There are some shockingly bad floral shirts in this world. And we’re afraid they’ve given this particular genre of collared tops a bad rap. Bad floral shirts are very bad – they tend to be rainbow-coloured, uncomfortably slim in cut, and sometimes feature ‘quirky’ contrasting buttons and stitching. It’s the ‘going out’ shirt that should never have seen the light of day.
A tasteful floral shirt, however, is the perfect way to introduce a bit of colour and pattern into your wardrobe though. It’s less ‘Essex all-nighter’, more ‘Riviera playboy’. Think The Talented Mr Ripley crossed with Tom Selleck, and look for a more subtle pattern in colours you feel comfortable wearing. Yes, the floral shirt is a statement piece, so you need to be confident wearing it to properly pull it off so here a six ways to do it well.
3 Style Tips For Wearing Floral Shirts
One Print Per Look
You needn’t be able to tell your hibiscus blooms from your carnations to know that print overkill is best avoided. To ensure you don’t stray off the garden path and into the jungle, stick to a single print and balance it with simpler block-colour items.
Layer For Subtlety
Menswear florals have come full circle since the Hawaiian shirt misfortunes of the 1980s. But that doesn’t mean any bloom embellishment shouldn’t be approached with caution. If you’re alarmed at the prospect of looking like a florist’s shop front, use layering to prune back the statement.
Fit For Purpose
A Hawaiian gardenia bloom shirt may look great on a Miami Beach esplanade, but it isn’t exactly boardroom appropriate. It’s best to reserve your more conspicuous pieces for off-duty occasions, while subtle micro-floral prints can be easily worked into more conservative tailored looks for weekdays.
6 Ways To Wear A Floral Shirt This Summer
Prints are like hot sauce. (Wait, where are you going?) Of course, it’s entirely possible to make it through life without ever sampling any form of sartorial Sriracha. But let’s face it, that would be rather, well, bland, wouldn’t it?
If the thought of slathering some Hell’s Inferno Naga Bhut Jolokia onto your looks brings you out in a sweat, however, consider the more mild combination of a floral printed shirt worn under tailoring.
You have two options here. Temper the potentially thorny issue of pattern overload but opting for a shirt with a neutral base and a pattern that picks out the colour of the suit, or dial-up the heat with a contrasting colourway (blue with yellow, green with pink etc.) for a look that’s all kinds of fire.
Unfortunately for the well-meaning floral shirt, when worn with shorts, too often things go awry. That weird uncle who insists on manning the barbecue despite having no discernible cooking credentials? He’s probably wearing a floral shirt, shorts, flip-flops and vaguely offensive slogan T-shirt to do so. Not good.
To steer clear of this, start by seeking out a floral shirt crafted from Tencel. As well as being more absorbent than cotton and cooler than linen, the fabric’s draped, louche feel will position you closer to Havana native than the aforementioned ropey relative.
When styling any floral shirt, bold colours and statement pieces elsewhere are never advisable. Go for plain neutral T-shirts, inconspicuous straight fit shorts (denim or dark tailored designs will do) and simple minimal sneakers or sandals to cook up a solid summer look.
Is there anything you can’t wear with a handsome pair of jeans? Probably not. Well, apart from a leather holster and some metal spurs. But a floral shirt? Most definitely.
Despite the versatility of the most worn item of clothing in your wardrobe, it’s important to bear in mind that the wash and fit of your jeans make them more suited to particular looks, and the consequential need to switch your floral pattern.
If you’re chasing the colour-popping floral shirt style of Christian Slater in True Romance, then looser, light-wash denim is a better fit for the ’90s vibe. Or for a more classic appeal, black jeans offer the perfect neutral base on which the rest of your look can bloom.
Under A Jacket
One of the easiest ways to look cool is by going tonal. Mixing and matching different shades of the same colour is a simple, modern way to dress for work or play. And there’s no reason why a floral shirt can’t be part of that.
Look for a shirt in a muted colourway, with perhaps just a single contrasting colour – grey flowers over a blue base, for example. Wear it under a navy bomber jacket with a pair of pleated chino trousers underneath for a sharp but playful look.
The fit of the shirt should ideally be relaxed and worn untucked for an added air of nonchalance. Look for a long-sleeved Cuban collar example if possible, which will separate your shirt from the usual floral brigade.
With Tailored Trousers
Business at the bottom, party on the top, this is as close to a textbook definition of high-low dressing as you’re likely to find. Yes, it’s a little bit sleazy – Tony Montana is one of your references here – but it’s also proof that you can get more wear out of an obnoxiously colourful shirt than you ever dared dream.
The rules, such as they are: the tailored trousers need to be neutral and free of any pattern, unless you want to look like Ace Ventura; you can either go tonal (greens, creams, blacks) or create a sharp contrast between top and bottom (black and red, say).
To complete the Miami nightclub owner look, tuck the shirt in with a belt, and wear some shoes in a lizard-effect leather. (Or go the other way with some minimalist sneakers.)
As A Co-ord
Granted, any fashion boosted by reality TV stars is not the greatest start — no one’s wearing deep scoop tees and Ed Hardy anymore, are they? — but the co-ord trend is one that looks like it’s got legs off the Island, too.
Matchy-matchy shirt and shorts combinations are tailoring 2.0, they’re the suit that’s not a suit, and as such, are more versatile than they first appear. You could choose to play it simple with a simple block colour design (think Sean Connery as James Bond in a blue terry cloth romper), or opt for a stand-out pattern.
If you’re desperate to go down the latter route, a floral pattern is an excellent choice. Break up the bold with a white T-shirt underneath and keep the footwear simple with a pair of minimalist sneakers or on-trend sandals.