Winters Past

20th Century Fashion from Deco to Disco

Vintage Aloha Dresses

Happy Solstice! We have reached peak mugginess here in Florida. Some call it summer but I prefer to call it Vintage Hawaiian Dress season.

Theses exotic frocks were designed to keep you cool-and keep you looking cool- during the hottest days and nights.

Modern Hawaiian dress was first created on the islands for locals in the 1930’s. They were made of tropical print cottons and rayons featuring native flora such as palm trees and hibiscus flowers. A textured cotton called barkcloth, which allows air to circulate in the same way as seersucker, showcased these bold prints beautifully.

Hawaii was considered exotic and remote then. When Hollywood luminaries posed in island finery, it looked impossibly chic.

Ida Lupino, Dorothy Lamour
Frances Farmer, Rita Hayworth

Aftter WW2, the stars aligned to bring Hawaiian clothing into the mainstream. US military stationed in the pacific brought back clothing from the islands. Commercial airline travel made tourism easier. Movies like South Pacific brought the tropics to Topeka. The Tiki bar, with exotic drinks, rattan furniture and flaming torches became popular. Soon, Hawaiian shirts and barkcloth frocks were fashionable.

Tiki bars were considered trendy not tacky in the 50s
1950s Hawaiian fashion

With their bright colors, bold prints and dramatic cuts, these island dresses bring a lot to the party. You don’t need much in the way of accessories to complete the look. A straw hat or handbag and some sandals ought to do it, as these ladies demonstrate:

Here are a few tropical treasures I have in the shop right now:

Author: Winters Past

I am a vintage clothing shop owner living and working in rural north Florida. I believe in adding a little vinegar and molasses to my greens, having my coffee outside whenever possible, and mixing something vintage into every room and every outfit.

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