Is Wearing a Hula Skirt Cultural Appropriation?-Quick answer +Tips

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Is it cultural appropriation to wear a hula skirt? The question has been asked and answered many times, but what do you think?

The answer is more complicated than it seems.

Let’s take a look at the history of the hula skirt and see if we can come up with some answers.


What is a Hawaiian hula skirt?

So, a Hawaiian hula skirt, also known as a grass skirt, is a really cool and traditional garment that hula dancers wear during performances. It’s made from the leaves of the hala tree, which are dried, dyed, and then tied together to create a long, flowing skirt.

The skirt is usually worn over a more modest undergarment and is often adorned with colorful flowers or other decorations.

It’s really an iconic symbol of Hawaiian culture and is often associated with those beautiful grassy beaches, swaying palm trees, and the rhythmic sounds of traditional Hawaiian music.


Is wearing a hula skirt cultural appropriation?

Hey, so the thing is, wearing a hula skirt can be considered cultural appropriation. Do you know those stereotypical hula girl costumes with coconut bras and grass skirts? They’re actually a cheap and tasteless representation of Hawaiian culture.

According to an article from Loyolan, dressing up as a hula dancer without any consideration or respect for its origins is a form of cultural appropriation.

And, as Native Hawaiians have worked hard to bring back cultural authenticity, it’s not cool to be perpetuating these outdated stereotypes.


Is Wearing a Hula Skirt Cultural Appropriation?

What is the history of hula skirts?

Hey, did you know that the hula skirt has a really interesting history in Hawaiian culture? Back in the early 1800s, hula dancers used to wear traditional attire made of tapa cloth or mulberry bark, but when New England missionaries arrived in 1820, they encouraged native women to switch to long dresses called holokus, which made the dance less sensual.

But the music of the hula kept evolving and expanding, and eventually, the modern hula skirt made of grass or leaves became popular in the early 20th century.

Nowadays, it’s often associated with those exoticized images of Hawaiian hospitality that we all know and love. Cool, huh?


Here are 7 tips for styling a hula skirt in 2024:

  1. Experiment with different lengths: While traditional hula skirts are typically ankle-length, don’t be afraid to try out skirts of varying lengths, from midi to mini. You may be surprised at how versatile they can be.
  2. Mix and match patterns: Hawaiian prints are always in style, but try mixing and matching different prints to create a unique look. Florals, palm trees, and ocean waves are great options.
  3. Layer up: Layering is a great way to add dimension to your hula skirt outfit. Try layering a cropped top or bralette over a tank top, or adding a denim jacket or kimono.
  4. Accessorize with jewelry: Don’t be afraid to add some bling to your hula skirt outfit with statement jewelry. Think chunky necklaces, bangles, and hoop earrings.
  5. Try different footwear: While sandals are the obvious choice for hula skirts, try mixing it up with sneakers, heels, or even ankle boots.
  6. Belt it: Adding a belt to your hula skirt can create a more defined waistline and add some structure to your outfit. Try a braided leather belt or a colorful scarf.
  7. Play with color: Embrace the bright and bold colors of Hawaii by experimenting with different shades and color combinations. Don’t be afraid to mix and match different hues to create a fun and playful look.


Final words

In conclusion, hula skirts are a beloved symbol of Hawaiian culture and history.

While some people may be offended by their use as a fashion accessory, it is important to remember that the hula skirt has been an integral part of Hawaiian culture for centuries.

The beauty and grace of the hula danced in these skirts is something that should be celebrated, not shunned.


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