Polo Shirt Buyers Guide

Since 1933 the polo shirt (originally "tennis shirt") has become so popular it is now the largest category of apparel besides t-shirts. And, in the 1990's it became the standard for informal business attire. As its popularity grew, so did the number of styles. Today there are thousands of polo shirt styles on the market. Consumers can find themselves confused and misinformed as to which style of polo shirt is best for their needs.

Performance Polo Shirts

Nike 203690 polo shirt
Nike 203690
Performance polo's are all about comfort and style under extreme conditions. They are popular with golfers, athletes and employees that want to maintain a business casual appearance when active in hot conditions.

The performance polo shirt category tends to be dominated by higher end brands such as Nike, Adidas and Bobby Jones. As a result you will tend to pay more for these shirts. From a decoration standpoint, performance polo's are an excellent choice for embroidery but are not suitable for printing. Popular performance polo's include the Nike 203690 Dri-Fit with UV sun protection rated at SPF 30 and The Adidas A21 Climalite golf shirt with anti-microbial treatment to reduce odor.

Blended Polo Shirts

Jerzees 438M polo shirt
Jerzees 438M
Blended polo shirts are a tradeoff between cost and performance. Blended polo's make excellent work uniforms due to their reasonable price point, resistance to stains, and their durability.

Like performance polo shirts they embroider logos well but are typically not suitable for printing, although it is commonly done with mixed results. A favorite blended polo recommended by our food service customers is the 438M by Jerzees its reasonably priced, looks great, and is stain resistant starting at around $12!

100% Cotton Polo Shirts

Devon and Jones D100 polo shirt
Devon & Jones D100
Cotton polo shirts look great and provide the most comfort of all your options. Cotton polo's do have some disadvantages over blended and performance polo's. Any shirt that is 100% cotton can and will shrink. Manufacturers will ship them both preshrunk and a bit oversized to accommodate any additional shrinkage, however the shrinkage may not always be predictable. A customer that washes in hot water and/or dries in high heat will likely shrink almost any 100% cotton knot polo shirt. Cotton is also prone to wrinkles and is not very stain resistant.

There are several different types of cotton and a few different fabric styles. Interlock cotton shirts have a soft, smooth texture. Pique knit shirts are the most common and many customers call it "holey" or "bumpy". Some pique fabrics are heavier and some finer but this is usually determined by the type of cotton. Combed cotton is the most basic and cheapest cotton. Pique polo shirts with combed cotton tend to be heavier. Pima cotton is usually finer as it is a finer thread. Pima cotton tends to have fewer imperfections/impediments so it is a finer softer thread than just combed cotton. Our most popular 100% pima cotton polo style is the D100 by Devon & Jones.

Jersy Knit Polo Shirts (T-Shirts with a collar)

2003 Outer Banks polo shirt
Outer Banks 2003
Jersey knit polo shirts are the most cost effective shirt you can buy. From a style standpoint they are a small step up from a t-shirt thus the description "T-Shirt with a collar". These shirts typically do not hold up well to repeated washing cycles and are not particularly stain resistant. Jersey knit polo can be decorated with embroidery, DTG Printing, or silkscreening with DTG printing or silkscreening providing the best looking result.