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How to buy a vintage Hawaiian shirt

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How to Buy a Vintage Aloha Shirt
Maximilian Vandiver

Since I love “Hawaiian shirts” (also called aloha shirts) I feel it is important to know how to obtain the “real McCoy.” First, you need to do your homework. There are many good books on the subject. Read up! Next, you must find them. This is not an easy as you may think. Your best bet is the Internet. After that, check thrift shops, resale shops or antique malls. There are a lot of modern day imitations and the regular stores have these types of shirts…but I concerned about finding the real thing.
Recently, vintage clothing stores have popped up in many large cities. You can find neat stuff, but it usually is more expensive. Prices can range from a few dollars to over a few thousand dollars for very rare shirts. Hawaiian shirts have become very popular with young people today. These Hawaiian shirts are the epitome of cool.
What you have to decide on is the style/design that suits you. I think nothing looks worse than someone trying to look cool in a shirt just because everyone else is wearing them. If you are not comfortable, it shows. Also never tuck them in. They are casual wear and nothing says, “square” like a tucked in Hawaiian shirt.
When you purchasing a shirt, new or used, always-go one size larger if you can. If you are a large, go with an extra large. Hawaiian shirts are supposed to be loose, flowing garments. Remember you want to look like you came from somewhere fun not from a business meeting
Look for labels. Republic labels add to the value, not necessarily the price of the shirt. Surfrider, Kahala, Duke Kahanamoku, Musa-shiya and Alfred Shaheen Shirtmakers are all good brands. Finally, look for rips and stains. Large rips or stains will detract from the value. Look for missing buttons. Oh, by the way, coconut buttons are a clue to a good authentic shirt. If you follow these few steps you and your shirt will have a long, happy life together.

where can i find the short length aloha shirts that are seen in the old luau movies ie blue hawaii. i would like to wear that style with khakis. the newer shirts hang too low and don't show off my ass, or that is what my wife tells me. and i have chicken legs.

who makes these shorter length shirts...please help...also what would be a good book to buy on the subject

thank you
don't drive through

[ Edited by: ob seagull on 2002-12-06 20:57 ]

I was told by someone I know in the vintage clothes biz that the first thing to look for is does the pattern of the pocket match up with the pattern on the shirt. You shouldn't be able to tell there's a pocket there (at least until you reach in and pull out your pack of Lucky Strikes and say "Hey Mac, gotta light?").

I hear you OB, I don't really like the newer 'Reyn Spooner' type shirts either. Usually the sleeves are way to long. Seeing that I have great arms, (probably like your ass) I also want to show them off. The only thing that I can suggest is going out to some vintage stores and begining the hunt. I have two that are pretty solid in the vintage department but they are hard to come by. Shag just produced a run of barcloth shirts through Toes on the Nose that are a perfect example of what we are talking about. Good luck on the hunt.


Great arms? Oh, you must mean the one that's not in a sling, right??

Thank you Doc, you have ruined my evening...

I bought a custom aloha shirt not too long ago from a company on the net called: http://www.alohaland.com. You can probably get one any length you want.

I hear ya'... It's hard to find a nice Aloha shirt nowadays. Most of the thrifts are picked over and the vintage stores leave something to be desired. Not to mention if you're a bigger guy (like myself) it's a bitch to find anything that fits.
Anyway, these guys, Kamehameha Garment Company make a beautiful line of shirts. They are all rayon and have an open collar so they hang very nicely on you and they use coconut buttons. Many of their shirts are reproductions using vintage patterns and they look great. Most importantly, they are made in Hawaii.

Avanti also makes nice looking shirts but they are made of silk so they have a bit of a different look. Their shirts are also vintage reproductions. Not made in Hawaii...





We do...lots of em'...for sale...right now!
come take a look at our webstore...we're working on adding tons of tiki stuff to our inventory this month. we're located right here in huntington harbor...and offer free delivery locally. check us out at: http://www.debagogo.com
deb and gogo

jtiki posted on Mon, Jan 20, 2003 9:28 AM

Two shirt questions

FIRST, ABOUT THE BUTTONS - I heard that the sign of a classic Aloha Shirt were the buttons made from coconut. What does a coconut button look like? Is it brown and fuzzy, like I imagine? Does anyone have a picture?

SECOND, AND IN THE CATEGORY OF TOO DAMM CUTE – Does anyone know of an internet site that sells shirts and dresses that match? I know blueginger.com sells such things, but I can’t see their patterns on-line. I’ve also looked at Hilohattie.com, but nothing strikes me as very nice yet.



My buddy and I have a list of prerequisites for a shirt to be a classic. It has to have the short cut you folks mentioned. We called it a "jack" cut. I do not know if that is a real term or not, thats just what we call it. The hem must hang just be below your belt line. There has to be width adjuster straps on each side on the the hem. I never adjust the widths of my shirt,so the decorative straps are ok. All buttons must be made of coconut, wood or old coins. etc, The pocket has to be put together so that it does not look like a pocket is there. Sewn in sew to speak. Trouble is that those type of inside pockets need constant ironing or else they wrinkle up and look weird beneath the fabric thus losing the incognito effect and ruining you spy like aura. Sleeves do not hang past the elbows. Hawaiian style fabric prefered but other styles are acceptable. My buddy has a blue shirt with a few stripes sewn down the left side with a tiki embroidered just the "secret" pocket. That shirt kicks all of our butts. I used to work in a clothing store in the mid eighties and I used to see these classic shirts weekly. Sadly my collection has been eaten by moths and deteriorated over time by detergent. Some of the buttons remain like sad little bones of royalty.


[ Edited by: Chongolio on 2003-01-21 09:50 ]


You are right in calling it a "Jack" shirt, the original name was shirt-jac, because it was like a shirt (button front and short sleeves) crossed with a jacket (shorter length).

Jtiki from what I hear the matching shit/dress combo is a definite tourist thing I also head that tucking in an aloha shirt is a big no no too

jtiki posted on Tue, Jan 21, 2003 4:43 AM

I acknowledge my tourist nature.

But as part of a "too-cute" Valentince Day gift, I was looking for a matching set.

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