Why to Try On a Printed Shirt

You see them everywhere over the weekend. Wear one to the office on Monday.

Your brightly colored casual summer wardrobe and the office dress code don’t have much overlap. But if you can stick the landing at the center of that venn diagram you’ll impress your coworkers and avoid that pink slip.

New Yorkers: The patterned shirt trend is not as crazy as you think.

“In the Bay Area, it’s sort of acceptable office attire a lot of times,” says Owen Boochever of Treats Quality Apparel, a brand new brand. “A printed shirt that buttons down is sort of on the dressier side of attire in a lot of companies and offices.” While we’d never condone – much less recommend – Silicon Valley’s hoody as office attire sartorial norms, we do think serious men shouldn’t look self serious.

It’s all about choosing your battles.

Start with the tie: Make it quiet and solid. “You can pair an unprinted tie with [a print shirt] and skate by in dressier office environments,” says Boochever, “It’s all about making sure you pair it with classier items.” He advises solid colors and knit ties for pairing. “The pattern on the shirt is going to stand out already. You wind up looking like a clown if you wear a patterned tie.” That means your suit, your shoes, your socks are all going to have to stay quiet or the collective shouting will get your paychecks silenced by your boss.

But don’t pretend that all print shirts are created equal. Their is a continuum that runs from tiny polka dots to flowery Hawaiian prints. Boochever’s brand makes both, but has an easier time selling the more civilized button downs to stores. It takes a certain amount of confidence to pull of a life preserver and seagull shirt (and the desire to do so), whereas a dotted shirt is basically unobjectionable. It might warrant a double take in an investment bank, but no one is going to question it. Muted prints have quietly become ubiquitous.

If you want to get loud, you can put on that light grey suit and have at it or wait until the weekend and really go to town. If you live by the water, we suggest you embrace a nautical theme. If you don’t, stick to the florals and the oddball patterns featuring cars, comics, or pineapples because they can ship those things. 

Here are two shirts for guys who want to get weird and one for guys who want to get that promotion.

Treat’s Quality Apparel: Nantucket

The shirt looks more geometric than representational from far away. Then you walk closer and you’re like, “Hey, I like boats too.”

Gitman Vintage: Bahia Print

No one does foliage better than Gitman. The grey background keeps the shirt from being completely overwhelming.

Club Monaco: Slim Fit Paisley

There’s nothing wrong with paisley, especially if it’s really hard to see.