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How To Wear A Polo Shirt To A Wedding (Properly)

March 29, 2023
How To Wear A Polo Shirt To A Wedding (Properly)

Wedding dress codes aren’t simple. People often make the mistake of “winging it” and hoping for the best, only to be the victim of a fashion faux pas as soon as they walk in. The question is, can you wear a polo shirt to a wedding? 

Polo shirts can be worn to casual summer weddings where the heat would make it acceptable to wear one, although a long-sleeved button-up shirt made from a breathable fabric would always be preferable. Before wearing a polo to a wedding, clarify the dress code with the wedding couple. 

Although that’s the short answer, as you’d expect, there’s a whole lot more to it. 

You need to know whether you can really wear a polo shirt to the specific wedding you’re going to. If you think you can, you also need to know how to do it in a way that doesn’t look awkward. 

So, let’s get to it. 

Image From DepositPhotos

When Can You Wear A Polo Shirt To A Wedding? 

A polo shirt can usually be worn to casual summer weddings where the heat would make long-sleeved collared shirts too uncomfortable. 

It’s a pretty specific set of conditions that need to be met: 

  • Casual wedding
  • Heat
  • A long-sleeved shirt would be too uncomfortable

As you can see, a polo shirt wouldn’t usually be appropriate for a wedding. A long-sleeved shirt would almost always be the preferable option. 

But a polo shirt can be worn without looking underdressed in certain circumstances. 

The main trouble comes with the first condition – “casual wedding”. 

“Casual” can mean lots of different things, depending on who you ask. You and the wedding couple may have a completely different understanding of what it means. 

You might think “polo shirt and khakis”, while the wedding couple may think “Oxford shirt and slacks”. 

That’s why it’s always a good idea to check with the wedding couple before turning up in a polo shirt. 

Being underdressed at a wedding is never a nice feeling. You won’t just look out of place at the wedding itself – you’ll also be “that guy” in the wedding photos. 

If the wedding truly is casual and it’s going to be very hot, there’s a good chance the wedding couple will say a polo shirt is completely fine. 

They’d want their guests to feel comfortable at their wedding and not struggle with the intense heat. 

OK, so once you’ve determined that a polo shirt would probably be acceptable for the wedding, it’s important to wear it the right way. 

Read on to find out exactly how to do that. 

How To Wear A Polo Shirt To A Wedding (5 Tips)

Use these 5 tips to wear the polo shirt to the wedding in the most effective and “formal” way possible. 

1. No Branding

Polo shirts are a staple of smart-casual clothing. Large logos and in-your-face branding have become closely linked with them. 

The Ralph Lauren logo is a classic example. While it may be iconic and instantly recognizable, it would also make a polo look way too casual for a wedding. 

The bottom line here is to make sure that the polo shirt has minimal branding – no logos, no writing – nothing. 

It should be a solid, single color and nothing else. 

2. Neutral Colors

When wearing a polo to a wedding, stick to light, neutral colors such as white and off-white. Avoid black polos for weddings whenever possible, as they almost always come across as inappropriate.

It’s common to find polos in bright and bold colors – pink, orange, green, etc. They’re great for casual summer wear, but they’ll definitely look too casual for a wedding. 

Instead, go for a more subtle and neutral color – off-white, navy blue, olive green, or beige would be good examples. 

These colors look more formal, sure. 

But they’ll also be a lot easier to color-match with other items you’re going to be wearing. 

Avoid loud and in-your-face polos when attending a wedding
(Image From DepositPhotos)

3. Wear Dress Slacks

The key is to make the polo shirt the most casual item you’re wearing. Everything else you wear should definitely lean more toward the more formal end of the spectrum.

This definitely includes your pants. 

Definitely avoid jeans at all costs. A polo shirt and jeans should never be worn to a wedding as they’ll look too casual, even for the most casual of weddings. 

While this may not be a popular opinion, chinos would probably not be a good idea if you were wearing a polo shirt. 

Although chinos and an OCBD would probably be fine, chinos and a polo would usually look too casual to be worn to a wedding. 

Instead, use your pants as an opportunity to compensate for how casual your polo shirt looks. 

Go for slacks in a breathable and comfortable material instead. 

4. Wear A Blazer Or Sports Coat

A blazer or sports coat would definitely be worth wearing on top of your polo shirt to make it look a little dressier and more appropriate for a wedding. 

The main problem here would be the heat. 

But the beauty of a blazer/sports coat would be that you could take it on and off again depending on how you feel. 

Simply carrying one with you would still make you come across as though you’ve made some effort to dress up. 

When you’re wearing a polo shirt, that’s important to consider. 

5. Leather Loafers At A Minimum 

Your choice of shoes becomes more important when wearing a polo shirt. Choose dress shoes that demonstrate that you’ve made an effort. 

Loafers would probably be the least formal you could potentially go. 

They’d be a good choice because their ankle-exposing uppers would be comfortable in the heat, while still looking formal enough to work well at a “casual” wedding. 

While you’d probably get away with suede loafers, a shinier grain of leather, such as calfskin or cowhide, would be a safer option. 

They’ll make it clear that you’re dressing for a special occasion and not just a random party. 

You could, of course, go for a more formal pair of dress shoes. It’s important not to go so formal that it looks out of sync with the traditionally casual polo shirt. 

A pair of black cap-toe Oxfords would usually look a little strange when you’re wearing a polo shirt. 

Derby shoes or monk straps would be better options as they’re more versatile. They’re formal enough to show that you’ve made an effort and casual enough to work well with a polo shirt. 

Once again, while leather would look sharper, you could probably get away with suede in a dark color. 

Related Reading:

Can Men Wear A White Shirt To A Wedding

Can You Wear A Black Shirt To A Wedding?

How To Wear A Polo Shirt With Dress Pants

How To Wear A Short-Sleeve Shirt To A Wedding

Casual Alternatives To A Polo Shirt At A Wedding

While it may seem as though a polo shirt is the only option at a hot, casual, summer wedding, there are long-sleeved alternatives. 

They’re breathable, but also more formal-looking than a regular polo shirt. 

Consider these fabrics before you make your decision. 

1. Linen Shirt

Linen is about as casual and summery as a long-sleeved shirt can get. 

Yes, it’s classically wrinkly – but many say that’s part of its charm. 

It’ll look casual, but not as casual as a short-sleeved shirt such as a polo. 

It may be ideal for a truly casual summer wedding. It’s breathable and comfortable to wear in the heat thanks to its open weave and gauze-like structure. 

2. Cotton Poplin Shirt

Cotton poplin is a very lightweight fabric that people often don’t consider. 

It has a smooth, plain weave, and has the benefit of not wrinkling very easily. 

Cotton is often seen as a good option for the summer, but people often forget or don’t realize that there are many different types of “cotton”. 

Some of these will be heavier and more uncomfortable in the heat than others. 

Cotton poplin is one of the good ones. 

3. Cotton Chambray Shirt

Cotton chambray has quite a textured finish. It looks similar to denim, but not quite as rugged. 

It’s also much more lightweight with denim, making it more breathable and comfortable to wear in the heat. 

While it isn’t as silky smooth as a regular dress shirt would usually be, a long-sleeved cotton chambray shirt would still look more formal and wedding-appropriate than a polo shirt. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some FAQs on the topic to really round things up.

Can You Wear A Long-Sleeve Polo To A Wedding?

A long-sleeve polo may be appropriate to wear to a casual wedding. Stick to light, neutral colors such as white or beige. In addition, dress the long-sleeve polo up by pairing it with slacks or smart chinos, a blazer or sports jacket, and dress shoes. This should reduce the risk of underdressing.

At the end of the day, a long-sleeve polo still wouldn’t be as “safe” as a button-up shirt would be when attending a wedding.

However, if you’ve been explicitly told that comfort is being prioritized over formality, it may be a pretty good way to go. In general, it’ll also look smarter than a short-sleeved polo.

Can You Wear A Polo With A Blazer To A Wedding?

A polo and blazer combination can be worn to casual weddings where the wedding couple has made it clear they’re going for a dressed-down vibe. Go for a white or beige polo and pair it with a dressy blazer color such as dark blue or grey.

The key to pulling off the look is to balance the casualness of the polo with the formality of the blazer. Ultimately, a blazer is an easy way to add a notch of sophistication to the outfit, while the polo keeps things comfortable and laid-back.

One thing to note is that blazers/sports jackets can sometimes be tricky to wear with polo shirts, simply because the collar and placket can be awkward.

Round things up with a pair of slacks or chinos, and strongly consider a pocket square to make it clear you’ve made an effort for the occasion.

Can You Wear Jeans And A Polo To A Wedding?

No, you shouldn’t ever wear jeans and a polo to a wedding. The combination is too casual for even the most casual of weddings and will likely appear offensive or disrespectful to the couple.

While a polo can be (just about) acceptable for a casual wedding, it’s important to combine it with the right clothing to avoid looking underdressed.

Jeans are the epitome of casual attire and will almost always come across as too casual for a wedding, especially when you’re wearing a casual-looking polo shirt.

Instead, go for dress pants or chinos in a neutral color such as a cream tone, grey, or navy.

Can You Wear A Polo Shirt To A Beach Wedding?

A polo shirt can be worn to a casual beach wedding, but never a formal one. It’s important to note that beach weddings aren’t always casual, and there are plenty that will require a button-up shirt.

That’s why it’s important to be extra clear about the dress code.

You don’t want to be the only guest in a polo, surrounded by sharply dressed men in button-up shirts and 2-piece linen suits.


While polo shirts aren’t the ideal option for a wedding, they can be appropriate for casual summer weddings. However, it’s important to recognize that a long-sleeved alternative in a breathable fabric would always be preferable.