Summer dressing can get boring fast if you’re not careful. Relying on the same tired combo of shorts, sneakers and a short-sleeved shirt or tee is an easy and all too comfortable trap to fall into. Sure, it’s practical, but it leaves little room for sartorial flair or expression, which can leave your outfits feeling flat, samey and generally uninspired.
A simple solution to this warm-weather conundrum is to embrace pattern, and a shirt is the perfect tool for doing so. Patterned shirts are some of the few garments that allow a man to wear something pretty outlandish without raising too many eyebrows at the family BBQ. They range from conservative vertical stripes to weird-and-wonderful abstract imagery, and they can be valuable additions to your summer wardrobe.
If you’re thinking of buying a patterned shirt this season then you’ve come to the right place. This guide aims to equip you with all the key information you need in order to find the perfect one, including important things to look out for when searching and a list of the top styles to consider.
It’s easy to make a winter outfit interesting. You can create depth by stacking layers and draw the eye in by utilising different textured fabrics. Try this in the summer and you’ll cook yourself.
A patterned shirt is basically a cheat code to make your summer outfits pop. It’s a single garment that can alter the mood of a look drastically and give the eye something to focus on.
Some men are too quick to write patterned shirts off. Perhaps they don’t think themselves to be stylish or outgoing enough to work some pattern into their wardrobes without it looking contrived, but the truth is that because there are so many different options to choose from, there really is something for everyone.
Pattern doesn’t have to be a byword for obnoxious, loud or tacky – it can be subtle, tasteful and understated too.
We always recommend choosing a shirt that fits relatively close to the body. Not tight, but not overly slouchy or baggy either. Summer, however, is an exception.
In hot weather, it sometimes pays to have a little extra room to breathe, which is why boxy cuts and slightly oversized fits can work well during the warmer portion of the year. That being said, there’s a difference between a deliberately oversized silhouette and a bad fit, so still pay attention to the length of the shirt and make sure the arm seams sit on or just below the shoulder hinge.
Fabric is always an important point to consider, but perhaps even more so in the summer. Selecting a fabric that’s too heavy can lead to overheating, sweat patches and discomfort, which are the last things you want from a summer shirt.
Some fabrics that work well in the summer include linen, silk, Oxford cloth and chambray as a lighter alternative to denim.
Lastly, give some thought to when and where you plan to wear this shirt. Is it going to be something you’ll bring out for special occasions, or do you want something for throwing on after the beach when on vacation?
If it’s the former, we’d suggest sticking to simple patterns like geometric prints and stripes.
Floral patterns can be bright, colourful and playful, which makes them a popular choice for summer shirts. They offer a straightforward way to jazz up simple outfits, and they’re easy to pull off.
But floral patterns don’t have to be vibrant. If you’re looking for more of an understated option, you could take a look at a dark or two-tone floral pattern. Dark florals often have a black or dark-coloured background, with lighter flowers.
Vertical stripes are a great option for anyone, but particularly those making their first forays into pattern. It’s a very easy look to style, it’s not too in your face (depending on the chosen colours) and it has the added benefit of being rather slimming.
A thin blue-and-white stripe on an Oxford shirt is a great place to start. It’s very subtle, versatile and understated, but still brings a little more flair than a solid blue or white version of the same garment.
For something a little bolder, why not go for a candy stripe or a nice thick awning stripe instead?
Simple vertical stripes are great, but if you want to dial the jazziness up a few steps, some retro mixed-width stripes are even better.
They’re best served up in shades of pastel and earthy 1970s-inspired tones, and they look great on short-sleeved shirts.
Just make sure not to go too baggy with this style – you don’t want to veer too far into Chandler territory.
Love them or hate them, all-over logo prints are very much a part of the modern patterned-shirt landscape. Some argue they’re tacky, but if you lean streetwear with your wardrobe and have the balls to pull it off then more power to you.
Check out the big-name fashion houses like Gucci, Burberry and Louis Vuitton for some of the most popular options.
Madras is to summer shirts what plaid and tartan are to wintery flannels. It’s a brighter, more cheerful alternative to the often dark palettes that often feature in checked fabrics, making it a great alternative during the summer months.
For versatility, stay away from overly bold and vivid options and stick to muted pastel shades instead.
When we hear ‘patterned summer shirts’, our minds immediately begin to conjure up images of colourful Hawaiian short-sleeves. It’s a classic of the genre, and its brilliant for bringing a playful element to otherwise pedestrian summer outfits.
Prints can vary greatly, spanning everything from two-tone florals to tropical prints; the key thing is that it’s always bright, fun and full of colour.
This is a pretty broad category covering a wide range of patterns. Abstract print shirts feature patterns that can be anything from all-over paisley to wave lines and spirals.
They can be eye-catching or understated depending on the use of colour, so there really is something for everyone.
Silk is cooling, soft against the skin, great at wicking moisture and is quick drying too. This all makes it a great choice when it comes to summer shirt fabrics, it’s just a bonus that it looks great in patterned designs too.
We love how floral prints look on silk, Frescobol Carioca and Casablanca are renowned names in this category, or you could go for a simple striped design instead.
Geometric patterns feature repeating shapes and lines arranged into interesting designs. They’re slightly bolder and more eye-catching than something like a simple striped or checked pattern, but a bit more sober than flowery florals or heavily saturated tropical prints.
This makes them a great option for anyone looking to liven up their summer wardrobe without going too ‘out there’.
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