Manamorphosis: Rescuing The Hawaiian Shirt From Dads

Photo: Rodin Eckenroth [Getty Images]

Hawaiian shirts have long been a staple of “The Dad” at play. They’re easy to upkeep, they match with literally anything and are a fun way to say, “I’m here to party.” But this summer staple isn’t just for dads anymore. Updated versions of the shirt were all over men’s runways this season thanks to subtle embellishments like neon colors, logos and of-the-minute patterns. These modern twists have elevated the Hawaiian shirt and made it more popular than ever.

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According to The Real Real stylist Buck Ball, Hawaiian shirts are all about expressing yourself with a bold statement piece. Ball says, “Go big or go home. Typically, with a splashy pattern you want to make sure that the print is smaller than your open palm…except in the case of the Hawaiian shirt.” However, Ball suggests avoiding patterns that are bigger than the palm of your open hand because the print’s personality will be lost.

Photo: Richard Newstead [Getty Images]

Some good examples of this are Visive’s Short Sleeve Button Down, SSLR Pineapple Casual Hawaiian Shirt and SIR7 Men’s Hawaiian Print Button Down. Each shirt has a distinct style that celebrates the print’s audaciousness without being so big that it is overwhelming. The smaller the print the more modern the shirt. If you’re trying to move away from the classic Aloha shirt opt for something similar to this Visive shirt, which offers a smaller print making the overall look more modern.  And if you’re working with a budget, the most affordable way to pull off this look is by rummaging through your dad’s closet or by hitting up thrift stores where these shirts are literally a dime a dozen.

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Because the print on Hawaiian shirts are often crazy bold it’s best to avoid power clashing, aka mixing and matching Hawaiian shirts with any other print. Ball says, “Pairing two big prints together is a bad idea. Hold onto the beauty of the print by matching it with solid shorts or a solid undershirt make the pattern on the shirt itself standout and pop.”

When it comes to Khaki shorts you want to keep them about three inches above your knee. This will help you avoid shorts with an old man sag without going so short you raise eyebrows. These Calvin Klein Twill Walking Shorts and 9 Crowns Modern Fit Twill Chino Shorts are great examples of basics that will pair well with a not only a Hawaiian shirt, but almost anything in your closet. Likewise, Plaid&Plain Cropped Dress Pants in Khaki are the perfect neutral pants you didn’t know you needed. This wardrobe staple will allow your shirt to take center stage without being overwhelming.

Finally, Ball suggests bringing the focus back to your face by pairing your Hawaiian shirt with a hat. “Hats are super fun with Hawaiian shirts!! A good vintage hat or even a Fedora or Panama are going to make this look complete.” For head gear, Ball recommends sticking with neutral tones to avoid overpowering your shirt. However, a fun way to personalize your hat is by adding a snazzy band that matches one of the bolder colors in your shirt.

Finally, brush up on your Mai Tai making skills and you’ll have everything you need to  be King of the backyard BBQ.