Years ago, I came into possession of a Hawaiian shirt, by virtue of a close relative that went on holiday to Honolulu. It was a glorious creation, bright red and patterened all over with those dinky little black and yellow fishes – I think they call them monk fish – swimming among reeds of the same colour.
It became my favourite summer shirt, comfortable and practical to wear – stains don’t show up easily – and it stopped traffic whenever I wore it. Over the years, however, the bright colours faded into insignificance and by the time I retired it into the recycling bag, it was but a ghost of its former self. It was only then that I became aware of the negative currents surrounding Hawaiian shirts, generally – be they covered in hibiscus flowers, palm trees, blazing suns or humming birds.
Thank goodness you don’t wear that shirt with the fishes, any more friends were wont to say. My astonishment increased when I uncovered an entire world of scorn directed at the shirts by fashion columnists and style gurus. Strange when this few square feet of Polynesian polyester is not exactly prevalent - outside of Waikiki beach, that is. These same fashionistas routinely endorse the crippling ladies’ shoes they call stilettos, puffball skirts and other frightful fads – what about those trousers that hang down from the nether regions, revealing what they are supposed to conceal and hampering the movement of the wearer?
In short, I will go on championing the Hawaiian shirt. I may even go to Honolulu for another one.