Introduction

Prints, prints, prints; it’s all any of us have been hearing this season. We’ve seen a huge influx of motifs – some new, some daring and some carrying through from the last go-around.

We’ve spotted the rise of animal and camouflage prints, sitting nicely alongside paisley and floral. It’s refreshing to see, as utilising colour and patterns in the summer season is always well received. Wearing dull, boring colours when the sun is shining isn’t only going to affect your style; it’s also going to affect the mood of those around you and people’s perception of you as an individual.

The problem with bright, bold prints is that most gents cower away from them. The typical guy carries with him an innate fear of stepping out of his comfort zone. He often looks upon statement prints with trepidation. Today on FashionBeans, we’re going to be looking at ways to pull off prints up top this season, either as a statement or subtly. Either way, we’re doing it with gusto.

Key Prints For SS12

Here are the key prints you should consider integrating into your spring/summer wardrobe this year:

  • Floral: A strong carry-on from last season (albeit with a few twists), the floral print is great for summer. This transient print is probably one of the most popular; the variation available on the market today is vast so there’s something for every individual taste. With a variety of tones, designs and patterns, floral has been heavily featured on catwalks and in brand lookbooks ahead of what is shaping up to be a very exciting season.
  • Camouflage: Alex Woodhall gave his personal break down of the military print a few weeks ago; he tips it as an integral part of the spring/summer wardrobe. No longer the reserve of the winter military trend, camouflage prints are being carried through to hotter climes this season. It’s a typically masculine print that, if worn incorrectly, can leave you looking like a badly dressed action man. Focus on pairing camouflage with neutrals, in order to neutralise the print.
  • Animal: A print that is working hard to shake its gimmicky perception, animal patterns have been featured throughout various collections and brand lookbooks already. In particular, Leopard looks set to be a strong variant this season, with Topman launching a collection based on leopard print, along with Louboutin’s menswear collection focusing heavily on the look.

Other popular prints worthy of a hanger or two are Aztec and paisley prints. In my honest opinion, whatever style of print you want to implement into your look this season is based on your personal choice. The key is to not worry too much on what print you opt to go for, but to spend time working out how you’re going to wear it.

Statement vs. Subtly

Believe it or not, prints are versatile. It’s all about getting past the idea that prints will only make you stand out – and the possibility of looking like your father sporting a Hawaiian fancy dress outfit.

If worn correctly, printed shirts can create a real style statement and become the focal point of your outfit. At the same time, you can also wear printed shirts subtly, layering garments over the shirt to neutralise the attention.

Wearing As A Statement

If you’re willing to wear your prints as a statement, you need to concentrate fully on fit and what you wear them with. You want to make the shirt the focal point of your look, and there are a variety of ways to achieve this.

Depending on the shirt, use an opposite tone when it comes to your trousers or shorts. You want to create a contrast between the two; so lighter tone trousers/shorts will work nicely with a darker printed shirt, and vice versa. This ensures the printed shirt draws attention naturally, without standing out too much.

Print on print is kind of like denim on denim; it can be achieved, but it’s a hard look to pull off. The latest SS12 Louis Vuitton and Jonathan Saunders collections advocated doubling up, and both had different takes on the trend. Jonathan Saunders used lighter tones, often varying the prints used. Louis Vuitton put bolder prints to work, and also matched the prints closely.

If you plan to take up the challenge, mix up the style of print and concentrate on contrasting from top to bottom. Here are a few photos of prints being worn as a statement:

Wearing Printed Shirts As A Statement

Wearing Subtly

Using printed shirts to add a subtle touch of colour and pattern is often looked upon as the most favoured option. A print can be layered underneath a cardigan, blazer or jumper to neutralise the bright pattern of the shirt.

We’ve touched on using darker tones as a counterweight to bright colours before; the same principle applies with prints.

You’re probably thinking: “Why buy a printed shirt if you’re going to hide it?” Well, we’re going to be using the printed shirt to compliment the clothing layered over the top, such as the blazer or cardigan. Again, contrasting tones help to bring attention to your shirt but, at the same time, won’t create too much of a statement.

Here are a few photos of prints being worn subtly:

Wearing A Printed Shirt Subtly

Comparisons

We hit the studio and put together some looks that show how to wear the printed shirt both ways. Here’s a run down of each look:

Look 1:

This floral shirt, worn as a statement, is going to turn heads. Pairing it with light colours down low will compliment the shirt rather than contrast directly against it.

We layered a black blazer over the floral shirt to neutralise the bright pattern, wearing the shirt in a subtle way. The dark tone still makes the floral print stand out, but not as much as when it’s worn alone.

Wearing A Printed Shirt Subtly

Look 2:

Worn alone, this print isn’t as daring as the others. Therefore, we integrated brightly coloured shorts into the outfit, forcing the shirt stand out more.

We decided to casual this look up by leaving the belt at home and utilising some casual footwear. We could have made this outfit more elegant by using loafers or brogues, and accessorising with a leather belt. The grey blazer neutralises the shirt slightly, but due to the lighter tone of the blazer, it still makes the shirt stand out.

Wearing A Printed Shirt as a Statement and Subtly

Look 3:

This shirt is my personal favourite; it can easily be worn as a statement and the focus point of a look. When worn with a pair of stone chinos, the lighter tone of trouser pushes attention towards the shirt.

The dark belt contrasts against the trousers, creating separation. With this look, we’ve tried to show another way of wearing printed shirts in a subtle way, by implementing a lightweight, neutral scarf. Wearing it loosely over the shoulders adds more of a relaxed feel, and breaks up the pattern of the shirt.

A cardigan can also be used to soften the shirt, whilst simultaneously allowing it to stay as the focal point of the look.

The final variation of this outfit sees us smartening up the whole look – pairing the shirt with a cotton blazer, chinos and brogues.

Ways To Wear A Printed Shirt

Printed Shirt Picks

Here are some of our favourite printed shirts on the market today:

  • Dr Denim Roland Floral ShirtDr Denim Roland Floral Shirt
  • Asos Printed Chambray ShirtAsos Printed Chambray Shirt
  • Topman Stone Shield Pattern Short Sleeve ShirtTopman Stone Shield Pattern Short Sleeve Shirt
  • Woolrich Mens Ikat Military ShirtWoolrich Mens Ikat Military Shirt
  • Allsaints Rockpile ShirtAllsaints Rockpile Shirt
  • Topman Green Floral Cotton ShirtTopman Green Floral Cotton Shirt
  • Topman Green Swallow Pattern Short Sleeve ShirtTopman Green Swallow Pattern Short Sleeve Shirt
  • Burton White Short Sleeve Aztec ShirtBurton White Short Sleeve Aztec Shirt
  • Asos Bandana Print ShirtAsos Bandana Print Shirt
  • Topman Red Ikat Patterned Short Sleeve ShirtTopman Red Ikat Patterned Short Sleeve Shirt
  • Prps P58s08s3 Khaki ShirtPrps P58s08s3 Khaki Shirt
  • Casual Shirt With Kent Collar Ezzer By Boss OrangeCasual Shirt With Kent Collar Ezzer By Boss Orange
  • D&g Pink Bandana Print Slim Brad ShirtD&g Pink Bandana Print Slim Brad Shirt
  • Burberry Prorsum Ikat Digital-print Shirt 56849Burberry Prorsum Ikat Digital-print Shirt 56849
  • Hartford Overdyed Flower Print ShirtHartford Overdyed Flower Print Shirt
Conclusion

Prints are an extremely popular trend this season and you should definitely be looking at ways to utilise them in your current (ever expanding) wardrobe. Staring at that brightly printed shirt may be daunting at first, but there’s a variety of ways you can wear it this season.

So, what do you think:

  • Are you afraid of prints?
  • Which do you see as the most versatile?
  • What are your thoughts on carrying prints through to winter?
  • Would you wear your prints as a statement or in a subtle way?

Let us know in the comments below…

Paul