A Hawaiian shirt can conjure up images of unreasonably loud and laughable prints that range from hurting the eyes to full-on sensory affront. Characters from the past ranging from Elvis to Hawkeye Pierce gave their own mainland slant on the wearing of their Hawaiian shirts.
With the advent of Hawaiian shirt Friday, there arose a contrarian population that oppose the very idea and existence of a Hawaiian shirt on the idea of misguided propriety. What is not good for them is therefore not good for another and viewed from a disproportionately narrow viewpoint.
Before I went to Hawaii on my honeymoon, I can’t say I held an opinion one way or another. There were no Hawaiian shirts in my wardrobe and such clothing was something I did not seek out.
Having since been to Hawaii, I have an idea of the depth of Aloha, these garments, the people and the islands. They are all intertwined with one affecting the other.
“Aloha” is used for both hello and goodbye, but it is also a state of awareness that in its best state is an openness of heart towards others. The closest mainland concept we have is Southern hospitality, where a proactive effort is made for the emotional comfort of a visitor, whoever that visitor may be. To “have aloha” is to be in a state of inner harmony that affects others.
The Hawaiian Islands are something that you do not just see, you experience. It is hard to describe, but is perfectly understood by anyone who has ever visited. Beauty for every sense surrounds you in abundance. There is nothing, and no place, no matter how untended, that is not crushingly beautiful. It is the islands themselves from which aloha springs, which is reflected in its peoples and is worn on the outside.
The Hawaiian people themselves are a varied mix of populations imported from around the planet. They have many cultures but all are fiercely proud of being Hawaiian. The Hawaiian shirt in Hawaii is known as an “Aloha shirt” as long as it is made on the Islands and is a source of great cultural pride. Aloha is the islands, its people and its clothing.
The Hawaiian shirt is both informal and informal, with the only variance to be in the overall quality of the garment. A cheap shirt is easily distinguished by the practiced eye and is not sought out for the workplace or social gatherings. A quality shirt from a good fabric, in tasteful prints and color schema are worn throughout, from the clerical staff through to the CEO.
In Hawaii, a beautiful shirt is simply a way to match the beauty of the islands around you. To wear one is not un-masculine in any way whatsoever, but rather is an expression of your inner well being and a celebration of being lucky enough to be in Hawaii itself.
Everyone should go to Hawaii at least once in their lifetime. Everyone should have the opportunity to experience Aloha firsthand and to wear a Hawaiian shirt in Hawaii.
John Bottomley has been a freelance editor and production technician for McGraw-Hill, a newspaper publisher, webmaster and blogger. His articles and pages number in the thousands, and he currently lives and works from his home in the Charlotte, NC area. His company Genius Goods Inc owns and operates Hawaiian shirt dot net.
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