The men's polo shirt is like a pair of blue jeans or a solid color crew neck t-shirt: versatile and essential.
If it fits properly, a polo shirt can look great dressed up or down, and it's a flattering garment on most body types, including shorter men.
But an ill-fitting polo is not flattering, especially on 'not so tall' guys. An oversized polo shirt that's too long in the torso will only make you look shorter (and maybe heavier) than you actually are.
The power of proper fit! (Source)
Nobody wants that, which is why we're going to talk about how a polo shirt should fit.
First, let's look at some examples of what not to do.
Side note: If you want to learn about the history and heritage of the polo shirt, check out this awesome article from Gentleman's Gazette.
How NOT To Wear a Polo
Most men buy polo shirts that are one or two sizes too big. This can result in a boxy, loose look.
For example, this polo is at least one size too big for this man:
See how the shoulder seams hang out over his arms, and the sleeves go past his elbows? Not a great look!
But for shorter men, even the "right" size will often be too long. For example, here's me wearing a size small Ralph Lauren polo:
The end goes way past my butt, which is way too long!
Plus, other parts of the shirt might be too big as well, creating a "kid wearing dad's clothes" kind of feel, even if you're an older gent.
So how should your polo shirt fit?
Proper Polo Shirt Fit
Just like a t-shirt, a polo shirt should sit close to the body. Not skin tight or restrictive, but there shouldn't be much excess fabric anywhere either.
To illustrate how a polo shirt should fit, here's a picture of yours truly wearing the Peter Manning James Polo:
Let's dig into the details a bit, shall we?
Here's a good rule of thumb: you should be able to pinch 1-2" of excess fabric on either side of your torso.
Any more than that, and the shirt is probably too baggy for your build.
You also need to pay attention to the sleeves. Is there a lot of room between the outer edge of the sleeve and your actual arm?
If so, this will make your arm look skinny (not in a good way).
So make sure the circumference of the sleeve is just barely wider than the circumference of your bicep.
Make sure the sleeves aren't too long (they should stop right around mid-bicep).
The overall length of the shirt is even more important, especially since most polo shirts are too long for men under 5'9".
You want your polo shirt to go just past your waistband, but no further than mid-fly.
Under no circumstances should the end of your shirt hit (or go past) the bottom of your fly.
An polo that fits poorly will almost certainly make you look like a teenage golf caddy, but a high quality, fitted polo will make you look like the pro you really are.
Check out the James Polo, one of the only polo shirts designed specifically for shorter men.