After about a decade of skinny jeans and muted colour, for spring/summer 2010 designers have moved towards a more enlightened future.
From florals and stripes at Comme des Garçons, florals on top of florals at Issey Miyake, and checks with stripes at flamboyant Italian label Etro, prints seemed to be having a renaissance. The king – or perhaps 'prints charming' – of combining patterns with flair is Dries Van Noten. Since he launched his label in Antwerp in the late Eighties, he has explored a fascination with prints, textures and vivid colours, and his collection for S/S 10 was breathtaking and covetable. Printed jackets teamed with checked trousers and vice versa looked like the most natural pairings in the world.
But for the novice among us it's not the easiest trend to pull off – not by a long chalk. To begin with, you need to embrace colour wholeheartedly. Once you've got your head around the broad spectrum of shades this season, jump right in and ignore any old-school rules of not mixing patterns with prints. And in these austere times, perhaps there isn't a better way to hit back than with a wardrobe of clashing designs. Stephen Ayres, menswear buyer for Liberty agrees: "Don't be scared to embrace print this season," he counsels. "What I love about print is that you can either embrace it along the lines of 1990s Moschino, or incorporate it into your day-to-day look in a much more subtle way."
Ensure your prints clash, but you could stick to muted tones; admittedly Van Noten makes this look easy. And please don't be put off if you have to wear a suit to work. While I'm not suggesting that you breeze into the office wearing a paisley jacket and checked trousers, you could easily nip down to Liberty and buy one of their printed shirts and ties.
And if casual is more your thing, then look at Liberty's collaboration with Fred Perry – tipping on the collar contrasts nicely with the floral print of the body. Do tread with some degree of caution, though, to avoid looking like a Jimmy Hendrix impersonator – all paisley shirts, printed bell-bottoms and velvet suits. And beware of channelling tailor Tommy Nutter; although he reinvented the Savile Row suit in the Sixties and became the flamboyant bee in the Row's stuffy bonnet, he mixed his checks and dogstooth with such abandon it was, well, a bit of a dog's dinner.
Yes, batik prints do look great, and if they're good enough for Nelson Mandela they're good enough for me, but perhaps just stick to a pair of shorts like the ones pictured from ASOS. Team with a polka-dot polo like the style from French Connection if you're feeling tough enough.
Maybe it's easier to clash your checks – the shirt from Boden and shorts from Aubin and Wills should do the trick. Mix and match creatively. But if you're still not convinced, then so be it. I'm not here to force your hand. Stick to your palette of greys if that's what gets you through the day, or you could always buy one of the Eighties-inspired watches from Swatch. It may not be a clash of the titans, but it's a start.