Thursday, September 3, 2009

50 Years of Hawaii Fashion

A L O H A!
click on photos, et voila!

Welcome to Hawaii Style

Our University of Hawaii teams are nicknamed "Rainbows."

This shirt from the early Sixties carries the familiar cheer:

"Go `Bows!"

Reyn Spooner still makes top tier Aloha Wear for discerning locals.

This "Statehood Shirt" from 1959 shows the Hawaii flag, the Nene Goose, Hibiscus, and other proud emblems of the isles.

Subtle. . . for the Sixties!

Groovy, man!

Don't be uptight!

Late Sixties:

Those "Sleeves" are hanging strings. Swingy!

Pop Art comes to da beach!

The graphics and bright color blocks got heavy, Dude

in the Seventies...

I took these photos at the "Fifty Years of Fashion" exhibit at

Ala Moana Shopping Center, celebrating 50 years of both Statehood, and of shopping at "Hawaii's Center," the worlds best people-watching venue, that I can see from my boat.

The garments were on loan from the University of Hawaii's "Historic Costume Collection. " of the largest assemblages of garments, textiles, and related artifacts of any American university. It consists of the following four sub collections: Asian, Hawaiian, Ethnic, and Western. "


When the missionaries landed in Hawaii, they dressed just like they had at home. They covered their bodies, not a bad idea in the sub tropical sun, but in black, somber costumes of heavy wool. What's more, they insisted that the Hawaiians cover themselves similarly. The "Mother Hubbard" begat the Mu`u Mu`u. Kiawe trees are sometimes called "missionary thorns" here in the islands because it is said that those Calvinists planted them so that the Hawaiians could be induced to wear shoes (I don't!). This would also have the additional advantage of forcing them to work for money!

With so many cultures brought here to provide labor for King Sugar on the plantation, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean attire have always been part of the Honolulu street scene.

Up to the Sixties, businessmen in Honolulu wore coats and ties - just watch re-runs of HAWAII 5-0. Denizens of our courts continue to dress like their mainland counterparts, though defendants and witnesses are not regarded as disrespectful for appearing in the local attire (Clean t-shirts, work clothes, flip flops). Most men here don't own a suit (or a winter coat ;-)

In Hawaii , for the most part, clothes are less important than your grooming and how you carry yourself. After all, that fat character in ugly beach wear might just be a vacationing Supreme Court Justice from Ohio or Stuttgart. This is not to say that I would not dress properly for a business meeting, interview, or court appearance, but there is much more latitude in Hawaii. Famous writer and professor of Hawaiian Studies, Haunani Trask, is NEVER seen in western clothes at all. She wears a sarong EVERYWHERE. At home, my husband and I adhere to the same local standards of dress. I tie my sarong under my arm-pits, he wears his around his waist with a t-shirt; and yes, I have gone in public wearing only that. In fact, on mainland trips I pack sarongs for lounge/sleepwear, and have even scandalized my hosts by wearing it to dinner! I take being a Hawaii person very seriously and expect the same respect a Scotsman wearing a kilt would demand.

OK, I'll dress properly should you invite me. When in Rome. . .

Tasteful aloha shirts (we know the difference!) dress slacks, and closed shoes are executive work wear here today. And just as one needn't be thin or young to dance hula publicly, I can always hide behind a tasteful, tailored mu`u mu`u and look quite respectable.

ALOHA, my over-dressed friends!! Cloudia