Polo Shirt Buyers Guide

Since 1933 the polo shirt (originally "tennis shirt") has become so popular it is now the largest category of apparel next to t-shirts. In the 90's it became the standard for informal business attire. As its popularity grew, so did the number of styles, colors, and fabrics. Today there are thousands of polo shirt styles to choose from. Consumers can find themselves confused and misinformed as to which style of polo shirt is best suited for their needs.

Performance Polo Shirts

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

The performance polo shirt category is dominated by high end brands such as Nike, Adidas and Under Armour. As a result, you will pay a bit more for these shirts. From a decoration standpoint, performance polo's are an excellent choice for embroidery but only a limited number of styles are suitable for screenprinting. Popular performance polo's include the Nike 203690 Dri-Fit with UV sun protection rated at SPF 30 and the Under Armour 128703 Tech Polo.

Blended Polo Shirts

Port Authority k500 Polo
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 many performance polo shirts they embroider logos well but are typically not suitable for screen printing. A favorite blended polo recommended by our food service customers is the K500 by Port Authority its reasonably priced, looks great, and starts at around 12 bucks for a dozen!

100% Cotton Polo Shirts

Port Authority K420 polo shirt
Cotton polo shirts look great and provide excellent comfort. 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 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 quite a bit. 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 Port Authority K420.

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