Introduction

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.

On the Runway

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.

Wild Prints and Patterns on Mens Spring/Summer Runways

Printed Shirts

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.

Men's Printed Shirts Lookbook

Example Outfits

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.

  • Barbour Cream Bird Liberty Print ShirtBarbour Cream Bird Liberty Print Shirt
  • The Elder Statesman Monster Cashmere Shawl Collar CardiganThe Elder Statesman Monster Cashmere Shawl Collar Cardigan
  • River Island Nolan ChinosRiver Island Nolan Chinos

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.

  • Marni Printed Short-sleeved Cotton ShirtMarni Printed Short-sleeved Cotton Shirt
  • Topman Navy Twill Cinch TailoredTopman Navy Twill Cinch Tailored
  • Topman Duke 2 LoaferTopman Duke 2 Loafer

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.

  • Topman Blue Tennis Printed ShirtTopman Blue Tennis Printed Shirt
  • Polo Ralph Lauren Pi55b White TrousersPolo Ralph Lauren Pi55b White Trousers
  • Asos Compass NeckerchiefAsos Compass Neckerchief
Printed Shirt Picks
  • Topman Blue Sport Patterned ShirtTopman Blue Sport Patterned Shirt
  • Asos Printed Short Sleeve ShirtAsos Printed Short Sleeve Shirt
  • Volklore Banyo ShirtVolklore Banyo Shirt
  • Topman Dark Blue Diver Print ShirtTopman Dark Blue Diver Print Shirt
  • Burberry Prorsum Printed Short Sleeve Cotton ShirtBurberry Prorsum Printed Short Sleeve Cotton Shirt
  • D&g Blue Bandana Print Slim Brad ShirtD&g Blue Bandana Print Slim Brad Shirt
Printed Shorts & Trousers

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.”

Men's Printed Shorts & Trousers Lookbook

Example Outfits

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.

  • Asos Slim Fit ShirtAsos Slim Fit Shirt
  • Reiss Jay Mid Weight Waffle Jumper OatmealReiss Jay Mid Weight Waffle Jumper Oatmeal
  • Burberry Prorsum Ikat-print Cotton And Linen-blend TrousersBurberry Prorsum Ikat-print Cotton And Linen-blend Trousers

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.

  • Calvin Klein Underwear White 3 Pack Basic T-shirtsCalvin Klein Underwear White 3 Pack Basic T-shirts
  • Asos Twill MacAsos Twill Mac
  • Paul Smith – Jeans 945k-805 Aran TrousersPaul Smith - Jeans 945k-805 Aran Trousers

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.

  • Ymc Washed Cotton T-shirtYmc Washed Cotton T-shirt
  • Ymc P9ag7 Camo Button Pocket ShortsYmc P9ag7 Camo Button Pocket Shorts
  • Grenson Snuff Brown Suede James Penny LoafersGrenson Snuff Brown Suede James Penny Loafers
Printed Shorts & Trousers Picks
  • Topman Sea Horse Embroidery ShortsTopman Sea Horse Embroidery Shorts
  • Shades Of Grey By Micah Cohen Btm670 Safari ShortsShades Of Grey By Micah Cohen Btm670 Safari Shorts
  • Paul Smith Jeans Cyclist Chinos ShortPaul Smith Jeans Cyclist Chinos Short
  • Polo Ralph Lauren Bleeker Floral Print Chino ShortPolo Ralph Lauren Bleeker Floral Print Chino Short
  • Paul Smith – Jeans 945k-805 Aran TrousersPaul Smith - Jeans 945k-805 Aran Trousers
  • Paul Smith Mens Printed TrouserPaul Smith Mens Printed Trouser
Printed Accessories

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.

Men's Printed Accessories Lookbook

Example Outfits

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.

  • Topman Red Cotton Chambray ShirtTopman Red Cotton Chambray Shirt
  • Asos Paisley Edge NeckerchiefAsos Paisley Edge Neckerchief
  • Reiss Senator Slim Casual Trouser RustReiss Senator Slim Casual Trouser Rust

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.

  • Nicole Farhi Airforce Blue Treated Linen Twill BlazerNicole Farhi Airforce Blue Treated Linen Twill Blazer
  • Paul Smith Shoes & Accessories Geometric Cotton And Silk ScarfPaul Smith Shoes & Accessories Geometric Cotton And Silk Scarf
  • Polo Ralph Lauren Pi55b White TrousersPolo Ralph Lauren Pi55b 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.

  • Allsaints Kansai BlazerAllsaints Kansai Blazer
  • Ken Scott Paisley Printed Silk Pocket SquareKen Scott Paisley Printed Silk Pocket Square
  • Topman Grey Novak Skinny SuitTopman Grey Novak Skinny Suit
Printed Accessory Picks
  • Dress Handkerchief Pocket Square 33×33 By Boss BlackDress Handkerchief Pocket Square 33x33 By Boss Black
  • Reiss Doulton Floral Print Hank SandReiss Doulton Floral Print Hank Sand
  • Asos Stars And Stripes NeckerchiefAsos Stars And Stripes Neckerchief
  • Etro Paisley Print Linen ScarfEtro Paisley Print Linen Scarf
  • Paul Smith Accessories Navy Polka Dot SocksPaul Smith Accessories Navy Polka Dot Socks
  • London Undercover Camouflage Print UmbrellaLondon Undercover Camouflage Print Umbrella
Conclusion

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.

  • Have your perceptions of print changed?
  • Have you been eagerly anticipating this print trend?
  • If so, how will you be incorporating prints this coming season?
  • Or are prints not even on your agenda for spring/summer?
  • What are your thoughts on the mono-print looks?

As always, we love to hear your thoughts – so get in touch via the comments below…