing the test of time, proving themselves as certifiable classics despite the changing of the seasons and the ebb and flow of trends.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m shopping for style essentials, I tend to look for pieces that deliver variety and versatility, and that’s where polo shirts shine through.
I appreciate that the polo is slightly more polished than a T-shirt, with a crisp collar that frames the face, yet most of the best polos for men these days are made with fabric that’s comfortable enough to rival your favorite tee. And comfort, in my experience, is key.
You can never count out the polo shirt, is what I’m trying to say. The best men’s polo shirts take on modern touches, be it better or more comfortable fabric than old-school polo shirts – or a better fit, or cooler colors – while still remaining true to the style’s roots.
In these times, you can find polo shirts on the links, back at the clubhouse, on the runways, at a breezy back patio happy hour–and hopefully, in your closet. These are my picks for the best men’s polo shirts to shop now.
Perhaps the best example of a timeless polo made modern? Buck Mason’s knit polo, made with fine cotton jersey and designed more like a sweater than a traditional polo. That means it wears well on its own but is classy enough to wear with a lightweight blazer. Plus, the neutral color lineup means it wears well with practically anything.
Perhaps the best example of a timeless polo made modern? Buck Mason’s knit polo, made with fine cotton jersey and designed more like a sweater than a traditional polo. At the moment, I simply can’t get enough of the easygoing refinement that a sweater polo brings to my wardrobe.
If you’ve been on the fence about trying one, it’s best to start with, well, one of the best. This option wears well on its own but is classy enough to wear with a lightweight blazer. Plus, the neutral color lineup means it wears well with practically anything.
Defining something as the one of the best sets a pretty high bar to clear, does it not? When it comes to polos, I looked at a mix of both comfortable and durable fabric, easy-to-style designs (including classic colors), and the right mix of quality and relative affordability.
The right polo shirts are a cut above the rest in ways you might not expect – like the use of merino fabric in this aptly named 72-Hour Polo from Proof. The in-house brand at Huckberry took the polo shirt and went out into the great unknown, using anti-microbial, moisture-wicking fabric to turn the preppy polo into a staple you can wear on the road and back again. Get one in as many colors as you can.
When you want to break out the big guns and drop some hard-earned cash on a polo shirt, you best look towards a brand you know you can trust, a brand that knows a thing or two about heritage, history and style. It’s worth it to spend on a brand with pedigree, one that uses premium materials in an impossibly timeless design.
Those were important factors in my “Splurge” pick, which blends luxurious cotton mesh fabric with made-in-Portugal construction and classic English design heritage via Sunspel.
But the coolest thing about the Riviera Polo Shirt? It’s the official polo shirt of 007 himself, worn to great effect by one Daniel Craig in the legendary Casino Royale.
It took me some time to get there, but eventually, years after learning about this stylish polo, I went out and bought one myself. The fabric is soft and supple yet durable, the construction is excellent, and the fit is flattering even if you’re not as built as 007.
The polo gets a major performance upgrade via fan favorite performance menswear brand Vuori, with a build that’s more akin to my favorite workout tee than a heavy polo from years gone by.
The Strato Tech fabric is the brand’s softest yet, with the potential to wick away moisture and keep you cool through long days on the road and hours on the course or trail under the hot sun. Speaking of: Built-in UPF 30+ technology makes this wearable even on the most blazing days.
The great thing about Alabama designer Billy Reid is that he designs clothing that he’d only wear himself, resulting in a line of polished, ever-so-slightly rugged and truly classic men’s style essentials.
Take the Pensacola Polo, first introduced more than two decades ago by Reid. It’s as laidback as a soft T-shirt, made from garment-dyed organic pima cotton for a super-luxe feel on your skin. It also boasts Reid’s signature stripe branding at the side vents, and a chest pocket adds some visual interest.
When Huckberry sets out to do something, the famed E-commerce retailer doesn’t take things lightly, and that’s a commitment to quality I can certainly get behind. Take Wellen, the sustainable menswear brand developed by Huckberry’s team. The brand-within-a-brand focuses on eco-friendly fabrics like hemp and organic cotton across categories ranging from simple T-shirts to timeless polos.
I personally love the soft, textured fabric and the sustainable design throughout the entire Wellen product line.
The Wellen Hemp Polo is ultra-supple sturdy, while the fit is handsome and yet easygoing (not too baggy or relaxed). It’s almost like wearing a breezy T-shirt, but with the polished appeal of a crisp polo shirt. You’ll want at least one for your wardrobe, and I certainly vouch for Wellen.
Think back to the first polo shirt you ever wore: It was likely a bit stuffy and uncomfortable, right? Times have changed, and performance menswear experts DUER know how to bring the polo forward into modern times.
For durability, they’ve used nylon and Tencel, and for a soft touch, they’ve used pima cotton in this fittingly named polo.
Plus, the array of colors pairs well with anything – you very well might make it your last polo purchase for some time (although the rest of this list begs to differ).
Charles Tyrwhitt delivered on all fronts with a dressy polo featuring fabric with a slight sheen, the kind you can wear to grab a rooftop margarita or to hit the links.
The two-button design is a change of pace from typical three or four-button designs, helping this wear almost like a T-shirt while still delivering the polish of a polo.
Taylor Stitch was founded on a mission to make the best men’s buttondown shirts – they’ve got your top half covered when it comes to more breezy polo shirts, too. And as to be expected, they don’t quite do it like your average brand, from using helpful chest sizing to sourcing some of the best fabrics on the market.
I’ve tried out the Taylor Stitch Jacquard Polo, and it wears nicely, fits very well and looks great with everything from blue jeans to chino shorts. They’ve used a custom knit jacquard weave in organic cotton, adding plenty of visual interest to more casual summer looks.
Award-winning American menswear designer Todd Snyder has an eye for timeless style staples, yet his spin on the classics is always refreshing. The key here is the use of modern, updated fabric, a Turkish Tencel and cotton blend that provides this polo with stretch and breathability.
The three-button collar frames the face nicely and gives this polo a dressy appeal – feel free to wear it underneath one of the designer’s soft-shouldered blazers for a sharp evening #OOTD.
Remember the covetable Sunspel polo mentioned above? If you want to harness similar style inspiration at half the price, reach for the Vesper Polo from the performance menswear maestros at Mack Weldon.
Funnily enough, I also made it a point to get my hands on one, and the quality definitely holds up – for a lower price tag than Sunspel’s luxe option. The name is a homage to James Bond’s Vesper cocktail, as is the breathable performance mesh and color options like Total Eclipse Blue. Wear it as Bond would, with tan chino pants.
Take it from me: Any chance to save on a menswear essential like the polo shirt is an opportunity you shouldn’t pass up. But it’s not all about saving a few extra bucks: The details still have to be on-point, and that’s the most important thing. If ever you’ve tried on a cheap polo, you know the feeling I’m speaking of right away.
Here, I looked for comfortable, versatile and smooth fabric, easy styling potential and colors to suit every palette.
To check off all those carefully curated boxes, I turned towards J.Crew, the iconic American menswear retailer that knows how to outfit every guy – regardless of whether or not you see yourself as a fan of the polo shirt.
They’ve made it easy to get into the preppy style with a casual, timeless take featuring flattering options like navy with white trim.
If you’ve tried out NYC-founded brand Faherty’s soft and luxurious flannel shirts, you know it’s all in the proper fabric. That same sentiment carries over to the polo shirt for the warmer months, and Faherty harnessed that same blend of a soft touch and new performance features this time around.
The result is a stretch cotton polo done up in a textured fabric that’s dressy enough for the office and easygoing enough for the weekend.
It might be cliche to say that no list of the best men’s polo shirts is complete without an option from American style master Ralph Lauren, but it’s also entirely true.
The designer’s simple, subtle polo shirts are known the world over from the distinctive chest logo, plus the array of vibrant color options. The ribbed sleeves show off your arms, and the option to snag a slim fit version is a nice bonus, too.
Outerknown is nothing if not dedicated to both sustainability and style in equal measure, and the brand (founded by surfing legend Kelly Slater) does an outstanding job at checking both boxes here.
Take this two-button polo, which is crafted with soft, organic Peruvian Pima cotton. The fabric is next-level in terms of comfort and its eco-friendly nature, while the striped design options are a neat, eye-catching touch separating this polo from the pack.
It only makes sense that some of the best men’s polos look as if they’ve been unearthed from a (very stylish) thrift store or from the back of an old family photo album. Alex Mill nails the expertly faded vintage look with this aptly named polo, which uses both cotton and recycled yarns to nail a super-soft fit and easygoing drape right out of the box.
The washing process turns this into a nice hybrid between a tee and a buttondown shirt – it’s laidback enough to wear with chino shorts, yet stylish enough to pair with stretch chinos and brown leather loafers back at the office.