Hawaiian Print Is Not Only My Summer Print, It's My Summer Attitude
I have taken the shirt off of someone's back. I asked politely. A stylist friend of mine was wearing a bright yellow Hawaiian-printed buttondown. It felt like butter. She was wearing it as collective fun with her coworkers. On Friday, they wore Hawaiian. It was fitting as Hawaiian shirts, or "Aloha shirts" were the spark to what we now call "Casual Fridays." I wanted it. It had a playful quality to it. It was comfortable. It was happy. She was surprised by how much I loved it, but happily agreed to gift it to me. I wore it immediately. It was a spirited play on jeans and a t-shirt. My love for secondhand Hawaiian print garments only grew from there.
My desire for more tropical prints was answered quickly. Most vintage and thrift shops carry them, particularly Hawaiian shirts. My first discovery was an olive-green Hawaiian shirt in a central PA Goodwill. The men's XL size would accommodate the growth of pregnancy. It was $3.00, and I felt like the luckiest Trader Joe's employee on the block. I wore it open over flowy maxi dresses. I layered it under overalls. I did wear it to a Trader Joe's one day. Walking into the store with Ben, I felt a connection to those stocking the shelves. We both shared a laugh. Halfway through shopping, the baby had danced on my bladder enough to warrant a bathroom break. Coming out of the restroom area, I was approached by a perplexed woman. She asked where she could locate rice. Ben turned his face and the cart away from our interaction. He had to take his laughter elsewhere. My gut reaction was to say I was not employed by Trader Joe's. I did mention it. Then I led her to the correct aisle and introduced her to Trader Joe's Brown Rice Medley. It is a staple at our house.
As the summer wore on, a brilliant blue Hawaiian dress from Buffalo Exchange and a black and white floral maxi from Dead Bryd Vintage were added to my maternity wardrobe. Both are house dresses which venture into public. They are relaxed fitting; each with a softness and flexibility only multiple wears can produce. There are summer days where I feel swollen and take up more physical space. These prints embrace swallowing space, they demand it actually. They remind me to take up all the space I need.
The print has been labeled. It is one worn by men of a certain age or suitable only for tropical conditions. As style evolves past rules, this print has been set free (much like the feeling I get when I wear it). Its roots live with native Hawaiian fashion and their fabric of choice, kapa, "cloth made of pounded bark." There is also Japanese and Chinese influence in the form of kimono prints and fabrics. The history of the Hawaiian shirt is a blend of cultures and demand. This adds to my attraction. The Hawaiian print has a high-octane spirit. It demands attention in a playful way. My mood is boosted by their spectrum of color, lightness and repetitive florals. If a print can elevate my well-being, I am in.
My Hawaiian collection cost me $56. The boost these buoyant prints have given my attitude this summer is beyond price. A summer pregnancy limited my ability to marinate in the warmth of the sun. Our air conditioning bill has never been higher. It cut my days short even though daylight was still gallivanting. The Hawaiian prints helped. They gave me the ability to embrace and flaunt the flippant attitude of summer. When I could not meet summer head to head, my Hawaiian prints brought summer to me. They taught me summer is where you make it.
Photos by the divine Rose Colored Creative