How to Make an Authentic Hawaiian Hula Costume

Written by rossana coscolluela
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How to Make an Authentic Hawaiian Hula Costume
You can make your Hawaiian hula costume look authentic with a few easy steps. (aloha image by Mark Aplet from

The Hawaiian hula skirt, or Pa'u skirt as it is referred to in Hawaii, is the focal point of the Hawaiian hula costume. The skirt is designed to sway to the graceful movements of the hula dancer when she is performing. The skirt, along with the flowery garlands, headpiece, bracelets and anklets, makes for a popular costume during Halloween or costume events. As long as you have the right materials on hand, it is easy and inexpensive to make.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Coconut leaves
  • Dark green crepe paper
  • Belt (about 1 inch in width)
  • 2 halved coconut shells
  • Bikini top
  • Straw rope
  • Rubber bands
  • Artificial tropical flowers, bells (small)
  • Strings
  • Stapler

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  1. 1

    Fold the coconut leaves about 2 inches and hang them on the belt. Staple to secure. Fill the entire length of the belt to make your grass skirt fuller. If you're using crepe paper, cut the crepe paper into strips, preferably 2 inches wide each then staple onto your belt.

  2. 2

    Decide how long you want your skirt to be. If you want a 3 feet long skirt, cut 20 pieces of straw rope 3 feet long and tie them together tightly using a rubber band. Now you have a cluster of straw rope. Cut about 4 inches of string and tie a knot over the rubber band. Make sure there is at least 2 inches left of the string. Use this string to attach the cluster to the belt. Tie the string in a double knot to secure it to the belt. String some bells together and tie it to the belt alongside the straw rope clusters. Make another 10 of these straw rope clusters and bells and hang them on the belt. Be sure to hang the rope evenly for a balanced look. These designs add movement to your skirt and also make those bells jingle as you move your hips.

  3. 3

    Glue a string in between the two halved coconut shells. The length of the string will depend on your breast measurements. This string will hold the shells together.

  4. 4

    Attach one string to the left side of one coconut and another string on the right side of the other coconut using hot glue; the length of the string will depend on your chest circumference. Have some allowance since you will be tying a ribbon at the back.

  5. 5

    Attach another string to the upper part of the shells forming a loop. Use hot glue. This loop should measure from where the shells are to the back of your neck just like a halter. If coconut shells are not available, simply put on a bikini top with a tropical theme.

  6. 6

    Measure your head circumference. Cut a string just as long as your measurement or with some allowance if you would want a ribbon at the back. String some artificial flowers if these flowers have holes. If none, glue it to the string with hot glue. Now you have your floral head piece.

  7. 7

    Follow the steps in making the headpiece when you start making a garland. The difference is just the length. You can make it as long as you want, but it should preferably stop where your belly button is.

  8. 8

    Take another string and measure your wrist. String or stick the artificial flowers to the string. Add some bells this time. Do the same as you make your anklet. Now with every move you make, you create a soft sweet sound.

Tips and warnings

  • Wear your anklet at the side opposite to where you have worn your bracelet. This creates a balance to your costume.
  • You can change the head piece to a large clip. Stick artificial flowers to a large metal clip using hot glue.
  • You can add flowers to your grass skirt to make it more colourful and fun.
  • For added security, put nipple tape on your breasts in case the coconut shells fall off.

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