Nothing conveys summer and chill vibes more than a Hawaiian print shirt, or as it is more popularly known the aloha shirt. Cool breezes, warm sunshine, beautiful tropical landscapes – an entire mood is perfectly encapsulated in a bright piece of clothing. While it has veered from the fashionable to the retro-kitsch, and now back to hipster-approved style choice, the aloha shirt has a long and varied history, coming in and out of style throughout the decades.

The shirt’s origins can be traced back to the 1920s, but has gained traction as an important addition to everyone’s closet in the 1960s onwards as famous personalities proudly donned the design urging millions of people to eagerly wear it themselves. Aloha shirt aficionados can click here to find out more about how this historic relevant piece of clothing became a widely beloved wardrobe staple, encouraging even those living in the cold, wintery hinterlands of the Midwest or pacific northeast to succumb to the charms of the aloha shirt.
 Iconic Aloha Shirts

For an extra bit of fun pop culture trivia, here are a few of the best endorsements this iconic pattern received from celebrities throughout the years.

Elvis Presley

Never has the Aloha shirt had a dreamier vessel than Elvis Presley in the 1961 film Blue Hawaii. The King of Rock’s decision to sport the shirt for large chunks of the film led it to become a bona fide craze, and it is one of the most memorable images in both rock history and early 1960s cinema. Elvis wore a vivid red print that is commonly referred to as Tiare Tapa, which became enormously popular once-revolutionary designer Alfred Shaheen began mass manufacturing his elegant iterations for men and women. Shaheen’s designs continue to have a cult following and dedicated fashionistas regularly scour the internet to collect his beautiful pieces.

Tom Selleck

The aloha shirt was safely resurrected from the dead – and the realms of the tragically unhip – once the handsome Tom Selleck began wearing them regularly on his hit television show, Magnum, P.I. The signature red Jungle Bird aloha themed shirt worn by our favorite private investigator in the Hawaii-based 1980s hit series became an infamous and oft-imitated style. The shirt was actually purchased by a group of other styles from a manufacturer by the costume department, but the bright red pattern became the most iconic iteration presented on the show. So much so, that when the show was pulled from the air in 1988, Selleck gave one of these shirts to the Smithsonian, where it is still displayed to this day. 

President Harry Truman

This one might prove surprising to many people, but the stoic president was actually a huge fan of the shirt. Having held office from 1945-1953, Truman was on-trend way before Elvis made aloha shirts popular. He loved them so much that he encouraged his staffers to wear them. A now-famous photograph that made the cover of LIFE Magazine in 1951 features the president wearing the shirt with an impish grin on his face – denoting a fairly cool and laid back persona to the public. 

Jim Carey

The aloha shirt had a huge moment in the 1990s, when Carey donned the style over a wife-beater as he emulated Ace Ventura, the zany pet detective depicted in the film of the same name. The shirt by then became shorthand for any fun and bizarre personality, one destined to go on hijinks with their favorite pets.

Nicholas Cage

In the 1987 classic from the Coen Brothers, Cage wore a gloriously outrageous Hawaiian print just as he was getting his mug shot taken by police officer Holly Hunter. Mad love and mayhem ensue in this hilarious comedy, which was further heightened by Cage’s character’s fashion sense.

Sean Penn

Sean Penn
Penn as Jeff Spicoli in 1982’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High is the totally gnarly surfer dude and perpetual stoner whom teachers detest, with his offbeat personality and wildly colorful aloha shirt. His clothes are used to reveal how delightfully out of place the character is as he pursues dreams of catching the waves and dating babes – even while he flunks out of school and, of course, gets pizzas delivered to class.

While some fashionistas looked down on the aloha shirt, decrying its lack of seriousness and simplicity, it has a re-emergence as of late. And the truth is, it never totally went out of style since the very qualities that causes people to ridicule it that makes it so iconic. While the days of Alfred Shaheen’s impeccable and tasteful spin on the motif are long gone, the aloha shirt remains popular and a symbol of good and relaxed vibes. Who could hate that?