Really, if there’s one comment I hear more often than anything else, it tends to be, “Wow, man. You wear a lot of Hawaiian shirts.”

This habit has, whether fortunately or unfortunately, been one I’ve engaged in for most of my life. It seems like my tendency to wear these bright and colorful shirts is a source of curiosity, since it often elicits comments, both positive and negative — but always entertaining. I’ve received many questions about why I wear them: if there’s a deeper reason, a cause, a role, whether I lost a lifetime bet, and so on. You get the idea.

Well, actually, there is a deeper reason. A few, actually. So, why? Well…

Reason #1: Sentimental Reasons

Nicholas Conley

Basically, when I was a kid, my father often wore Hawaiian shirts. He enjoyed the look and feel of them, and like most sons, I liked the idea of being a little more like him, so I picked up the habit.

As longtime readers know, he died when I was 17; though I was already wearing Hawaiian shirts by that time, after his death, they took on a new significance for me. Continuing to wear them felt like a way of celebrating his legacy, a tribute to who he was.

Reason #2: Catharsis

jamaica_coffee

When I was younger, I had a lot of social anxiety, difficulty fitting in; you know the story, and many of you experienced your own version of it. Anyway, this all came to a head in high school, where at first, all I wanted to do was disappear into the background. I wanted to seem normal. Quiet. Nondescript. I felt horribly eccentric, incredibly weird, like I couldn’t fit in anywhere.

Then, I changed my mind about trying to fit in, and instead, I decided to wear my eccentricity on my sleeve.

During the summer, like many teenagers in the past and many teenagers in the future, I grew my hair out long. I grew a beard. And, of course, I decided to ditch the bland, basic, flat-colored t-shirts of the past, and make Hawaiian shirts my personal trademark.

Immediately, I started feeling more comfortable socially. I grew out of my shell. I became more confident. I started walking out there a bit more boldly, stating my thoughts aloud, openly being who I was on the outside as well as the inside. Ever since those days, I’ve never stopped wearing the shirts, nor would I ever want to.

Reason #3: Because Yeah, You Know What? Hawaiian Shirts Are Awesome

Nicholas Conley Sahara

Honestly? Hawaiian shirts are just really fucking cool.

Seriously. It’s not always easy to wear something so bright and colorful everyday, turning yourself into a walking billboard for a Caribbean vacation company. But Hawaiian shirts are fun, enjoyable, and people who wear them tend to make great company. A good aloha shirt is comfortable, iconic, timeless. They look great, and feel great. Why would I not want to wear them?

Nicholas Conley Bangkok Thailand

Really, this is probably what it comes down to, in the end: I just like Hawaiian shirts.

I like the way they look, and how they feel. I like the fact that they instill an automatic trust in a person, a sense that no matter how serious that person is, they know how to enjoy life and see the good in things, at least on some level. I have yet to meet a bad person wearing a Hawaiian shirt, and I hope I never do.

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15 thoughts on “Why I Wear Hawaiian Shirts

  1. The history of the Hawaiian or Aloha shirt is fascinating… this shirt represents the diversity and contributions of many cultures and ethnic groups in our 50th state. That’s what America is all about IMH0.

    • The history of the Hawaiian or Aloha shirt is fascinating… this shirt represents the diversity and contributions of many cultures and ethnic groups in our 50th state. That’s what America is all about IMH0.

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