For thousands of years, flowers and nature have inspired poets and artists to create some of the most beautiful and timeless masterpieces the world has ever seen. Yet, In the world of men’s fashion, the floral print dress shirt is basically the equivalent of the ipad – it looks cool and trendy, but when you get right down to it, you probably don’t need it as much as you might think. In fact, you’ll probably forget all about it (the shirt and the gadget) as fast as you can once something cooler, newer and better comes along.
Yet, every year for as long as we can remember, fashion makers large and small roll out at least one (sometimes a dozen or more) floral dress shirts as part of their spring/summer men’s collection. Web sites, stores and fashion magazines are filled with them, but our question is: when was the last time you saw anybody wearing one? It might be a little hard to recall.
In case you’ve recently attended a Jimmy Buffet concert or a Club Med retreat, we should specify that by “floral shirts” we mean fitted shirts which feature only representative imagery of flowers or flora (and maybe the odd bit of paisley). Oversized Hawaiian shirts, displaying hibiscus blossoms, tiki torches or hula dancers should not be included in this category.
Using these criteria, you’ll probably agree that floral shirt sightings are pretty rare compared to the number available. So why is there such a scarcity?
For one thing, floral shirts get dated more quickly than other shirts. Also, there is only a very narrow time frame in which floral shirts are okay to wear – usually the few weeks of late spring and early summer where it’s no longer cold, but not quite hot, and everyone is still talking about how nice the weather is. Once people start complaining about the heat (or the rain, depending on where you live), it’s basically back to the closet for that fancy floral print you spent so much money on.
But even if you can get the weather to cooperate, a floral print shirt is never going to fly at the office unless it’s really sedate (and it’s also Casual Friday). Yet if you wear it on the weekend to the grocery store or the mall, you’re going to look way too fancy. At a bar or a club, the value of the floral shirt is also debatable – at higher-end joints, it could work; at dive bars with pool tables and motorcycles parked out front, proceed with caution.
So, how much wear can you really expect to get from a floral shirt?
If you consider that every spring the average person will have 24 days off from work, 8 of which will probably be too hot, too cold, or raining, you’re left with 16 days. Of those 16 days, even if you can think of some occasion where a floral shirt would be acceptable (a cookout, a trip to the beach, maybe a walk in the park), you don’t want to be wearing it every chance you get. Wearing any item, especially one as noticeable as a floral shirt, all the time will make people question your creativity and wonder about the size of your wardrobe.
Unless you’re planning an extended vacation to Tahiti or are mad about gardening, we estimate conservatively that you can maybe wear that totally unique floral shirt which looked so awesome in the store maybe 6 or 7 times a year. While it’s perfectly fine to indulge yourself in luxuries or truly distinctive pieces from time to time, they don’t build a solid wardrobe.