For as long as we can remember, patterns have been integral to any stylish man’s wardrobe. Think back to Elvis Presley in his “Jailhouse Rock” stripes or the Beach Boys’ wholesome plaid button-downs. Regardless of the design, they add a certain jolt of energy and breathe personality into an outfit that mere solids (no matter the hue) could not. But finding a print that is equal parts stylish and wearable is no easy feat. While a mere gingham shirt is unoriginal (enter @thatjcrewginghamshirt), something as poppy as a bright cheetah print can veer too cheesy. Here, we break down five cool prints that every stylish guy should try this fall and how to wear them.
1. Horizontal stripes
We know, we know: You have tons of stripes hanging in your closet. However, we have a sneaky suspicion that your coveted lines consist of vertical dress shirts – you know, the ones that every guy owns – and perhaps a preppy Repp tie to spice up those solid button-downs. While vertical stripes are known for being traditional and an effortless way to make a statement, their horizontal counterparts have the nasty reputation of being unflattering or looking like standard prison garb. But don’t write this iteration off so quickly: with the right color palette, stripe thickness, and material, it can actually be quite fetching. According to Complex, University of York did a study that women actually look just as flattering in horizontal stripes when the bands are 6% wider as they do in their vertical garments. In our humble opinion, the same goes for guys.
While striped pants of any variety are bit too Ziggy Stardust to be wearable, keep your stripes up top by investing in cozy cardigans and shirts. Instead of choosing clownish colors for your barred tops, stick with neutral hues – a maroon and grey wool grandfather cardigan will be both cozy and stylish over a light knit. If you do dare to opt for bright stripes, make sure that one of the alternating bands is of a subdued hue. For example, there’s something effortlessly chic about a red and white striped crewneck.
For girls (and perhaps some guys), fall is synonymous with pumpkin spice lattes. But for dudes of the fashion-conscious breed, there’s no better time than autumn to sport a cozy plaid flannel shirt at almost every day. With a variety of color palettes and tactile flannels, this seasonal staple isn’t going anywhere. So why not push the sartorial envelope by dousing your other garments in some plaid? Dressy tartan was all over the fall menswear runways: double plaid (think button-downs with casual coats) at Dunhill and mono-printed suits in high-octane hues at Topman Design, for example.
We’re not suggesting you don a checked kilt à la Hey Arnold!’s protagonist or a masculine version of Cher Horowitz; however, your eveningwear could use an upgrade with a slick tartan blazer. To give this jacket an autumnal twist, choose a blazer with darker undertones. After, a cheery pattern filled with pinks, oranges, and yellows will scream “spring” instead of “fall.” For a season-appropriate finishing touch, style this statement piece with neutral hues – a navy and black plaid blazer would look particularly polished with a black lightweight sweater, trousers, and a cool pair of loafers.
This woodsy print is only deemed stylish by the military or hunters with a penchant for taxidermy, right? Not so fast. While we undeniably commend those who strut camouflage in honor of our country, it appears that some of the hottest designers have also become inspired by this print. From Coach, to Michael Kors Collection, to Kanye West’s Yeezy line, camo has transformed from a militia must-have to a print that’s unexpected but not too flashy.
And whether you opt for a traditional olive green palette or a design that boasts somber greys and blacks, this pick surprisingly acts as an innovative neutral when paired with solid shirts. But proceed with caution, dear reader: just because this print is cool doesn’t mean you should dust off your camo cargo pants from 2003. Instead, we recommend this print in a loose field jacket. Not only does the silhouette mirror the print’s rugged roots, but it will look cool (and not costumey) with a pair of jeans and a sweater or dress shirt.
If you keep up with retail controversies, you’re probably no stranger to Urban Outfitter’s spat regarding this western-inspired print earlier this decade. However, with everyone from Givenchy to Pendleton designing garments and accessories in this motif, Navajo has happily transformed into a complimentary (and totally covetable) option. And plus, all the warm colors featured in this lively print will look amazing against a backdrop of fall leaves. But be warned: Between the jolted color palettes and hypnotic design, a Navajo print can be overbearing in large quantities.
A flannel of this complexity is great for a guy who’s no sartorial wallflower, but what’s a usually print-adverse guy supposed to do? Use this pattern in small doses by investing in southwestern-inspired accessories. A cool backpack or chunky scarf will add some much-needed energy into a standard T-shirt and jeans ensemble; however, it’s not too much for a pattern rookie. No matter how you rock this trend, couple these with a pair of dark-washed jeans. By keeping the rest of your look dark and neutral, the Navajo print will be able to act as a show-stopping piece without competing with the rest of your ensemble.
Sure, these prints are all suitable for those festive, after-hours occasions: drinking pumpkin-flavored ale, apple picking, cozying up during a woodsy weekend getaway. But what about office-appropriate patterns for the fall? Enter herringbone, which is comprised of tiny chevrons (or small V’s)that create a subtle zig-zag pattern. While the concept may sound zany, it’s actually a classic motif for dressy blazers and trousers. In fact, everyone from Robert Redford to today’s most enviable street style stars have tired their luck (and successfully succeeded) with this pick.
Just by Googling “herringbone,” you’ll know that the obvious way to wear this print is in the form of a suit. To highlight the subtle design without looking too severe, select brown or charcoal suit with flecks of off-white mixed into the print. If you’re not willing to shell out the extra money for a brand new suit, try a herringbone tie. For this alternative, feel free to get a little experimental with your color choice – a dark red herringbone tie could like super sophisticated with your brown wool suit.