By Archana Heenpella
Shirts are easily the most versatile pieces of clothing you’ll find in your wardrobe. A major part of fashion – from high-end collections to more casual retailers – these are styled from the boardroom to the beach with varying degrees of flair, exposed skin, and prints.
Now, brands such as Island Monkey are popularising a line of unisex shirts that are making the local brand a popular name for travellers and trendsetters. From floral prints to mesmerising leaf designs, these pieces are edgy, when styled right, and are complementary to male and female aesthetics.
That’s why, here at The Sunday Morning Brunch, we decided to enlist the help of Shalini Gunaratne – the founder of Island Monkey – to help us identify the best ways to style these pieces!
Go for some fierce colour blocking
Colour blocking is the act of pairing colours that are opposites on the colour wheel, for a look that’s bright, bold, and fun – much like a Benetton commercial.
If you want to make a statement, simply pair your shirts with a sarong that’s in a completely different shade. Playing it safe, in staples like black and white, no longer make the cut for best-dressed lists. Go hard or go home with some of Island Monkey’s more vibrant selections – the “Sea Green” shirt, for instance.
Keep it classic – pair it with shorts
As Shalini so rightly puts it, being comfortable is often the only thing on our minds.
If you’re looking to beat the heat but would like to look your best while you do, go for a printed shirt with some shorts. If you’d like a little more flair, pair your shirt with some ice on your wrist – nothing too flashy though!
Try it with a tracksuit
A homage to the streetwear trend that has more or less taken over the internet, pair your fancy printed shirt with track pants for a look that even Kanye can’t find fault with.
If you’re into the sneaker game as well, pair this fresh fit with some white, chunky dad sneakers – yep, that’s a thing.
FOR THE LADIES
Go for a tie-up
There’s little else that conveys tropical style more than tying up an oversized shirt with loud prints.
To make a modest style statement, Shalini recommends that this is worn with fitted pants or a killer high-waist pencil skirt, for a look that hits the right notes of stylish and casual.
Finish this look with sky-high heels or sneakers (the latter would work well with the high-waist skirt) and some bold makeup. Layered jewellery or chunky chains would also make a fitting addition, if they’re selected well.
If you’re looking for the right shirt, maybe try Island Monkey’s “Lemonade” shirt or even the mesmerising “Kaleidoscope”.
Style your unisex shirt as a dress
Another look you could style for the absolute bangers down in Mirissa or other spots on Sri Lanka’s southern coastal belt is an oversized shirt that could serve as a dress.
Pair a loud print with an even louder fanny pack or bum bag and seal the deal with some chunky sneakers for a look that is all the #ootn goals.
Alternatively, Shalini recommends that you wear your shirt over a short, spaghetti strap dress for a more laid-back look. If you like to make a statement with every outfit and don’t mind a little (literal) heat, pair this outfit with some knee-high boots for a fit that will drop jaws.
Wear it as an overcoat for your swimwear
If you’re not a fan of the feminine sarongs worn by the beach or poolside, a unisex shirt is a great way of sheltering your skin from the burning sun – all while looking effortlessly cool, of course.
For a print that’ll blend right in with the tropics – our golden-shored beaches and thick clusters of coconut and palm trees – give the “Aloha una” or the “Super flu” from Island Monkey a try. Given that handpicked viscose material is used to produce these shirts, they make for a comfortable choice in the heat. They’re also quite breathable!
Hit up Island Monkey on Instagram through their handle @islandmonkeylk for some fresh prints for the endless summers of Sri Lanka! You can also find them on Facebook under the name Island Monkey.