Clothes Make the Man: Shmolo Polo Shirts

Apparel Products Reviews


It is widely accepted in most circles that the two things I am inclined to passionately discuss at even the slightest provocation are how Rod Stewart ruined the delicate musical balance of the Small Faces and fashion. Today, while I won’t insist that you listen to 1968’s Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake—although, let’s be honest here, you probably should—I will ask you to consider the very shirt on your back as I, along with GeekDad Mordechai, explore the latest workwear collection from online specialty clothier Shmolo.

Shmolo’s claim to fame is, unsurprisingly, polo shirts, and what separates their offerings from more common fare is a staggering collection of specialty icons embroidered on the left breast of each of their shirts. These run the gamut from meeples and emojis to beer and coffee to dinosaurs and ninjas. (For those of you interested, my chosen designs were “Lucha Libre,” “T-Rex,” and “Hockey”—the latter of which I lovingly refer to as Little Henrik Lundqvist.)

Being that it’s this particular detail that’s the real crowd-pleaser for Shmolo designs, I am happy to report the embroidery itself is masterfully done, making the icons sharp and attractive. In fact, that aspect of the shirts really exceeded my expectations.

The shirts are constructed of a nice middleweight cotton pique, which makes for a solid blend of durability and comfort—not as insubstantial as an off-the-rack polo from Target but also not as rigid as something you’d get from Fred Perry. The stitching is reinforced throughout, and a contrasting twill tape adds an additional pop of color to the side vents.

There’s no scratchy neck tag to worry about, as the brand name and sizing info are screen-printed, and its external branding is limited to a single side tag. Sure, its bright orange color may be a little much for some, but I appreciate the consistency… even if it does draw the eye like a tiny beacon of Gondor.

For those of us living that business casual, IT professional lifestyle, polos are a wardrobe staple, and Shmolo manages to create designs that stand out without going overboard. So, what’s not to like? Very little.

Luchador corporate casual

A post shared by Z. (@hipsterplease) on Jun 27, 2017 at 7:38am PDT

I have to point out at that, at present, there are only four shirt colors available: blue, red, grey, and black. That covers the basics, sure, but some earthy greens and browns would definitely spice up the collection.

That said, my only major complaint is sizing. Shmolo includes a handy sizing guide right on the site, but, at least in my case, the numbers don’t quite add up. I—ever an in-between Smedium—typically just look for whatever size is approximately 40-inches across the chest and go with that. In this case, I eschewed the 38.5-inch Small in favor of the 40.5-in Medium. And I chose poorly.

I anxiously tried my shirts on as soon as they arrived, and I was a little saddened to find them boxier than anticipated. In the name of science, I elected to do the unthinkable; I washed them in hot water and then dried them on high anticipating shrinkage. (NOTE – As someone who loves clothes, I implore you: please, please don’t do this. It’s an evil, wicked way to treat a quality garment.)

So imagine my surprise when I popped my shirts out of the dryer to find they hadn’t shrunk a lick. A couple of quick measurements still put the shirts at closer to a 43-inch chest—21.5 across the front and back—which was significantly larger than expected. In summation, I’ll simply say if you’re between sizes, size down.

Mordechai here. I tried the same test as Z, and had a completely different experience. I took one of my three shirts (“Retro Controller,” “Pizel Ghost,” and “Starship”), and washed it on hot and dried. It absolutely felt snugger, and that was dry on low. I personally recommend hanging them to dry and washing in cold.

I also need to note that the game controller shirt is a total head-turner. People at work and on the street loved it more than the other two.

(Duly noted, Morts!)

Shmolo polo shirts retail for $29 exclusively at, shipping is a flat $5, and orders of $40+ ship free. There’s also a free 30-day return policy, so, even if you have sizing issues, Shmolo has you covered—just like a good shirt should.

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