Men’s Style Q&A: Printed Shirts?

Find the answers to your most pressing style questions every week.

QUESTION:  Printed shirts seem to be everywhere these days. I’d like to try one, but I’m still a bit hesitant. Any advice on how to do so without looking like Don Cherry?
Stephen – Calgary, AB

ANSWER: The fact that you recognize Mr. Cherry’s utter lack of sartorial scruples is encouraging, Stephen. When done right, prints can make an outfit sing, adding personality and depth. Done wrong, however, they can be visually assaulting. Here then are a few things to keep in mind when working them into your rotation.

1) Size Matters

The bigger the print, the better the chance it’s obnoxious. That said, go with a small or micro print. In this game, understated equals versatility. Liberty London‘s classic floral print shirt is the perfect example of this. It’s bold and eye-catching, but subtle enough to work with a suit. The goal is to pique curiosity, to have people look a bit closer to see what the print is, not blow them out of the water.

 2) Embrace Layers

Still not 100 per cent comfortable? Experiment with coverage. By layering the shirt with a cardigan, blazer and tie, you get to test the waters, but still show off the goods. Eventually, you’ll gather up the courage to let it fly solo.

3) Star of the Show

Unless you’ve got the swagger and fashion sense of Nick Wooster, who can combine whatever he wants (go ahead, Google him), understand that the goal is for your print to take centre stage. That said, don’t pair it with competing prints or patterns. Instead, make sure the rest of your outfit compliments and accentuates it.  

Believe it or not, prints aren’t all that scary. The key is to have fun with it. This season there’s a ton to choose from: floral, polka dots, geometric, graphic, etc. Pick one you like and then own it. Remember, prints are cool, but the confidence to pull them off is cooler.

Have a sartorial conundrum? Email us at:

Shayne Stephens

Originally from the rough and tumble prairie city of Winnipeg, Shayne Stephens is an award-winning writer based in Toronto. Having recently resigned from a seven year stint as the director of marketing for a large women’s fashion house, he’s thrilled to be following his heart and stepping into the menswear arena. He also delinquently runs his blog and can be found at: Twitter and Instagram at @shaynestephens.

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