Men’s Style Essentials: On Your Torso

Putting together outfits is a complicated dance between coordinating what you have on your feet, to what you’re wearing on your legs, to what you’re wearing up top — all while keeping fit and situational awareness in mind. If you abide by the idea of a personal uniform, an outfit that you love to wear (and one that looks great on you), it makes picking out what to wear a breeze…almost. Sticking with well-fitting classics can be a great way to develop said uniform — this look, whatever that might be, is something you would feel comfortable throwing on day after day, with different variations of color and in different settings, ideally. Starting that process out with a clean, simple white polo can be a terrific foundation from which to build outfits and eventually experiment with more color. As it’s primarily a warm-weather option, it may not work for as many months of the year as it would for those of us in different, more temperate climates. But when it does warm up, here’s yet another option for casual wear.

The 'Classic Polo' in white from Old Navy. About as inexpensive & simple as it gets.
The ‘Classic Polo’ in white from Old Navy. About as inexpensive & simple as it gets.

If you’re in college, a white polo (or really, any polo) can be a nice, simple step to take away from the typical graphic t-shirt or plain shirt it seems so many guys wear. And many options are available at outstanding prices; Old Navy, for one, offers tremendous deals. But in terms of color, white is only a starting point; other color polos (when paired with neutral shorts, for example), achieve the same effect as a white polo. When it comes to versatility (and if you’d like to experiment with ‘loud’ shorts or an eye-catching watch strap), white is definitely one way to go. Navy is a great starting point, too, as it pairs with several different outfits and works in nearly identical settings as a white polo.

Putting on a collared shirt where you would typically wear a t-shirt (say, to the grocery store, for example) is more crisp and put-together looking; it can easily turn into something you do on a daily basis. And for the day-to-day college student, a polo is easy and simple; it dresses you up just enough without going into full-on suit territory. The right white polo would pair with jeans off-duty, with rolled chinos and loafers for casual wear, or with shorts for a hot trek across campus. And with desert boots and dark jeans, you have a solid foundation to throw in some pops of color with crazy socks or a bright watch strap. The perfect template for a casual outfit, if there ever was one.

A white polo lets show mix in other colors without overdoing it. Shorts by J. Crew.
A white polo lets you mix in other colors without overdoing it. Shorts by J. Crew.

On another note, a polo is polished without going too far over the ‘over-dressed’ line. If you’re looking to make small, easy upgrades, swapping that graphic t-shirt out for a polo makes a lot of sense.  Wearing better clothing, clothing that fits, helps you feel better, too; increased confidence translates to better grades, better work performance…you name it, well-fitting clothing can help you achieve it.

Outside of the classroom, even in a business casual setting, nailing the fit of the polo is something that can help you stand out in the right way. The ideal polo should fit trim through the body, with sleeves that hit about mid-bicep. Some polos, like the option pictured from Old Navy, have a bit of a longer back tail, which makes it tougher to wear untucked. Ideally, the polo should be fitted enough to wear either tucked in or untucked. J. Crew’s slub polos seem to hit the sweet spot on a personal note, as do options from Sunspel (although those are a bit on the pricey side; be warned). When it comes to fabric, the slub fabric and its texture are less dressy than a pique polo’s closer weave, but either option would do fine in a college campus or business casual setting, especially in a crisp, white color.

Using the white polo as a blank palette to build in other colors is a tremendous way to upgrade an outfit, too. White polo with red shorts? Sure, that works. As do blue shorts. And just about any other color you can think of. Dialing down the loudness of your shoes by wearing a clean, simple plimsoll or canvas sneaker accentuates your shorts or other colors in your outfit.

For versatility, a white polo hits the nail on the head. It can be matched with any other color, it can pair with jeans, chinos or shorts, and it can dress you up the right way for class, a date or a casual day at the office. It can be layered under a v-neck sweater during the cold months just as you would layer an OCBD, too (check out option #5 on this post for ways to wear a polo in cold weather). It may be basic, but by combining a simple polo with other colors, you can get more wear out of one garment than any other in your closet.

-Beau

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