Polo Shirts: How I Roll

April 27, 2011

Polo Shirts: How I Roll

Two categories of clothing entered my wardrobe when I moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles that I never expected: shorts and polo shirts. Both are, in my opinion, fairly maligned. The worst sartorial transgressions often involve one or both. That said, when it’s 93 degrees outside and you’re prone to crippling, heat-induced migraine headaches (me), you do what you have to.

I’m 6’3", so the most difficult challenge for me has been finding polos that retain enough length to cover my midriff, and don’t balloon around my waistline. Lacoste polos, for example, though the classic choice, start out just barely long enough and within a few washes shrink to Britney Spears-like lengths. No one wants to see my happy trail.

I’ve found two solutions to the problem. The most frequently occuring polo in my wardrobe is by Benjamin Bixby (which Derek covered in his roundup, earlier). Bixby (which is now, sadly, out of business) fit long and lean, without being skinny. Since that describes me, pretty much, I bought half a dozen when they were clearing them out at a discount store in San Francisco. While I generally avoid branding, I make an exception for the Bixby hot air balloon, which I find charming (and which no one recognizes). As Derek pointed out, some of the shirts from the last season have moved from discounters to eBay at very affordable prices.

Of course, recommending a defunct brand isn’t exactly Best Practices for style bloggers. I did, however, come up with a solution that I think will work for me long into the future: Lands’ End. I often circle back to Lands’ End when I’m looking for simple, well-made basics at an affordable price. Between the reasonable retail and frequent sales, LE polos are often less than $20.

The great drawback of Lands’ End, of course, is that they’re cut for older, more traditional customers. (That’s a nice way of saying overweight people who wear baggy clothes.) I found that my 6’3", 200 pound frame fit perfectly in a size medium tall. Long enough for me, even with machine washing and drying, and slim around the waist.

If you’re not exceptionally tall, you should be able to size down successfully with the standard length shirts. If you’re tall and you’ve got a chest of 42" or so, a medium tall should work well, with large and XL progressing naturally in roughly 2" increments. Lands’ End also now offers a “Tailored Fit” polo (thanks, Kevin). I haven’t tried these yet, but my experience with tailored fit is that it’s a good fit for the mid-weight man (ie: not thin, not athletic, not more than a few pounds overweight). No matter what, Lands’ End’s return policy is one of the best in the business – wear it, wash it, if it doesn’t work out, return it via mail or to your local Sears and they’ll give you your money back, no questions asked.