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The Best Modern Hawaiian Shirts to Rock This Spring & Summer

SPY logo SPY 3/2/2021 P.J. Gach
a group of people standing next to a person © Product Photos Courtesy of Levi's and Wooyoungmi

Hawaiian shirts are no longer reserved for embarrassing dads on vacation. In 2020, Hawaiian shirts were one of the most popular men’s summer style trends, part of the larger dad core fashion movement. And while they might not be quite as popular in 2021, we still expect to see the best Hawaiian shirts for men in heavy rotation this spring and summer.

Stylish dudes no longer need to metaphorically (or literally) raid their old man’s wardrobe, stealing these summer shirts for themselves. If you’re looking to upgrade your warm-weather look with a great Hawaiian shirt, we’ve got you covered. In this article we’ll cover the following:

  • What are Hawaiian shirts?
  • How to wear a Hawaiian shirt
  • The best Hawaiian shirts to buy right now
  

What Are Hawaiian Shirts?

The loose definition of a Hawaiian shirt (sometimes called vacation shirt, aloha shirt or resort shirt) is a short-sleeve button-up with a colorful print and a camp collar (meaning the collar folds down to lay flat on the chest). Obviously, this criterion is interpreted quite loosely by fashion labels, especially when it comes to the print. Traditionally, a Hawaiian shirt has some type of floral or marine theme. The particular motifs and colors may change over time, but the core idea of Hawaiian shirts always remains the same: a super comfortable button-up that can be worn while lounging by the pool or drinking at the bar.

Hawaiian shirts, originally called aloha shirts, most likely originated from Honolulu-based dry goods store Musa-Shiya the Shirtmaker in the 1920s. “Aloha shirt” wasn’t coined until 1936 when Hawaiian shirts started to take root. US troops started wearing the shirts while stationed in Hawaii during WWII and subsequently brought them home, introducing mainlanders to the ultra-comfy button-ups.

Although Hawaiian shirts are now back in style, they’ve undergone some changes to fit modern tastes. Hawaiian shirts used to be long and flowy, verging on dress-like cuts. Not any more. Most modern brands that offer Hawaiian shirts have altered the classic in a few ways. While we still prefer slightly over-sized Hawaiian shirts with a looser fit, brands like J.Crew and Topman are now making more slim-fit Hawaiian shirts, too. We’re also seeing surf and skate brands like Vans sell Hawaiian shirts that abandon the traditional camp collar for a more modern look.

First, the fit of a modern Hawaiian shirt is slimmer and more cropped than its older iterations. Second, brands are now more experimental with prints than they used to be. You’ll find some Hawaiian shirts with minimal black-and-white prints, others with nods to recent pop-culture and some with designs that look more like modern art than a Hawaiian flower print.

  

How to Wear a Hawaiian Shirt

The second best thing about Hawaiian shirts (after comfort, of course) is versatility. You can rock them with everything from swim trunks at the beach to jeans on the weekend to a blazer at a work barbecue. The only loose rule that we follow is pairing Hawaiian shirts with other low-key pieces. Vacation shirt prints are typically quite loud, so something more minimal will balance the outfit. Think, slim-fit blue jeans and white sneakers, black slacks or chinos. And if you’re itching to wear your Hawaiian shirt when the temperature dips, a white tee under the shirt looks fine, too.

Of course, Hawaiian shirts are supposed to be a little tacky, any laid-back outfit will do. Plus, you can always lean into the dad-on-vacation aesthetic.

Don’t you wish you were having this much fun?

a person talking on a cell phone: senior man wearing fun hawaiian shirt © Provided by SPY senior man wearing fun hawaiian shirt   

1. H&M Patterned Resort Shirt

BEST OVERALL

H&M has become one of our go-to stores for wardrobe essentials and the latest trends, as the brand offers a good balance of affordable prices and quality. The new H&M Hawaiian shirt for summer is a muted modern oversized floral print. The boxy fit gives you the option of wearing it open over a tank top or bare chest, or buttoned up and worn loose over shorts. It comes in three different colorways, and for the price, you could buy all three and wear them throughout the spring and summer.

a person with collar shirt: H&m resort shirt, best hawaiian shirts © Provided by SPY H&m resort shirt, best hawaiian shirts

  

2. Levi’s Cubano Shirt

BEST AMERICAN HERITAGE BRAND

Levi’s are like you’re best friend or your platonic soulmate. They’ve been with you since middle school, to college and now. There’s never been a time when you haven’t had something made by this America’s jeans company. Levi’s take on the Hawaiian shirt blends classic American sportswear with an abstract floral print. The result is a Hawaiian-inspired shirt that will blend well with everything you own. It has a semi-loose cut, so it drapes well over your body.

a person posing for the camera © Provided by SPY

  

3. J.Crew Short Sleeve Linen Shirt in Print

BEST LOW-KEY

Hawaiian shirts are traditionally loud and island-inspired. That’s great, but many guys are now opting for a more minimal look. This shirt offers a more low-key vacation shirt vibe. The shirt features a button-down collar, a chest pocket, a rounded hem and a regular (yet slightly tailored) fit. The minimal look works better if you intend to wear your Hawaiian shirts in more formal settings, or just lean towards a  sleeker style. Technically, this resort shirt doesn’t have the trademark camp collar, but we’re counting it as one of the season’s best Hawaiian shirts all the same.

a person wearing a green shirt © Provided by SPY

  

4. Johnston & Murphy XC4 Printed Performance Polo

BEST GOLF SHIRT

Made for the links and beyond, this Hawaiian print short sleeve shirt has 50 UPF sun protection. Don’t worry about sweating or feeling sticky when hanging out in the hot sun wearing this shirt. The fabric is a fast-drying poly blend that has built-in antimicrobial and moisture-wicking properties. It also comes in Hawaiian floral and parrot print too.

a person in a blue shirt: johnston and murphy blue hawaiian polo shirt © Provided by SPY johnston and murphy blue hawaiian polo shirt

  

5. NN07 Paris Floral Vacation Shirt

MAKE IT FASHION

This vacation shirt from NN07 is on the classier side of things. It features a white floral print on a black background with white piping and a camp collar. The fabric is noteworthy as well with a breathable linen blend. We recommend wearing this NN07 shirt as a statement-maker with slacks, a jacket and loafers for weddings or dressy parties.

a person with uniform: floral beach shirt men's © Provided by SPY floral beach shirt men's

  

6. Amazon Essentials Short-Sleeve Print Shirt

BEST BUDGET BUY

If you’re on a tight budget this summer, you can still score a great Hawaiian shirt. This print shirt comes from Amazon Basics, offering more style than you’d expect from the retail giant’s affordable essentials collection. You get four print options, and at just under $17, we’re tempted to pick up a few.

a person with collar shirt: blue hawaiian shirt men's © Provided by SPY blue hawaiian shirt men's

Buy: Amazon Essentials Short-Sleeve Print Shirt $16.50

  

7. All Saints Siber Shirt

BEST MODERN

Trust UK brand All Saints to mix things up and create something as smooth as a martini. They used a vintage-inspired print and sewed it up into a vintage-inspired Hawaiian shirt, and the result is a subtly sexy, urbane and versatile shirt. The print’s cool neutral shades make it easy to match the shirt with neutral, light or dark bottoms. It’s the type of designer shirt that’ll always make you look good.

a person standing posing for the camera © Provided by SPY

  

8. Vans x Chris Johanson Hawaiian Shirt

BEST VANS HAWAIIAN SHIRT

Here’s another classic Hawaiian shirt, this time from skate and surf brand Vans. This summer shirt is made from a blend of cotton and linen to keep you cool and was designed in partnership with Chris Johanson, a West Coast artist known for his meditative paintings and sculptures.

© Provided by SPY   

9. Paul Smith Heat Map Vacation Shirt

BEST DECONSTRUCTED

Hawaiian shirts with a more modern print are great statement-making pieces for nights out or next-level weekend wear. We like this heat map floral shirt from Paul Smith because it takes the most iconic print (floral) and tweaks it slightly for a definitively up-to-date look. It’s made of 100% lyocell — a form of rayon that offers a relaxed yet flattering fit. Wear it casually with sneakers and khaki shorts, or dress it up with black slacks and a leather jacket.

an orange shirt: blue floral shirt men's designer © Provided by SPY blue floral shirt men's designer

  

10. Casablanca Graphic Print Relaxed Fit Linen Shirt

BEST SPLURGE

Made in Italy with cool, summery linen and a wowser of a print that reminds you of Miami’s South Beach, this is a Hawaiian shirt for grant entrances and exits. Charaf Tajer is the creator of Casablanca, a new menswear brand that has resort lifestyle in every stitch. His designs mix up a ton of color on white backgrounds so that they’re perfect for bright summer days by the pool.

a person standing posing for the camera © Provided by SPY

  

11. Wooyoungmi  Floral Print Hawaiian Short Sleeve Shirt

DESIGNER PICK

Designer Woo Young Mi’s abstract print Hawaiian shirt gives a new twist to a classic style. At once urbane and holiday vibe, this is a Hawaiian shirt that wouldn’t look out of place at a rooftop bar or backyard barbecue. Woo Young Mi creates a Hawaiian shirt once a season, and when they’re gone, they’re gone.

a person standing posing for the camera © Provided by SPY

  

12. Banks Journal Wilder Shirt

BEST VIBE

Banks Journal takes the ethos of the classic Hawaiian shirt and gives a super cool twist. Yes, calling this leopard print a Hawaiian shirt is a bit of a stretch, but we’ll allow it. Made of cotton, this could be the perfect shirt for summer 2021, when we can finally go to concerts and wild parties again.

a person with collar shirt © Provided by SPY

  

13. Amazon Brand Good Threads Standard Fit Hawaiian Shirt

BEST FOR TIKI PARTIES

The print for this Hawaiian Shirt’s aptly named “Tiger Lily,” and you can see the tiger lilies and the tigers. The tongue in cheekiness exudes good humor as if this shirt was made for the weekend. Good Threads is one of Amazon’s fashion brands, and like all of their brands, you get a lot of quality for a decent price. This Hawaiian shirt is a standard fit, roomy in the chest and then tapering down to the waist.

a man wearing a blue shirt © Provided by SPY

Buy: Amazon Brand Good Threads Standard Fit Hawaiian Shirt $30.00

  

14. Reyn Spooner Deep Sea Jive Hawaiian Shirt

BEST FOR SEA LOVERS

When you think of Hawaii, you think of crystal blue waters, surfing, fishing and fun. The best Hawaiian shirts, like this one, make you immediately think of the palm trees and relaxing days at the beach. This shirt also has some laid-back 90s vibes, and we’re here for it.

a person with collar shirt: reyn spooner deep sea jive ocean themed hawaiian shirt © Provided by SPY reyn spooner deep sea jive ocean themed hawaiian shirt

  

15. UO Painted Animals Camp Collar Shirt

GREAT FOR ZOOM

Somewhere someone decided that all Hawaiian shirts had to be a mélange of bright contrasting colors that could occasionally create an eye-watering print. Yeah, that might have worked for Grand Dad or any guy who wants to scare people with their clothing, but Urban Outfitters knows better. They’ve created an Hawaiian shirt for the modern man. The print’s comprised of neutral hues, so people will notice how nice you look in it, and not how the shirt’s overwhelmed you.

a person with collar shirt © Provided by SPY

  

16. Hugo Graphic Print Relaxed Crepe Shirt

BEST OVERSIZED

Like your shirts oversized and relaxed? Hugo, Hugo Boss’s diffusion line, has an oversized Hawaiian shirt that fits your style. Boxy and long, the shirt has a Hawaii-inspired graphic border print towards the notched hem.

a man standing in front of it © Provided by SPY

  

17. Iolani Matsonia Modern Fit Aloha Shirt

BEST SOUVENIR SHIRT

Here’s another genuine Hawaiian brand, which means you can wear a Hawaiian Hawaiian shirt. Iolani’s Hawaiian AKA Aloha shirts incorporate a modern fit, so it’s a tad less boxy than the traditional Hawaiian shirt. It sports a souvenir-themed print of steamers and palm trees and has one breast pocket. Made from rayon, it’s easy to care for, just wash in cold water.

a person wearing a pink shirt: Iolani Matsonia Modern Fit Aloha Shirt in pink © Provided by SPY Iolani Matsonia Modern Fit Aloha Shirt in pink

  

18. Tommy Bahama Monterosso Beach Classic Shirt

BEST FRESH TAKE

When it comes to dad fashion, the first name that comes to mind is Tommy Bahama. The brand’s whole raison d’etre is to create clothing and accessories with an island, laid-back vibe. So, if you’re opting for a lazy weekend hanging out in the backyard and chilling with friends, go ahead and channel that relaxed vacay feeling with this Monterosso Beach Classic shirt.

a man wearing a blue shirt: hawaiian shirt Tommy-Bahama-Monterosso-Classsic-Shirt © Provided by SPY hawaiian shirt Tommy-Bahama-Monterosso-Classsic-Shirt

  

19. Two Palms Julia Black Rayon Men’s Hawaiian Shirt

BEST FLORAL

Plumeria flowers bloom against the background in this Hawaiian Shirt from Two Palms. Made from Rayon (toss in the washer and go), the shirt features coconut buttons and a relaxed fit.

a person with collar shirt: Two palms julia black rayon plumeria flower hawaiian shirt © Provided by SPY Two palms julia black rayon plumeria flower hawaiian shirt

  

20. Hartford Hawaiian Scene Vacation Shirt

BEST BEACHY

When you think of Hawaii, you think of beaches and surfing. Hartford’s Hawaiian print shirt captures the blue oceans and craggy mountains in a faux weathered print. This cotton shirt has the classic Hawaiin print shirt spread collar, a slightly boxy fit and a patch pocket.

a person standing posing for the camera: best hawaiian shirt for men © Provided by SPY best hawaiian shirt for men

  

21. Cotton On Short Sleeve Resort Shirt

BEST MONOCHROMATIC

Can a floral print, especially a Hawaiian floral print be a monochromatic one? Cotton On thought so, and the company created an eye-catching and sophisticated floral print shirt in black-and-white. Cut on the relaxed side, so you can layer it over a tank or T-shirt, this Hawaiian shirt is cooly sophisticated and fun.

a person standing posing for the camera © Provided by SPY

  
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