Since it is the beginning of the fashion season and photos from international runways are already all over social media, I have been getting a lot of queries from clients and friends on how to wear prints. While it is a huge topic to break down in a single piece, let’s start with focusing on current trends.
Prints in menswear are everywhere. While the classic stripes have always been in vogue, newer variations of fashion stripes — irregular, bolder and thicker — are all the rage with high-end brands. Labels that cater to corporates have introduced tone-on-tone micro prints on shirts, sometimes replicating textures. Printed ties, as part of your office wardrobe, work well, but make sure that they are an extension of your personality. When chosen wisely, ties can bring up your entire look. Socks with interesting prints on them are emerging as a key fashion trend, and have become a wardrobe essential. Similarly, printed blazers that come in checks, stripes or even botanical prints are a must-have.
There is a lot of interest in texture prints as these are subtler than bold prints, thus making them easy to sport. Thinking floral? Save those for holidays and ethnic wear, but in understated colours and motifs. For some India-inspired elements in your wardrobe, go for Ikat shirts that work well in a formal as well as a casual setting. Personally, bolder prints act as a pick me up, especially on a long, tiring day.
If you are not into patterns, consider graphic or slogan prints; but steer clear of paisleys. If you are looking to make a bold statement, then go for placement prints. For the rugged, military look, there are new modern versions of the camouflage with updated colours as well as interesting landscape prints.
Geometric prints have always been in — from printed checks, small squares to polka dots. Checks flatter everyone, but it is the size that matters. These work in every silhouette, whether a formal shirt for the office, a plaid shirt used as an over shirt, a checkered suit, or an outer jacket. In my opinion, broadly speaking, the size of the check should be inversely proportional to the size of the wearer; bigger checks work well for smaller frames and vice versa.
If you are going for print-on-print, make sure the colours complement each other and it is best to avoid bold prints. Another way to wear prints, especially if you are not used to it, is to layer your printed shirt or t-shirt with a solid second layer in a complementary tone. You can even combine a printed blazer with a printed pocket square.
I feel, placement prints or chest graphic prints don’t go too well with all-over prints unless one of them is on the subtler side. In my experience, print-on-texture works better than print-on-print as it is always better to let one piece shine, and to let it soften the rest of the look. Balance is the key when working with prints.
Accessorising with printed pieces is a great way to introduce prints in your wardrobe. You can complete an otherwise simple or solid look by adding a printed scarf, socks, shoes or a pocket square to the outfit. Men can also take inspiration from nature and opt for animal and bird inspired motifs. However, if you are trying to emulate the print-on-print ramp look, avoid clashing floral or animal printed suit and shirt. It may look great on the runway, but not as much in real life.
Kunal Rawal is a leading men’s fashion designer. He tweets as @kunalrawalvibe