Paisley keeps you ahead of the curve

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 May, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 24 May, 2010, 12:00am

Simplicity may be in this season, but this does not mean our wardrobes should become boring. One solution offered by fashion houses is paisley. This all-time classic has long been a feature on accessories, neckties and pocket squares, but in recent years designers have expanded on it, sometimes blending it with other floral prints.

One of the most elegant ways to pull off patterns is on the inside of the collar or cuffs. Take the indigo shirt contrasted with colourful linings of paisley and baroque prints from German label Van Laack (right). It is for the confident man with a sense of playfulness - it's respectful enough for informal business meetings and playful enough for social occasions. During the summer in Hong Kong you want to avoid wearing suits as much as you can, and if your profession doesn't call for layers, this shirt is a great workday shirt.

Men who wear suits know the kind of impact a necktie can have. What's around your collar tells people who you are: stuffy, fun, a thinker, a non-thinker, someone who's never had fun or someone with a hangover. A reliable man who knows what to do at the right time and in the right place would probably own the light blue striped/floral silk tie from Ted Baker (right). It is subtle but not plain, optimistic but not overjoyed, and gives the soft touch needed for an intense work environment. And if this doesn't say who you are, the British label has other options, including a pink floral number that can complement a blue thin-striped shirt with reverse collar.

If your job does call for a full suit, Italian brand Isaia features a range of blazers made of ultra-light fabrics such as a wool-and-silk blend that promises to be as light as a cotton shirt. The best complement to light blue seen this season is the brand's bright paisley silk scarf which, on the right man, speaks more about style than a thousand ties.

In a party situation, though, you might want something that stands out a bit more. Tom Ford's range of evening jackets with bold paisley prints is a case in point. The dark grey cotton silk paisley jacket with a shawl lapel featuring grosgrain detail is for elegant gentlemen who are totally comfortable with themselves.

Another fine example of bold paisley is from Bottega Veneta: a dreamy sage military green tailored paisley-print jacket with a Nehru collar seen on the runway this season. I think of it as being the perfect thing to wear when hosting a dinner party - it's eye-catching but dignified, and manages to stand out without being overly brazen.

Of course, if you are looking for more patterns you can always count on Etro, which, other than paisley, also features many floral patterns (bottom left). Many would look great with a plain sports jacket, and some of the more polite floral shirts can even be worn under your blue blazer or striped suit. Keep one of these in the office and you can change from work attire into a cocktail party look in an instant.

On those sunny weekends when you want to experiment a bit and go for something quirky, Kenzo has trousers you might like. The off-white loose pair with blue floral 'doodling' is fun and ideal for brunching in SoHo. I would wear a plain top with them, but the label also suggests a matching shirt and jacket that you can wear, if you dare.

Finally, express your love for florals on your wrist with the Midnight Extraordinary Japanese Lacquer watch by Van Cleef & Arpels. Produced in a limited series with five landscapes, including the recently released 'Sukura', the colourful watch dial is the work of lacquer master Hakose San. Each piece is offered in the signature 42mm case in white gold, with a self-winding 800P movement inside. This little gem would look heavenly with just a nice plain shirt, a summer jacket or even designer denim.

Shopping list

Bottega Veneta, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2739 6865.

Etro, The Lee Gardens, Causeway Bay, tel: 2907 2712.

Isaia and Van Laack, The Swank, The Landmark, Central, tel: 2810 0769.

Kenzo, IFC Mall, Central, tel: 2295 3633.

Ted Baker, Pacific Place, Admiralty, tel: 2918 9609.

Tom Ford, IFC Mall, Central (opens in mid-June).

Van Cleef & Arpels, The Peninsula, Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2368 7648.