We know what you’re thinking. You thought you weren’t allowed to wear loud shirts. They’re too Miami Vice you thought. They’re not part of a traditional capsule wardrobe and they don’t fall into the stylish colour safe spaces of navy, olive, grey and white. Well, forget everything you’ve been told about men's printed shirts. You are allowed to wear them, you just have to wear them correctly.
Now, disclaimer: you can still look a fool if you wear a printed shirt wrong. Pick the wrong one and you’re the sartorial clown and not in an endearing way. Too bright, too loud, too much going on, any kind of novelty and you’re that guy. You never want to be that guy.
Rock a printed shirt well however and the world is your oyster. You’ll be seen as stylishly accomplished. Unafraid to express yourself. Fun. The cool guy at the party. The sartorially brave one with an understanding of what it means to mix colour and pattern. All of the above is literally one shirt away. Let us guide you through the process with some style tips and a pick of the best printed shirts for men on the market.
How to style a printed shirt
It’s all about balance when it comes to printed shirts for men. Like a bunch of flowers you need to think of your trousers as the stems and the shirt as the flowers. One supports, the other attracts the attention. If you start messing around with the support then you’re going to divert attention away from the main event. This goes for wearing a jacket on top too. Clashing patterns are dangerous and you seriously need to know what you’re doing.
So what does this mean? Plain, neutral block colours at the bottom, vibrant printed shirt on top. If you’re thinking of wearing an overshirt or chore jacket, again, keep it neutral and frame the print. A pair of dark wash jeans works well with a dark print, a pair of light wash or dare we say it white, wide-leg trousers, be they denim or drill fabric will work well with a light or floral print.
The same applies for up top. A printed shirt is great for breaking up a suit for a more casual look as long as the suit itself isn’t too busy. Try not to contrast light and dark too much but otherwise, have some fun with it. Let printed shirts sit beneath sweatshirts, collars giving ample glimpse of what’s underneath or wear them underneath casual overshirts.
Going back to the introduction, it’s important not to go overboard. Nothing about a solid printed shirt screams novelty. Match tones or colours in the shirt, don’t opt for anything too loud and please, please don’t choose anything you might see Guy Fieri wearing.
Best printed shirts for men in 2023
Wax London Didcot Shirt
See how this one is intriguing but not offensively loud? Wax London's bestselling Didcot printed shirt is a certified summer essential. The ancient Indonesian Ikat dying technique dyes the yarns one by one, giving what are extremely aesthetically pleasing and mesmeric striped patterns. Cut in a relaxed fit in lightweight cotton, it's sturdy yet breathable. Dress it up with linen trousers and espadrilles or just wear it over a pair of shorts with canvas trainers. It even features an on-trend Cuban collar and eco-friendly Corozo nut buttons. Is there anything this shirt doesn’t do?
Closed Printed Shirt
Now we’re digging into patterns. Closed’s half-sleeved printed shirt is a sight to behold with its statement-making design. The shirt is made in a lightweight Italian cotton with pearl buttons, a straight hem and chest pocket. Style it with pleated trousers and white trainers for a smart-casual look will take you effortlessly from the office to aperitivo hour.
Brava Fabrics Where is Wally on the Beach Aloha Shirt
Inject a dose of playfulness into your outfit with Brava's Where is Wally on the Beach shirt. This fun printed shirt doubles as a game and is guaranteed to start conversation. Ethically made in Spain from 100% organic cotton, its soft to the touch and oh-so-comfy. Wear it to the beach (duh) with swim shorts and sandals, or style it with denim for an effortless summer-in-the-city look.
Velasca Bova Shirt
See in summer with Velasca's elevated take on the classic Hawaiian shirt. This version is made from a super-sustainable combination of lyocell – a lightweight and breathable fabric made from eucalyptus tree pulp – and linen. It's perfect for high-summer barbecues and beach days. Choose from four different Hawaiian print options.
Neem Recycled Multi Print Party Comfort Shirt
For a slightly more formal option, look to London-based label Neem, whose Multi Print Party shirt is as sustainable as it is stylish. Crafted from recycled materials woven in Italy, it combines the technical feel of a sports garment with the elegance of a dress shirt. Style it with tailored trousers and an unstructured blazer, or take things down a notch with a pair of trusty blue jeans.
Paul Smith Red Bandana Printed Shirt
Anyone that knows anything about Sir Paul Smith knows that he’s not afraid to experiment with colour and his printed shirts for men have always been a prominent canvas for experimentation. This Americana-inspired bandana print shirt is no different. Made in Italy from 100% organic cotton, the patterned short-sleeve shirt is cut in a casual fit with a relaxed collar and loop button fastening.
Folk Gabe Shirt
Go big or go home. But don’t worry, Folk can always be trusted. What a pattern, what a shirt. Folk’s Gabe shirt in ecru multidot is a sight to behold. Straight hem, half moon collar and a vented side seam make for a boxy, casual fit with the 100% Tencel material nice and comfortable. Soft to the touch too. Wear it over a white t-shirt and let it pop over neutral coloured shorts or try and pick out one of the colours and go from there.
YMC Malick Seersucker Graffiti Print Shirt
YMC’s ability to do extremely fun yet wonderfully stylish casual garments is unrivalled. This shirt –featuring a characterful Basquiat-inspired pattern – is a showstopper too, with the brand’s trademark passion for design and inspiration shining through. Seersucker gives the shirt a breezy summer-ready feel, whilst the camp collar and Corozo buttons add subtle eye catching detail. Wear with dark trousers and let it pop.