Five Ways to Wear One: Printed Shirts

by Beau Hayhoe  |  in Smart Casual

Have you seen our other Five Ways To Wear One articles?


Just when you think you’ve learned everything you need to know about summer style, it seems something else comes along that you need to add to your closet.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with throwing in a little variety into your Lean Wardrobe – within reason. A sterling example is the oft-maligned short-sleeve printed shirt.

Make no mistake – this is a different, style-forward take on the classic short-sleeve chambray shirt.

In decades past, the short-sleeve printed shirt was a dad style staple gone wrong. Often worn baggy and mismatched with other pieces, it wasn’t what us well-dressed fellas would aspire to wear.

Fast-forward to 2016. You’re looking at a whole new crop of short-sleeve printed shirts. Everyone from surfwear stalwarts Quiksilver to powerhouse retailers like J. Crew are offering up their take on the short-sleeve printed shirt.

That means you’ve got plenty of stylish short-sleeve shirting options that branch out from the norm. And plenty of ways to wear them.

As you’ll see in the outfits below, the versatility of this style helps it pair with everything from white leather sneakers to slim leather loafers and beyond.

When you start with a piece that’s cut trim and features an easily wearable, deep blue base, you’ve got just the ticket. That’s why we’re going with the Bridge & Burn Thomas Pacific Latitude Shirt.

It’s made in America and features a striking, adventurous print. It’ll run you north of $100, but it’s worth it to invest in a standout shirt.

Why? Well, you can wear it five ways, for starters.

Fit and Care

You need to know how a short-sleeve shirt should fit before you rush out and buy one. A great template is your best-fitting classic long sleeve Oxford.

We’re going with a casual shirt and a bold print. Even so, your shirt should fit trim across your chest and shoulders, with higher armholes and sleeves that hit about mid-bicep. We’re talking roughly the same fit as a slim polo shirt.

Sticking to those fit principles will help you avoid the dreaded old-school Hawaiian shirt look: too baggy in the sleeves, too baggy (and long) at the waist.

That brings us to Exhibit B – a short-sleeve printed shirt that hits at about the same spot an untucked casual shirt might. Below the belt a bit, but not too far down toward your crotch. Check out an example of solid fit here.

The shirt should also fit slimmer through the sides and at the waist. As is so often the case, it all starts with fit.

Caring for your new favorite shirt (maybe?) is essential too. You should wash a deep blue printed shirt (like the one seen here) with other dark colors in cold water.

If you’re prone to leaving your clothes in the dryer and find yourself sans iron, better to hang-dry this piece. That will also help the fabric last longer by reducing wear and tear from the heat.

The linen-cotton blend of this Bridge & Burn shirt makes it lightweight and breathable, and durable too. It will stand up to repeated summer wear – and after you get a look at the #menswear ensembles below, you’ll have plenty of ideas ready.

1. Easygoing Everyday

Five Ways to Wear One: Printed Shirts

Match up this eye-catching pattern – a step up a standard short-sleeve chambray shirt – with toned-down style essentials.

Slim stone chinos might strike you as an odd choice. But they work just as well in warm weather as a pair of crisp khaki chinos. The color is neutral, yet subtle and stylish.

The blue pattern of the shirt plays well off the neutral chinos and deep tan boat shoes. They’re comfortable and sufficiently stylish to take you from day to night.

That’s also the purpose of the go-anywhere stainless steel dive watch, which could work with any of the other four outfits shown here.

When you put it all together with finishing touches – like sharp sunglasses – it’s a versatile ensemble. Take it from a stroll around town to a nice meal out without needing an outfit change – for a printed shirt, that’s saying something.

2. Summertime Shorts

Five Ways to Wear One: Printed Shirts

For less dressy scenarios, stick with shorts and shoes that fit well. Military-inspired silhouettes are big right now in the menswear world. That means they even have their place when trying out a new pair of shorts.

The olive color and tailored fit of this pair offset the unique front pocket detailing. So do classic essentials like white sneakers and a tough dive watch.

It’s an outfit with subtle upgrades that turn heads without straying too much from the norm. The building blocks are basics: shorts, a short-sleeve shirt, and white sneakers. It’s the fabrics, cuts, and colors that switch up the summertime uniform of lots of fellas.

3. Ready for the Road

Five Ways to Wear One: Printed Shirts

Think you can only wear a short-sleeve shirt around your hometown? Rest assured that it’s ready to hit the road all summer long.

The key is matching up the shirt with other neutral classics, like a lightweight navy blazer made for travel.

The navy color plays well off the print. The dark Italian-made denim are built with an extraordinary 20 percent stretch. That makes for a ton of comfort when sitting or standing for long periods of time.

The rest of the outfit relies on neutral style staples that should already be in your closet. Think durable suede chukkas that add continental flair and a crisp brown leather watch that goes with just about anything.

It’s the definition of the Lean Wardrobe, rolled into one outfit.

4. Tailored for the Summer

Five Ways to Wear One: Printed Shirts

We’re keeping with the theme of wearing the short-sleeve printed shirt in unexpected ways. It fits slim and cuts away (literally) the excess fabric of long-sleeve dress shirts. So the short-sleeve printed shirt works well in tailored settings too.

The trick is wearing the suit casually. Reach for a slim khaki chino suit with a relaxed texture but tailored fit.

Ditching the tie and rocking brown leather wingtips keeps things casual. And opting for a slim, versatile brown leather dress watch tones down the rest of the outfit to let the shirt do the talking.

Of course, stylish sunglasses are a must when it’s hot out. This is the sort of outfit that calls to mind what Bond might’ve worn in Casino Royale. And that’s not a bad thing, is it?

5. To The Beach

Five Ways to Wear One: Printed Shirts

Lastly, the printed shirt can even work as beach wear. The rest of the populace is wearing tank tops – so a short-sleeve printed shirt is the perfect change of pace.

It’s a smart move, even if you don’t intend on wearing your shirt for very long (you’ve been hitting the gym, right?).

Just like you can wear a slim navy polo, so too can you wear this shirt. Keep the swim trunks crisp, slim-fitting, and neutral.

Match them up with go-anywhere white canvas slip-ons that can take a beating. The same continental-inspired sunglasses that have worked with the previous four outfits can also go to the beach.

You need the proper carrying accessory – that’s where the unique denim tote comes in (and it’s a steal of a price).

If you’re the type to imbibe a beverage or two, a brass bottle opener (made in America) is a fine touch. Finish with a rubber-strap watch.

Your New Favorite?

With the right care and styling, you can wear this combo – and this shirt – in all sorts of situations.

Such a bold print may seem intimidating at first – it’s a big mash-up of color and texture across a small space. But when you pair it with pieces you already know (and own and love), you can wear just as easily as your everyday style essentials.

The proper fit makes wearing it frequently even easier. It could even become a favorite if you combine it with basic pieces you already enjoy – like slim chinos and leather loafers.

Take care of your shirt properly. It will outlast passing fads and fleeting trends – while working in all sorts of warm-weather scenarios.

Own a short-sleeve printed shirt? Agree with these combinations, or would you change anything up?