Floral print is a spring/summer trend that makes sense. Albeit something of a cliche, it’s a predictable explosion of flowers and colour timed to complement the heralding of the new season, both in nature and fashion.
Once solely a female staple, over the last few years the trend has crossed into menswear at both designer and high street level. Men have lapped up big tropical motifs or more delicate paisley prints in holiday-friendly brights or more sombre palettes for back home.
Yet what usually ends around now, autumn, has not only carried on, but morphed into a new type of floral for AW14. Wasn’t this once the season of grey days and long dark nights? Not anymore.
Call it fashion’s answer to global warming, or the rise of Instagram fashion, but these days it doesn’t matter what season it is, so long as you’re making a statement.
And this year, flowers are giving us men the style power to make it through the darker months…
The Designer Influence
At London Collections: Men, Burberry Prorsum’s AW14 collection explored the worlds of painters Ben Nicholson, Christopher Wood, Lucian Freud and Duncan Grant. Rich William Morris-style leaves that look like they’ve been taken from the walls of Oscar Wilde’s bedroom were applied to everything from shirts and coats to accessories.
Influenced by these artists’ works and their style of dress, along with the interiors of Charleston House in Sussex, home of the Bloomsbury Group, the designs were hand-painted in graphic patterns featuring soft, rounded brush strokes inspired by nature, flowers and leaves.
Other British designers such as Casely-Hayford showed textured sweaters featuring oversized tropical flowers in bold primary colours, while Christopher Shannon went with tracksuits and shirts featuring a houndstooth and daisy print.
Floral bombers were also popular, with Oliver Spencer and Richard Nicoll including two superb examples within their collections that would be perfect for the transition from summer to autumn:
The Masters: Liberty London
Available all year around, Liberty London’s extensive archive of floral prints are seemingly made for this trend.
The archive has as many prints as days of the year, but if you want to nail the look go for something you’d see on the walls of the St Pancras hotel or Houses of Parliament. Think dark, Victorian and heavy.
Tip: Look out for Liberty’s classic Art Nouveau style ‘Ianthe’ print.
AW14 Liberty Floral Fabrics
- Liberty Art Fabrics Ianthe A Tana Lawn
- Liberty Art Fabrics Midnight C Tana Lawn Cotton
- Liberty Art Fabrics Windrush A Tana Lawn Cotton
- Liberty Art Fabrics Eleonora F Tana Lawn Cotton
- Liberty Art Fabrics Sophie Jane A Tana Lawn Cotton
- Liberty Art Fabrics Wilmslow Berry B Tana Lawn Cotton
AW14 Liberty Print Pieces
- Liberty Print Navy Edenham Print Cotton Shirt
- Liberty Print Purple Wiltshire Print Cotton Shirt
- Liberty Print White Mabelle Print Cotton Shirt
- Liberty Print Orange Imran Print Silk Pocket Square
- Liberty Print Dark Green Denby Print Silk Pocket Square
- Liberty Print Green Cranston Print Silk Pocket Square
- Liberty Print Grey Cranston Print Silk Tie
- Liberty Print Blue Wallflower Print Silk Tie
- Liberty Print Red Phoebe Print Woven Silk Tie
The Way We Wear: Key Fashion Bloggers
To gain an understanding of how this trend will translate to the street, I’ve asked a few of my prominent blogging friends to give FashionBeans the low-down on their favourite winter florals, and how they will be wearing them this year:
Neil Thornton, The Science of Appearance
“As a pretty traditional dresser – read: fashion black and block-colours – I tend to experiment with silhouettes over patterns and, like many guys out there, keep my fashion and foliage separate.
But the AW14 floral colour palette did include more subdued tones, which are a lot more workable for someone with an earthier-hued wardrobe like me. Richard Nicoll and Oliver Spencer showcased some deep floral prints on bomber jackets, giving them an almost camouflage feel, while on the high street River Island are working deep burgundies with lighter patterns.
My advice? Find a winter floral with a base colour that matches your style and comfort level, like black or navy, and you’ll find the trend a lot easier to work into your look this season.” Neil Thornton of The Science Of Appearance.
- Topman Black Floral Printed Neck Sweatshirt
- American Apparel Bomber Jacket With Floral Print
- Ps By Paul Smith Shirt With Floral Print Slim Fit
- He By Mango Floral Print Cardigan
- Bellfield Sweatshirt With Ao Floral Print
- American Apparel Sweatshirt With Floral Print
Nick Bainser, Bainser.com
“I think the trend for dark florals that emerged this SS14 will translate well into AW14. After the brights of summer it can be tempting to head back to navy and black through the colder months, but the floral trend should help oust winter blues.
I’d definitely recommend splitting looks up, as top to toe floral is a challenge at the best of times. Though I am thinking of taking florals to the next level with my next tattoo – a half sleeve inspired by William Morris!”
Nick Bainser of Bainser.com.
Gurdeep Loyal, Style Cupid
“Obviously, I LOVE this trend. If you want a coat, there’s something quite ‘retro-foraging-hunter-gatherer’ about the AW14 florals trend, making it one of the most manly looks of the season. At Burberry, they were William Morris-like, coming in lush fabrics and woodland tones; Thom Browne also looked to the woods with his dramatic autumnal leaves.
Key rules for this trend: either go head to toe floral, or stick to just one floral piece with everything else muted in tones of maroon, navy or charcoal. There’s no middle ground here – otherwise you risk getting into ‘zaney 1970’s Dad’ territory.”
Gurdeep Loyal of Style Cupid.
Joseph Wong, What’s He Wearing
“Orlando Bloom, Simon Pegg and Dominic Cooper recently wore floral shirts for their promotional activities from Burberry Prorsum, Richard James and A. Sauvage, respectively.
Floral prints can be intimidating for some guys, but take a leaf from their books (pun intended!) and layer bold tropical prints underneath a well-tailored, neutral blazer. It helps minimise the effect of the motif and creates a very smart-casual yet stylish look.”
Joseph Wong of What’s He Wearing.
Simon Glazin, The Very Simon G
“For winter, it’s all about dark, moody florals, which I actually much prefer to summer’s bright blooms.
Those set against a dark background and designed to look almost oil painting-like are my favourites – think Dolce & Gabbana’s Romanesque designs, which snake around neck lines of t-shirts and sweaters.
Wearing floral prints makes a statement, so I would always either pair with something plain, or go all-out and match different patterns together for a fashion OTT look.
As for favourites, Paul Smith’s blurred florals are amazing this season, Acne’s whimsical flowers are divine, and you can always rely on Marni for a gorgeous floral print.”
Simon Glazin of The Very Simon G.
How To Wear: Subtle
It’s clear from the advice above that there are two key ways to wear florals this season: pared-back with neutral wardrobe staples, or head to toe print. The former is obviously the most wearable option for the everyday male, especially if you’re not particularly fashion-forward.
Like the majority of prints, florals look best minimised under tailoring or outerwear, so try throwing on a neutral bomber or well-cut blazer (dependent on occasion) over a printed tee or paisley shirt for an easy to wear look that is full of life and character.
If you prefer just a hint of floral, opt for accessories. Slim ties or pocket squares featuring the print will add a welcome punch to formal attire, just make sure you prioritise matte and textured styles over shiny silk versions to keep things on the right side of refined.
Accent detailing is another easy way to introduce this trend into your wardrobe – keep an eye out for floral printed sleeves, linings or contrast hems:
How To Wear: Statement
If you want to make more of a statement – without going over the top – why not try a dark floral jacket, blazer or pair of trousers?
Remember that winter brings with it reduced light levels and longer evenings, which will naturally diminish the impact of most prints, meaning you can get away with applying them to a greater surface area.
Of course, if you do go down this route, it’s important to surround any statement piece with neutral wardrobe staples to help anchor it:
- New Look T-shirt With Floral Print
- Edwin Blazer Simple Post Japanese Floral
- He By Mango Floral Print T-shirt
- Topman Floral Print Ultra Skinny Trousers
- Burton Floral Jumper
- Boohoo Lightweight Floral Bomber Jacket
- River Island Black Floral T-shirt
- Hentsch Man Sunday Floral-print Cotton-chambray Shirt
- River Island Blue Jack & Jones Premium Floral Print Shirt
- River Island Brown Floral Print Long Sleeve Shirt
- Acne College Printed Loopback Cotton-jersey Sweatshirt
- J.crew Printed Cotton Shirt
- Paul Smith The Byard Tailored Fit Shirt
- River Island Black Jaded London Floral Rain Mac
- Dolce & Gabbana Sicilia Slim-fit Printed Cotton-blend Shirt
- Drakes Paisley-patterned Silk Tie
- Richard James Printed Cashmere And Silk-blend Scarf
- Marwood Leaf-print Cotton-lace Pocket Square
No longer restricted to spring/summer, menswear designers seem intent on turning floral print into a year-round option for the modern male. Coming in a more subdued palette for AW14, these dark, moody and – dare we say it – masculine florals will slot seamlessly into any capsule wardrobe and help breathe life into your day to day looks.
So, will you be carrying over your floral print clothing from summer to autumn? And how will you style them?
Let us know in the comments section below…