I’ve had this Aloha shirt for a couple of years now – in fact, it appears in one of my earliest blog posts – and it’s a prime example of an item that didn’t seem to have many opportunities to be worn, but which I could never bring myself to get rid of. I love it, and I like to imagine a jocular dude in his 60s called Barry wearing it before it eventually found its way to the second hand shop where I bought it. It’s well-worn, so it was apparently a fave, and that natural wear is why I like it so much. It takes the edge off the patterned fabric, and makes it soft and beautiful to wear.
I’ve worn it in more casual outfits and really leaned into the Dad style, but I decided to issue myself a challenge and make this shirt work appropriate. At first, it seemed impossible. I tried it with my navy Maison Scotch trousers, which didn’t really seem to work because they are too sheeny and luxe. I tried red pants, red skirts, culottes…nothing worked. My bedroom was a nightmare of discarded clothes and shoes, which I couldn’t really be bothered to tidy up, but I did because when you live alone you have to maintain standards in case you end up sleeping in a nest of jumpers and denim. And then I found this tan, leather skirt in (another) second hand shop for $15 and it all clicked together.
Hey presto! I love when that happens. I would have snapped up this skirt anyway, as the leather was still soft and supple (don’t buy dry leather you guys, it’s not worth it) and I could imagine it with blouses and knits alike. I have a black quilted leather pencil skirt (also vintage) and they are sensational – durable, comfortable, and warm. Plus, I always feel just a soupçon more powerful/sexy when I wear leather, and since leather trousers legitimately scare me thanks to that episode of Friends, and leather dresses are $$$$$$, skirts are the winner on the day.
But anyway! Back to this outfit. In yet more proof of my theory that women get a better go when it comes to work attire, I decided the short sleeves on the shirt were not an issue. Imagine a man from the Corporate Land I inhabit turning up to work in this – not a situation likely to result in career acceleration. Not even on a Friday. My biggest issue with the shirt was the volume I had to tuck into the waist band of my skirt. Barry was a bit bigger than I am, and trying to get all that shirt into a Megan-size skirt was a blousy, irritating mess. Pas de problem, ladies of the world. Every shirt is a wrap shirt waiting to happen, so after layering a camisole under this shirt in case of slips, I undid all the buttons and wrapped the two sides across each other, a la ballet cardigans. If you need extra security, you can pin the shirt to itself on both sides (below the waist band of the skirt), but don’t do that with delicate fabrics like silk.
I wrapped it with the button side out, which I think was just because the buttons were on the opposite side to what I’d usually expect. Men’s shirts button up on the opposite side to women’s, which I’m reminded of every time I put on this shirt, or the oversized white boy’s shirt I own, and feel completely uncoordinated. (It’s also why unbuttoning a man’s shirt doesn’t feel awkward to you, ladies, if that happens to be what you’re into). Also, I know this is an aside, but I searched “why do men’s shirts button the opposite way to women’s” and as I typed away, Google offered me “why are men’s egos so fragile” and it made me laugh. Probably because we’re stealing all their best looks, Google *puts on sunglasses*.
I would suggest you wrap it with the buttons on the inside, which will better disguise your MacGyver-ing of your outfit and stop you from accidentally catching one of the buttons with your finger or something and inadvertently flashing the office. See: wearing a camisole underneath, just in case. In my case, even this look falls into the “probably only on Friday” category, but if you work in a more casual environment/are a more casual human than me, these vintage shirts are great with jeans, and I’d be hunting down some awesome 501s and a pair of Ray Ban aviators to complete the look. Let the spirit of the shirt take you away to a place of deep, consequence-free tans, cold beers every afternoon, and lots of stories about surfing/fishing/beach parties. Be The Barry – every office could do with one, in my opinion.