In our relentless quest for individuality we can often convince ourselves to do things that we might later live to regret. It could be our experimentation with colour that results in some awful ‘Skittles’ inspired outfits or it could be dabbling in the more avant-garde circles of fashion that make us look back with horror. But whatever crime we commit, as long as we learn from it, every mistake can do some good.
Individuality is the way we mark ourselves out from the crowd; it is the thing that makes what we are wearing just that little bit better than what someone else is wearing. When in full hipster mode I like to think that because I wear bright, colourful socks, it differentiates me from the white socked masses. When I’m rocking timeless and classic, I would hope that my attention to the finer details pushes my outfit up yet another notch.
More often than not it’s the little touches that make the biggest impact. Darkening the toe on your brogues, wearing a bold pocket square, a pop of colour on the wrist; these minor distinctions will stick in people’s minds.
The Print Trend
Prints are now a firmly established menswear favourite. Every high street store and brand (big or small) is pushing the current pattern trend for all it’s worth – so much so that I don’t think it’s possible to walk down a street without seeing someone wearing prints.
But wearing prints is not something to be taken lightly. Our old friend confidence plays a huge role in the success we have when wearing them. Prints are a bold statement, especially on a larger scale, and any kind of second guessing will make you look uncomfortable. Awkwardness is extremely difficult to hide.
The best advice I could give to anyone contemplating prints is this: work them in and then forget about them. See it as just another part of a well put together outfit. You’ve made a deliberate choice to wear the item in question so put it on and then leave it alone, constantly checking yourself in any reflective surface is a sure sign of discomfort. Be confident that you made the right choice when you pulled it on in the morning and feel proud of your achievement when you take it off in the evening.
Print items make for great statement pieces; they don’t really require much forward planning and they simply replace something more restrained. My personal favourite is the print shirt – easy to wear and anchor and ridiculously simple to incorporate into almost any existing outfit. With a huge variety available at every price point at the moment there really isn’t a reason not to get involved.
How To Wear: The Bold Print Shirt
Look 1: Smart-Casual
On initial inspection it might appear that print shirts and smart-casual styles aren’t really a great mix. Print shirts are by design a lot more casual than their dress shirt counter parts, but far from creating an impassable boundary it just makes any successful marriage a whole lot more impressive.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should go mental and start pairing classic tailoring with ridiculously bright shirts. More restrained patterns will work far better at the formal end of the scale. Subtle prints such as polka dots, stripes and small motifs will be much more successful than full-on Aztec or geometric styles. Think developed Riviera: a navy/white polka dot shirt, grey blazer, stone chinos and structured loafers.
The one exception I can see to this advice is camouflage. Try to find a well structured example, which is as formal as possible, and be prepared to wear it with a great deal of confidence. To my mind, with the right shirt, the right attitude and in the right location this combination would go down very well.
Just remember what I said about putting something on and forgetting about it – own your clothes, don’t let your clothes own you.
- Reiss Trent Slim Fit Large Polka Shirt Light Blue
- Universal Works Grey Houndstooth Cotton Drayton Blazer
- Paul Smith Slim-fit Cotton-blend Trousers
- Grenson Marcel Suede Tassel Loafers
Look 2: Classic Mod
The classic mod look is one that every man should have at his disposal. Such a simple, sharp and refined look, it makes use of nearly every basic item that you already (should) own. A bold print shirt simply elevates things to a whole new level.
With a look such as this, you should be anchoring your shirt with neutral basics – in this case navy chinos, a beige Harrington and some caramel desert boots – which means you can afford to let your imagination run wild with your choice of print. Don’t feel restricted, search around for the shirt that works best for you and don’t be afraid to try something you might not normally consider.
- Allsaints Tanto Shirt
- Baracuta G9 Jacket
- Topman Navy Skinny Chinos
- Clarks Originals Suede Desert Boots
Look 3: Rockabilly Inspired
The 1950s rockabilly aesthetic is another timeless style that certainly deserves its place in the modern man’s wardrobe. The resurgence of slicked back hair, side partings and quiffs offer a lot of men the perfect excuse to go all Grease (without the singing) and really try something different. What I like best about this look is that it’s masculine without all the effort.
Being so simple and effortless, it’s another style that you can easily incorporate into your existing wardrobe. Everyone has a white tee, everyone has some skinny/slim/straight indigo denim and I would bet that most of us have some worker style boots or Converse to mix in as well.
My go-to rockabilly look is a pair of slim indigo jeans, worker style boots, a white tee and a short sleeved, Hawaiian over-shirt (left open) but you could mix in almost any short sleeved print shirt and get the same affect. Feel free to switch out the white tee for a Henley or granddad top as well:
- Reiss 1971 Jamaica Short Sleeve Leaf Print Shirt Terracotta
- Asos T-shirt With Crew Neck
- Mcq Alexander Mcqueen Slim-fit Dry Denim Jeans
- Allsaints Hazard Boot
Look 4: Street Wear
Whether you like it or not, street wear forms a huge part of men’s fashion nowadays and it looks to be staying put for a while yet.
As much as we malign those that don’t follow the classic and timeless styling mantra, we can learn a great deal from alternative styles. By appreciating certain aspects of another image, or embracing it fully, we are better able to create an all encompassing, more rounded style for ourselves – one that doesn’t stagnate.
For me it is the colours of street styles/street wear that catch the eye. A totally casual aesthetic is often a welcome break from the more constricted nature of classic dressing and it’s a fantastic opportunity to try out new things.
I think we can all agree that some street styles have become very similar. It has developed into an extension of the style of the masses, but with a little thought you can create a look which has gritty, urban roots as its base influence yet considers the finer details that ensures your outfit will still stand out:
- Topman Indigo Tie Dye Shirt
- Farah Vintage Raleigh Navy Waxed Jacket
- Topman Light Wash Stretch Skinny Jeans
- New Balance Made In England 670 Trainers
Current Bold Print Shirts
- Allsaints Libre Shirt
- Allsaints Napalm Shirt
- Topman Green Badge Print Short Sleeve Shirt
- Topman Blue Multi Print Bird Short-sleeve Shirt
- Eleven Paris Geo Print Shirt
- J.crew Slim-fit Ikat Cotton Shirt
- Paul Smith Jeans Shirt With Print
- American Apparel Printed Short Sleeve Tropical Button-up With Pocket
- Our Legacy Classic Sky & Swallow Shirt
- Reiss Empire Diamond Print Shirt Green
- Hentsch Man Havana Ikat-print Cotton Shirt
- Penfield Shirt With Floral Pri
- Reiss 1971 Oliver Multi Direction Stripe Shirt White
- Allsaints Strategy Shirt
- Asos Shirt With Umbrella Print
Individuality is the key to transforming a good outfit into a great outfit, it marks the line between blending in and standing out and it is something that we should all, on some level, be striving for. The little touches are a great start, but it doesn’t hurt to take it up a notch.
The bold print shirt is just one way to do this and I personally believe it to be one of the best. They aren’t difficult to wear, they slip into your wardrobe next to all your existing staples and they can make a huge difference to any current outfit.
All you need to do is find the shirt that’s right for you, and then wear it with rock solid confidence.
So, what are your thoughts on the bold print shirt?
Let me know in the comments section below.