Historically, traditional men's garb for a luau included a loincloth called a malo and a kihei cloak made of leaves. Don't worry about findng these garments if you're attending a luau in Hawaii or elsewhere, though. The key elements of a man's luau outfit are relaxed fit silk or cotton shirts worn with casual shorts or linen pants. Take it easy at your luau with Hawaiian-style casual wear and open-toed shoes.
A guy headed to a luau can't go wrong with what is traditionally called a Hawaiian shirt. This shirt is usually a silk button-down that includes bold, repeating patterns like hibiscus flowers or palm trees. To shake things up or avoid looking too much like a tourist, wear a camp shirt with double pockets or pleats down each side of the chest. A minimalistic approach features a solidly colored linen shirt. Try leaving the top three or more buttons undone and roll any long sleeves up to the forearm. Pair any of these options with a silk-screened t-shirt for a casual but styled look.
Shorts and Pants
A luau is a rare occasion where shorts are most appropriate for men. Choose a pair of shorts in any natural shade of white, tan, brown or green, or a wilder color if it matches your shirt. Unless it's a fancy affair, cargo shorts or board shorts are fine. If you'd prefer pants, wear a pair made of soft, natural fibers, such as a loose-fitting pair of chinos or linen pants. Fold up the hem twice for a beachy feel. In Hawaii, nights can be breezy or even chilly, so pants can be the best choice for some evening luaus.
Men can wear flip-flops and sandals to luaus, but make sure yours aren't so rugged or sporty that they clash with the outfit. Black footwear is unlikely to match unless it specifically complements your shirt. Several Hawaiian companies offer stitched leather flip-flops for men that class up their look. With sandals, forget about socks unless you truly need them to protect your feet in an outdoor location. The best shoe options for luau outfits are casual leather slip-ons worn without socks.
An authentic Hawaiian luau or a festive theme party lets guys indulge in accessories. You'll likely receive a lei at the party, but you can wear hemp or leather necklaces as well as bracelets. Sun-protective hats work too, such as fishing hats, panama hats or even cowboy hats. Short-brimmed fedoras with decorative bands can also work with Hawaiian shirts. Just make sure that you aren't wearing so many colors and patterns that your garments are competing and clashing; your accessories should tie your outfit together.
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John Bland has been a freelance writer since 2009, with his essays, fiction and poetry appearing in "Shine Magazine," "North Texas Review" and many online journals. He received a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the University of North Texas in 2008.
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