Being fed up with formal suits and military uniforms, many American servicemen returned home from the WW2 with a new informal wear in their belongings. Those were a new kind of colorful dress shirts that turned out to be the biggest influence on men’s fashion in the post-war period. The servicemen had discovered Hawaiian shirts, which are called Aloha shirts in the Hawaiian Islands.
Original Hawaiian shirts for men were short-sleeved, loose-fitting and could be worn untucked; hence the lower hem was straight. They had double stitching on the seams and long points on the collar. Another feature was a left chest pocket which was sewn on ensuring that the printed pattern remained continuous. The material used for Aloha shirts in the 1940s was rayon because the colors and designs came out more clearly and sharply on it. Original prints included pineapples, palm trees, floral patterns, tropical fish and birds. All this was usually colored in white, brown, rust, salmon, pale yellow or pinkish on a white, lemon yellow or rust background. Backgrounds like black, bright blue or red were quite rare.
In the following years, thousands of tourists, many of them Californians, visited Hawaii. They saw the local Aloha shirts as perfect souvenirs that captured the spirit of the island. Tourists wore them all day and sometimes even as evening wear. As demand for Hawaiian shirts grew, shop owners started to offer wider range of shirts, brighter than ever before. In the very end of the decade very popular were hand-painted Aloha shirts picturing elaborate scenes from the island life.
Hawaiian shirts in the 21st century
In these days souvenir stores are full of low quality polyester shirts with wooden or coconut buttons. However, in some vintage shops you can still find authentic 1940s Hawaiian shirts. But are Hawaiian shirts for men currently in style? Well… only 2 people out of ten actually like them. Yet, modern designers are working on new Hawaiian shirt inspired designs (though some prefer to call them tropical).
The post Hawaiian shirts (Aloha shirts) appeared first on 1940s Fashion.