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Choosing the right polo shirts

Fabric Guide: Choosing the right Polo Shirts

Sometimes the simplest choice becomes bewildering. Whether you’re buying polo-shirts for your own use, or picking out items for a sports club or organisational uniform, how do you decide on the best fabric for your needs? Our guide helps demystify the terminology so you can make the right decision.


Cotton is a natural fibre, good for those who have allergies or find less absorbent fabrics a problem. Individual cotton fibres range in length from around 1.5cm to 6cm and the longer the fibre (staple) the better the quality of the fabric. Organic cotton is grown without the use of pesticides and herbicides.

Cotton is a good choice for those who prefer natural fabrics and comes in a variety of weights so that weather and activity can be factored into the choice. The tendency of cotton polo shirts to require care after washing needs to be considered – for individuals, it simply comes down to a comfort or appearance decision but where uniforms are concerned, many organisations find a poly/cotton blend better, as its wash and wear nature offers an inbuilt degree of smartness that cooler but more crease-prone cotton cannot guarantee without care during laundering.


This synthetic fibre is constructed of long-chain polymer of esters which are water and stain resistant, chemical resistant and return swiftly to their original shape when stretched or compressed. This produces a high strength fabric that resists warping, shrinking and creasing. Polyester polo shirts take dye well and cope with heavy wear so are particularly suitable for environments like factories or kitchens where there is a high likelihood of spillage and consequent potential staining.

While polyester has many advantages, some people find a 100% synthetic fabric lacks absorption, which can lead to odour.


Poly/Cotton fabrics combine the advantages of polyester and cotton to create a durable, crease-resistant fabric with good absorption qualities and requiring less laundering. Poly/Cotton polo shirts are the ideal choice for school uniforms as they offer the optimum blend of comfort and ease of care and are available in a range of grams per square metre (gsm) which means summer and winter garments can have different weights but still look smart.

Poly/cotton blends have more breathability than pure polyester and less crease potential than pure cottons, giving a longer-lived fabric with more ease of wear: a win-win scenario for those torn between the comfort of cotton and the ease of polyester.


A pique polo may be either knitted or woven, and is usually in the medium weight range. It tends to feature a raised design, often waffles or cords. While cotton is usually a woven pique with cords running with the warp of the fabric, knitted pique is double knit on a circular machine and may have wales running in a crosswise (weft) direction or embossed patterns such as honeycomb or birdseye.

Pique’s advantages are a thicker and more durable fabric, which shows sweat less, and a more attractive textured detailing. It is more prone to wrinkling than other fabrics unless specially treated with crease-resistant additives or surfacings. Often the choice of sportsmen, pique offers more variety than plain cotton for sportswear and casual clothing garments so it allows more expression of individual style. Pique is the fabric of choice in computer and mobile phone retailing, where a pique polo is the ultimate in geek fashion.


This fabric offers a smooth, flat and often somewhat elastic surface with a somewhat more textured, but still uniform, reverse. It’s always knitted or interloped, providing a lighter feel which is good for warmer locations or those who particularly enjoy a lightweight fabric. The elasticity makes Jersey polo-shirts a good choice in circumstances where people are highly active as it allows for movement without creasing, bunching or chafing.

Jersey is increasingly popular in the health care and wellbeing industries, as spas and gyms move away from stark white cotton uniforms or elastic fitted sportswear into fitness wear that gives a more gentle and approachable impression to their client base.