If the past few season’s runways are anything to go by, we’ve been given a firm message that we all could do with a little print and pattern in our lives.
While many a conservative gent will wince at the idea of donning florals, at the opposite end of the spectrum, there are others who are happy to go the whole hog with head-to-toe geometrics.
Here at FashionBeans, we’re of the attitude that menswear should be a considered affair, and aim to strike the perfect balance between trend-led and classic.
With this in mind, we’re exploring SS14’s printed legwear trend to show that by adopting a pattern on your southern-half you can make a modern statement, with or without shouting about it…
Printed Casual Trousers
By far the easiest way to work printed legwear into your style regimen is with a casual trouser.
From runway to high street, designers and brands are pushing aside solid tones in favour of something with a bit more punch this season.
Chinos, a perennial favourite, have been re-imagined in a range of patterns, including geometric, floral and camouflage. Labels such as Zara, Edwin and Ralph Lauren offer a succinct mix of printed chino styles to break up the ubiquitous monotone and pastel shades, while Hentsch Man’s Moire carrot trousers are a relaxed yet bold choice that are perfect for summer.
Back in the 1990s, printed denim was big news, with luxury labels such as Jean Paul Gaultier offering graphic, impact designs that were for the truly fashion forward. Now, with the 1990s trending again, printed jeans have returned – Paris brand Ami’s eye-catching foliage print jeans are the perfect case in point.
Sweatpants have left the confines of the gym to become a dress-down and dress-up staple, with the industry continuing to push sports luxe aesthetics. These athletic trousers have not escaped the print trend either, with the patterns bringing a new dimension to this most casual of styles.
Versace Versus’ graphic, jungle print sweatpants are just the ticket for the more daring style connoisseur, while Kolor’s hem print design is a more subtle choice.
- Topman Black Dogtooth Print Spray On Skinny Jeans
- Huf Floral Sweatpants
- Vivienne Westwood Anglomania Jeans Low Crotch Slim Tapered All Over Orb Print
- He By Mango Slim-fit Printed Garment-dyed Chinos
- Denim & Supply Ralph Lauren Slim-fit Camouflage Chinos
- Gap Lived-in Slim Camo Pant
- Edwin Jeans Blue 55 All-over Printed Chambray Chinos
- Incotex Slim-fit Printed Washed-cotton Trousers
- Moire Print Carrot Trouser
- Ami Floral-print Five Pocket Jeans 188300
- Versus Jungle And Zebra-print Sweatpants 189408
- Kolor Tapered Panelled Wool-blend Sweatpants
How To Wear
The key to pulling off printed legwear with panache is remembering to balance your patterns. If your lower half features a strong motif, it’s best to let the trouser take centre stage and keep your upper-half clean and simple.
A well-cut, quality tee from brands such as American Vintage and Sunspel is a great starting point; nothing beats a classic white t-shirt, as sartorial heroes James Dean and Marlon Brando had little difficulty proving.
A pair of leather sandals is the ideal style partner to casual printed legwear in the summer months – a minimalist cross-strap pair from Ancient Greek Sandals or ASOS will hit the mark.
Printed Formal Trousers
Formal trousers have received the print treatment, enabling gents to inject a punchy pattern into smarter looks, in a break from tradition.
Wool, cotton and silk-blend styles have been a strong presence on the runways, showcasing intricately loomed weaves, embroidered treatments, micro-prints and bold statement motifs. Dries Van Noten’s expertly crafted SS14 brocade trousers are the ultimate statement-makers and exemplify these luxe fabrications.
The past few seasons have seen designers’ fondness for ornate jacquard fabrics grow extensively, with both muted and stand out interpretations prevailing in the formal trouser genre. Topman, in particular, has created a stylish range of jacquard trousers to suit both directional and subtle tastes this season.
The influence of the armed forces continues to bear a strong weight on modern menswear, and camouflage prints remain a key feature in formal trousers. MSGM’s camo-snakeskin print version might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but they’re certainly a clever and more humane fusion of the exotic skin and camo trends.
- Topman Black/white Checked Skinny Fit Trousers
- Topman Blue Printed Skinny Trousers
- Topman Black And White Printed Ultra Skinny Trousers
- Ami Slim-fit Patterned Cotton And Silk-blend Trousers
- Asos Skinny Fit Smart Cropped Trousers In Print
- Valentino Jungle-print Cotton Chinos 188110
- Gucci Slim-fit Flower-print Cotton-blend Trousers
- Hentsch Man Tapered Printed Cotton-canvas Trousers
- Paul Smith Mainline Navy Patterned Linen-blend Trousers
- Msgm Camouflage Snakeskin Trousers
- Givenchy Skinny Camo-print Trousers 192984
- Ami Oxford-stripe Wool-blend Trousers 188494
How To Wear
A much trickier look to pull off in comparison to their casual counterparts, printed formal trousers should be approached with caution. Is it an appropriate look for your workplace? If in doubt, it’s best to air on the side of caution and opt for a subtle micro-print or checked pair.
Like with casual trousers, it’s best to combine smarter printed legwear with solid separates: a slim-fitting navy blazer will pair neatly with almost any type of formal printed trousers, and the pattern will serve well to break up the solid navy tone. It’s a look that really brings ‘classic with a twist’ to the fore.
A clean-cut, neutral shirt is a must – it’s best to keep things simple and let the print on your lower half take centre stage.
Finish the look with sleek single-tone shoes – think traditional with a contemporary edge. Minimalist Derbies in grey/navy leather with a wedge sole make an ideal pairing with formal printed legwear. ASOS have a succinct selection that won’t leave your bank manager red-faced, while United Nude offer a more design-led range.
Prints on the whole tend to bring a summery mood to the table, making patterned shorts a natural component in the modern warm-weather wardrobe.
Sporting a range of appealing prints from floral blooms to artfully embroidered designs, the variety of printed shorts on offer this season is extensive.
The most versatile style is the chino short. Geometric, ethnic and botanical prints are all guises of the summer chino short that will instantly introduce a touch of quirky charm to your casual looks.
Pleated shorts are enjoying a return to the sartorial limelight and can lend a vintage-inspired feel to your aesthetic, offering a more tapered silhouette in a refreshing change from slim-fitting styles.
Swim shorts are a genre where there’s certainly no shortage of prints, and it’s particularly appropriate on a sun-lavished holiday to introduce a bold pattern into the mix. Orlebar Brown’s exceptional swimwear, constructed with Savile Row techniques, encompasses a wide range of modern geometric motifs alongside artful graphic and photographic designs that will ensure you’re the most unique gent poolside.
Other brands worth a look are Reiss, Vilebrequin, Oiler & Boiler, Gant and Scotch & Soda.
- Gant Hibiscus Flower Swim Shorts Navy
- Scotch & Soda Hawaii Swim Shorts Green
- Vilebrequin Moorea Mid-length Printed Swim Shorts
- Orlebar Brown Bulldog Mid-length Printed Swim Shorts
- Reiss Ditora Nature Print Swim Shorts Blue
- He By Mango Camo-print Cotton Bermuda Shorts
- Oiler & Boiler Mens Classic Swim Shorts – Cool Mint
- River Island Navy Floral Print Turn Up Shorts
- Nn.07 Slim-fit Printed Cotton-twill Shorts
- River Island Grey Line Print Canvas Shorts
- Topman Grey Marl Floral Jersey Shorts
- Incotex Printed Cotton Shorts
How To Wear
Shorts are by their very nature more casual than trousers, so there’s a little more room for experimentation.
For the more daring dressers, a print-on-print look can be carried off with panache if correctly executed. When treading this path, try to choose a top that picks out a colour element in the lower half, bringing a feeling of unity to the opposing prints. Using exactly the same motif top and bottom is best avoided – it will scream pattern overkill.
For those wanting a subtler approach, Reiss’ selection of clean, fifties-inspired Cuban collar shirts will look sharp when paired with patterned shorts and help really set off the print.
Summer footwear is all about sandals and slip-ons: a bi-colour minimalist pair of Marni or Topman sandals are just the ticket, while Castaner, Rivieras and United Nude offer espadrilles and plimsolls in a range of solid hues and statement patterns that will complement your printed shorts.
It’s obvious to the shrewd style observer that the print trend continues to gain momentum season after season – and it looks like it won’t be waning for some time.
Printed legwear is a genre that has something for everyone: stand out botanical trousers for the statement-makers, and subtle micro-print shorts for the more restrained gent. In a world where men’s wardrobes are traditionally dominated by solid tones and muted hues, a dash of pattern will offer a fresh perspective and help rejuvenate your personal style.
So, what are your favourite printed legwear looks? Have you invested in any of the key prints and styles this season?
As usual, we welcome your thoughts in the comments section below…
How To Wear Printed Legwear
Image: Scapa SS14