Well-worn advice to ‘wear prints in summer’ is not only vague, but lazy. Menswear is, after all, awash with a multitude of different prints and patterns that encompasses everything from food packaging to the animal kingdom. So endorsements like “umm, yeah, prints man” from your local men’s fashion week hanger-on is just plain unhelpful (and annoyingly unclear).

Simply extolling the benefits of wearing prints doesn’t answer questions on which ones to wear or how to go about actually wearing them, nor does it shed any light on the variables – not everyone can pull off a pastel oversized giraffe print sweatshirt when your build, skin tone and even confidence levels play a big part in making it a success.

So we’ve asked the menswear gurus to share their secrets for putting prints into play. But first, a few words on how the big-name brands are doing it…

On The Runway

The SS16 menswear runways were alight with prints: the busier, the better. Gucci’s show was a highlight, with 1960s savant Alessandro Michele sending vibrant floral tailoring and geometric print outerwear down the catwalk. Meanwhile, Loewe took a more graphic approach with anime motifs covering everything from tees and shorts to jackets and jumpers – all in stark white and red or white and blue palettes.

Elsewhere, at Louis Vuitton, the art of graphic novels gave way to something more painterly, with flecked brushstrokes adorning outerwear and shorts. Like Gucci, Louis Vuitton showed its green fingers via handpainted floral silk shirts, shorts and this season’s sleeper hit: souvenir jackets.

Not all designers took their cue from fine art, though. Christopher Kane co-opted the white noise of a broken television and applied it across everything from long sheer raincoats to oversized box tees and joggers. Varying thicknesses and lines were used but his message was clear: white noise is more than just a loose input wire.

Men's Prints On The SS16 Runways

guccilouis vuittonchristopher kaneloewe

Caught Short

“Printed shorts let you channel this season’s colourways without requiring too much thought,” stylist Jenna Riddle explains. “A tailored cut that finishes above the knee is a flattering choice that is a quick sartorial fix.”

A Riviera-worthy print – stripes or a classic microprint – is the easiest way to go, but bold graphics and florals are more than suitable. “Pair with a neutral Cuban collar shirt or boxy white tee and plain sneaks,” says Riddle. “If you’re feeling a bit more formal, feel free to tuck your shirt tails in with a loosely neat finish.”

Fancy getting more bang for your buck? Invest in printed tailored swim shorts that can double up in your everyday wardrobe – and remember that the same rules apply.

(Related: 5 go-to ways to wear shorts this summer)

Men's Printed Shorts Summer Fashion Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

H&M SS16Club Monaco 2016Simons SS16J.Crew June 2016

Key Pieces

  • Minimum Floral ShortsMinimum Floral Shorts
  • Reclaimed Vintage Shorts In Floral PrintReclaimed Vintage Shorts In Floral Print
  • J. Crew 9 Stanton Short In Large FrondJ. Crew 9 Stanton Short In Large Frond
  • River Island Blue Oxford Hawaiian Print Slim Fit ShortsRiver Island Blue Oxford Hawaiian Print Slim Fit Shorts
  • Reiss Jamaica Palm Print Shorts BlueReiss Jamaica Palm Print Shorts Blue
  • Oliver Spencer Striped Cotton ShortsOliver Spencer Striped Cotton Shorts
  • He By Mango Printed 5 Pocket Bermuda ShortsHe By Mango Printed 5 Pocket Bermuda Shorts
  • Scotch & Soda Summer Flroal Chino Shorts GreenScotch & Soda Summer Flroal Chino Shorts Green
  • Polo Ralph Lauren Printed Cotton ShortsPolo Ralph Lauren Printed Cotton Shorts
  • Orlebar Brown Bulldog Mid-length Printed Swim ShortsOrlebar Brown Bulldog Mid-length Printed Swim Shorts
  • Moncler Camouflage-print Mid-length Swim ShortsMoncler Camouflage-print Mid-length Swim Shorts
  • Frescobol Carioca Tailored Copacabana-print Swim ShortsFrescobol Carioca Tailored Copacabana-print Swim Shorts

Getting Shirty

The humble shirt has always been a grand blank canvas for a summer print, as Mr Porter’s Style Director Olie Arnold explains: “The key to wearing pattern is to keep everything fairly simple – if you’re opting for a patterned shirt for example, frame it with [comparatively low-key] jeans or a suit to make the print pop.”

The all-over print pyjama suits we see on runways don’t always translate well to the everyday, which is why you should pick a focal piece and surround it with neutral hues. “The shark collar is bang on-trend this season,” says Arnold. “Wear it on its own, or layered with a clean white T-shirt underneath, à la Gucci.”

Arnold’s no. 1 rule? “Wear with confidence.”

Men's Printed Shirts Summer Fashion Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

Reiss SS16Zara SS16AllSaints May 2016Simons Summer 2016

Key Pieces

  • Asos Navy Shirt With Leaf Print And Revere Collar In Regular FitAsos Navy Shirt With Leaf Print And Revere Collar In Regular Fit
  • Asos Shirt With Breton Stripe In Dusty Pink With Short Sleeves In Regular FitAsos Shirt With Breton Stripe In Dusty Pink With Short Sleeves In Regular Fit
  • Allsaints Bouquet Short Sleeve ShirtAllsaints Bouquet Short Sleeve Shirt
  • Reiss Palma Printed Blend Shirt StoneReiss Palma Printed Blend Shirt Stone
  • Zara Horizontal Stripe ShirtZara Horizontal Stripe Shirt
  • Gucci Printed Voile ShirtGucci Printed Voile Shirt
  • He By Mango Regular-fit Floral Print ShirtHe By Mango Regular-fit Floral Print Shirt
  • He By Mango Slim-fit Jacquard ShirtHe By Mango Slim-fit Jacquard Shirt
  • Reiss Whistler Painterly Print Shirt MultiReiss Whistler Painterly Print Shirt Multi

Flowerbomb

Just as the bomber jacket hits peak saturation, brands are repurposing the old-school MA-1 by splicing it with recent trends – one of which being florals.

“The MA-1 bomber jacket was the first military-issued garment to cross over into mainstream, and has since been reworked by modern Japanese brands for an East-meets-West look,” explains Arnold. “Pair with classic selvedge denim and your best blank canvas sneaks and you’ll easily counter the print overload.”

Available in a multitude of florals, checks and graphics, the printed bomber jacket is a go-to summer staple that’ll provide a punch of originality. Granted, there’s no guaranteed longevity in the piece, but all the trend boxes are definitely ticked.

Men's Printed Bomber Jackets Summer Fashion Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

Scotch & Soda SS16H&M SS15Zara SS16Zara SS16

Key Pieces

  • The New County Bomber Jacket In Patchwork DenimThe New County Bomber Jacket In Patchwork Denim
  • Reclaimed Vintage Tapestry Bomber JacketReclaimed Vintage Tapestry Bomber Jacket
  • Asos Oversized Bomber In JacquardAsos Oversized Bomber In Jacquard
  • Vivienne Westwood Floral Print Bomber JacketVivienne Westwood Floral Print Bomber Jacket
  • Zara Camouflage Bomber JacketZara Camouflage Bomber Jacket
  • Zara Printed Jacket.Zara Printed Jacket.
  • Kapital Patchwork Wool Bomber JacketKapital Patchwork Wool Bomber Jacket
  • A Bathing Ape 1st Camo Ma-1 Jacket GreenA Bathing Ape 1st Camo Ma-1 Jacket Green
  • Oliver Spencer Checked Linen Bomber JacketOliver Spencer Checked Linen Bomber Jacket

Heavy Petal

Wearing head-to-toe floral tailoring is no mean feat. Yes, it might look great on the FROW of a Gucci show in the surrounds of Westminster Abbey, but not so much waiting on the platform at Westminster tube station.

“Unless you’re a celebrity, don’t even bother trying a fully floral suit,” says Martha Gill from The Sunday Times. “Instead, let a subtly printed blazer provide the statement – nothing too garish but nothing too insipid either.”

Men's Printed Blazers Summer Fashion Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

Zara SS16Massimo Dutti SS15Angelo Nardelli SS16Massimo dutti Equestrian SS16

Key Pieces

  • French Connection Tonal Floral JacketFrench Connection Tonal Floral Jacket
  • Ted Baker Dollarz Deluxe Floral JacketTed Baker Dollarz Deluxe Floral Jacket
  • Zara Printed BlazerZara Printed Blazer
  • River Island Navy Floral Velvet Slim BlazerRiver Island Navy Floral Velvet Slim Blazer
  • Paul Smith London Blue Soho Slim-fit Linen And Cotton-blend Jacquard BlazerPaul Smith London Blue Soho Slim-fit Linen And Cotton-blend Jacquard Blazer
  • Topman Blue Wool Blend Abstract Print Skinny Fit Suit JacketTopman Blue Wool Blend Abstract Print Skinny Fit Suit Jacket
  • Topman Noose & Monkey Grey Floral Print Tuxedo JacketTopman Noose & Monkey Grey Floral Print Tuxedo Jacket
  • River Island Navy Pattern Slim Fit BlazerRiver Island Navy Pattern Slim Fit Blazer
  • Barena Striped Knitted Virgin Wool BlazerBarena Striped Knitted Virgin Wool Blazer

Dialled Down

If you’re more wallflower than Bird of Paradise, introducing print to your look with accessories could be the way forward.

“If your style is a little bit more reserved, use an accessory instead – perfect if you’re not brave enough to wear a full-on printed look,” says Arnold. “Scarves in particular inject some vibrancy and let you keep the rest of your look tempered.”

Additionally, pocket squares, socks, footwear and even a contrast printed T-shirt sleeve are all easy ways to incorporate prints. By opting for this peppering approach to print – as opposed to all-out statement – you can mix and match to your heart’s content.

Just be careful: nobody wants to see a paisley sock paired with a botanical cravat, so keep your motifs consistent.

Men's Printed Accessories and Footwear Summer Fashion Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

Bally SS16AllSaints SS16J.Crew SS16Cinque SS16

Key Pieces

  • Herschel Supply Co. Novel Green Offset Stripe Holdall BagHerschel Supply Co. Novel Green Offset Stripe Holdall Bag
  • Michael Kors Camo BackpackMichael Kors Camo Backpack
  • Reiss Teller Contrast Woven Belt Grey/whiteReiss Teller Contrast Woven Belt Grey/white
  • Drakes Paisley Silk Pocket SquareDrakes Paisley Silk Pocket Square
  • Gucci Printed Silk-twill Pocket SquareGucci Printed Silk-twill Pocket Square
  • Reiss Matise Painterly Print Scarf Light BlueReiss Matise Painterly Print Scarf Light Blue
  • Anonymous Ism Patterned Cotton-blend SocksAnonymous Ism Patterned Cotton-blend Socks
  • Valentino Camouflage-print Felt SneakersValentino Camouflage-print Felt Sneakers
  • Zara Floral LoafersZara Floral Loafers

Final Word

Think you could be the next Prints Charming? Or prefer the one block-colour role?

Drop us a line below.