The Hawaiian shirt … is it the leopard print of menswear? They’re both loud, a sartorial symbol of being fun. This is not the shirt to wear if you fall on the INFP side of the Myers-Briggs test. But perhaps men are having an extroverted moment. The Hawaiian shirt was the top-line story from the latest round of men’s shows, particularly Balenciaga; they were also a favourite of the fashion crowd sitting in the frow; and they’re on the high street right now – Gap’s version has been added to the most shopping carts on online fashion marketplace Lyst.
Still unsure? Channel a Hawaiian shirt wearer. Here are five to help find your fun-guy moment in 2017.
Balenciaga’s spring/summer 2018 show, in Paris last week, was a lot. It featured families, took place in a wood and Agent Cooper (sorry, Kyle McLachlan) was there. Some of the ideas presented – zip-off trousers, plastic cagoules – might not make most men’s wardrobes, but their take on the Hawaiian was clever. In a citrus shade, tucked-in and oversized, this is a beach-ready shirt by way of a nightclub.
Baz Lurhmann’s Romeo + Juliet is now 21 years old, but with its beach scenes, raves and fishtanks, it’s a reference for a new generation. Expect to see a lot of twentysomethings in Claire Danes’s white dress and wings. Men can pay homage to a young Leonardo, with a Hawaiian shirt with more of a chintzy pattern. Wear with skinny trousers and parted blond hair for the full bad-boy-in-training effect.
The Nicolas Cage
Nicolas Cage’s character Hi in Raising Arizona is hardly a role model – he’s a kidnapper and bank robber. But he breaks the law while wearing a really great bright-red Hawaiian shirt. This is the bad-boy take on Hawaii, it’s less about the colour and the print, more about the fact it’s worn open over a white vest. Wild hair helps, mugshot sign not necessary.
Elvis pioneered the flowers-and-lei look in his 1961 film Blue Hawaii. This is the classic of the Hawaiian-shirt world and while it can feel a bit fancy dress these days, you can go retro in a satisfyingly neat-as-a-pin way. Think hibiscus flowers, a quiff worthy of the king and white short shorts. Absolutely no yellow-lensed sunglasses allowed.
The Tim Blanks
The alpha fashion reviewer, currently at Business of Fashion, is always easy to spot thanks to his penchant for a jolly shirt. There were so many Hawaiians on the catwalk at the latest round of shows that Blanks’ fellow critics declared him the reference of SS18. Bite his style now with a shirt with a frond-type print – the more brilliantly lurid the better.