I find that deciding what to wear during the summer can be tricky. We tend to dress less formally, which means that less clear rules apply. The more formal the context, the more conservative and explicit the dress code. Thus, in a less formal context less clear dress codes apply.
In addition, that it is warmer in the summer months means that we often look to dress in a more relaxed style. This includes brighter colours, cooler fabrics, short sleeves, open collars, and, of course, summer polos.
Despite the name polo shirts were originally designed for tennis players by Lacoste in the 1920s but were later adopted by polo players and golfers. For some reason, perhaps because of the greater perceived glamour of polo, it was the polo name that stuck here in Britain though it may be that some of my US readers would know them as tennis shirts.
Polo shirts are the perfect in–between shirt. With their collar and upper button placket, they are less informal than T-shirts but also less formal than regular button up shirts. Polos work as well with a pair of jeans or linens as they do with a pair of chinos or moleskins.
If you are looking to dress down a pair of smart trousers or a linen jacket, again summer polos can work for you.
Unlike T-shirts, polos can be tucked into the trousers if one is not aiming for a very causal look. However, on more relaxed occasions they work just as well untucked.
Polos are available with either short or long sleeves, come in a wide range of colours, and are available with or without breast pockets. They are worn by women as well as men and as with all wardrobe items polos can vary enormously in quality and price.
Matalan has polos in their summer sale now starting as low as £5. See also savilrowco.com with polos from £18–20. At the other end of the spectrum are M&S Men and Charles Tyrwhitt with prices ranging from £16–37.
The great thing about polos is that they allow you to add some colour to your ensemble if you wish or to go with more conservative colours if you prefer.
If you haven’t included them in your 5YP you might wish to reconsider. There will be occasions in which a short-sleeved formal shirt is about as informal as you wish to be. For less formal occasions, however, it’s difficult to beat a great polo shirt.