Posted by: kauaikolea2 | October 7, 2011

Back to the ’50s: Tea Timer Blouses and Coconut Bars

Back in the 1950s, a time that seems so distant now, life was a tad bit slower on Kaua’i.  Folks tended to dress up a little more  than the now ubiquitous and unisex tee-shirt and jeans/cut offs seen all over the islands.  Aloha shirts and muumuus were more commonly worn. Certainly you have heard of Aloha shirts and muumuus and may have purchased one or the other, or both, as souvenirs of your Hawaiian vacation (see early posts on both these topics).  One clothing item you may not have known about is the tea timer blouse for women, very popular in the 1950s and 1960s. What’s a tea timer?  It is a traditional ladies blouse, often in silk, that is a very distinctive hybrid of Hawaiian shirt (but tailored to fit) with kimono prints and Mandarin collars.  They are usually sleeveless or cap-sleeved, have 5 wooden or coconut buttons, side slits, and pockets on the front.  Some vintage tea timer blouses have prints akin to those on Aloha shirts: men throwing nets, catching fish, women with pineapples and other fruits in baskets on their heads, surfers, men with torches, and hibiscus flowers.   While generally worn with Capri pants or skirts in the 1950s, they look great with jeans. When on Kaua’i, a good place to find tea timer blouses is Bambulei, a fun, vintage-filled shop right down the Kuhio Highway from Hula Now condohotels ( or 1 855 HULA NOW)  Tea timer blouses often can be found at Yellowfish Trading Company, in Hanalei, a short drive from the condohotels, that is also filled with great one-of-a-kind items. Now that you have your tea timer blouse, why not go the full ’50s route and have tea?  Tea traditionally has been a time for women to exchange ideas and, of course, to gossip nicely.  Tea need not be more elaborate than a cup of the brew, but a yummy 1050s recipe to add to the event is one for coconut bars.  This recipe yields a bar with a crunchy bottom crust and a somewhat creamier topping.

1950s Coconut Bars

½ c unsalted butter

½ c brown sugar (either light or dark)

1 c flour

2 eggs

1 c light brown sugar (yes, more; not an error)

1 t vanilla extract

1 c chopped walnuts (Macadamia nuts might be good too!)

½ c grated unsweetened coconut

2 T flour

Cream butter and 1/2 cup brown sugar. Beat until smooth. Stir in 1 cup flour and pour into a greased 8-inch square cake pan.  Press the crumbs into a crust. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until golden. Beat eggs and light brown sugar until smooth. Stir in  vanilla, nuts, coconut, and 2 T flour. Spread over baked crust and bake another 20 minutes, or until golden.  Cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar (if desired)  and cut into 24 tea time-sized bars. Sit back, sip, and slow down, and, if just for a few minutes, think of life on Kaua’i in the 1950s.


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Wishing you warm Aloha!



  1. […] Back to the ’50s: Tea Timer Blouses and Coconut Bars ( […]

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