What to Wear in Hawaii to Stand Out Subtly

May 15, 2018 by Karina Lee

Getting ready for your trip to Hawaii? When packing and deciding what to wear in Hawaii, keep in mind that beach outfits are your fundamentals. With some of the most stunning beaches in the world, you should  hit one up every day. Most locals and tourists alike are tuned in to the laidback lifestyle and often live in shirts and shorts—but that does not mean that you can’t rock a boho-chic style on the beach, and we’ll tell you how.

Find the Hawaiian Beach Dress for You

In the summer, temperatures can go up to 85 to 90ºF during the day. Keep your cool in white beach dresses that don’t absorb as much sunlight and flowy cuts that let in a little breeze. Plus, white is a great contrast to emerald waters and azure blue skies. We can already envision the Instagram shot.

DRESS: REBECCA MINKOFF, DRESS: COOPER STREET, HAT: ECHO ACCESSORIES

We love maxi dresses, but we suggest keeping those for when the sun goes down to avoid feeling uncomfortable with the cotton sticking to your legs. You can thank the heat for that. We won’t stop you from throwing one on for that Instagram-worthy shot, but it might be a good idea to have an alternative outfit ready for when the sun starts beating down.

Another pro-tip: Minimize straps or go strapless altogether to prevent unwanted tan lines from the scorching sun. On that note, here is us warning you—do not fall asleep while tanning (especially with an iPhone resting on your tummy!).

DRESS: HUTCH, DRESS: CHRISTIAN PELLIZZARI, SUNGLASSES: ELIZABETH AND JAMES ACCESSORIES

A Simple Hawaiian Outfit for Evenings

When the sun sets, it’s time to go boho with maxi skirts and palazzo pants. For casual dinners on the beach, feel free to throw these on with a bikini top, just so you can take an evening dip when there are fewer people around. If you’re not one to brave the windy nights, bring a cropped top or a cute Hawaiian shirt along. Not only will you look stylish, you’ll get enough variation in what you’re wearing that your Instagram followers will start to think you’ve moved to Hawaii!

TOP: FREE PEOPLE, SKIRT: MINKPINK, EARRINGS: SLATE & WILLOW ACCESSORIES

TOP: A.L.C., PANTS: MOTHER OF PEARL, BAG: REBECCA MINKOFF ACCESSORIES

There’s no need to worry about dress codes, as most restaurants expect simple island wear like a Hawaiian blouse paired with paperbag pants, or even a Hawaiian muumuu dress for comfort. If you’re headed to a slightly more upscale venue, do check out the restaurant’s website for a dress code.

TOP: TOME, PANTS: SCOTCH & SODA, DRESS: SHOW ME YOUR MUMU

Dress Up Your Night with Hawaiian Evening Dresses

Dance with the evening breeze in a long evening dress. Lightweight, breathable fabrics like chiffon and crepe are ideal, because they won’t cling to your body (even after a few moves).

We suggest channeling your aloha spirit with bright colors like yellow, red, hot-pink and purple—and get ready to work that light flowy dress for the gram!

DRESS: DELFI COLLECTIVE, DRESS: BYTIMO, DRESS: HALSTON HERITAGE

If you would rather something subtle, pastel dresses are your best bet. Seaside colors like calming variations of blue and green are always stunning for an ocean-themed outfit without attracting too much attention. To each her own — always go with what makes you feel best.

DRESS: KATE SPADE NEW YORK, DRESS: NICOLE MILLER, DRESS: TEMPERLEY LONDON

What to Wear to a Luau—A Must in the Hawaiian Islands

If you’re a first-time visitor is Hawaii, a Hawaiian luau has to be part of your itinerary. A luau is essentially a traditional Hawaiian celebration party with a feast, accompanied by great music and dance entertainment—doesn’t that just sound amazing?

Most women wear floral luau dresses that feel comfortable for them to sashay to the music. Get in tune with the festive culture by wearing skirts embellished with Hawaiian prints inspired by the traditional pa’u hula. Pair it with a simple white top to create an elegant yet dance-ready outfit.

TOP: TANYA TAYLOR, BOTTOM: JOIE, CUFF: AREA STARS

A two-piece Hawaiian outfit is totally chic and we highly recommend it if you want to stand out from the crowd. We suggest getting a lei or handmade bracelets while you’re there but if you choose to take them home as a souvenir instead, fun beaded jewelry would lighten the mood of your look.

TOP: YUMI KIM, BOTTOM: YUMI KIM, EARRINGS: MIGUEL ASES

What to Wear at Higher Elevation in Hawaii

The months of May to October are best time to visit Hawaii due to sunny weather just enough to get your tan on in bearable heat. But since Hawaii sits close to the equator, temperatures vary only slightly throughout the year, and visiting in the Winter months between December and to March is an option too. The only downside might be rainfall that happens more frequently in Winter. However, at high elevations on The Big Island, temperatures can drop to 60 degrees, and that’s when you’ll be thankful you brought a light jacket along.

As for what to wear, you’re in Hawaii—there can never be too much florals or prints! You can also opt for a neutral outerwear so that your dress remains the highlight of your outfit.

JACKET: HAUTE HIPPIE, KIMONO: ELIZABETH AND JAMES, JACKET: BADGLEY MISCHKA

Accessories to Wear in Hawaii

The most important accessory would be your favorite pair of sunglasses (or more if you love them all) to protect your precious eyes from the relentless sun. A sunhat would both be practical and chic for your outfit. As for other jewelry, opt for tropical-themed designs to feel in one with the beach—a headband could be useful for taming wild hair when the wind hits.

Shoes to Wear in Hawaii

Go bare feet! What’s better than feeling the sand between your toes when you stroll on the beach? But take a comfortable pair of flip-flops with you—preferably a pair that you’re ready to let wear away from exposure to the sun, sand, and sea. A pair of two-straps Hawaiian sandals would make for more formal settings like dinner and luau parties. But when hiking up to the mountain peaks in the Hawaiian Islands, wear hiking shoes or sandals that give you a good grip to prevent injuries.

Essentially, we want you to dress to impress, but always ensure that you feel good in whatever clothing that you’re wearing. If you feel less confident after fitting a brightly-colored dress, then you know that warmer colors would work better for you. Bikini, no bikini, maxi dress or mini skirt. Own what you wear and never be afraid to step out of your comfort zone a little bit—afterall, you’re on vacation—the perfect time for exploring your own personal style!