Heels & Picks: Summer style in Kailua
BY ERIN SMITH / Special to the Star-Advertiser
I’ve been inspired by my town.
This past weekend, I had my first full Fourth of July in Kailua. For those of you who are not in Hawaii, Kailua is a beach community on the east side of Oahu. And if you’re a new reader of this blog, to recap: I live in a cottage two blocks away from the beach with my boyfriend and our two Boston terriers.
Last year I did half of the holiday in Kailua, but had to tear myself away to go sing at an event I was booked to perform at. This year, I promised my handsome, beach-loving man that we would spend the whole day together, taking in Kailua in all its low-key patriotic glory.
I pretty much fulfilled my promise, with the exception of an extremely early live TV performance to promote my appearance at Ala Moana Center’s Independence Day celebration (I sang on Sunday). I decided it doesn’t count as an actual engagement when you’re back in bed before 7:30 a.m.
I must admit, we didn’t make the annual Kailua parade. And it’s possible I cursed a tuba blaring in the distance as I tried to sleep after my turn on the morning news. It’s not that I have anything against marching bands. I love them as much as the next gal. But nobody likes a tuba when you’re operating on two hours of sleep.
After accepting the tuba as my alarm clock, I got up and we started our Fourth of July proper.
My boyfriend, T (short for Trouble), and I packed up our cooler, beach bags and chairs, hopped on our beach cruiser bikes and headed for Kalama Beach. In a highly unpopular move, we left the dogs at home (it’s just too packed on the Fourth of July to wrangle two terriers in a crowd).
Kalama Beach, for the first time I’ve ever seen, looked like Waikiki on a Saturday. On a normal day, there are broad expanses of beach where you can leisurely relax, with 20 to 50 feet between blankets. On Friday, tents were set up and we were packed in like sardines. Happy, relaxed sardines.
For the evening, Kailua town offered a fantastic fireworks display the community could watch from the beach. Fireworks were set off from a barge in the water, and T and I enjoyed the show immensely from our beach chairs. Kids dancing on the beach entertained us, and once the traffic cleared we rode our bikes back to our cottage.
To say I was inspired by the holiday to write a fashion blog may cause some to question my fashion choices. Not to worry, there is not one American flag print bikini to be found in this post!
My weekend in Kailua made me want to take a look at what is going on for summer in the neighborhood’s clothing boutiques, because I love this town and there are many really fantastic little shops here. Since we attend so many fashion events and openings in Waikiki, I thought it was time to check in with the fashion world on my home turf.
My first stop on the Great Kailua Fashion Tour of 2014 – as it will come to be commonly known, I’m sure – was Olive, a small yet stylish boutique on Kihapai Street. I had been in here before and was taken by the elegance of their casual clothing and beachwear. Comfort is key for Olive; jersey dresses are a staple. But don’t be fooled by the simplicity. The cuts of these jersey dresses are flattering and easy to wear while never losing sophistication.
When it comes to events that are not in Waikiki, you can often get away with accessorizing casual wear to make it your own and suitable for a night out. Olive has all the right tools for this kind of look. They carry jewelry along with scarves and bags that can be paired with a simple jersey dress to create a punchy evening look for your daytime dress.
From 6 to 9 p.m. July 26, Olive will present a fashion show in the courtyard at The Fix, 315 Uluniu Street. The show will feature clothing from both Olive and brother store Oliver, a men’s clothing and accessories shop just down the street. A live painting by Dodge of Koi Tattoo and a DJ will also be on site for the show.
Next on my Great Kailua Fashion Tour of 2014 was a spin through the racks of Fighting Eel, a favorite of many local fashionistas. With a prime location directly beside Kailua’s always packed-to-the-gills Whole Foods, Fighting Eel also grabs the attention of new fashionistas as they sip their kombucha after a grocery-shopping trip.
Fighting Eel has two other locations, one on Bethel Street in Honolulu and another in Waikiki in the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center. The company has been around since 2003, and at their 10-year mark won the Governor’s Fashion Award for Established Designers of the Year for 2013.
Graphic prints are the hallmark of Fighting Eel, and their shops are always filled with interesting florals, deco and tropical patterned dresses, shorts and tops. This is another shop where the pieces can be transformed with little fuss from casual to sophisticated. I also find that the Fighting Eel stores have a knack for choosing and stocking bags, coin purses and clutches. I always find some bag that I instantly can’t live without whenever I stop at Fighting Eel.
Owners Lan Chung and Rona Bennett design some of the pieces found in the Fighting Eel shops, and they carry other local designers as well. One of my favorites is a series of pouches (think casual clutch) by Samudra, a line by Lanikai resident Jennifer Binney. Her bags feature prints of palm trees at dusk, surfers, sharks, feathers and other mostly tropical scenes, and their vibrancy makes each one really stand out, especially when paired with a solid color dress.
My final leg on the Great Kailua Fashion Tour of 2014 took me to Global Village, 539 Kailua Road. Global Village opened in 1995 and is a mainstay for Kailua fashion.
Largely casual, with a mix of gifts and fun knickknacks, it’s a bit of a mixed bag atmosphere, but the focus is on clothing. There are some truly unique pieces to be found at Global Village, particularly when it comes to separates.
I fell in love with a white muscle shirt emblazoned with a single, large, pink rose, and found a mint green pair of lace shorts to pair it with. That makes for a standout, casual outfit.
Lanikai may be busy these days, but the shopping in Kailua is still easy, casual, classy and a top-notch experience for fashionistas.
Erin Smith is a singer and guitarist who performs as a solo artist and with Maui-based Na Hoku Hanohano Award-nominated band The Throwdowns. Born in Canada, she moved to Hawaii in 2004 and now resides in Kailua. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.