Guide: Polos

Note: some of these shirts were provided at a discount or for free, please see the original reviews for more information.

Finding a performance polo that blends in and has a sharp looking collar can be quite the task. This guide walks you through each of the polos we have tested, and how we think they perform. For this guide, we assume you are looking for polos for the warmer seasons and are looking for them to be versatile, from casual to business casual.

Bluffworks Piton Polo

Our review.

The Good: The fabric is pique knit, giving it nice visual interest and a nice matte finish so it blends in. Great collar that doesn’t require any fussiness out of the wash. Very breathable and light. Packs well with no wrinkles.

The Not Good: After one day of wear, the armpits smell a bit. With a quick rinse in the sink I can get a second day.

Overall: The lightweight textured fabric and great collar give this polo a classic look with the performance of 100% synthetic. The wrinkle resistance is excellent.

Mack Weldon SILVERKNIT Polo

Our review.

The Good: The fabric looks and drapes just like a standard cotton pique polo. The length works well for wearing tucked or untucked. The collar stays sharp as long as you pay attention how it dries. The odor resistant content of the fabric lives up to expectations, giving me 3 wears.

The Not Good: There is Mack Weldon branding along the side seam on the back of the shirt.

Overall: This is a great polo, soft, odor resistant, sharp collar, and versatile with no indication that it is technical.

Ministry of Supply Apollo 3 Polo

Our review.

The Good: Extremely breathable fabric and stiff collar that always stands up and looks sharp no matter what you throw at it.

The Not Good: The thickness of the fabric can keep it from drying as fast as other synthetic polos (although it does manage sweat very well). The collar can look a bit unnatural at times and the heavy drape gives it away as something different. There is no odor resistance here.

Overall: This is a polo you can depend on pulling right out of your bag and having it look perfect. The breathability overcomes the thickness of the fabric from a comfort perspective. Can be worn tucked or untucked.

Ministry of Supply Composite Slim Fit Polo

Our review.

The Good: The fabric is extremely soft and looks and drapes like a light cotton polo. I can depend on two wears (the merino content is only 15%). The length is perfect for wearing untucked. The collar performs well and never looks floppy. Slim fit.

The Not Good: Only 2 wears, better than average but not standout. The shorter length makes it harder to keep tucked in. The slim fit will not be for everyone. The two button (short) placket keeps this more in the casual realm.

Overall: As you can see, this polo is full of trade-offs. If you are looking for a polo geared to casual wear only and you are looking for a slim fit, this might be the polo for you.

Wool&Prince 100% Merino Wool Polo

Our review.

The Good: Feels and drapes like a soft, well worn cotton t-shirt. The collar stays put and looks sharp as long as you pay attention to how it dries. Has that magic merino odor resistance.

The Not Good: The 205 gsm fabric makes it too warm much above 80 °F, even in low humidity.

Overall: A great polo except for the weight of the fabric. If you want 100% merino, this is the way to go. Otherwise, you probably want to look to one of the other options.

Wool&Prince Polo

Our review.

The Good: The drape and hand-feel of the fabric are spot on. Being a merino blend, there is great odor resistance. The collar stays put and looks sharp as long as you pay attention to how it dries.

The Not Good: Picks up wrinkles fairly easily.

Overall: This is a great polo with the caveat of wrinkles since is it a light merino fabric. If you want the odor resistance of merino with the durability of a blend and the versatility of a lighter fabric, this is the way to go.

My Pick

Not taking odor resistance into account, my top choice is the Bluffworks Piton Polo, with the Mack Weldon SILVERKNIT not far behind.

The Piton polo for me is the most versatile all around with its lighter fabric, excellent wrinkle resistance (the Apollo 3 is the only shirt that is more wrinkle resistant), and ease of wear from casual to business casual.

The SILVERKNIT polo gives you some extra odor resistance along with some seasonal colors to break up the typical blues, greys, and blacks of performance wear.

If you place odor resistance at the top of your list, the two Wool&Prince polos would be my pick. Which one would depend on the climate you plan to wear them in.

Some other options not reviewed

I even purchased and returned some without giving them a test

  • Ably Ranger Polo: I’ve been interested in Ably Apparel’s Filium technology, and this looked just like a normal cotton pique polo. The dealbreaker was that the collar looked mis-proportioned to me.
  • Arcteryx A2B Short Sleeve Polo: The collar and button placket were shiny and nylon-y and stood out too much from the rest of the shirt.
  • RYU Tech Polo: The collar and button placket were weirdly stiff and nylon-y, the collar also didn’t lay right — it was stiff and floppy at the same time.
  • Triple Aught Design Caliber Polo: The fabric and webbing to attach the buttons made this one too casual.

Getting Started: What to Buy

I would recommend getting started with two (or three) shirts, this will give you a base to wear to the office during the warmer months and give some versatility for travel. Here’s what I would buy:

  1. Bluffworks Piton Polo Shirt in Spun Grey: This is my most worn polo. I tend to stick to dark pants, so I favor light shirts. Light grey looks better with dark grey than blue or navy with navy, so I tend to go with light grey shirts to get the most versatility.
  2. Mack Weldon SILVERKNIT in True Navy: This is your classic navy pique polo for work and play with great performance in the heat. The mid-level odor resistance makes it nice for shorter trips.
  3. Wool&Prince Polo in Grey End-on-End: This makes for a nice dressier polo. It also works well for longer trips where you want a shirt that can be worn many times between washes.
Guide: Polos

Wool&Prince Polo

When it comes to wool shirting, Wool&Prince is our go to. Ben gave their 100% Merino Polo (our review) a test last summer and loved it except for the weight, it was too heavy for warm climates. As part of preparing for a roundup of polos (coming soon), I gave the merino blend Polo a try.

Fabric

This polo is made of a 160 gsm blend of 78% 17.5 micron merino and 22% nylon. I’ll let Wool&Prince explain the yarn, as it doesn’t sound like a traditional core spun fiber:

“Traditionally, blended yarns are constructed by mixing fibers from two different sources and then spinning the mixed fibers. We took a different approach and spun a 17.5 micron wool core with two small nylon filaments.”

As advertised, the drape and hand feel of the fabric are great. It drapes heavy, so it looks a little more dressy than your standard cotton, t-shirt-like polo. The fabric feels soft and doesn’t have any of the itch some feel from the Wool&Prince button-downs, most likely due to the finer micron wool used here.

Fit

The fit on the polo is slim but not athletic. It has a classic straight shape, but doesn’t look boxy. I wear a L Regular in Wool&Prince shirting, and an XL fit me well here. With the traditional split drop tail, the length was a little long for me to wear it untucked in all but casual situations.

Overall, the style makes this polo fit in any situation where a polo is appropriate.

Comfort and Performance

The softness of the fabric makes this polo soft and comfortable like your favorite merino t-shirt. I found the weight of 160 gsm to make it substantial enough to not be see-thru, while remaining cool even in warm weather. However, since merino does hold more moisture than 100% synthetic fabrics, you tend to feel sweat a bit. This is somewhat counteracted that the fabric dries fairly quickly.

The collar is always a dealbreaker on a polo. In order to look sharp and blend in with a performance polo, the collar has to look right. In this case, they did a nice job stiffening this collar up a little bit with some interfacing between two layers of fabric. If you make sure the collar dries in the shape you want, it will remain sharp through multiple wears (and even packing).

Speaking of packing, I did find the shirt to pick up wrinkles fairly easily when packed. A quick steam and they are gone, but something to keep in mind if you want a polo that can be pulled out of your bag and be ready to go.

Finally, odor resistance. As expected, the nylon content in the fabric reduces the resistance some, but not enough that this isn’t my most odor-resistant polo. Surprisingly, what has made me wash this polo so far has been smells picked up from the environment (food odors).

Overall

This is a great polo, and if you are looking for merino performance, this is the one to get. The softness of the fabric makes it just as comfortable as a t-shirt while keeping you looking sharp with a dependable collar. Even more compelling, at a price of $78, you aren’t paying a huge premium for that merino performance.

Wool&Prince Polo

Bluffworks Threshold T-Shirt

Note: This shirt was provided by Bluffworks for review.

As we mentioned in our review of the Piton Polo (our review), Bluffworks also recently released a new t-shirt, the Threshold T-Shirt. The market is quite saturated with great t-shirts right now, so we hold them to a high standard. Bluffworks managed to take a technical shirt and impart almost merino level odor resistant technology, all while keeping the technical look (mostly) at bay.

Fabric

The fabric here is a wrinkle-free 66% polyester, 29% Lyocell, 5% elastane blend with embedded gold and silver nanoparticles.

To start off, the fabric itself is soft and lightweight, while being substantial enough to drape well. It has a nice stretch to it (although doesn’t feel like it has 5% elastane content). I think the elastane in this knit is more to help the shirt keep it’s shape, and Bluffworks claims that the blend of elastane and Lyocell lends to the soft hand feel. Additionally, the knit is tight enough to be UPF 50+ rated but still breathable.

The only (slight) downfall to the fabric is in bright light, you can see a slight technical sheen. Not a dealbreaker, but something to keep in mind.

If they stopped here, I’d say Bluffworks made a worthy contender in the performance synthetic t-shirt market. That not being enough, they added a metal nanoparticle treatment to impart excellent odor resistance to the shirt.

Fit

As always, Bluffworks offers a great range of cut (Classic & Slim) and length (Regular & Tall) options for the t-shirt. I found the fit to be similar to the polo, with a Slim XL fitting me the best (the Classic L was similar, but the Slim sat better across my shoulders and neck). I would say neither cut is athletic nor baggy and both can look great as an all around t-shirt.

One observation on sizing — I found the length to be a little shorter than many of my other t-shirts. I think it gives the shirt more of a classic silhouette and is something to keep in mind when choosing a size.

Comfort & Performance

The t-shirt wicks sweat away well and dries quickly. This is one area where merino isn’t king. On a hot, sweaty day or workout, merino tends to get heavy while synthetics are better at wicking to the surface of the fabric to help evaporation.

The claim of the t-shirt being wrinkle-free is also something that I noticed while wearing the shirt. It tended to have less wrinkling from being folded up in my drawer or packing cube and it doesn’t get those light wrinkles that show up in a light merino T after a days wear.

Finally, the most surprising performance attribute — odor resistance. The treatment on this shirt gives it almost, if not merino-like, odor resistant properties. It is certainly the most odor resistant synthetic t-shirt I’ve ever tried.

Overall

Bluffworks has a top competitor with their Threshold T-Shirt. It looks and feels great with top notch odor resistance. It is going to get a lot of wear from me this summer and I’m looking forward to seeing how the odor resistance holds up over time and how the shirt resists pilling (a downfall I found in my previous favorite synthetic T).

If you are looking for a performance T that isn’t wool, you’ve found the one. Even against merino shirts, this one holds its own.


Ben’s Thoughts

I tested the peak white color and I found my new white t-shirt. I love it, and in fact in picking what I could bring on my person for my upcoming move (versus what the movers bring) this t-shirt was the first one I grabbed. The handfeel is soft, and slightly slick, but it is very comfortable. In fact, I’ll likely pick up a couple more. Two thumbs up.

Bluffworks Threshold T-Shirt