Hawaiian shirts are no longer reserved for embarrassing dads on vacation. Stylish dudes are now metaphorically (or literally) raiding their old man’s wardrobe, stealing these summer shirts for themselves. If you’re looking to upgrade your warm-weather look with a great Hawaiian shirt, we’ve got you covered. In this article we’ll cover the following:
- What are Hawaiian shirts?
- How to wear a Hawaiian shirt
- The best Hawaiian shirts to buy right now
What Are Hawaiian Shirts?
The loose definition of a Hawaiian shirt (sometimes called vacation shirt or resort shirt) is a short-sleeve button-up with a colorful print and a camp collar (meaning the collar folds down to lay flat on the chest). Obviously, this criterion is interpreted quite loosely by fashion labels; especially the print. But the core idea of Hawaiian shirts always remains the same: a super comfortable button-up that can be worn while lounging by the pool or drinking at the bar.
Hawaiian shirts, originally called aloha shirts, most likely originated from Honolulu-based dry goods store Musa-Shiya the Shirtmaker in the 1920s. “Aloha shirt” wasn’t coined until 1936 when Hawaiian shirts started to take root. US troops started wearing the shirts while stationed in Hawaii during WWII and subsequently brought them home, introducing mainlanders to the ultra-comfy button-ups.
Although Hawaiian shirts are now back in style, they’ve undergone some changes to fit modern tastes. Hawaiian shirts used to be long and flowy, verging on dress-like cuts. Not any more. Most modern brands that offer Hawaiian shirts have altered the classic in a few ways.
First, the fit of a modern Hawaiian shirt is slimmer and more cropped than its older iterations. Second, brands are now more experimental with prints than they used to be. You’ll find some Hawaiian shirts with minimal black-and-white prints, others with nods to recent pop-culture and some with designs that look more like modern art than a Hawaiian flower print.
How to Wear a Hawaiian Shirt
The second best thing about Hawaiian shirts (after comfort) is versatility. You can rock them with everything from swim trunks at the beach to jeans on the weekend to a suit at a party. The only loose rule that we follow is pairing Hawaiian shirts with low-key pieces. Vacation shirt prints are typically quite maximal, so something minimal will balance the outfit. Think, slim fit blue jeans and white sneakers, or black slacks and a leather jacket. And if you’re itching to wear your Hawaiian shirt when the temperature dips, a white tee under the shirt looks great too.
The Best Hawaiian Shirts
To help elevate your spring-summer wardrobe, we’ve rounded up some of the best Hawaiian shirts for men. We’ve sifted through several websites to come up with these picks, selecting a variety of shirts with different prints and price tags.
1. H&M Patterned Resort Shirt
This resort shirt ticks all the boxes of a great Hawaiian shirt and costs less than $20. The shirt comes in five great patterns, ranging from bold to classic to minimal. We especially like this bold floral print (with hidden leopards) on a yellow background. The fit is regular (not too loose, not too tight) and the shirt has all the right details including a camp collar. The price is low, and that’s much appreciated with vacation shirts. You’ll probably be traveling, sweating, eating and drinking in this shirt, so it’s nice not to worry about soiling something expensive.
2. H&M Regular Fit Cotton Shirt
Hawaiian shirts are traditionally loud and island-inspired. That’s great, but many guys are now opting for a more minimal look. This shirt (also from H&M) offers a more low-key vacation shirt. The shirt features a turn-down collar, a chest pocket, a rounded hem and a regular (yet slightly tailored) fit. The minimal look works better if you intend to wear your Hawaiian shirts in more formal settings, or just lean towards a more sleek style.
3. Nike SB Paradise Shirt
BEST FOR SWEAT
Vacation shirts are worn in summer. That means sweat. This Paradise shirt from Nike SB takes care of that with Nike’s breathable Dri-Fit technology. On top of that, you get a stylishly minimal floral print and a unique quarter-zip design. This makes the shirt slightly more casual. It’s a great option for long travel days, weekends or even casual office outfits.
4. NN07 Paris Floral Vacation Shirt
This vacation shirt from NN07 is on the classier side of things. It features a white floral print on a black background with white piping and a camp collar. The fabric is noteworthy as well with a breathable linen blend. We recommend wearing this NN07 shirt as a statement-maker with slacks, a jacket and loafers for weddings or dressy parties.
5. Amazon Essentials Short-Sleeve Print Shirt
If you’re on a tight budget this summer, you can still score a great Hawaiian shirt. This print shirt comes from Amazon Basics, offering more style than you’d expect from the retail giant’s affordable essentials collection. You get four print options, and at just under $17, we’re tempted to pick up a few.
6. Faherty Kona Camp-Collar Shirt
Looking for a classic Hawaiian shirt? Check out this Kona shirt from Faherty. It does the iconic men’s piece justice with a distinct islander print, replete with surf cabins, white sand beaches, ocean and palm trees. This design is inspired by an actual beach on the northwest side of Maui called Kapalua Bay. And to top it off? Buttons made from coconut. Although the look is classic, the wearability is modern with a breathable rayon material. The shirt can be worn in any casual setting but is most at home on the beach or by the pool.
7. Paul Smith Heat Map Vacation Shirt
Hawaiian shirts with a more modern print are great statement-making pieces for nights out or next-level weekend wear. We like this heat map floral shirt from Paul Smith because it takes the most iconic print (floral) and tweaks it slightly for a definitively up-to-date look. It’s made of 100% lyocell — a form of rayon that offers a relaxed yet flattering fit. Wear it casually with sneakers and khaki shorts, or dress it up with black slacks and a leather jacket.
8. Off-White Printed Silk-Twill Shirt
Off-White is currently one of the coolest brands around. If you can afford it, this vacation shirt from the Virgil Abloh-helmed brand is a worthy purchase. It keeps the vacation shirt’s island persona alive but updates it with an out-there underwater print that only Off-White can pull off. It’s made of a silk-twill fabric that’s as luxurious looking as it is comfortable. This one might not be ideal for getting sandy at the beach, but it’s great for summer nights out — whether you’re at a beach bar or big city club.
9. Kenny Flowers The American Boy
BEST FOR PATRIOTS
Looking for just the right shirt to rep America to the fullest? Well, Kenny Flowers has you covered with their patriotic take on the Hawaiian shirt, The American Boy. Featuring all-over print grills, hats, flags and red, white and blue designs, this shirt will show you take the festivities seriously. It will also keep you cool and comfortable, thanks to its 100% rayon build. What we especially love about this shirt is that while it does rep the USA, it’s not so overbearing that you couldn’t wear it any other day of the summer.
10. Hawaiian Force He’e Octopus Aloha Shirt
BEST BLEND OF OLD AND NEW
Based in Hilo, Hawaii, native artist Craig Neff and his wife Launa’s mission is to create designs that highlight its people’s history and mythology. This shirt is one of the best Hawaiian shirts as this stylized octopus print pays homage to an ancient Hawaiian god, Kanaloa, a healer and magic teacher.
11. Wooyoungmi Palm Tree Silhouette Dégradé Shirt
Designer Youngmi Woo’s boxy Hawaiian shirt is cross between the fab 50s and something from Vince Vaughn’s wardrobe from Swingers. Exuding vacay vibes, this is one of the best Hawaiian shirts for a Mai Tai or any throwback cocktail.
12. Reyn Spooner Deep Sea Jive Hawaiian Shirt
BEST FOR SEA LOVERS
When you think of Hawaii, you think of crystal blue waters, surfing, fishing and fun. The best Hawaiian shirts, like this one, make you immediately think of the Palm tree strewn state and its incredible beaches.
13. Ky’s Flamingo Fever Green Cotton Hawaiian Shirt
Some say the best Hawaiian shirt can only be found in Hawaii. Thank goodness for online shopping! Honolulu-based Ky’s Hawaiian shirts create fun, authentic Hawaiian shirts with a touch of humor. Fabulous flamingos cavort all over this green cotton-poplin top. It also comes in six other colors too.
14. J.Crew Short Sleeve Linen Shirt in Tropical Forest Multi
BEST TO KEEP AND LOOK COOL
Easy, breezy linen keeps you cool on scorching days and nights, and when you mix it with a Hawaiian tropical print, you’ve got one of the best Hawaiian shirts that could easily be your summer go-to for everything from work to play. This button-down shirt has two patch pockets and has a slim-ish cut.
15. Iolani Matsonia Modern Fit Aloha Shirt
BEST SOUVENIR SHIRT
Highlighting another Hawaiian brand, Iolani’s Hawaiian AKA Aloha shirts incorporate a modern fit, so it’s a tad less boxy than the traditional Hawaiian shirt. It sports a souvenir-themed print of steamers and palm trees and has one breast pocket. Made from rayon, it’s easy to care for, just wash in cold water.
16. Pagong Kyoto Chrysanthemum and Wave Aloha Shirt
BEST FRESH TAKE
Kazuaki Kameda, fourth generation of the founding company Kamedatomi Co., LTD, discovered that the original Aloha (Hawaiian) shirt was made with kimono fabric. As a member of a family and company that’s been dying kimonos since 1919, he created an offshoot of the Kamedatomi company and called it Pagong. This shirt harkens back to the original Hawaiian shirts with its traditional Japanese print, but it has a modern cut and has coconut buttons for additional flair.
17. Two Palms Julia Black Rayon Men’s Hawaiian Shirt
Plumeria flowers bloom against the background in this Hawaiian Shirt from Two Palms. Made from Rayon (toss in the washer and go), the shirt features coconut buttons and a relaxed fit.
18. Pacific Legend Orchid Blue Hawaiian Shirt
BEST CELEBRITY LOOKALIKE
Could this be one of the best Hawaiian shirt ever made? Possibly! It looks really similar to the one that Bruce “The Chin” Campbell’s action figure is wearing. Made of comfortable, breathable cotton, this Hawaiian shirt has the classic boxy silhouette, a notched collar, coconut buttons and one pocket.
19. Old Navy Hawaiian Short Sleeve Shirt
Oh, we love Old Navy for so many reasons. They’re always on-trend, make durable goods and price their clothing well. This is one of the best Hawaiian shirts around as the style is easy to dress up or down and the price takes it easy on your wallet.
20. Hilo Hattie Tribal Monstera Aloha Shirt
BEST TONAL FLAIR
Hilo Hattie’s a venerable Hawaiian brand; their vintage stuff is hard to find, incredibly made and pricey. What a relief to find one of the best Hawaiian shirts from one of the best Hawaiian clothing companies that’s priced well and looks pretty amazing. This tonal print cotton shirt has one pocket and comes in two other shades as well.