Baileys Aloha Shirts Honolulu

A Psychiatrist In Honolulu

What does a psychiatrist, sewing machine and Bailey’s Antiques and Aloha Shirts all have in common? I spent the afternoon recently in Honolulu finding out.

When 10,000 mental heath professionals came to Honolulu last month for their annual conference, I set out to meet one remarkable psychiatrist from Arizona. In addition to his medical practice, Michael also writes a regular blog called, Spo-Reflections. It’s an intelligent and witty look at life that I have followed the past several years.

Michael with his Homemade Aloha Shirts and Inside Bailey’s

Michael has an interesting hobby that is a good fit for the islands. He’s been making his own Aloha shirts for over ten years. Michael estimates that he’s produced 50 so far, many going to family and friends.

“The first shirt was crude and had a lot of faults with it, but I was pleased for trying it. I made a few more, building on my trial and error experience; oh there was a lot of ‘error’!”

Michael got into sewing when his favorite Aloha shirt maker in Key West retired. He’d been going to her for years and bemoaned there would be no more shirts. A buddy suggested he make his own.

“I immediately balked. I had no experience, I didn’t know a thing about sewing, and I had no idea how to start. None of my female friends or relatives were sewers. So I bought a pattern, a sort of ‘sewing for dummies.’ I found I had to learn a whole new lexicon as well as how to operate a sewing machine. I borrowed my partner’s sister’s old machine and purchased 3 yards of a fabric I liked.”

I came home with one great aloha shirt for under ten dollars. Score!

During my visit with Michael, I decided to take him to the place where all Aloha shirt aficionados go on their Hawaii vacation, Bailey’s Antiques and Aloha Shirts on Kapahulu. In business since 1980, Bailey’s has over 15,000 shirts in four subgroups: Used, New, Vintage and Specialty. We felt awash in fabric and colors.

After a hike up Diamond Head and dinner at Jimbo’s, I dropped Michael off at his hotel. Before we said goodbye, I asked Michael what he thought of his first visit to Honolulu.

“It reminded me of the best of Lost Vegas, Key West and Santa Barbara rolled into one. My only regret is not having enough time to go out to see the rest of the island. Someday (I hope soon) it would be lovely to visit the other islands to experience more than the city. Besides, where else can I walk around in loud lovely colorful shirts and fit in so well?”

5 thoughts on “A Psychiatrist In Honolulu”

  1. When I first visited the islands, almost 20 years ago for my honeymoon with my then *new* wife, I instantly fell in love with the idea of Hawaii. I wasn’t (and still am not) a beach person, but I love the beauty of the land and the people who live in Hawaii seem to have steward-like perspective of the islands.
    During a tour to Hilo Hatties in Oahu, I watched the dozens upon dozens of women sewing Hawaiian Aloha shirts right there in the store. I purchased several. Then while walking through the International Market Place (right next to the hotel we were staying at) I saw some other Hawaiian shirts that I liked and purchased them too. I went home that trip with 10 wonderful Hawaiian shirts. Over the years, through visits to the islands, visits to mainland Hilo Hatties and receiving birthday and x-mas gifts and online purchases from The Aloha Shirt Shop, I have amassed quite a collection of over 60 Hawaiian shirts. My closet is now exclusively Hawaiian shirts. I even have some long sleeved Hawaiian shirts for the very cold winters we have here in Northern Virginia.
    About 15 years ago, I decided that I would wear a Hawaiian shirt every day. Then about 10 years ago, i decided that I would wear Hawaiian shirts exclusively. (unless I’m doing something particularly messy like working on the car or painting a room).
    I have only one rule when it comes to Hawaiian shirts…and that is that the shirt must be made in Hawaii. The only exceptions are if the shirt is a reprint of a classic design or the particular shirt is so incredibly beautiful, I can’t pass it up. As it is, I have perhaps only 7-8 shirts not made in Hawaii. My collection includes shirts from the likes of Kahala, Reyn Spooner, Kamehameha, Hilo Hattie (of course), Wyland, Tori Richards, Royal Creations, RJC, Winnie Fashion as well as some made by a mainland seamstress who makes my long sleeved shirts. Unfortunately, I have had to retire a few shirts…some have been worn more than others and they are beginning to show their wear. Those will be framed and hung in my Hawaii room.
    I am known among those I spend time with, to always be wearing an Aloha shirt and it’s become expected that I will always be seen with one on. This is how I celebrate Aloha. In my own way, wearing a Hawaiian shirt every day reminds me of how the people of Hawaii are and kinda makes me want to be the same way. Living in the shadow of the Nations Capitol, it’s difficult to live with Aloha. Everything is politics here…even between neighbors….It’s nice to slip on a Hawaiian shirt and be instantly transported to the islands, even if it’s in my own mind.
    I’ll be traveling to Oahu again this year for a short one week vacation. Of course, I’ll bring a few Hawaiian shirts to wear, but my suitcases will be mainly empty….I’m saving that space for more Hawaiian shirts. How many? I don’t know yet, but 20 sounds like a good start!

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