Both spring and summer was a bold step for menswear the last time it came around. Bright colours and colour blocking dominated collections from high street to high fashion. Autumn and winter carried on in similar vein, bringing colour – especially in a knit and outerwear capacity – to the male wardrobe.
This coming season has introduced a marginally dulled colour palette to proceedings in the form of grey and blue, but has brought a more frightening, or exciting – depending on your point of view – prospect to table.
I am of course talking about prints and patterns. From polkas to paisley, everything is fair game this year as menswear continues to colour outside of the lines of tradition.
The focus of our article today has been prevalent in one form or another across the board. Burberry showcased a collection of African and tribal inspired prints, while Prada took inspiration from fifties America and Givenchy took flight with some tropical birds.
Printed shirts have become the real focal point of this trend. Could it be that they give way to a deep buried guilty pleasure of tacky, knock-off Hawaiian shirts? Or is it the fact they can easily be muted with an extra layer? Either way, they look set to capture the imagination and wallets of many a man this season.
Completely covering your polka dot shirt under a crew neck is not the way to wear it! Prints should be worn loud and proud, surrounded by neutrals and wardrobe staples.
Hang on to heritage with this bird print shirt. Pair with some complimentary chinos and a deep red chunky shawl collar cardigan thrown over, unbuttoned, to add that extra layer and fight off any remaining winter chills.
Brave it with a bold polka-dot shirt atop some traditional tailored shorts. Finish off with some brown leather fringed loafers for a real on-trend go-to summer look.
Opt for some pseudo-Prada with this tennis print shirt and neckerchief combo. Some summer-stable white trousers would prove game, set and match in any style competition.
Both printed shorts and trousers can prove to be a far trickier customer than their shirted counterparts. Bold bottoms, unlike a print shirt, are far harder to cover up, so confidence is key!
Neutrals should remain distracting to your game plan, as braving head to toe in print will most likely leave you with egg on your face, and possibly your shirt.
Jeremy Langmead, esteemed editor of Mr Porter, hit the proverbial nail on the head in his style column for Esquire, when it comes to wearing print trousers.
“[…] When you look at the ikat-print trousers by Burberry Prorsum, or the blue and cream prints by Acne, it suddenly seems right. Wear them with a plain, neutral sweater, or T-shirt – even a blazer – and they will look pretty damn good.”
Test Mr Langmead’s theory with those ikat-print trousers. A simple white shirt and mid-weight jumper layered over the top should satisfy your statement trousers and keep you from committing sartorial suicide.
There are of course slightly less bold options than the trousers above. These cyclist print trousers for example are much more toned down and therefore ‘easier’ to pull off.
Go even simpler up top with a timeless white tee and navy trench, tied at the back, for an easy, relaxed and April-ready look.
This third look is a tasteful twist on the uniform of the Brit abroad.
These slim, tailored, camo-print shorts are a world away from the camouflage cargo shorts that rule holiday hotspots.
A simple, charcoal, pocket detail t-shirt and a pair of sophisticated suede loafers finish the look, and put the rest of the holidaymakers to shame.
If you’re a little apprehensive about getting in on this trend, why not start by incorporating some bolder prints through accessories?
Lightweight scarves are great additions to spring and summer looks every year. Take this as an opportunity to work patterns in to your looks. A paisley scarf can bring out colours already apparent in your outfit or stand alone as a statement.
Neckerchiefs were a minor trend last year, but look set to be take off slightly more this time around. Again, this is a perfect chance to work in subtle patterns that won’t leave you second-guessing your choice of attire.
Last but not least is the trusty pocket square. If a blazer is your go-to jacket, then be bold with pocket and opt for prints. Polka dots, paisley even camouflages are unlikely to throw a (albeit stylish) spanner into the works of your everyday spring/summer looks.
But why stop there? A tie, socks, jewellery, the options available to incorporate some pattern via accessories is simply endless.
The neckerchief is one-to-watch this season, so get on board early with a paisley print number. Compliment the neckerchief to your shirt and anchor with some neutral erring chinos.
Geometrics are a subtle pattern that should be your first port of call if you’re not totally convinced you can pull off print.
Loosely tie a summer scarf around your neck to compliment the colour of your blazer, give thought to linen outerwear in the warmer months – the wrinkles are all part of the charm. Finish off with some Riviera appropriate white trousers.
Have a party in your pocket with a bold, statement square against the neutral backdrop of your blazer. Keep the trousers similarly toned down and shirt white to really give precedence to your breast.
Wearing (and pulling off) prints can appear to be an arduous task at first (and last) glance. It is, for most men, a million miles outside of their comfort zones and something they most likely thought, or rather hoped, had long passed after the sixties ended.
Pulling off prints requires a certain amount of self-confidence, but also the right outfit.
The fear of stepping out like a walking Versace advert is enough to put most men off. But through the use of neutral pieces, mixed in with your prints, you can create an on trend, not-so-scary, look.
As always, we love to hear your thoughts – so get in touch via the comments below…
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