A Gentleman’s Guide

How To Add A Hawaiian Shirt To Your Wardrobe

Say aloha to the must-have piece of SS18 – plus, seven ways to wear it well

  • Photograph by Mr Jason Jean/Blaublut-Edition.com

When you hear the words “Hawaiian shirt” – better known as the “aloha shirt” in the islands of its provenance – what springs to mind? Do you hear the sound of creaking hammock rope, waves breaking softly on a nearby shore? Or do you see yourself surrounded by the colourfully attired, gun-toting hoodlums of Mr Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet? Perhaps you simply imagine your dad, on holiday, four piña coladas deep and dangerously close to the dance floor?

Whatever they call to mind for you, they undoubtedly exist in a swirling kaleidoscope of cultural connotations. They’ve been worn by everyone from Mr Elvis Presley on his Blue Hawaii album cover to Mr Al Pacino in Scarface. Hardly surprising that they tend to confuse people.

With summer just around the corner, and Hawaiian shirts once again getting their time in the sun, we have created a handy guide to wearing them in style.

Dial up the detail

  • Photograph by Mr Daniel Bruno Grandl

The great thing about Hawaiian shirts is their versatility. Had this wearer opted for a plain white number, the whole ensemble might have been a little pedestrian. The decision to go for a floral print takes things to a still-restrained, yet infinitely more eye-catching place. Note the way the shirt’s base colour matches the trousers, jacket and waistcoat. And the floral print is accentuated by the white of the Panama hat. Leaving the shirt untucked adds a certain swagger to a deceptively simple outfit.

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Go boldly

  • Photograph by The Style Stalker/Blaublut-Edition.com

The Hawaiian shirt is an opportunity to engage in some heavy-duty self-expression. Why not, after all? In this case, the wearer’s perfectly-laundered sky-blue shirt (a natural choice for a summer’s day) is offset by a crisp white T-shirt, red neckerchief, and round, gold-framed sunglasses. The whimsical flower-shaped belt buckle is a playful addition that’s shored up by the no-nonsense pair of military-inspired khakis. We approve.

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Lighten up

  • Photograph by IMAXTREE

It is all very well having a good fit, decent material, and the best provenance on the shelf, but you are still on to a loser if the garment is dull as dishwater. Summer is about fun and letting your hair down. Now, we’re not saying choose only the most lurid, cheerfully-patterned fabrics available – but there’s nothing wrong with injecting a little playfulness into your outfit from time to time. In this case, an unbuttoned camp-collar, eye-bending geometric print and half-untucked hem suggest that the wearer doesn’t take life, or himself, too seriously. Of course, as with anything, it’s all about balance. Hence the addition of a dark pair of trousers, which turns down the volume a notch or two.

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Embrace pattern

  • Photograph by Mr Daniel Bruno Grandl

Hawaiian shirts tend to come in a relaxed, boxy sort of cut that is flattering to almost every body shape. This lightweight example hangs pleasingly from its owner’s frame. What sets it apart from the crowd, however, is its print – which shows that you don’t need to limit yourself to palm trees and florals to channel the luau vibe. Remember though, geometric prints like this go well with low-key pieces, like these stonewashed jeans – too many patterns spoil the broth, as it were.

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Beyond the beach

  • Photograph by Mr Joe Schildhorn/BFA/REX/Shutterstock

Hawaiian shirts are also sometimes called vacation shirts. But that doesn’t mean they should only be worn on the beach: in fact, the general vibe of this ensemble is likely to work pretty much anywhere. What makes it versatile is the palette: the dark background of the shirt alongside the crisp white expanse of the T-shirt functions in the same way as any other monochromatic pairing. The aquamarine splashes of colour on the shirt, meanwhile, act as accent which brings everything nicely to life. The addition of what appears to be a Rolex Submariner elevates the whole outfit from “vacation time” to “vacation whenever I want”.

Try these

  • Ray-Ban Erika Round-Frame Tortoiseshell Acetate Sunglasses

Beat the grind

  • Photograph by Mr Jason Jean/Blaublut-Edition.com

There’s something about a Hawaiian shirt that just says “I am having a good day”. The wearer of this toned-down number looks like he’s having fun. In fact, not even the presence of New York’s formidable traffic can interfere with his indestructible mood. From a sartorial perspective, what’s working here is the decision to opt for a fairly muted palette. A pink and blue shirt here wouldn’t have worked, but the unassuming, almost monochrome approach hits all the right notes.

Try these

  • Acne Studios North Slim-Fit Denim Jeans

Hawaiian Shirts