How to Choose a GOOD "Hawaiian Shirt"

I don't know what it is with musician gents of a certain age, but many of them (us) seem to go in for the so-called "Hawaiian" shirt as their stage-wear of choice. A couple of notable examples from widely disparate musical genres:

 Photo of Stephen Stills

Stephen Stills - Classic Rock Legend

Pete "Dr. Banjo" Wernick - Bluegrass Banjo Master

I could post more examples, but I think you get the basic idea. As to why these tropical shirts are preferred, well, they are quite comfortable to wear under hot stage lights, and also as one thickens about the tum with the advance of the years. Plus they lend color to one's stage presence. I favor them myself for all these reasons. And the music I play gives me an excuse that few save the likes of Jimmy Buffet can lay claim to. But as in all things, something must guide one's choice of island wear. There are 2 basic schools of thought. Read on and learn!

The Tasteful Design Approach

The 2 gents pictured above obviously go in for this approach. There are plenty of places to acquire tasteful Hawaiian/Island shirts. Rix Island Wear is just one of many examples. It's not that I wish to give them free advertising. They merely serve as an example of the wrongheaded approach to choosing a "tropical" shirt - the approach involving fashion sense and good taste. These qualities serve one well in almost every other aspect of personal attire, but not in this case.

The Correct Approach

Listen, my children and heed. A truly good Hawaiian shirt has a combination of garish colors and eye-wrenching patterns that slap you upside the head from 30 yards. It elicits an involuntary gasp of pure horror from your spouse/partner/children on first sight, followed immediately by adamant refusal to be seen with you in public, not even if said spouse/partner/child is wearing his/her "I'm with STUPID!" tee-shirt.

Here's a classic example of the correct approach to Hawaiian shirt design:

Robert Palomo in his favorite (and truly awful) Hawaiian shirt

The shirty story of this masterpiece

I acquired this shirt at the H&M store in Sochi when I was down there performing with the Shanty Choir Tallship MIR in 2014. It was a big shop, and this shirt was hanging way in the back. But that sucker nailed me right between the eyes the moment I walked in the door. Requirement #1 met! (Requirement #2 was met when I got home and unpacked.) Alas, by the time this pic was shot by the incomparable Irina Bo a year or so later, the colors had faded quite a bit. BUT...!!

The best (worst?) is yet to come!

Last fall when I was visiting the U.S. I found a new one, from a source in Hawaii itself that shall remain nameless in the interest of Trade Secrets. It is even better (or worse?) than the one pictured above!

The short-sleeve shirt season has been delayed here in Northwest Russia this year, but hopefully my new Hawaiian shirt masterpiece will make it's debut on my bod real soon. I can't say how long it will take to appear here, or over my social media channels. I do know that the members of me Scurvy Crew will get a first look in my June 2017 newsletter... long before anybody else. Go ahead... indulge your prurient curiosity and join the crew now! C'mon... don't be scared... you'll get over the shock in just a few hours!


Here's the one I was talking about above. Best (worst?) one to date! Always open to suggestions for sources of good shirts. Leave a comment if you know of one!




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