Men’s Hawaiian Shirts
The introduction of many different nationalities to Hawaiian plantations also introduced many different fabrics, patterns, and colors that would soon blend together to create something unique to the islands. The aloha shirt, now known to many as simply “Hawaiian print” shirts, comes from the days of plantations, where plantation owners sought cheap and affordable labor from other parts of the world. Japanese, Korean, and Chinese immigrants brought their work, and their clothing, from home. Where before Hawaiian’s used to wear simple grass clothing, they now had a new burst of inspiration to work with. The result was a bright, cool, and very durable shirt that became something uniquely Hawaiian.
Hawaiian shirts are not only iconic symbols of the islands, they’re also incredibly comfortable, and perfect for wearing in hot, humid weather to help keep cool. Hawaiian shirts, also known as “Aloha shirts”, are made from thin, yet sturdy material that helps to keep cool while also providing some protection from the sun. They are recognizable by their bright, colorful fabric and floral prints. Usually, Aloha shirts are printed with the iconic hibiscus flower, but other patterns include turtles, monstera leaves, plumeria, bamboo, and many more.
Hawaiian shirts for men have become increasingly popular due to how they fit and how well they wear. They are great for kids because they have room to move, and older gentlemen will appreciate how cool and comfortable they are. Golfing and other outdoor activities are made more comfortable with the addition of an Aloha shirt, because they help reduce moisture and keep you from overheating. Great for tourists who aren’t too used to the Hawaiian heat.
While there are Hawaiian shirts for women as well, men’s hawaiian shirts are somewhat more popular amongst the masses, and especially with tourists. People that visit the islands usually end up bringing home a shirt or two with the iconic print, as proof of a visit or just because they liked the style. As a result of their popularity, many brand name companies have started selling them during the summer months. Such companies include Ralph Lauren, Tommy Bahama, and Huckberry.
While big-time companies do sell the shirts, it is rare to see them come out year round. Small stores, especially those based in Hawai’i, carry the garment year round to make it available to both locals and tourists alike.
Women’s Hawaiian Dresses
For women, the more popular article of clothing is a muumuu, which is a style of dress popular in Hawai’i. Muumuus are long, loose fitting dresses that sometimes have ruffles around the sleeves and hem, but usually are plain and hang around the body. Local women and children can be seen wearing these beautiful garments around town or around the house, but are especially good for walking on the beach. These Hawaiian dresses are simple yet pretty in design, and their bright colors and patterns make for a very gorgeous piece of clothing out on the town. They are easy to wear, and women can pair any number of accessories with them, such as handbags, necklaces, or even a flower lei.
A muumuu dress is a perfect choice for being out at the beach because, like the hawaiian shirt, they are cool and comfortable, and allow for a wide range of motion. The hawaiian print is fun, and the ruffles are playful and flirty. For more reserved women, muumuus with more subdued patterns are available, but they do not leave the body unflattered.
While muumuus are pretty, they aren’t necessarily for formal wear. They were designed as a casual dress, one that would not inhibit movement while a woman danced or worked around the house. For a more formal dress, a holokú may be worn. Alternatively, if a woman doesn’t like the style of a muumuu, hawaiian shirts for women are also available, and feature a more fitted style much in the way other shirts would.
Modern Hawaiian outfits have come a long way from the traditional grass skirts that were once worn many years ago. Today, tourists will find that the islands have modernized quite a bit, though core traditional values still hold. Generally, Hawaiian shirts are made from cotton or a cotton blend, which makes them easy to wear and even easier to wash. Cotton aloha shirts are preferred because they are cooler than polyester blends, but both are made and worn by local people. While grass skirts and loincloths are now only worn during special festivals, shops and stalls may still sell traditional hawaiian costumes, and many local stores are happy to impart some of the island’s rich and unique culture to those who are curious. In fact, many of the modernized aloha shirts and dresses are worn by locals as well as tourists. They’re comfortable, easy to wear, and come in a wide range of sizes to suit men and women from anywhere.
The islands embrace the spirit of tradition, and their clothes reflect that. From the hibiscus printed shirts to long, flowing gowns, hawaiian clothes all have a story to tell. When you wear an aloha shirt, or a muumuu, you are showing the world a small part of the vast Hawaiian history. Each shirt made in Hawai’i is carefully crafted, and shows off the essence of the islands. They’re cool, to combat the heat and humidity. They’re bright, to reflect the sun and keep the wearer from overheating.
The next time you’re in Hawai’i, purchase a Hawaiian shirt from one of the local stores. It will quickly become a staple in your wardrobe even after you go back home, because there’s nothing like an aloha shirt to remind you of the sun and the sand while you were there.