The Hawaiian shirt, also known as an Aloha shirt, is a very casual style of shirt that originated in Hawaii. With its bright colors and bold floral prints, the Hawaiian shirt evokes a relaxed, beachy vibe that is perfectly suited for vacations and summer barbeques. But can you wear a Hawaiian shirt to the office in a business casual setting? Let's take a closer look.
The Nature of Business Casual Attire
Business casual dress codes aim to strike a balance between professional work attire and very casual weekend wear. The idea is to allow employees to be comfortable while still maintaining a polished, put-together appearance.
For men, typical business casual attire includes pressed trousers, button-down shirts, polo shirts, and casual leather shoes like loafers. Suit jackets and ties are not necessary. Women's business casual often incorporates blouses, cardigans, trousers or knee-length skirts, and flats or low heels.
The key is to avoid clothing that is too revealing, sloppy, or better suited to the beach or gym. Business casual should look neat, modest, and business-appropriate.
Assessing the Hawaiian Shirt for Business Casual Wear
When evaluating whether a Hawaiian shirt has a place in business casual wardrobes, there are a few factors to consider:
Fabric and Color
The lightweight, breezy fabrics and bright colors of Hawaiian shirts evoke vacation vibes. While eye-catching colors and patterns can work for business casual, overly vivid hues and busy prints may cross into unprofessional territory for an office environment.
Details like a camp collar, contrast stitching, and coconut buttons heighten the casual, island feel of a Hawaiian shirt. Opting for a shirt with more subtle styling can make it more appropriate for business casual settings.
Many traditional Hawaiian shirts have a roomy, oversized fit meant to promote air flow in hot climates. A shirt with a trimmer fit will have a more polished look for the office.
Personal Preference and Office Culture
Some individuals simply feel Hawaiian shirts have an aesthetic that is too playful and vacation-minded for professional settings. The norms and preferences of your particular office culture should be considered as well.
Guidelines for Wearing Hawaiian Shirts Business Casual
Taking the factors above into account, a Hawaiian shirt can potentially work for business casual in some circumstances. Here are some guidelines:
- Choose a Hawaiian shirt in muted, neutral colors like black, gray, navy, tan, or white. Avoid bright, flashy colors and prints.
- Look for a shirt made from a more luxurious, polished fabric like silk rather than lightweight cotton.
- Opt for a trim, tailored fit rather than an oversized silhouette.
- Select a shirt with an understated camp collar. Avoid overly decorative buttons and stitching.
- Make sure it is properly ironed and wrinkle-free. A crisply pressed shirt looks more professional.
- Pair it with neutral trousers, leather dress shoes, and coordinating accessories for a polished look.
- Consider whether your particular office culture leans more toward conservative versus relaxed and trendy attire. Adjust accordingly.
- Use discretion and avoid wearing it for important meetings with clients or upper management. Save it for more casual Fridays.
The Hawaiian shirt's aesthetic makes it challenging to incorporate seamlessly into business casual office attire. With attention to color, fabric, fit and styling, however, it can potentially work in some more laid-back business casual environments, especially in warmer climates. Carefully assess your office dress code norms and company culture before sporting an Aloha shirt to ensure you maintain a professional appearance. A Hawaiian shirt at the office is generally safest for Fridays or summer months rather than year-round business wear.