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How to Dress Kids in Hawaiian Style

by Rosenya Faith, studioD

Whether your child is dressing for a Hawaiian-themed costume party or trying to blend in on your family vacation to the Islands, use a little history and some creativity to dress your child in Hawaiian style with a touch of historically authentic flair. Hawaiian fashion is composed of comfortable, loose-fitting clothing, perfect for staying cool in the warm weather all year long, with bright prints and vivacious patterns, making it easy for your child to show off her youth, vigor and vitality.

Dress your youngster in an Aloha-print, button-down shirt in any colors you like. Compliment the shirt with a pair of khaki shorts. If you're dressing a young gal, consider a muumuu instead; a long, loose and brightly colored dress often made from a floral patterned fabric.

Opt for a simple pair of sandals or flip-flops for your youngster's feet. Shoes are not worn indoors in Hawaii; in fact, shoe racks are often left outside a home to indicate where a visitor should leave her shoes. If your child doesn't need to have her shoes on, you can always make her a pretty pair of barefoot sandals with a silk flower adorning each one so she can feel a little exotic.

Make a necklace or bracelet from real or imitation puka shells, found on Hawaiian beaches. In Hawaiian tradition, these shells were worn to help ensure a safe voyage, which makes a puka shell necklace a particularly suitable accessory for your child's vacation wear. You can also thread a sea turtle pendant onto an ordinary necklace to instantly transform it into a Hawaiian-themed accessory for a girl or boy, or make a kukui nut lei for a young boy. While the kukui tree is common in Hawaii today, it has a rich history, originally brought to the Hawaiian Islands by the Polynesians.

Make a lei instead of a necklace. Hawaiian leis are commonly made from flowers such as orchids, plumeria and tuberose.

Pick up a coconut frond hat, made from woven coconut leaves, for a young boy. If you don't have any coconut leaves around the house, you can pick up a simple straw hat instead. Make a hair wreath from real or silk hibiscus flowers for a young girl. Cut a piece of thin floral wire and wrap the stems of the flowers in the wire to cover it completely. Twist the ends together and cover the ends with a ribbon bow.

Items you will need
  •  Aloha shirt and khaki shorts (or muumuu)
  •  Sandals or flip-flops
  •  Barefoot sandals with silk flowers (optional)
  •  Puku shell necklace or bracelet
  •  Sea turtle pendant necklace
  •  Kukui nut lei
  •  Floral lei
  •  Coconut frond hat (or straw hat)
  •  Floral hair wreath


  • The Worldwide History of Dress; Patricia Rieff Anawalt
  • Aloha Attire: Hawaiian Dress in the Twentieth Century; Linda B. Arthur

About the Author

Rosenya Faith has been working with children since the age of 16 as a swimming instructor and dance instructor. For more than 14 years she has worked as a recreation and skill development leader, an early childhood educator and a teaching assistant, working in elementary schools and with special needs children between 4 and 11 years of age.

Photo Credits

  • Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images