Although older generations and women from certain cultures may be very familiar with mu’umu’u (also written “muumuu”) dresses, many millennials may wonder what a muumuu dress is.
While muumuu dresses are certainly not fit to be worn when you are heading out to the club or going on a first date, these dresses are quite beautiful and comfortable. But what exactly is a muumuu dress?
Originally of Hawaiian origin, muumuu dresses are loose, comfortable dresses made of soft material.
While most muumuu dresses are floral patterned and brilliantly colored, they are available in a wide range of colors and styles.
Muumuu dresses are unofficially known as the female version of the traditional Aloha shirt.
Now you know what a muumuu dress is, but you may still be left with tons of questions.
For one, why would anyone call a dress a muumuu of all things? And why would a modern sophisticated girl want to wear something that has such an odd name?
Don’t let the word “muumuu” deter you from wearing one of the coziest types of dresses!
The word muumuu (technically spelled mu’umu’u) simply means “cut off” in the Hawaiian language.
If you think about it, you probably wear cutoff jeans, so using the word muumuu just shows that you are knowledgeable when it comes to Hawaiian culture.
Muumuu dresses were originally shorter and less formal versions of the Hawaiian holoku dresses, which is why they were considered “cut off.”
Muumuu dresses were made without the piece that fits around the shoulders to provide support, so the dresses were lacking something, in a sense.
However, the looser fit around the shoulders and neck only makes a muumuu dress even more comfortable to wear.
Sure, you are probably reading this article for fashion tips and may be uninterested in a history lesson, but nevertheless, the history of the muumuu dress is a pretty fascinating subject.
Back in 1820, Hawaiian women were considered scantily clad by western standards.
Many women would wear only hula skirts and shawls which were made from natural materials found in their tropical environment.
This was appalling to the Christian missionaries that arrived in Hawaii to share the “Good News.”
Instead of putting the fear of God into the Hawaiian women, the missionaries decided to “teach them” how to dress.
They created a women’s ensemble that consisted of both a form-fitting undergarment and a loosely fitting top dress to completely cover the female body.
The undergarment was a floor-length dress with a high neck that the Hawaiians called a holoku.
The outer dress was shorter and lacked the neck yolk to provide support around the shoulders.
This is the dress that is now called a muumuu. The missionaries designed the two-piece ensemble to provide head-to-toe coverage.
Although the missionaries were well-intentioned, the Hawaiian women were sweating bullets wearing that much clothing in the sweltering heat of the South Pacific.
However, they still loved their new clothes, so they started wearing the outer dress –the muumuu – during the day and would save the longer dress – the holoku – for formal evening attire.
Eventually, the holoku dress became a must-have piece for every Hawaiian woman.
They hand-made holoku dresses from beautiful fabrics and added ruffles, long trains, and intricate designs. But they still loved their comfy daytime muumuu dresses.
At the turn of the 20th century, big-time fashion designers, such as Christian Dior, began to design their own versions of the muumuu, which became a big hit on the runways.
Today, muumuu dresses are still fashion staples for most Hawaiian women and are used as comfortable house dresses for women across the globe.
Most muumuu dresses are too casual to wear for evenings out on the town, and you probably wouldn’t want to show up for a first date in a brightly colored dress with huge flowers on it. However, muumuu dresses are perfect to wear around the house on the weekend.
Since muumuu dresses are insanely comfortable, they are also perfect nighttime attire.
Now, you might want to opt for sexy lingerie instead if you are planning on a hot steamy night with a new boyfriend, but if you are single or have settled down in a long-term relationship, muumuu dresses are soft, lightweight, and cozy to sleep in.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t wear muumuu dresses outside of the house, but you should be particular about when and how you wear them.
If you are spending a hot afternoon at a family barbeque or are heading out on a picnic in the park with your partner, a muumuu dress is an excellent choice.
Muumuu dresses are also great to wear as beach cover-ups.
Sure, you may look like a million bucks in your new bikini, but sunburn is one of the worst buzz killers, and you may not want everyone at the beach or pool to see that tattoo you had done in college.
Instead of covering up with a pair of cutoff jeans and a tee-shirt, you can get into the spirit of the tropics by covering up with a muumuu dress.
If you are expecting a baby, muumuu dresses are amongst the most comfortable clothing items that you could possibly wear during your third trimester of pregnancy. Hence, they are useful gifts for expectant moms.
While you may love the idea of wearing a loose, billowy dress, you may not be feeling the big flowers and bright orange and pink tones that are common in muumuu dresses.
In that case, it may come as a huge relief to know that designers have created muumuu dresses in a variety of colors and styles.
So, yes, you can find cute muumuu dresses in printed designs and basic blue or burgundy colors.
Even many Hawaiian women are now wearing modernly designed muumuu dresses with blue and white floral prints, ruffled accents, and more form-fitting styles.
While these newer muumuu dresses defy tradition, they are more popular with younger generations of women.
Although traditional muumuu dresses are most appropriately worn around the house, newer versions include denim and plaid styles that look stylish for brunch with friends or a day at the mall.
Even online Hawaiian retailers are now featuring muumuu dresses in cute styles and prints that can be worn for most occasions, and the Middle Eastern culture has its own version of the muumuu – the caftan.
Caftan dresses are long, flowing robe-like dresses very similar to the muumuu and equally comfortable, but these dresses originated from ancient Mesopotamia and have full-length sleeves, v-necks, and Mediterranean designs.
So, if you think a muumuu is something that only your grandmother would wear, think again.
While modern chicks may only consider wearing a traditional muumuu to sleep in, these comfortable dresses are available in new styles and versions that can make you look totally chic without sacrificing your comfort.