Florals: Are You Man Enough?

Long seen as the domain of the fairer sex and indigenous tribal cultures, floral motifs have been shunned by western men in the past due to their perceived femininity and conspicuous nature.

In today’s globalised world of fashion, perceptions can change in an instant; with the traditional ideals of dressing frequently challenged and a new modern man eager to embrace fresh concepts.

The floral revolution in menswear is the perfect case in point. Following designers’ proclivities for ethnic-inspired prints such as Navajo, Kente and Batik, it was only a matter of time before florals made their presence felt in menswear.

For a number of seasons we’ve watched floral patterns firmly establish themselves in the industry’s design consciousness, filtering down from catwalk to high street. From intricate hothouse blooms to foliage embroidered jacquards and flora and fauna combinations, it seems every designer is getting in on the floral renaissance movement.

But how does the everyday gent work the look into his wardrobe without looking like a walking greenhouse, or undermining his masculinity? Read on for our foolproof guide to men’s florals. Machismo attitude optional.

Aloha Hawaii

Once the uniform of sartorially-inept American tourists, the Hawaiian shirt has suffered a barrage of bad press for decades. The original floral garment for men was the invention of Japanese and Chinese immigrant entrepreneurs of 1930s Hawaii, who began stitching sections of old kimonos together to create colourful and eye-catching garments for tourists.

The bloom prints were heavily inspired by the Tahitian Pareu, a type of traditional Polynesian sarong, as well as Japanese screen-print techniques. The package tourist decades that followed were the sartorial nail in the coffin for the style, with the Hawaiian shirt becoming synonymous with bad taste. However, as fashion is a fickle master, it was only a matter of time before the Aloha shirt made a glorious come back.

The last few spring/summer seasons have seen menswear designers reinvent this eye-catching style with a contemporary cut and a new wave of bold patterns and colour combinations. A confident and effortless way to add a healthy dose of summer inspiration to your wardrobe, a well-cut Hawaiian shirt will make a stylish holiday companion when paired with tailored shorts, or worn to casual summer gatherings with lean-fit chinos and leather sandals.

A plethora of brands have produced styles to suit all tastes – achingly cool London labels Henstch Man and YMC have reinterpreted the style with a contemporary twist, whilst high street favourites Topman and New look have created their own take on the style that won’t leave your bank manager red-faced. For those seeking a little more tongue-in-cheek humour, Orlebar Brown’s Jensen ‘Miami’ shirt is a good option:

  • Ymc Hawaiian Shirt
  • Diesel Shirt Short Sleeve T-denmonza Hawaiian Jersey
  • Native Youth Hawaiian Shirt
  • American Apparel Tropical Short Sleeve Button-up With Pocket
  • American Apparel Tropical Short Sleeve Button-up With Pocket
  • Religion Hawaiian Shirt Vegas
  • Topman Makahiki Hawaiian Short Sleeve Shirt
  • Topman Karmakula Hawaiian Short Sleeve Shirt
  • Topman Makahiki Hawaiian Short Sleeve Shirt
  • River Island White Hawaiian Print Short Sleeve Shirt
  • Orlebar Brown Jensen Miami Shirt
  • Levis Bart Hawaiian Short-sleeved Shirt
Micro-Print Florals

A modern development from the Hawaiian shirt, micro-print florals are an easy way to capture the trend for those who want to take a more subtle approach.

Taking oversized blooms down a notch, micro-print designs range from eye-catching multi-tone styles to muted painterly effect patterns that are much easier to work with.

One of the finest purveyors of floral motif designs, Liberty of London produces a superb range of signature micro-floral print shirts and accessories that epitomise the heritage brand’s hallmark of considered luxury.

Topman, Reiss and ASOS also provide a succinct selection of equivalent styles that will pair perfectly with a tailored jacket or a simple denim and leather boot combination:

  • Liberty Print Shirt With Esteban Floral Print
  • Shore Leave Chambray Floral Shirt
  • Bellfield Floral Fine Cord Shirt
  • Topman Burgundy Floral Print Short Sleeve Shirt
  • Topman Blue Floral Long Sleeve Shirt
  • River Island Mid Wash Distressed Floral Denim Shirt
  • Burton Coral Ditsy Floral Printed Shirt
  • Liberty London Collections Navy Emma And Georgina Print Cotton Shirt
  • Ps By Paul Smith Slim-fit Floral-print Cotton Shirt
Dress-Down Blooms

T-shirts and sweatshirts are the simplest and least offensive method to work a dash of floral into your dressing regimen. Whether opting for an abstract design, an over-blown print or embroidered detailing, there are numerous styles to pick from.

A particular favourite of ours is French label Carven’s floral embroidered sweatshirt from their SS13 herbology-inspired collection and Ami’s SS14 jungle-inspired design. Zara’s and Urban Outfitters’ bold and eye-catching tees are also an astute choice and will partner easily with your casual apparel:

  • Worland Floral Tee In Navy
  • Worland Ecru All Over Floral Tee
  • Penfield
  • River Island Yellow Ones Supply Co. Floral Print T-shirt
  • Topman Serge Denimes Floral Print T-shirt
  • Raf Simons Flower-print Cotton T-shirt
  • Worland Grey Floral Sweatshirt
  • River Island Sweatshirt Wih Floral Print
  • Mcq Alexander Mcqueen Floral Chequer-print Sweatshirt 167184
Flower Bomb

The bomber jacket is enjoying a surge in popularity owing to the industry’s insatiable appetite for sports-luxe apparel. It’s the key outerwear style of the season, so why not combine two trends and opt for a floral print number?

As the name suggests, the style was originally developed for wartime bomber pilots to keep them warm flying at altitude in unpressurised cabins. Since making the transition from the military wardrobe to the everyday civilian closet, the bomber has become an ageless cult classic.

Balenciaga’s SS13 style is the perfect tribute to the floral bomber trend and sports an abstract tropical bloom and foliage print, whilst the muted hues of Raf Simon’s exclusive for Mr. Porter makes it an ideal choice for autumn.

  • Reclaimed Vintage Floral Varsity Jacket
  • Balenciaga Printed Satin Bomber Jacket
  • Topman Grey Marl Floral Front Bomber Sweatshirt
  • Raf Simons Flower-print Cotton-twill Bomber Jacket
  • Msgm Jacket
  • Reclaimed Vintage Varsity Jacket With Floral Sleeves
Floral Tailoring

Tailoring has been fast to adopt florals, with all-over prints, embroidered treatments and embellished lapels key features in the genre.

The high-end houses have taken an intricate and theatrical approach to the look with designers such as Alexander McQueen, Dolce and Gabbana and Dries Van Noten showing statement floral jacquards, oversized digital blooms and intricate brocade needlepoint for SS14.

A little closer to home and more considerate on the pocket, Topman and ASOS are go-to brands for those who want to add a floral flourish to their tailoring without the premium mark-up.

  • Topman Villain Abbey Blazer
  • United Colors Of Benetton Blazer With Floral Print
  • Asos Slim Fit Blazer In Floral Print
  • William Hunt Nineties Floral Print Jacket
Final Word

Examining the evidence, it’s obvious that florals have come a long way since the Magnum P.I. days of garish Aloha numbers. Bloom prints are an effective way to add interest and vivacity to a traditionally bland menswear colour palette – how much fun can you really have with just solid tones?

Tomorrow, in part two, we’ll examine further sartorial categories that have been influenced by the trend and also detail a brief ‘how to wear it’ guide.