A traditional Hawaiian costume consists of natural elements with modern touches, combining the shells and flowers of Hawaii's local beauty with practical tops and accessories. The hula costume, worn when participating in Hawaii's traditional dance, is one of the most nostalgic of the Hawaiian costumes. The outfit can be put together with a few items and can be worn to theme parties like a luau or Halloween get together.
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The pau is a traditional grass skirt, and is one of the most recognised components of the Hawaiian costume. A pau can be short, but longer, floor-length versions are more typical. The skirts can also be worn by either men or women and can be green, yellow or brown. The skirts are meant to accentuate the sway of the hips to the hula music.
The lei is synonymous with the Hawaiian culture, and is an important part of the traditional Hawaiian costume. Leis are necklaces made from flowers, shells and fruit, and are worn with the hula costume as well as being passed around to guests and friends. The lei is meant to symbolise a welcome to others.
Ankle bracelets are traditional accessories that accompany the traditional Hawaiian costume. Before the turn of the 20th century and in the first few decades of the 1900s, whale bone and dog teeth ankle bracelets were typical. Today, most Hawaiian ankle bracelets are made from shells or fresh flowers.
While many commercial hula costumes include some type of coconut shell top, a loose fitting camisole is more typical of the traditional Hawaiian costume. Women may also wear a bikini top with the pau, and men will usually be topless. However, any loose fitting top can work with the pau to allow movement.
The malo is a traditional wrapped pant men typically wear when participating in the hula dance. Men can also choose to wear the grass skirt when performing, but as the 20th century progressed to the later decades, the malo became a popular choice for men wanting an alternative to the pau.
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