A while back, retired Punahou teacher Marilyn Stassen-McLaughlin, lamenting the disappearance of the muumuu from the street, started researching the history of the muumuu and ended up with 22-page document asking, "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?"
Luckily for the author, the Kailua Hawaiian Civic Club is about to mark its 50th anniversary by resurrecting the heyday of the muumuu with a traditional poi luncheon recalling the 1950s.
Tickets are on sale for the event, running from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sept. 12, with a request that guests don their vintage kalakoa aloha shirts, opelu pants, Bette muus, holomuu, cellophane hula skirts and favorite papale, or straw hat.
An old-fashioned Hawaiian buffet will feature luau staples such as laulau, kalua pig, shoyu poke, beef stew, chicken long rice, squid luau, lomi salmon, sweet potato, haupia and more.
The event is a fundraiser for the Kailua Hawaiian Civic Club Scholarship Fund and the mission of restoring and maintaining Ulupo Heiau.
Lynn Carey, who works at Marimed Foundation and is a member of the civic club, has never tired of the muumuu. "We try to make it a point on Fridays to wear it to work," she said.
Her fellow club members don’t usually wear muumuu to their meetings, but she said, "Ever since we started working of this committee, we’ve been wearing muumuus to the meetings. The funny thing is we can’t fit in our old muumuu so we’re passing them around asking, ‘Who can wear this one?’ We’re swapping."
POI & PAPALE CELEBRATION
Kailua Hawaiian Civic Club 50th anniversary:
» Place: Mid-Pacific Country Club, Lanikai
» Time: 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sept. 12
» Tickets: $65 per person; RSVP deadline is Sunday
» Information: www.kailuahawaiiancivicclub.com
She said one of the oldest muumuu of the club members is a Hawaiian Airlines uniform from the 1950s. "It doesn’t have the logo on it, so she wears it like a regular muumuu, but as soon as someone mentions Hawaiian, you recognize the purple-and-white print."
STASSEN-MCLAUGHLIN isn’t a member of the civic club, but says she may just have to skip church on the 12th for a chance to be surrounded by vintage muumuu.
She moved to Hawaii in 1961 from chilly Minnesota and found the muumuu to be "so different from Minnesota and so delightful. It gave you a buzz, coming from the mainland, and I just fell in love with it.
"In the first place, other teachers told me you didn’t have to wear a slip. It was cool and comfortable, and there was something very graceful about it.
"Elderly women looked so graceful in them. There were styles with pleating in the back, under the yoke, so the fabric would just trail behind them like a little train," she said.
"If you had funny, stubby legs, it hid them. Everyone just looked graceful and lovely."
Stassen-McLaughlin came to the conclusion that younger generations, accustomed to body-conscious styles and a faster pace of life, found the muumuu too bulky and cumbersome.
In the office, the fabric would get caught in chair legs.
But this might change, as nostalgia for vintage fashion stirs up enthusiasm for Hawaiian print pantsuits and muumuu.
In the next few months, Iolani Sportswear will be reissuing some of its vintage designs after the company’s 20-something employees rediscovered them while the company was renovating its factory/showroom.
"We were digging through the showroom and falling in love with designs from the ’60s and ’70s," said Iolani’s marketing director, Lauryn Chun. "They definitely caught our eye, and we thought it would be cool to get to wear it."