Polo vs. T-shirt: 5 Reasons to Skip the T and Wear Polos Instead

Polos vs. t-shirts for men: Why do polo shirts win?

  • You can’t wear a t-shirt to a formal event.
  • People of all sizes can wear polos and appear more muscular and fitter.
  • Polos have a rich, accomplished vibe.

Want to know more? Keep reading and learn how to enhance your style and look like a boss.

The history of t-shirts

The first t-shirts were undergarments for laborers and workers. In the 1930s, the U.S. navy made t-shirts a part of soldiers’ uniforms as an undergarment — intended to be worn below the uniform.

The t-shirt became popular from there because it was cheap to make, easy to clean, and comfortable to wear. Soldiers, when off duty, started wearing the t-shirt without the uniform. That look gained popularity and eventually became famous.

The history of polo shirts

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The polo shirt’s roots can be traced back to tennis. Back in the 19th and early 20th century, tennis players wore “tennis whites” — long-sleeved, white button-up shirts with rolled-up sleeves.

René Lacoste thought this outfit to be restrictive and impractical. He created a short-sleeved white cotton shirt, which he debuted at the 1926 U.S. Open. That was the first tennis shirt.

René Lacoste later started to mass-produce that style under the brand name Lacoste.

Polo players also wore long-sleeved cotton shirts. And, like tennis players, they thought their sport’s attire was uncomfortable. They eventually followed the tennis community’s lead and started wearing the Lacoste style in their games. 

In 1972, Ralph Lauren recognized the popularity of the short-sleeved, collared shirt. He started his own fashion line, which made polo shirts even more popular.

Here’s why guys should wear polos vs. t-shirts

Polo shirts are extremely versatile. You can tuck them in or leaved them untucked. You can create a casual look and a business look. You can wear a polo shirt almost however you want. 

But that’s not all. Here are a few more reasons why you might work more polos into your wardrobe.

1. Polo shirts look business

You can accidentally call a polo a t-shirt with a collar, but there’s more to that. T-shirts are considered informal; polo shirts aren’t.

While t-shirts look more boyish, polos look more refined. No matter if you are in your 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, or older, polo shirts are more stylish, more polished than t-shirts.

Because polos are more formal, you can wear them to your business meetings, date nights, and backyard BBQs.

2. Any “body” can wear it

T-shirts can be unflattering. If you are oversized or skinny and do not have a muscular build, you may feel self-conscious wearing t-shirts. With polos, it’s the opposite.

You can be any shape and a quality polo shirt will enhance your look.

  • If you are skinny, a polo provides fitter appearance since it wraps around your chest area and your arms just right.
  • If you are a bit overweight, a polo can flatter your bulk. The cuffs on the sleeves are fitted, which creates a strong look (vs. flabby).

3. Polo shirts look rich on a budget

Polos for men have an upscale vibe, but they’re also affordable — a great combo when you’re on a budget.

4. Polos are versatile

Man wearing blue polo shirt with green shorts.
This is a $7 polo from Sam’s Club (paired with cheap shorts, also from Sam’s Club). Picture these shorts with a t-shirt instead — the outfit would be way more casual and less versatile, right?

Polos are versatile. Wear them with jeans, shorts, or trousers. Wear them to work, to the movies, to your golf game. Anchor your polo outfit with whatever shoes you have that fit the occasion — sneakers, boots, you name it.

5. Polos are all-weather appropriate

You can wear your polo throughout the year since it’s made from breathable fabric. You can flip the collar up during summer to protect your neck against the harsh sunlight, or during winter to protect yourself against the cold air.

How to shop for polo shirts?

Keep your polo style more refined by stocking up on basic colors, like black, blue, green, and other basic and subtle colors. You can also experiment with neutral prints and patterns. Stripes of similar colors can be a good starting point for breaking out of solid colors.

Also, avoid polos with big logos. Giant logos put you more in the street style category, which is far more casual than the traditional polo.

You can buy affordable men’s polo shirts at:

Upgrade your style

T-shirts are comfortable and easy to wear. But guess what? So are polos. And a polo is infinitely more stylish. If you’re looking for a simple trick to dressing better, try swapping out those t-shirts for some polos. It’s an instant upgrade — one that’s sure to generate some compliments.