Where to Wear Hawaiian Flowers

Hawaiian flowers can be worn in several areas of the body for various occasions. Here’s how to wear them in different ways and what some of the flower placements signify to others.

Head (Haku)

A haku is a shorter lei that is worn around the head. This regal garland is often worn on special occasions and may be made from flowers or from flowers with Hawaiian greenery woven in to accent the color of the blooms. The word haku describes the process of making this type of lei by sewing or braiding the flowers and leaves into a garland that keeps each piece of material facing outward. Ti leaves are often used as the background material and fresh Hawaiian flowers of various colors are woven in. A masculine haku is generally made from greenery without flowers. A haku can be worn on the head while other leis are worn around the neck , wrists and ankles for a complete Hawaiian look for birthdays, graduations, weddings and luaus. A haku can also be tied around a favorite hat for a festive look.

Neck (Lei)

A neck lei is traditionally worn on the shoulders with half draped down the back and half down the front. Leis are presented by placing it on the shoulders of the recipient along with a kiss on the cheek. Multiple neck leis can be worn for special occasions such as graduations when the leis around a graduate’s neck may pile up to amazing heights. Leis are worn for weddings, birthdays, luaus and virtually any special occasion. They can also be worn simply for the fun of wearing them.

Hip (Hei)

The Tahitian hip hei is a garland of greenery that is worn around the hips. Ti leaves, raffia and other materials are often used to create these leis. Sometimes, feathers or flowers are woven into these hip belts. The materials are braided together to create a belt that leaves much of the leaves draping downward to give them motion as the wearer moves. Tahitian heis are often worn by dancers engaging in traditional Tahitian dances.

Wrist (kupe’e)

The kupe’e is a small garland that can be worn on the wrist. It is often worn by Hawaiian dancers and accentuates the movements of the hands. These leis are often made of greenery but may have white flowers woven in for color. These leis can take the place of bracelets to complete an outfit worn for a special occasion. These garlands have a long tradition in Hawaii and other Pacific islands and are still worn today by dancers and those who love the look of these graceful adornments.

Ankle (kupe’e)

Like the placement on the wrist, the placement of an ankle kupe’e is a lovely way to call attention to the movements of a dancer and the motions of the feet. The ankle placement can balance your outfit, and it goes perfectly with a neck lei and a wrist kupe’e or two. The ankle version of the kupe’e is generally made from the same materials as the wrist version. Wearing an ankle kupe’e is part of a long tradition in Hawaii and can be worn by both men and women.

Wearing a Single Flower in Your Hair

Adorning your hair with a flower is a beautiful way to accessorize your outfit, and different placements can mean different things about your romantic availability. According to Hawaiian tradition, when you place a flower behind your right ear you signal that you are single. When you are in a relationship, you place a flower behind your left ear.

Wearing a Hawaiian Hair Pick

A Hawaiian hair pick uses either real or artificial flowers to create an elegant adornment for the hair. These picks often feature hibiscus blossoms, and some versions are made from fabric flowers. Some prefer fabric flower picks because they last a long time and can be worn many times to many occasions. Others prefer the fragrant smell of fresh flowers that can be worn up to a few days. A Hawaiian hair pick can be worn with your hair loose and flowing or with an updo that highlights the lovely flowers in your hair.