Darren Kennedy’s 3 Ways to Wear…Winter Florals
That was fun, wasn’t it? Last season’s fling with Hawaiian shirts and Hibiscus blooms. Menswear let its hair down for some summer fun but now it’s time to stop kidding around and get back to business, right? Well, for those of you who planned on turning your mum’s bloom-laden tablecloth into a snazzy shirt for autumn, the game is most certainly up. Put down those scissors and step away from the table.
Alas, floral kitsch may be no more but the theme in menswear for AW/13 has plenty of vigor in it yet thanks to a few prominent trend-meisters such as Tinie Tempah, good old R Patz and, er, even those nice Disney-chiseled boys, The Jonas Brothers.
Men in flowers may, today, raise a wry smile rather than an arched eyebrow but that wasn’t always the case. We have to thank the late, great fashion designer John Stephen – “the King of Carnaby” – for turning the seemingly impossible into a reality. Back in the 1960s he decked out one seriously, über-cool guitarist Jeff Beck of The Yardbirds (think Ryan Gosling to the power of 10), in a distinctly feminine flowered shirt. One of the world’s finest rock prodigies bedecked in pansies. Just imagine. The effect was mould-breaking. Parents wagged fingers, grandparents tut-tutted and all at once men’s fashion was liberated forever more, quickly paving the way for the likes of Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles to jump onboard the daisy train.
Since then, the controversy has generally died down as has the place of blooms in menswear. Mind you, that didn’t prevent my late grandmother, just a few short years ago, demanding of me why I was wearing “a woman’s blouse” when I sported what I felt was a pretty nifty little flowery number to a fashion event I was hosting. In retrospect, to be fair to you Granny, it probably was a bit too blousy.
So, while florals may have been sweet again this summer, for the season ahead they’ve been elevated to a whole other sartorial level thanks to a much darker attitude which banishes garishness in favour of subtle tones. My grandmother would approve, I reckon. Certainly, this understated edge is going to appeal to a whole new breed of closet botanists. The key to getting it right is to remember that florals are no longer seen as shouting: ‘Hey, I’m over here and I’m a really fun, hipster kinda guy to hang out with…honestly.’
Instead, winter’s florals suggest mystery and aspiration. The message is individuality. Worn with a suit this winter, florals will continue to kick against conformity, but you’ll have to pay attention to find petals and posies. Instead labels such as Gucci and Marc by Marc Jacobs are taking florals merely as the jumping off point for a swath of interpretations. It’s autumn so not surprisingly a lot of floral collections collide with blacks and other muted tones. Layering means florals are more likely to play bass to the rhythm of a winter overcoat, rather than taking centre stage. If you still fancy a few floral statement-makers then the likes of Etro and Katy Eary will certainly provide bold options for the brave but my advice would be to think interest-creator, rather than show-stopper.
On the highstreet, River Island’s jungle print shirt transitions from summer with muted green and cream tones. I’ve paired it with a grey double-breasted blazer from H&M and vintage pocket square.
Black is always a safe place if you’re unsure how to start. This black and white print shirt by Hentsch Man (pictured top) offers a nice punctuation to an all black ensemble.
For my third look, I’ve gone for something a little more eclectic with this Holland Esquire floral and bird print shirt. A trusty black leather biker is the perfect addition to toughen up the delicate print.
Keep up with Darren on Twitter @DarrenKen
This column was originally published on Telegraph Men.