The Sweater Polo Is Your Secret Weapon Spring Wardrobe Item

It's swolo season, you guys

March 2, 2023 12:41 pm
a collage of the best knit polos for men on a red dotted backgorund
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Prep resurgence or not, it’s apparent that the classic polo is, shall we say, out of fashion. A relic of the ’80s business scene and frat boy closets everywhere, the OG polo has been, perhaps appropriately, relegated to country clubs and stuffy offices. Rising in its place, however, is its cousin and a style we’ll readily endorse, on account of its luxe origins, endless versatility and general swagginess: the knit polo.

Hollywood Cannot Keep Its Hands Off This Knit Sweater Polo
Miles Teller, Chris Evans and Oscar Isaac are all confirmed Todd Snyder acolytes

More a bombshell sweater than a lame wrinkled polo, the knit version has skyrocketed in popularity over the past decade, as wardrobes have loosened up and men have realized there are more options available to them. A product of the 1950s,. the best knit polos contain a multitude of retro charm and fitted tastefulness, a one-two punch of sexy and sophisticated.

What Exactly Is a Knit Polo?

Popularized in the mid-20th century by Italian designers, the knit polo incorporates the classic collared design with a woven, sweater-like material, rather than stiff pique cotton or, more recently, that cheap-looking T-shirt cotton. Utilizing silk, merino wool or cozy cotton-blends, knit polos are crafted to be lightweight, breathable and soft, a vacation-forward shirt to wear by the pool or on a balmy European holiday.

The style has since been co-opted into mainstream menswear as a dressy, event-appropriate knit that’s infinitely cooler than a stuffy button-down and doesn’t need a blazer to blow minds but certainly works well beneath one. A favorite style of everyone from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to Paul McCartney, the appeal of the knit polo is in its simplicity.

What To Consider When Buying a Knit Polo:

Material: As we’ve mentioned, knit polos are typically woven from looser, more breathable materials than their classic cousins. If you’re looking or a warmer fit, consider a Merino wool or bulky cashmere, whereas summertime knit polos should lean light cotton and silk blends.

Fit: While it might technically fall under the generalized umbrella of polo, the knit top is much more akin to a sweater in fit, with a stretchier give and a softer finish than classic pique shirts. As such, size like you would your favorite crewneck — if you’ve been hounding away in the gym this winter, you may even want to size down to really show off those hard-earned glamour muscles.

Price: You can expect to pay a touch more for your knit polo than you would a Ralph Lauren or Lacoste basic — like most knitwear, the intro level of knit polos should run you anywhere from $50 to $200.

To help you emulate everyone from Alain Delon to Oscar Issac, we’ve taken the liberty of rounding up 10 of the best knit polos we’ve tested, along with an abundance of further styles we’re planning of sporting this spring and summer, for office and beach alike. Below, the best knit polos for men in 2023.

The Best Knit Polos For Men in 2023:

A dastardly combination of fit, form and affordability, Abercrombie & Fitch’s Sweater Polo has been instrumental in helping to rebrand the retail giant from failing mall brand to the well-dressed dude’s one-stop-shop and has become something of a staple in most down-to-earth men’s warm-weather wardrobes. Impressively versatile — under a lightweight suit, over a tank top, or just paired down with a nice pair of chinos — and priced reasonably even before Abercombie’s constant sales, it’s the style we find ourselves reaching for time and time again. Just one word of advice — Abercrombie’s swolo is decidedly relaxed-fit, consider dropping down a size if you want a classically taut look. After all, this on-trend knit polo does nothing but flatter.

Wouldn’t you know it — J.Crew’s got a sick new Babenzian-designed sweater polo, and it’s on sale. who would’ve guessed?

If you told us that there was a Japanese-made, French-designed knitted polo shirt that checked all our seasonal boxes (slightly oversized, appropriately boxy and tastefully monochrome) for a paltry $30, we would’ve laughed in your face. That is, of course, until we found one from Uniqlo U’s — the brand’s ongoing collaborative design with award-winning designer Christophe Lemaire — that matched those exact descriptions.

You might have expected some luxe Italian cashmere Cucinelli joint to pop up as our top pick, but it’s actually British luxury swimwear label Orelbar Brown that makes the finest knit polo yet to grace our torso. Designed in conjunction with a slew of other “Riviera” styles, this handsome knit is inspired by the “1960s poolside utopia,” a mood we can very much get behind.`

To be sure, the Johnny Collar is a decades look, and arguably not for everyone, but if getting down with some disco-fever funk is what you desire, look no further than Bonobos’ Cable Sweater Polo. Casual enough for date night and sophisticated enough to impress at the board meeting, the cotton-yard blended cable stitch sweater is a sartorial home run.

Fully placketed for your pleasure, king of casual menswear has hit us with yet another banger, this time in the form of a silk, basket-woven medium-weight swolo. Stitched to perfection, with even the collar volume precisely considered, this polo looks like a million bucks and avoids the common ride-up issue that placket sweaters are prone to, thanks to the double-knit jacquard patterning and tubular jersey hem.

Much like with their unparalleled tees, Sunspel’s knits Italian-spun cotton knits are soft. Like, really, really soft. Marshmallowy, cloud-like, heaven-sent soft. Don’t believe us? Try one for yourself. Just be prepared to drop a chunk of change on a whole rotation of polos.

Why hello there, Sir! May we interest you in…whoops — our apologies. We saw this cashmere-esque, 100% merino wool knit from Morracan-based Moné and just assumed you were a Talented Mr. Ripley old money type. (This is a good thing, we promise — TikTok will back us up.) Regardless of whether or not daddy’s pulling the yacht around, we suggest you cop up on this Riveria-ready polo while you still have the chance.

There are few who have captured the current menswear zeitgeist better than Corridor. The proof is in the pudding: just look at their Spacedyed Knit Polo from their latest S/S23 release. Made from a multi-stranded Pima and responsibly knit in Peru, it’s got the trappings of classic menswear — a three-button placket, banded cuffs and a slightly oversized fit — with a very vibey 2023 color palette.

Munich-based A Kind Of Guise are dedicated to one thing above all else: craft. Its this craft that shines through in all their time–honored designs and premium materials, and makes the luxe Nikiski Knit Polo. Unlike any that we’ve tried. The design is woven in India and features discrete quilting we can’t get over. The wool style should serve you well on colder days, whether your choose to wear it on its own or over a preppy oxford.

More Knit Polos We Love:

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