If you’re hoping to dress up a casual date night ensemble or introduce some spice to your weekday office look, a patterned dress shirt might be the best way to add just the right amount of flair. But what should you wear with a patterned dress shirt?
In short, it’s best to pair a patterned dress shirt with neutral shades and solid, coordinating colors. This will help tone down the look of the bold print while still allowing it to make a strong, stylish statement.
On the contrary, plenty of men mix and match patterns, making us wonder if combining prints is acceptable.
To clear the air: pattern pairing can certainly be a great look—as long as you do it right.
To give you some insight into what to wear with a patterned dress shirt, we’ll dive deep into the basic guidelines of prints and provide several stylish ensembles so you can feel confident in how you spruce up your look.
When to Wear (and When Not to Wear) a Patterned Dress Shirt
Dress shirts are arguably one of the most essential items in a man’s wardrobe. But, as with any fashion statement, there is a time and a place to wear a patterned one.
The first and most important thing to remember when wearing a patterned dress shirt is that the bolder and more vibrant the print, the less formal it is.
So, if you’re heading to a job interview, it’s probably best to save the leopard print dress shirt in the closet. (In fact, you might want to limit that one to as few occasions as possible.)
But, for a business-casual office look, a clean and sophisticated checked pattern can elevate your outfit enough to head straight from work to pick up your date for dinner.
Nonetheless, here are a few occasions you should avoid patterns—especially bold ones—and opt for a solid or more subtle dress shirt:
- Black or white-tie events
- Your own wedding
- Conservative corporate meetings/events
- Formal Galas
Here are several circumstances when wearing a patterned dress shirt would be appropriate:
- Casual, daytime events
- Birthday parties
- Graduation ceremonies
- As a wedding guest
- Cocktail parties
- Work (if dress code is business-casual)
See Also: Are Expensive Dress Shoes Worth it?
What to Wear with a Patterned Dress Shirt
Although we’ve covered the best occasions to wear a patterned dress shirt, styling the print might still be a daunting task.
So, to give you a solid head start in wearing patterns, we’ll unveil seven of the best outfit combinations, so you can ensure you look your best on your next night out.
Whether you’re on a Sunday afternoon stroll or you’re off to a barbecue, you can never go wrong with denim.
A pair of dark-wash jeans can add the subtle touch you need to allow your shirt’s patterns to steal the spotlight.
Not to mention, slipping into some denim is a simple yet sophisticated look that can go from night to day and from work to play.
For a casual look that will never go out of style, toss on a patterned dress shirt–we recommend a novelty or geometric design–and a pair of black skinny or slim-fit jeans.
Cuff the bottoms to let your ankles breathe, and pair the look with some simple white sneakers.
Roll up your shirt sleeves and let your top button loose.
For more of a formal look, keep your long sleeves rolled down and opt to leave the top button fastened without a tie.
Slip into some sleek coordinating tassel loafers, and you’re ready to hit the town.
Chinos are the ideal pant for semi-formal looks and they can even make the perfect casual pant for an everyday ensemble.
Patterned shirts make a great match for chinos, and it’s tough to wrong.
Try a pair of beige chinos with a black and cream floral dress shirt and tuck it in.
Go tieless with your top button free and add in a light brown belt to tie the look together.
Dress the look down with a pair of black hi-top sneakers and rolled sleeves, or add a bit of class with some brown leather loafers and a coordinating blazer.
Or, go for more of a colorful look with an olive novelty shirt and a pair of brown chinos.
Polish it off with some brown Chelsea boots and a matching belt.
3. Bomber Jacket
Bomber jackets are a staple in every man’s closet, and for a good reason.
They’re the perfect lightweight jacket for fall and add just the right amount of swagger to any outfit.
And yes, you can wear them with dress shirts. Here’s how:
Button up a burgundy plaid dress shirt and layer it under an olive-green bomber jacket.
Leave your shirt untucked with the top button undone.
Step into a pair of light-wash denim jeans and finish off the ensemble with some hi-top sneakers.
And, of course, don’t forget your best aviator sunglasses. If you want to try an upgraded look, opt for a striped dress shirt under a grey crewneck sweatshirt.
Let your collar poke out and add a burgundy bomber on top.
Go for dark-wash denim and some white sneakers to tie it all together.
For any semi-formal event, a sweater over a printed shirt is a clean and classy look if you want to keep things cool without sporting a suit coat or blazer.
Whether you’re on your way to work or you’re keeping things lax for a buddy’s wedding, you can’t go wrong with a solid sweater.
For a neutral, sophisticated get-up, try a pair of navy dress pants or chinos with a blue and white checked dress shirt.
Tuck your shirt in and layer on a beige V-neck sweater.
Avoid too much of a plunge—just enough to let your shirt collar peek out.
Pair the look with some navy striped dress socks and some brown dress shoes.
And don’t forget a matching brown belt. To elevate the look, add a solid tie beneath your sweater.
For more of a casual look, swap out the dress pants for some dark-wash denim jeans, avoid the tie, and you’re good to go.
See Also: Should You Wear a Shirt Under a Sweater?
5. A Solid-Colored Suit
For occasions that land on more of the formal end of the spectrum, a suit is never the wrong choice.
Solid colors can give your shirt the time it needs to showcase a bit of your fun personality while also maintaining a sleek and charming look.
For a trim and well-groomed look, opt for a charcoal grey suit and a black geometric dress shirt.
Add in a coordinating solid tie and pocket square.
Buckle up a black belt and a pair of black suede loafers or some black dress shoes.
If you want to keep things lighthearted, try a colorful, pastel floral dress shirt with a light blue suit.
Leave a couple of buttons undone without a tie, and slip into some beige loafers or some white sneakers, and you’re ready to party.
See Also: 9 Best Tie Colors For A Navy Suit
6. Pleated Dress Pants
Pleated, front-cuff dress pants are back. And if you prefer the vintage look, they look perfect alongside a patterned dress shirt.
They look great for nearly any semi-casual occasion.
Not to mention, if you’re hoping to blend some patterns, these offer a stellar opportunity.
Try a pair of brown, subtle windowpane patterned pleated dress pants, and tuck in a coordinating gingham shirt.
Add in a solid tie and slip on some of your best espresso loafers.
Skip the belt to let the front cuff do all the talking.
For more of a basic but vibrant ensemble, try a geometric patterned shirt, skip the tie, and tuck it into a pair of black pleated dress pants.
Tie the look together with some white sneakers or some hi-tops.
7. A Textured Blazer
When you’re wearing anything patterned, textures are your best friend.
And whether you’re heading out for date night or you’re meeting your pals for lunch, a blazer can elevate any outfit in all the best ways.
For a springtime look that can blissfully guide you right into summer, try a pastel teal, tropical floral print dress shirt with some cream chinos.
Leave some buttons unfastened, and layer on a beige wool textured blazer.
Add your best lapel pin, some tan brogues, and hit the road.
Or, if you’re looking for something a bit more fall-friendly, try a darker plaid dress shirt tucked into your best slim-fit dark-wash jeans.
Add a brown wool textured blazer, a brown belt, and some white sneakers or brown loafers.
Regardless of where you’re headed—a chill night out or a classy brunch with the family—patterned dress shirts add just the right amount of visual appeal to a man’s look.
If you’re on the fence about taking a pattern for a test drive, try one of our seven style options. Y
ou might be surprised how much a print can not only upgrade your look but also boost your confidence.