Polo vs T-Shirt: What Is the Difference? (2023)

When it comes to all the different names for shirts, one of the most commonly misunderstood types is the polo shirt. What classifies as a polo, and what’s the difference between a polo and a t-shirt?

Polo shirts are designed similarly to t-shirts, but with the addition of two or three buttons under the collar. Worn correctly with a proper tuck in, polos can be used for semi-formal attire. T-shirts, on the other hand, are predominantly for casual wear.

There are a few differences in style and function that distinguish t-shirts and polos, but in general, shirts with a collar and two to three buttons beneath are classified as polos. The rest of this article will discuss what distinguishes polo shirts from t-shirts and how they’re meant to be worn.

What Classifies as a Polo Shirt?

Polos and t-shirts have a lot of similarities, which often leads to confusion when classifying the two. As a general rule, if the shirt has a collar with two or three buttons below, then it’s a polo shirt.

Some people also refer to polos as a tennis shirt or golf shirt, and it’s for obvious reasons. In the past, polos were exclusively used for sportswear, predominantly in (you guessed it) tennis and golf.

Compared to regular shirts which are typically made from cotton or woven fabric, polo shirts come in a range of materials including Pique thread, merino fabric, silk, synthetic fabrics, and interlock yarn. Polos can come in a variety of styles, such as short sleeved, long sleeved, wool, or pocket.

T-shirts, on the other hand, are typically just short sleeved and come with a crew cut or a V-neck.

(Video) Difference between Ralph Lauren and US Polo assn

Originally used for undergarments, t-shirts have become society’s go-to choice of clothing for their comfort, practicality, and the capability to put just about any graphic design on them. You won’t often see polos with graphics since they’re designed to be used in semi-professional settings.

Why Is It Called a Polo Shirt?

The polo shirt, a staple of the modern clothing industry, was originally designed for the sport of polo, a game in which two opposing teams attempt to score in the opponents’ goal using a wooden mallet while on horseback.

Initially, thick cotton long-sleeved shirts were used for the sport, which, as you can imagine, isn’t too comfortable when you’re being jostled around on the back of a horse.

In the late 19th century, British polo players designed a shirt that would prevent the collar from flapping in the wind and causing a nuisance to players.

Nearing the beginning of the 20th century, US company Brooks Brothers came to England on a buying trip and happened to notice the innovative design of the polo shirt. John E. Brooks brought the idea back home to the U.S. and launched it as a button-down dress shirt, a fashion trend that is said to be the most imitated item of clothing in history.

Polo shirts today have gone through several iterations, but the popularity of the polo shirt we know today originated from Ralph Lauren, a clothing company in the late 1960s. The menswear line named ‘Polo’ became an iconic piece in the company’s lineup and proved to be similar to other polo attire of its time.

Is Polo Shirt a Formal Attire?

A polo shirt is not true formal attire. Just as people get mixed up on polo shirts vs t-shirts, it’s very easy to get mixed up on the difference between business-casual and business-professional dress. In short, polos are not appropriate when the dress code is formal attire.

(Video) How To Choose The Best Polo Shirt Material - Part 4

Men attending a formal event must wear dark colored suits with a complementary tie. The shirt must be buttoned to the top and be accompanied with a tie or a bowtie. In semi-formal attire, polos are acceptable, but they are on the lowest rung of semi-formal wear.

It should still be tucked into the pants and buttoned up, with the top button open. A professional long-sleeved buttoned shirt is preferable for semi-formal events, but not required. A tie is optional. A polo shirt under a blazer works appropriately with jeans or dress pants.

Appropriate semi-formal attire items are as follows:

  • Dress shirt – any button-up shirt that has sleeves and a collar.
  • Cell phone shirt – a dress shirt with a pocket for a cell phone.
  • Polo shirt – a shirt with two or three buttons and a collar.
  • Button up shirt – a shirt with buttons lining it.

If you’re going to wear a polo shirt to a semi-formal event, you’ll want to make sure the colors are fairly plain and aren’t a mismatch with everything else that you’re wearing. Since polos are usually short sleeved, it’s advisable to put them under a blazer if the tone is more on the professional side of semi-formal.

Polo Shirt vs Golf Shirt

The main difference between polo shirts and golf shirts is the material used to make them. Polo shirts are designed very similarly to golf shirts, with the classic placket neckline and two or three buttons.

Since golfers have to compete outdoors in hot conditions, golf shirts are typically made from polyester blends that have built-in moisture-wicking properties, helping them stay cool out on the golf course.

Should I Tuck in a Polo Shirt with Jeans?

It’s preferable to tuck in your polo shirt with jeans. Make sure you’re wearing a belt, too! This is appropriate for semi-formal attire, but just be aware that it is on the lowest level of ‘formal’ that you can be. If you’re wearing a polo just to look a little smarter for something that doesn’t have a designated dress code, then you don’t have to tuck in your shirt.

(Video) T Shirt Vs Undershirt - What's The Difference? | RMRS

If you’re ever uncertain, ask the event coordinator what the dress code is. If the dress code is semi-formal, then you’ll want to tuck in your polo.

What Kind of Pants Go with Polo Shirts?

Just about any style of pants go with polo shirts. Jeans are a good pick if you’re leaning more towards the casual side, while khakis or dress pants work well for a more professional environment. Either way, you should top off your snazzy look with a pair of nice dress shoes. Sneakers are never an acceptable part of a semi-formal outfit.

What Do You Wear under a Polo Shirt?

Underneath a polo shirt, the only real option you have is a white undershirt. That’s because other colors run the risk of showing up through the fabric due to the materials it’s made from. A V-neck undershirt is best because it won’t show up anywhere near as much as a crew neck undershirt.

Of course, you can simply choose not to wear an undershirt if you’re comfortable with it. Polos are usually pretty lightweight and breathable, and most people find it awkward wearing two short sleeved t-shirts.

What Is a Polo Shirt without a Collar Called?

Polo shirts without a collar simply become t-shirts. Although they are made of different materials, the distinguishing feature of a polo shirt is the collar. There is one item of clothing that falls under the ‘polo shirt without a collar’ category called a top shirt. A top shirt is a long sleeved collarless polo shirt.

Do All Polo Shirts Have Collars?

By standard definition, all polo shirts come with collars. The placket collar, distinguished by the shape and the presence of two or three buttons allow for some different comfort options while wearing the polo shirt. A polo shirt without a collar would cease to be a polo shirt and would probably just be referred to as a standard t-shirt.

Do Polo Shirts Make You Sweat?

Polo shirts aren’t more likely to make you sweat. Standard polo shirts are like regular t-shirts, which provide little protection against the warmth of the sun, especially if you’re doing rigorous exercise. Some polo shirts are engineered for sports performance, having moisture wicking properties built into them.

(Video) Difference Between T-Shirt and Polo Shirt | T-Shirt Basic Idea | Polo Shirt Basic Idea

These types of shirts are often advertised as wicking or sweat resistant. Compared to regular shirts, wicking shirts are built with two layers that can handle sweat better than regular shirts. The first layer absorbs sweat from your body, while the second outer layer blocks sweat from coming through, reducing or even entirely preventing sweat from coming through

Of course, if you’re worried about sweat staining your polo shirt, you can always wear a clean, breathable crew neck or V-neck undershirt to help protect your polo. Undershirts often having wicking properties as well, making them worthwhile if you know you’re going to be spending a fair amount of time in the heat.

Final Thoughts

Polos are basically t-shirts that have a unique style of collar. They’re pretty useful in a variety of situations, such as golfers who use sports performance designed polos to beat the heat. You can also pair a polo with a nice blazer, clean slacks, and dress shoes to create a great look for your next semi-formal event.

(Video) Differences between a fake eBay Ralph Lauren polo and a genuine Ralph Lauren Polo


What is the difference between polo and t shirt? ›

While the T-shirt usually has a simple round neck, the polo shirt has a stand-up collar with a button placket. Another major difference is the material. While both shirts are usually made of cotton, the polo shirt is made of knitted cotton (piqué) and t-shirts are made of woven cotton (jersey).

What is the difference between T shirts and shirts? ›

A T shirt is a unisex shirt with a T-shaped body and sleeves worn informally. The T shirt can be worn at home or on any informal occasion. They are composed of lightweight materials such as cotton. T shirts are casual attire and should not be worn to formal, professional, or other non-casual events.

Why polo shirts are better than T shirts? ›

Polo shirts are instantly smarter and more professional looking when compared to a crew neck t-shirt. The collar detail, ribbed cuffs and button down detail makes an instant impression and they don't cost much more than the crew neck t-shirt we supply. Comfort and wearability.

Why it is called as polo t shirts? ›

From polo +‎ shirt; so called because they were initially modeled on the type of shirt worn from the 1920s by polo players.

What is the T-shirt meaning? ›

Meaning of T-shirt in English

a simple piece of clothing, usually with short sleeves and no collar, that covers the top part of the body: She was wearing jeans and a T-shirt.

Why wear polo shirts? ›

Whether you are heading out onto the green or catching up with friends, the polo shirt is a timeless staple in any man's wardrobe. It perfectly blends casual style with a smart, neat look. It can be easily dressed up or down based on the occasion while remaining superbly comfortable.

What is a polo shirt? ›

A polo shirt is a form of shirt with a collar, a placket neckline with two or three buttons, and an optional pocket. Polo shirts are usually made of knitted cotton (rather than woven cloth), usually a piqué knit.

Why do we use T-shirt? ›

The origins of the t-shirt date back to the late 19th century, when laborers would cut their jumpsuits in half to keep cool in warmer months of the year. The first manufactured t-shirt was invented between the Spanish-American War in 1898, and 1913 when the U.S. Navy began issuing them as standard undershirts.

Which shirt is best quality? ›

Our Top Picks
  • Best Overall: Allen Solly Men's Solid Slim Fit Casual Shirt.
  • Best Budget: StyleMinistry Cotton Slim Fit Full Sleeves Shirt for Men.
  • Best Luxury and High: Quality Shirt Brands: Diverse Men Formal Shirt.
  • Best Cotton Shirt Brands: Amazon Brand - Symbol Men's Regular Shirt.
1 Nov 2022

Are polo shirts good for work? ›

Not only are polo shirts considered business casual by many workplaces, but they also provide an option for your wardrobe that is simultaneously comfortable and easy to style. With the right pairings and accessories, you can wear polo shirts to the office throughout the year.

Which type of shirt is best? ›

  • Overshirt. ...
  • Flannel Shirt. ...
  • Office Shirt. ...
  • Chambray. ...
  • Classic Short Sleeve Shirt. ...
  • Denim Shirt. ...
  • Linen Shirt. Linen shirts are the perfect option for days where you feel like you're melting. ...
  • Polo Shirt. The polo shirt is a versatile and stylish piece of clothing and looks best at casual events.
3 Sept 2022

What polos means? ›

polos in American English

(ˈpɑlɑs) nounWord forms: plural poloi (ˈpɑlɔi) a tall, cylindrical headdress represented, esp. on statutes, as worn by women in ancient Greece.

What are the two types of polo shirts? ›

Polos are commonly made of knitted fabrics that are easily recognizable by their braid-like pattern. Most polos are knitted and there are two main types or structures: pique and jersey.

What is polo called now? ›

The Volkswagen Polo is a supermini car (B-segment) produced by the German car manufacturer Volkswagen since 1975.
Volkswagen Polo
Body and chassis
ClassSupermini/subcompact car (B)
3 more rows

What is T-shirt material called? ›

Cotton. Cotton is the most common type of fabric that is used to make t shirts, but you should remember that there are a few different types of cotton that can be used for shirt production. Types of Cotton: Combed cotton is created when short strands are eliminated, then fine brushes straighten the fibers.

Who made the first T-shirt? ›

The T-shirt started as an item of underwear - in the 19th Century the t-shirt was born when labourers in America cut their jumpsuits in half to cope with the summer heat. Although they were starting to be manufactured in1898, the T-shirt really made it in 1913 when it became standard issue in the US Navy's uniform.

What are the benefits of polos? ›

In Sri Lanka polos or jackfruit is known as a source for increasing breast milk supply. This is why polos curry or baby jackfruit is added to a typical meal of Sri Lankan pregnant ladies.

Why do people like polo? ›

There's nothing more classic, comfortable, and casual than a Polo shirt. Since they're slightly more professional and modest-looking than traditional tee shirts, Polo shirts tend to be a popular choice for offices in warm climates where employees need to stay cool and look their best simultaneously.

What kind of people wear polo? ›

It's been worn by prepsters and politicians, super models and school kids, rockstars and rappers. “Everyone and anybody, all over the world, from all walks of life,” Mirkin explains. “Anyone can wear one,” adds fellow stylist and costume designer Miyako Bellizzi—who also just happens to be Mirkin's best friend.

What is polo shirt look like? ›

A polo shirt, also known as a golf or tennis shirt, is a top with short sleeves, a placket neckline, and two or three buttons. Polo shirts are typically made from cotton blends. These casual tops are a wardrobe staple and a standard part of a tennis, golf, or school uniform.

How do you wear T-shirts? ›

5 Ways to Dress Up a T-Shirt for Day Looks
  1. Throw on a blazer. If you can wear a T-shirt to work, dress it up by putting a blazer over it. ...
  2. Pair with a skirt. ...
  3. Wear a button-down over your T-shirt. ...
  4. Tuck into your shorts. ...
  5. Play with colors and patterns.
24 Feb 2022

What are the 4 types of clothes? ›

Casual wear – worn as standard clothing. Formal wear – worn for events such as weddings. Lingerie – undergarments worn for support and / or decoration. Sportswear – worn for athletic activities like running.

What are 5 different clothing styles? ›

21 Types Of Fashion Styles You Can Wear In 2022
  • Parisian style.
  • Athleisure style.
  • Classic style.
  • Streetwear style.
  • Business Casual style.
  • Retro style.
  • Minimalist style.
  • Vintage style.
3 Jul 2022

What is casual shirt? ›

What is a Casual Shirt? Casual shirts have less rigid collars – such as the button-down. They are made from similar fabrics, however they typically come in a wider variety of textures and weaves such as Oxford or chambray.

Which type of shirt is best for men? ›

10 Best Shirts For Every Man's Wardrobe
  • Linen Shirt. With chinos or boat shorts, casual, breezy, and perfect for the Indian summer, light soft pastel linen will always be a winner. ...
  • Classic OCBD. ...
  • Denim Shirts. ...
  • Overshirts. ...
  • Printed Shirts. ...
  • Short Sleeve Shirts. ...
  • Cuban Collar Shirts. ...
  • Dress Shirts.
24 Mar 2022

What material of shirt is best? ›

Cotton is ideal for everyday wear. It's biodegradable, so it will break down over time. Cotton is one of the best fabrics for t-shirts.

What is the most popular type of t-shirt? ›


It's the most common t-shirt type and worn by everyone. They're most suitable for men with long or narrow faces and sloped shoulders.

Is polo shirt formal or casual? ›

Yes, polos fall under business casual and are a must for a men's business casual wardrobe. I often recommend polos to my male clients because they're a step up from a t-shirt and a step down from a more formal button up shirt. They're the perfect piece that looks put together, but not like you're trying too hard.

Can you wear a polo everyday? ›

It should continue to be a mainstay in your everyday wardrobe too, as long as you wear it with style.

Are polo shirts comfortable? ›

But aside from its versatility, the polo shirt is notable for its almost universal level of comfort.

How do I choose a polo shirt? ›

  1. Length – An untucked polo shirt should end mid-fly (couple inches below belt in front) and mid-pocket in the back.
  2. Width – Through the torso, it should look fitted but not tight. You should be able to pinch 2″ of extra fabric on each side.
  3. Sleeves – The length should end halfway from shoulder to elbow.
1 Aug 2022

Which t-shirt material is most comfortable? ›

Cotton is the world's most comfortable fabric due to its exceptional breathability, weightlessness, and softness. It is also the most used fabric of all time.

Why is it called polo? ›

Polo Origin and Meaning

The name Polo is boy's name of Tibetan origin meaning "brave wanderer".

What are the different types of polos? ›

Types of Polo Fabrics
  • Cotton. Traditional cotton polo shirts are soft to the touch, easy to maintain and breathable for warm, summer afternoons on the yacht or at a family picnic. ...
  • Poly-Cotton. ...
  • Performance. ...
  • 100% Poly. ...
  • Mesh Polo. ...
  • Pique Polo. ...
  • Jersey Polo. ...
  • Interlock Polo.
28 Apr 2021

How many types of polos are there? ›

Swimming Pool Types: Your Main Options

Indoor swimming pools. Liner swimming pools. Fibreglass one-piece pools. Sprayed concrete swimming pools.

Is a polo shirt a type of t-shirt? ›

The Difference Between Polo Shirts and Other Shirts

The polo's collar gives it a slightly classier look than a t-shirt, which allows the polo to be worn to slightly more formal occasions. Although both shirts are made of cotton, polos are made of knitted cotton whereas t-shirts are made of woven cotton.

What is polo shirt material called? ›

The 3 most popular fabrics for polo shirts are cotton, polyester and a mix of polyester and cotton. Cotton Fabric.

Where is polo popular? ›

Polo is played all over the planet and over 50 countries worldwide are involved in the game. The dominant nations are Argentina, the USA and Britain, each of which has a thriving polo scene and industry. Other polo hotspots include New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Dubai, China, Chile and Spain.

Is polo gender neutral? ›

Although polo shirts are generally unisex, most manufactures also create a women's line as well. There are some key manufacturing differences between the two like shirt dimensions, style design, button locations, and logo placement.

Who invented polo? ›

The Origins of the Sport

Mounted nomads in Central Asia played a version of polo that was part sport and part training for war, with as many as 100 men on a side. The game followed the nomads' migration to Persia (modern Iran) some time between 600 B.C. and 100 A.D.

Is polo considered T-shirt? ›

The Difference Between Polo Shirts and Other Shirts

The polo's collar gives it a slightly classier look than a t-shirt, which allows the polo to be worn to slightly more formal occasions. Although both shirts are made of cotton, polos are made of knitted cotton whereas t-shirts are made of woven cotton.

Are polo shirts considered t shirts? ›

Key Difference – Polo vs T Shirt

T shirts have various designs and styles, but polo shirts typically have a standard design. The key difference between polo and t shirt is their design; polo shirts typically have a collar and placket with two or three buttons beneath the collar whereas most t shirts don't have collars.

What are the two types of polo? ›

Most polos are knitted and there are two main types or structures: pique and jersey.

What is T-shirt called? ›

A T-shirt (also spelled tee shirt), or tee, is a style of fabric shirt named after the T shape of its body and sleeves. Traditionally, it has short sleeves and a round neckline, known as a crew neck, which lacks a collar. T-shirts are generally made of a stretchy, light, and inexpensive fabric and are easy to clean.

What style is a polo shirt? ›

A polo shirt, also known as a golf or tennis shirt, is a top with short sleeves, a placket neckline, and two or three buttons. Polo shirts are typically made from cotton blends. These casual tops are a wardrobe staple and a standard part of a tennis, golf, or school uniform.

How many types of polo are there? ›

Volkswagen Polo is available in 23 different versions.

Which brand polo is best? ›

The Best Polo Shirts For Men, From Stylish To Sporty
  • Highest Quality Polo Shirt: Ralph Lauren Classic Fit Polo Shirt.
  • Most Comfortable Polo Shirt: Uniqlo Dry Pique Short-Sleeve Polo Shirt.
  • Best Performance Polo Shirt: Nike Golf Dri-Fit Polo.
  • Best High-End Polo Shirt: Ted Baker Embroidered Oversized Polo Shirt.
27 Sept 2022

Why are polos called polos? ›

Company legend has it that he chose the name Polo because it derived from Polar and he thought that this implied the cool freshness of mint.


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