Are Polo Shirts Too Casual Even for Business Casual?

Man in a polo shirt working in an office
Image via iStock.

Depending on your workplace, business casual can mean a lot of different things. Some companies essentially view it as permission for you to not bother with a jacket and tie, but still keep the slacks, dress shoes, and button-down shirt.

Other places feel a plain pair of jeans and nice-looking sneakers are also acceptable under this dress code. But how does something like a polo shirt get categorized for a typical business casual workplace?

The answer depends heavily on what you choose to accessorize the shirt with. When worn with something like sneakers and a pair of shorts, the polo shirt is no longer enough to exude a formal professional vibe.

That kind of outfit would look more like something you might wear to go play some golf. But that is not to say that polo shirts always give off an impression of being athletic gear.

If you want to wear a polo shirt as part of your professional ensemble, you have to match it with similarly professional attire choices. Even in a typical business casual environment you still want to go with dress shoes and some slacks, and it will look more presentable to have your shirt tucked in.

It also depends on how the shirt itself looks. Some people make the mistake of assuming any shirt with a collar can be classified as professional. But unless your office is more laid back, sticking with neutral, solid colors is wisest. It will also make a better impression if you remember to iron your polos every time before wearing them.

All in all, a polo shirt will most often be considered acceptable for your business casual workplace. But as is usually the case when in doubt about your wardrobe, look to what others wear on a day-to-day basis at your workplace. Seeing what is normal for longtime employees to wear will give you a better sense for what you can start implementing into your style.

Whether your company’s notion of business casual is on the formal side or more laid back, the polo shirt is versatile enough to be a daily part of your outfits.

If you’re still wondering, “are polo shirts business casual?” check out this post where we explore whether a polo shirt is acceptable business casual attire for men a little deeper.


Alpha M has common sense suggestions for selecting and wearing a polo shirt at work or on a night out.


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