Men who wear bold patterned shirts can be divided into two groups: those who are confident and have an eye for style, and those who are merely over-confident. Five minutes of people-watching, especially in tourist hot-spots, are enough to convince anyone that rocking a fancy shirt requires more than just self-assurance. What makes an outfit that includes a bold patterned shirt visually interesting and tasteful, as opposed to one that’s fit for a circus-clown, is a proper combination of all the individual pieces. Here’s how it’s done.
Make the shirt the centre-piece
A bold patterned shirt makes quite a statement, so you want to keep the shirt the focal point. It’s the cardinal rule for wearing such an eye-catching piece well. Crucial to avoid, is a clash between your shirt and the other pieces you’re wearing. Therefore, start with the shirt and build the rest of the outfit around it, keeping everything else simple i.e. in a solid colour.
True, it’s possible to wear different patterns together, as long as each pattern varies considerably in density from the others. However, in the case of bold patterns, more often than not, when worn with another pattern, the result ends up looking chaotic.
Bold patterns usually consist of a multitude of colours, some more than others. Yet, there’s always one that is dominant and that’s usually the brightest and/or the one that draws the eye first, even if it’s not the background colour.
Your safest option is to combine your bold patterned shirt with pieces in neutral colours, such as navy, grey, beige, etc. depending on the shirt’s colour scheme. An alternative would be to combine it with trousers or shorts in the shirt’s dominant colour. However, when this is a brighter or a not very common colour, such as orange or yellow, it’s best to exercise caution. The last thing you want is a look that’s reminiscent of 1970s disco-fever. Here, you’ll be better off combining it with a muted colour that balances out the shirt’s bright colour scheme.
Combining it with a suit/sport coat
Bold patterned shirts are essentially about fun and personality and therefore, are ultimately casual in style. Some designs will look more casual than others. Besides the print and fabric, how casual a shirt looks will often also depends on the colour. Neutral and darker colours tend to give a shirt a dressier look, especially if the fabric has a satin-effect that makes the shirt look more luxurious. In any case, bold patterned shirt remain casual in style and are considered inappropriate for formal events, as well as a corporate environment.
However, that doesn’t mean they cannot be combined successfully with a suit or sport coat. Although a corporate suit would still contrast too much with the shirt’s style, one that is less structured and in a modern cut makes a great option to consider for a smart casual event. The same applies to sport coats. One in a Neapolitan cut (softer structure) and with elbow-patches (if you don’t mind them) will add a good dose of the elegance factor without looking too formal.
Bold patterns are subjective. What to some might qualify as bold, might seem less daring to others. However, the tips above apply to any patterned shirt from the fanciest patterned designs to the simplest.