How To Wear A Patterned Shirt This Summer


It's the warm weather trend that never really goes away and for good reason: any man can look good in a patterned shirt. Or a Hawaiian shirt. Or a floral print shirt. Or whatever name you give to the wavy patterned short-sleeved button-up shirts that you see everywhere right now. You can pick one up for €20 or €200, but either way, they make dressing for summer barbeques, concerts, festivals and nights out a breeze.


For years, the relaxed fit and bold prints embodied tourists, party animals and the resident jokers of a social group. But now, they've taken on a more stylish edge. As men's fashion has loosened up, and the lines between what you can wear on a weekday and what you can wear on the weekend have disintegrated, printed or patterned shirts now represent a sense of fun, rather than funny.


As with any trend, there are approaches that work, and those that don't work. Luckily patterned shirts are so easy to style and make look good that there are fewer speed bumps than you might think. The only thing you really need to worry about is picking a style of print that makes you feel good. If that's not enough, then here are a few easy to follow guidelines that will make your new patterned shirt the first thing you reach for when getting ready for a summer night out.


1. Be Bold And Think Big


For years, printed shirts played it safe and stuck to small patterns – polka dots, tiny arrows, small flowers etc. Now, though, things have flipped and the larger and more flamboyant the print, the better. This summer's statement shirt can't be too modest so go big or go home. There's an endless assortment of choices out there with different florals, leaves and island graphics in different sizes and shapes. It all makes for shirts that feel bolder and more artistic. Rather than hiding their designs until viewers are up close, this summers shirts should catch the eye from a distance.


2. But Avoid Novelty


The modern patterned shirts should make you smile but not make people laugh. Palm trees are good, naked Hula girls are not. You don't have to be boring and stick to a set list of prints but you do need to take an aesthetics-first approach to avoid slipping back into that whole ‘resident joker of the group' category.


3. Get The Fit Right


After you've picked the right print, you'll need to think about how you'll wear the shirt. One of the biggest problems with the printed shirts of old was that while the patterns were fun, the shape of the shirt was not. If the fit is too loose, the shirt becomes reminiscent of a muumuu (think Homer Simpson when he was working from home). Keep the fit slim and structured – a straight fir to the hips, ideally with a straight or vented hem that can be worn out or tucked in. Next, consider the material. Old school printed shirts usually featured a rayon or polyester construction with tends to trap perspiration making sweat patches a regular feature. The modern take on a printed shirt should come in a cotton blend, which gives it more natural breathability. Modern printed shirts will also come in a traditional button-all-the-way-up incarnation, which gives you a little more leeway in regard to styling and layering. Personally, I prefer the classic Cuban collar that's akin to a suit lapel, sitting flat against your chest. Think Tony Manero or Tony Montana and reveal a little chest.


4. Wear It With Style


How you style your shirt makes the difference between a loud, novelty outfit and an effective statement piece. If you're wearing a shirt covered in flowers, resist the urge to wear it with striped trousers or a checked jacket. The shirt should be the focal point of your outfit so make your statement up top and keep it simple on the bottom. Think chinos, denims (long or short) in black or neutral colours. Your shoes should follow suit: smart trainers, oxfords or loafers in a complementary shade. If you really want to make a style statement then combine your shirt with a plain blue or black blazer and as a finishing touch, roll up your sleeves a little.


The patterned shirt is the perfect bar to beach (and back again) fashion item for summer. It looks dressy and it's on trend which guarantees some added style points. Keep the pairings simple, this means plain pants, jeans or shorts, classic trainers or slip-ons and let your shirt do the talking.

Patrick McLoughney