12.10.2016

Check the fine prints

Why blend in when you can stand out? Charming prints are this season’s key style.

Words: Max Dylan Lazarus | Photography: Glen Montgomery | Styling: Mandy Nash

For many men, experimenting with fashion begins and ends with that garish pink Volcom Stone tee bought back in 2005. For others, the term is used euphemistically by fathers to refer to an estranged older brother’s time away at Rhodes. Truth be told, for most of us, it pays to simply play it safe, keeping it steady with a uniform of a plain T-shirt, jeans and sneakers, mentioning to everyone you meet who works in fashion that “if it’s good enough for Jobs, Zuckerberg and Einstein, then who am I to argue?”

The thing is, those three have a lot more going for them than you do, and this is summer 2016 damn it – you’re not going to make the most of it anonymously blending into the background! So welcome to lesson one of becoming the new, fashionable you. Of reclaiming your sense of fun, and relegating the memory of Volcomgate 2005 into the mental filing cabinet labelled “learning curves”. My stylist friend Gavin suggested I start this class with mesh tops and leather shorts, but let’s not put the cart before the horse. For now, pop on a collar, add some colour, and take a brave step out of the ordinary with these six on-trend prints.

Hawaiian shirts

The risk

To avert disaster, let’s rather call these Hawaiian-inspired shirts. It’s an important distinction, because no one looks cool in an old-school Aloha shirt – Magnum P.I. was a sex symbol despite the getup, not because of it. We mere mortals usually just end up looking like Ace Ventura tribute acts.

The reward

Rather than wearing the oversized silhouette classically associated with the Hawaiian shirt, we’re going for a look that takes the form-fitting, tapered appearance of the contemporary button-up, and combines it with the casual appeal of tropical prints. It’s busy and fun, but still very collected, conveying a sense of confidence that’s always attractive.

How to wear it

By making it the busiest thing you’re wearing at any time. Don’t pair it with checked shorts – this shirt will raise the volume to the perfect amount, so keep everything else simple. Think rolled chinos and sockless sneakers, or pair it with some slim shorts and chukkas. Even if you wear it unbuttoned with a white tee under, make sure the shirt is a slimmer cut, preventing it from billowing behind you like a sail.

Earn your Stripes

The risk

What do gondoliers, mimes and prisoners all have in common? Yes, they’re all people you’d hate to be stuck alone in a room with, but on a more superficial level, they all historically wear horizontal stripes. I don’t care how stellar your personality is, I’m not making friends with the gondolier guy at the party.

The reward

Forget the whole thing about horizontal stripes being fattening, if it’s true it’s marginal at best. A well-made striped shirt adds just the right amount of interest to an otherwise generic look. It’s almost subliminal how contrasting colours can make jeans and a plain top look like you give a damn.

How to wear it

Keep it natural with slim denim jeans, and then add the pièce de résistance, a pair of Birkenstocks! Not slip slops, not flip flops, not even sliders with your jeans – those aren’t negotiable with jeans – we’re talking genuine leather sandals here. Leather and suede has a natural tactile appeal, so pairing it with a geometric, precise pattern makes for a lovely contrast.

Tropical prints

The risk

Other than looking like a Hawaiian top, none really, but we’ve covered that. We’re talking about tees and tanks now so, I guess, maybe avoid mangrove swamps? You don’t want to attract the bugs. Oh, and if you don’t want to interact with people, then absolutely don’t wear tropical prints – there’s no blending in if you’re in one of these. Blending in socially I mean. If you’re a social recluse with a taste for fabulous colours, then I guess do go to the aforementioned mangrove swamp. I’m getting distracted, let’s move on.

The reward

Simply by wearing this, you’ve already broken the ice. There’s plenty that people can tell about a person just by the outfit they’re wearing: just like a suit can be intimidating, a tropical top is an invitation for conversation, and that makes it an ideal piece for festivals, beach days and pool parties.

How to wear it

Considering you’re already outside partying, pair it up with a hat and some reflective sunnies. Does the cap pair with a prominent colour on your shirt for colour-blocking? Perfect. If not, keep the colour simple, or go for a wide brim hat. Don’t forget your water and suncream!

Good old Gingham

The risk

Personally, I love Gingham, but sadly it’s been adopted as the official uniform of the white-collar casual. Wear it with stone washed jeans and some neat loafers and you end up looking like the lovechild of Jeremy Clarkson and the 30-year-old boet who still pines for those Thursday nights at Tiger Tiger. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemies.

The reward

There are two sides to every story, and for every shadow, so too must there be some shine. So if you can avoid looking like the office creep who describes his own courting strategy as “if you don’t buy a ticket how can you win the lottery”, then you safely come out looking really on-point. There’s a reason why in series and movies every loveable every-guy that the heroine falls in love with is frumpily wearing a Gingham shirt over a white tee – it’s a homely, attractive pattern. Now to get it right.

How to wear it

Let’s reclaim Gingham from the jeans, loafers and belt buckle crowd. Treat it as a layering piece, wearing it over a white tee with shorts and sneakers, or pair it with some branded crewnecks and standout sneakers for a sports-luxe edge. Remember that this pattern is upping the rest of your look – so get that slightly edgy athleisure ensemble ready, and then see if the Gingham can put a bit of prep in your step.

Check the right boxes

The risk

You don’t wanna be a lumberjack wearing it too oversized, and you certainly don’t want to tuck it in tight and come out looking like Urkel either. This 90s revival of checked shirts is a tricky business – just because people are wearing them again doesn’t mean you can pull your old button-ups out your wardrobe, good as new. The colours, the cut and the quality all actually matter.

The reward

You get this right and you’re looking your finest even as the temperature rises to sweltering levels. You want to avoid the sweat patches? Layer up! A thin, breathable cotton shirt keeps you looking and feeling cool.

How to wear it

A general rule of thumb for checked shirts: the thicker the check, the more casual the shirt. The same applies for the brightness of the colours. That being said, seeing as we’re heading into the summer months, I recommend getting enough casual shirts to keep on you for your days out. Tie them around your waist or wear them open with a pair of denim shorts. Easy, breezy – summer’s yours for the taking.

Floral prints

The risk

At this rate? Probably that you’re getting a reputation for being the botany shirt guy. I kid, but with dark florals, as with tropical and Hawaiian prints before, the risk remains that you induce epilepsy by pairing up too wildly.

The reward

Dark florals are a brilliant print. They’re moody and sombre and interesting, like goths. Unlike goths though, these will be seen everywhere in summer, and everyone will actually enjoy their presence.

How to wear it

Unlike their more out-there tropical cousins, these prints aren’t necessarily the stars of the show. Their quieter colouring gives them a versatility that lets you play around with them more. That’s why they work equally well with sporty joggers as with formal trousers – two very different looks done very well, and it’s the prints that pull them together. Be sure to finish your outfit with forward-looking flourish: that’s where your sneakers come in.

Model: Nicolas van Graan at 20 Management
Model: Ilretallack at 20 Management 
MUA: Kally Boyiatjis

 

https://superbalist.com/thewayofus/2016/10/10/sxrtd-wrap-up/791
https://superbalist.com/thewayofus/2016/10/10/gone-in-ghana/789
https://superbalist.com/thewayofus/2016/10/06/the-travelling-showroom/788