Despite their rich cultural history and associations with surfing, most of us think of Hawaiian shirts (known as Aloha shirts in Hawaii) as the uniform of golfing uncles, Magnum PI, and Trader Joe’s employees. Popularly paired with baggy khakis and ratty sneakers, they don’t exactly have the best reputation.
Still, I started warming up to them a few years ago when I was browsing the racks at Self Edge. Bold and colorful – with prints ranging from simple geometrics to psychotropicals – I could see how they’d pair well with the kind of raw denim and heavy outerwear Self Edge specializes in. The look has gained broader popularity in the last couple of years through Saint Laurent Paris, Prada, and Gucci, who give them a more retro-rocker vibe. Then, when Pete wrote about them a few months ago, I figured I’d give them a try.
For something I wasn’t sure I would wear often, however, I didn’t want to drop $200+. So, Self Edge’s Japanese-made shirts were out (as nice as they are), as well as anything designer. Ralph Lauren’s are more affordable, but they come in a modern, tailored fit – missing that looser silhouette that I think give these shirts their appeal. There’s also Reyn Spooner, but none of their prints spoke to me.
Two Palms: The Affordable $50 Option
Last week, I came across Two Palms, a Hawaiian wholesale company with a direct-to-consumer online shop. At $50 for a shirt ($44 right now on sale with free shipping), I figured they couldn’t hurt to try.
My shirt came a few days ago and I love it. Granted, the construction could be better – the collar interlining isn’t the greatest and the interior is finished with overlock stitches, rather than something cleaner – but it hits the three points I care about most. The construction is done in Hawaii, giving the shirt some nice authenticity; the fit is loose, but flattering (see fit pics at Independence); and the price doesn’t break the bank.
Two Palms’ shirts come in cotton and rayon. The latter has a nice, silk-like feel, but wears considerably cooler. It does require a bit more upkeep, however, given that it’s handwash or dry-clean only. On the upside, rayon doesn’t hold body odors as easily, so you can wear your shirt a couple of times before cleaning. I went with that, over cotton, just to have something different from the rest of my wardrobe.
Some designs I like: the fan palm, blue pali orchid, navy orchid, navy monstera hibiscus, and red orchid fern. Mine, pictured above, is the navy pineapple print (which also comes in white and black). The simpler design makes it more versatile, although it doesn’t have the same bold charm as other designs. On the other hand, Pete tells me he finds two-tone prints easier to wear, partially because “there’s always a risk of looking like an ‘80s movie nerd or party animal in these things.” Good point, I think.
Wear one its own with jeans or shorts, layered under a field jacket, or with a causal linen sport coat (assuming your trousers are high enough to tuck-in the shirt). For sizing, you’ll want to buy your regular size, as these are meant to fit a bit looser. I measure 37″ across the chest and took a size small.