Thursday, July 27, 2017

How to Wear a Hawaiian Shirt

Rolled and tucked

It's Summer, and the islands are calling! I love Hawaiian shirts for their variety of patterns, casual vibe and cultural history. They are just not easy to give a feminine touch. Jimmy Buffett looks great in one; I just don't want to look like Jimmy Buffett. So what's a gal to do?

Hawaiian or "Aloha" shirts were popularized in the early '30s by Ellery Chun who sold them at his dry goods store in Waikiki. Locals (especially surfers) and tourists gobbled them up. It wasn't long before many Hawaiian manufacturers starting producing them, and they became THE civvies uniform of armed forces personnel in Hawaii during WWII. As tourists began to flock to the islands in the 1950s, so the shirts made their way back as part of leisure time culture.

In 1946 the city of Honolulu passed a resolution that allowed employees to wear sport shirts from June to October. This spread to other businesses and to a year-round "aloha spirit" that signified much of what island culture wished to express. If you want to know where "Casual Friday" started, my guess would be there.

Tradition has the buttons made of coconut shells. Avoid rayon when shopping for one. Instead choose cotton or a cotton blend to avoid droop and wrinkling.

Herewith a mini pu pu platter to up your Hawaiian shirt game:

> Give the sleeves a roll up.

> Go all Katharine Hepburn and wear the collar turned up, secured with a snap or hook if necessary.

> Wear out, tying the ends in the front in a small knot. Tuck ends under.

> Hem to the top of hips, adding side slits for ease, and wear out.

> If it's long enough, wear out and belted.

> Wear as a jacket over a dress or skirt.

> Avoid man-tailored shorts or chinos. Instead wear with palazzo pants, culottes or skinny capris.

> Pair with espadrilles, strappy sandals or straw wedges, not boat shoes or sneakers.

> Forget necklaces but add hoop or chandelier earrings or bangle bracelets.

Oh and guys can wear them too.


  1. I love Hawaiian shirts, and am happy to see them having a renaissance. Being on Canada's west coast, we see a lot of them here - I am actually planning on wearing one tomorrow! Mine will be with a pair of skinny red/white polka dot pants. I hope you approve! ;-P