Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Case For The Don't

If you thought my list of Honolulu's Fashion Don'ts was amusing, bear in mind that some rules were meant to be broken. Like rubber slippahs, these fashion trends may be considered atrocious by Mainland fashion experts, but that doesn't mean you can't look fashionable wearing them. Consider:

- Bare legs in general. Of course you don't have to wear pantyhose in Honolulu, even if your workplace is very conservative - that's the beauty of our tropical climate. (Besides, nude-colored nylon next to aloha wear looks extra dowdy!) Spanx and foot pads can also compensate for the other matters usually covered by hose. Don't throw out those stockings yet, though: For nights on the town, colored or patterned hose looks really cool and edgy next to a feminine black dress.

- The “aloha crisp” look. Wearing your “business” aloha shirt does not always mean you'll end up looking like an accountant. My dad is the perfect example of a guy who wears his Reyn Spooner shirts with tailored pants on occasions where he's expected to “suit up” informally; not only does he project proper decorum when he does so, but he looks at least ten years younger. It's a jacket-optional look, and surprisingly versatile: replace the pinstripes with khakis, switch to a woven belt, and wear the shirt untucked over your buckle (if you want to), and voila - the perfect casual date/ senior yearbook photo/ church with Grandma outfit. Just don't pop that collar, unless your name is Will Smith.

- Matching ensembles for the whole family. Alohawear brands like Reyn Spooner, Hilo Hattie and Manuheali`i have been showcasing matching aloha shirts for fathers and sons, and dresses for mothers and daughters. I think it's cute, as long as everyone isn't too matchy-matchy all the time.

- Printed polo shirts, and especially those with aloha prints. I'll need to recommend this cautiously, though, because it's so easy to biff - remember, polos are not always an acceptable substitute for a proper aloha shirt, so it's easy to go from polished to dorky when you wear an aloha-printed polo. The people that I do know who can pull this look off are professionals in sports, tourism, and education: teachers, coaches, librarians, trainers, waiters, marketing directors... you get the picture.

- Flowers in your hair. Before Jasmine Trias ran the trend into the ground, Hawaii ladies have been wearing real and fake flowers behind their ears for generations. The flowers don't have to be huge, or even natural; I've known girls who make their own plumeria-sized accessories (to tuck behind the ears) from fabric scraps and wire, which are actually quite pretty without being overwhelming.

- Trucker hats. On your average young man, it's played out and skeezy (see: Federline, Kevin). On the other hand, if you're an older man whose idea of a pau hana involves beer and poke on the porch with your buddies in boroboro shorts, slippers, and T-shirts, then more power to you, brah - you've earned it.


blunoz said...

I'm searching all over the internet for something that defines what exactly "aloha crisp" attire is. Google directs me to a dozen or more public invitations to events in Hawaii where "aloha crisp" is listed as the attire for the occasion, but nothing that defines what "aloha crisp" is. Your blog seemed to be the only one that had a clue what it might actually mean. Can you help me? Do you have to wear slacks/pants for "aloha crisp" or are a nice pair of dressy shorts acceptable? Thanks in advance for your help!

meimei said...

@blunoz - I'll answer this as best as I can: The first time I heard of the term "aloha crisp" was from a newscast related to the premiere of Pearl Harbor - so I think this refers more to a formal sportswear look of a nice aloha shirt with long pants and warm-weather leather shoes. I'd say that if you find this designation on a party invitation, you may want to keep both the pants and footwear lightweight and light-colored, since Reyn Spooner shirts + pinstripes + dark shoes = officewear.

I personally am not a fan of dressy shorts - unless the party happens to be at Jack Johnson's house - but I guess it depends on how formal the affair is and/or if it's anywhere near the beach. In that case, do call your host first to check if shorts are OK; if s/he's clueless, err on the side of formality.

Hope this helps!