Hawaiian shirts, sometimes called aloha shirts, are known for their vibrant colors and bold floral prints. While they originated in Hawaii as casual menswear, Hawaiian shirts have become a fashion staple that can be dressed up or down. With the right pairings, Hawaiian shirts can be incorporated into a variety of stylish summer looks.
Why Pairings Are Important
Hawaiian shirts themselves are statement pieces, featuring intricate designs and bright hues. For this reason, the rest of the outfit should be kept simple so as not to compete with the aesthetic of the Hawaiian shirt. The wrong pairings can overwhelm an outfit, while thoughtful pairings allow the Hawaiian shirt to shine as the main event.
Some key principles to keep in mind when styling a Hawaiian shirt outfit:
- Complement the shirt without clashing. Pair subdued, neutral items with the Hawaiian shirt to let its colorful pattern pop.
- Create balance. If the Hawaiian shirt is bold and busy, choose relaxed, understated pieces for the rest of the look.
- Consider proportions. A boxy Hawaiian shirt looks best with slimmer cut pieces on bottom; a fitted Hawaiian shirt can be paired with looser bottoms.
Starting with the bottom half of a Hawaiian shirt outfit, here are some excellent options:
A casual go-to, chinos are trousers made of chino cloth, typically cotton. They come in a range of neutral colors like tan, gray, olive green, or khaki. Chinos offer a preppy vibe that complements a Hawaiian shirt's laidback nature. Their lightweight fabric also suits tropical environments. For an upscale look, try fitted chinos; for something more relaxed, wear loose straight leg or pleated chinos.
Denim is another foolproof pairing for Hawaiian shirts. Blue jeans are especially easy to dress up or down. Dark indigo wash jeans will contrast nicely with a brightly patterned Hawaiian shirt. For hot weather, lightweight denim in white or pastels keeps the look breezy. Distressed details and slim fits give denim a modern edge. Roll the cuffs to show off fun novelty socks.
In warm weather, shorts are ideal for highlighting Hawaiian shirts in casual settings. Neutral shorts in beige, navy, black, or gray act as a subtle background for the shirt's lively motifs. Solid color shorts also enable mixing of fun prints; pair floral Hawaiian shirts with preppy plaid shorts or vice versa. Go for a 6-8 inch inseam in flat front or pleated styles.
For a beach vacation or summer soirée, linen pants add a touch of sophistication. The lightweight linen fabric comes in tan, white, or other light neutrals ideal for offsetting vivid Hawaiian shirts. Linen pants drape well, with a wrinkled look many find quite charming. They pair well with a Hawaiian shirt unbuttoned over a t-shirt.
Now moving down to footwear, consider these easy options:
Sandals are a no-brainer pairing for Hawaiian shirts, perfect for tropical locales. Opt for leather sandals in brown or black for a refined touch. Brands like Rainbow, Teva, and Chaco offer sporty strapped styles. And classic leather slides work for upscale occasions. Show off fun novelty socks by wearing sandals.
Boat shoes also complement Hawaiian shirts with their laidback, preppy vibe. Often made of leather, boat shoes commonly feature laces, a rubber sole, and side ventilation eyelets. Stick to versatile neutral colors like tan, brown, navy, or grey. Boat shoes give just enough polish while maintaining the casual spirit of Hawaiian shirts.
Espadrilles offer a vacation-ready look with Hawaiian shirts. These shoes have canvas or cotton uppers and a flexible jute or rope sole. Espadrilles come in every color and pattern imaginable, allowing you to match or contrast with Hawaiian shirt designs. They give off carefree riviera vibes perfect for leisurely summer days.
Nothing is easier than pairing Hawaiian shirts with sneakers. White sneakers act as a neutral backdrop, keeping the outfitsimple. For more flair, choose retro high-tops, skater shoes, or brightly colored sneakers that tie into the Hawaiian shirt's hues. Canvas shoes and minimalist brands like Common Projects work well. Distressed leather sneakers also complement Hawaiian shirts with their laidback aesthetic.
Up top, layering pieces provide versatility:
A t-shirt is likely the most common pairing with a Hawaiian shirt, which is often worn open. White crews and v-necks keep things classic. For more visual interest, rock graphic tees featuring bands, movies, art prints, or clever phrases. Contrast the t-shirt and Hawaiian shirt textures, such as soft jersey tops with crisp cotton Hawaiian shirts.
When you want to dress up a Hawaiian shirt a bit, lightly colored cotton button-down shirts make an excellent choice. Solid baby blue, mint, pink, and other pastel shirts work well under open Hawaiian shirts. So does buffalo plaid, gingham, minimalist stripes, and other subtle patterns. Just avoid going overload on busy designs. Roll up the sleeves for a relaxed aesthetic.
Easy to layer under an unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt, tank tops highlight the shirt's design while keeping you cool in warm weather. Neutral hues like white, black, gray, and tan allow the Hawaiian shirt to stand out. Racerback and muscle tank silhouettes also suit the casual mood of Hawaiian shirts.
Leaning into the Hawaiian inspiration, pair contrasting or coordinating aloha shirts together for a bold fashion statement. Mix different floral motifs or play with shades of the same color. Just be wary of looking like a walking bouquet! Stick to two aloha shirts at a time.
Finish the outfit with the right accessories:
For protection from the sun and serious style, hats complement Hawaiian shirts perfectly. Straw fedoras and panama hats capture vacation vibes. Baseball caps in canvas or corduroy add a sporty twist. And for dressier occasions, felt fedoras or newsboy caps lend vintage flair.
Belts are optional with Hawaiian shirts, which commonly get worn open over t-shirts. When you want to cinch it closed, woven fabric belts or skinny leather belts in earth tones look sharp. Contrast white belts also accent Hawaiian shirts well. Match wider pleated pants with similarly proportioned braided belts.
Keep jewelry simple and minimalist. Wooden bead bracelets and necklaces make an organic pairing for Hawaiian shirts. Unadorned metals like stainless steel, titanium, or silver tones allow the shirt to stand out. If opting for a necklace, go for 16"-20" pendant styles versus longer chains. And limit rings to just one or two.
With vibrant colors and bold prints, Hawaiian shirts deserve thoughtful pairings to really make the look pop. Stick to neutral bottoms like chinos, denim, shorts, or linen pants. Choose versatile footwear like sandals, boat shoes, espadrilles, or white sneakers. Up top, keep things simple with light button-downs, t-shirts, tanks, or a second aloha shirt. Accessorize minimally with hats, casual belts, and uncomplicated jewelry. Use these easy principles to help your Hawaiian shirt become the star of any stylish summer outfit.