Traditional Hula Costumes And Everything You Need To Know

What generally comes to most people’s minds when hearing about Hawaiian culture clothing is usually the colorful short-sleeved collared shirts. While these custom made Hawaiian shirts are very trendy in modern times, the traditional hula costumes are more ancient and Hawaiian-exclusive.

As people on the islands love to preserve the strong history of their culture, the exact ancient Hawaiian clothing can be commonly seen in important ceremonies and festivals. The items are often quite hard to purchase and artisanal, but you can still buy some specific ones in Hawaii.

So, what do Hawaiian wear that is so interesting? In this article, we will let you know all topics surrounding the traditional Hawaiian clothes. If you are into this intriguing aspect of the Aloha culture, read below for more.

The Hawaiian traditional dresses

Let’s start by looking back a little bit at Hawaiian history. The costumes that hula dancers wear today are quite different from what they had back then.

The Hawaiian traditional dress

In the past, their outfits barely covered the body and were much less vibrant. While men wore loincloths, also called malos, women wore a wrap that was made of grasses or tree bark. The clothes are ensured to be kept to the minimum.

In fact, they tended to cover themselves more in tattoos than fabrics. Also called kakau, tattoos were a way of stating Hawaiians’ positions and abilities. Later on, people use leathers in addition to these.

In the heat and humidity of Hawaii, such clothing can keep whoever puts them on feeling comfortable. Now they wear hula skirts more often, but we can still see the big grassy skirts in special festivals, and these tend to be worn over the fabric.

The Hawaiian leis

A must-have item in the Hawaiian outfits for women and men is the lei, which is a stunning floral wreath. If you have visited Hawaii, you must have been greeted with it as a form of saying welcome.

The Hawaiian lei

It is said that the leis were the offerings to the gods as well as the sign of peace between conflicting tribes. At the same time, other legends believe that Polynesian visitors have introduced the wreaths to the locals.

Hawaiians usually make leis from flowers, sometimes include feathers, shells, nuts, bones, and many other materials.

The hula costumes

Centuries ago, the hula dance was a way of telling stories and worshipping the gods, which had then become the traditional dance of the islands. When dancing, the dancers usually put on a lei, a pa’u skirt, and ankle bracelets.

Both men and women performed the dance in the traditional hula costumes, and only men were allowed to sing. Women’s dance tended to be more gentle and tender than men’s.

In 1830, Queen Kaahumanu, a convert to Christianity, banned hula performances in the public. However, since people still performed in private, they could keep the dance until now. Today, the dance is popular worldwide, and Hawaiians performed it as much as they were in the past.

The traditional hula costumes

The costumes are now more modest, even in the biggest ceremonies. For women, they wear long skirts and a muumuu dress or a top. Men wear wrapped cloth, a malo, and trousers.

Hawaiian shirts and muumuus

We can easily see the typical Hawaiian patterns everywhere, especially on men’s Hawaiian shirts and muumuus for women. They are all designs created by the missionaries, which was forced upon the natives.

These two items, compared to the traditional hula costumes, are becoming more and more popular for their exclusive and modern designs. They have colors that are just as lively as the traditional Mexican outfits. When coming to a luau, you will see these worn by nearly everyone.

About the materials, the best muumuus and Hawaiian shirts are often made of cotton, silk, and other natural materials. As they use stamping or watermarking techniques, stunning floral patterns are featured widely on the garments.

Colorful Hawaiian shirts

Together with their Hawaiian outfits, people traditionally don’t put on a hat, but some floral headdress instead. However, as long as it has shells, flowers, or other native accessories, a straw hat is still acceptable at luaus.

So, that’s what we got for you about the traditional clothes in Hawaii. The Hawaiian culture clothing has been passed down from generations to modern days, and it is undeniable that it is totally unique.

If you love to see how Hawaiians preserve elements of their original culture and try on their exclusive costumes, don’t hesitate to visit the islands someday! The experience is sure to worth your time and budget.

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