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Vintage Hawaiian dresses

July 19, 2015

It’s the perfect time of year for Vintage Hawaiian dresses, the weather is dry and warm (mostly) and the bright colours would seem perfect for the summer season. Hawaiian dress is nothing new of course, the Hawaiian’s have been creating this type of wear for years.


Vintage Hawaiian dresses

Because of the climate it’s highly unlikely you’re going to see any Hawaiians in layers of clothing including a bobble hat and a scarf. And that’s just as well, because without the tropical climate we wouldn’t have the spectacular colours we’ve come to love from Hawaii.

Cotton, silk and tropical flowers Hawaiian dresses

Vintage Hawaiian dresses are woven from cotton or silk and can be shapeless or more figure hugging. Adorned with Polynesian motifs and floral patterns, the backgrounds are usually as bright as the patterns, with reds, yellows and blues.

Hawaiian dress, wrap around style

Hawaiian dress, wrap around style


From the end of the Second World War the sarong dresses and shirts with their bright and beautiful tropical flowers were increasingly popular and naturally they became more so throughout the 50s and 60s. They were worn by the pool and of course in the dance halls in the US.

The evolution OF Hawaiian dresses through the decades – 40s, 50s, & 60s

As well as a Hawaiian sarong dress, think full circle 1950s dress with thick halter neck straps and those tropical patterns, or wiggle shaped Vintage Hawaiian dresses and tight on the hips. Or maybe 60s style with empire waist and mandarin colour and a rich green background.


In fact, imagine any style of dress from the 40s onwards with the Hawaiian fabric moulded to the trends that each decade brought. Imagine it, think short bell shaped sleeves with a wraparound waist, v neckline and a bright blue background, with pretty scarlet flowers with their yellow stigmas for the 70s. Perhaps a 1950s Hawaiian inspired multi coloured brown pattern on a beige background – a little more conservative for 50s fashion.


Summer season

So this summer is the perfect time to develop a little Hawaiian love for the tropical prints and I have to admit, I’m a little biased, I do love a 50s vibe for the Hawaiian pattern. If you want to feel sexy, confident and bold then a 50s dress with an Hawaiian print is the ultimate in gorgeous vintage Hawaiian dresses.

Vintage Hawaiian dresses, greens and wide bottomed sleeves, 60s style

Greens and wide bottomed sleeves, 60s style


Think big, bold and beautiful, and if you’re not entirely sure what you’re looking for then let’s help you with the ultimate Vintage Hawaiian dresses guide.


  • The pattern is crucial – it has to have the tropical foliage and exotic flowers of the Hawaiian islands


  • The background colours, as well as the colour of the patterns themselves, should be really bold and standout


  • A wiggle fit is for the brave, but the fit is perfect and creates an ultra-feminine silhouette


  • A circle skirt is a pretty alternative with a voluminous petticoat beneath


  • If you find a label on your dress with ‘made in Hawaii’ you’ve hit the jackpot


  • Look out for Alfred Shaheen or Elsie Das for some beautiful prints and authentic Vintage Hawaiian dresses designs


  • Look to the old Hollywood stars for inspiration such as Ida Lupino, Dorothy Lamour and many other 40s and 50s Hollywood pinups.


And don’t over embellish, the patterns speak for themselves, add a flower to your hair or create a fuchsia or crimson lip to match the background of your vintage Hawaiin dresses keep it nice and simple – and enjoy the summer!



Lamour in more sedate sarong dress
Take a lesson from the Hollywood stars of the 40s and 50s such as Dorothy Lamour