What comes to mind when you think of clothing prints? Flowers? Plaids? Polka dots? If you’re a guy looking to branch out from always wearing solid tops or bottoms and maybe the occasional stripes, figuring out what kind of prints are okay to wear can seem overwhelming. This is even more likely when you’re transitioning from winter’s dark colors to spring pastels and brights. If you’re looking to add some fun patterns to your wardrobe, read on for a man’s guide to spring prints.
One of the simplest patterns is the stripe, which comprises alternating vertical or horizontal lines in one or more colors. The stripes can be continuous in a repeating pattern, one right after another, or they can be spaced apart against a background color, often white. One popular use for stripes is in men’s button-down oxford shirts. The simplicity of the pattern makes it appropriate for work wear, and these shirts pair well with suits or sports coats and dress pants.
Checks are another simple pattern. The simplest checks are created by alternating equal widths of two alternating colors both vertically and horizontally, making the print symmetrical in appearance. The vertical threads are called the warp, and the horizontal threads are called the weft. Gingham fabric results when very small checks are created by alternating a single color—often blue or red—with a background color, usually white. Seen from a distance, a gingham print can appear to be all one color.
Buffalo checks are larger, and they also differ from gingham in that the background color is usually black. The classic buffalo check combo is red and black, although you can find prints in using colors other than red. Both gingham and buffalo checks work well as men’s casual shirts, although gingham also makes an appearance in dress suits. Both styles of checks can be worn with jeans or khakis.
Although plaids, like checks are woven using different warp and weft threads, the two prints are not as similar as it seems. In the two-color check print, the checks are all the same size, but the same is not true for plaids, which often have several colors. Although a plaid pattern does repeat, the arrangement of the warp and weft creates both rectangles and squares of varying widths. Plaids have their origins in Scotland’s clan tartans—each clan had its own tartan, which when worn served as identification—although not all plaids are tartans. If you’re tired of flannel shirts and want to add some plaid to your spring wardrobe, consider a pair of shorts that will take you from spring to summer. Just pair it with a men’s polo shirt that picks up a color from the plaid.
The Argyle pattern, which originated in Scotland, is a diamond knit. Usually, the diamonds are three different colors and are arranged in rows, with thin lines crossing through the center of each diamond. Traditionally, argyle knits are used in socks and sweaters or vests. Spring argyle prints tend to use brighter colors. Argyle vests look great over solid shirts, and on cool spring days, you can even toss on a blazer for an additional layer of warmth. If you want to take your casual dress up a notch, incorporating an argyle print into your wardrobe is a sure way to accomplish that.
A paisley print looks like a curved teardrop. It originated in Persia, which is present-day Iran. The paisley bandana has become a part of American culture, but the pattern appears elsewhere as well. Paisley works particularly well in men’s ties, where the design can add a pop of color to otherwise dull business attire.
Flowers aren’t just for the ladies anymore. Guys have discovered floral prints, and men’s wardrobes will never be the same. While cabbage roses are probably not the first design that comes to mind, there are still plenty of other floral prints to choose from; some incorporating vines and leaves for a more masculine feel. Whether it’s flowers, leaves, or vines, you can find a shirt with the design scattered across a background or designs that are so encompassing there’s not background color to be seen. Florals work well as either long- or short-sleeve button-down shirts and can even be found on polo shirts
Tropical prints are bold and cheery, making them a great option for shaking off winter’s gloom and welcoming spring. So-called because they often had a tropical theme—think palm trees or hibiscus flowers—these days, you can pretty much fine any sort of object incorporated into a tropical shirt. We’re talking about classic cars, cartoon characters, and even your favorite sports team’s logo. Wear your tropical shirt with a pair of cargo shorts, and don’t forget the flip-flops!
When it comes to wild and wacky prints, anything goes. We’re talking pink flamingoes, sunsets, fish, constellations, sugar skulls…if you can imagine it, odds are you can find it—most likely, on a pair of men’s board shorts. Even the most buttoned-up male can let himself cut loose when it comes to swimwear. So, grab a T-shirt and your head to your favorite beach or pool—or find and indoor pool if the spring temps are still too cool—to show off your eclectic taste.
With so many men’s spring prints available, it’s easy to step out of your comfort zone and pick up some new clothing. So, go ahead. Your closet will thank you.