Today we’re talking about a bro fashion trend that is gone but not forgotten: the puka shell necklace. Originating in Hawaii, this accessory exploded into nationwide popularity in the 1970’s and made a comeback during the late ‘90s and early ‘00s among toolish surfer dude wannabes. Accompanying the necklace as we can all remember was usually a polo, cologne and thick hair gel. You know, that “fresh off the beach” look.
There were clearly a lot of things wrong with the puka trend, but let’s start by addressing the most obvious point, which is that these necklaces are extremely fugly. A bright white choker made of shells? Unless you’re a native Hawaiian man with tan skin and a six-pack, this is not going to fit well with your aesthetic.
Worse than their appearance was the fact that people who wore them intended to make an aggressive statement about how cool, laid-back and fun they were. It’s a classic example of trying really really hard to look like you’re not trying at all, which never works. Sure, the shells are vaguely reminiscent of island life, but you’re not fooling anyone. I know you bought that at PacSun and wear SPF 50. The gig is up.
Because of their ridiculousness, these necklaces have since become a widely recognized symbol for being a douchebag. The guy wearing puka shells was often the same dude who said “bros before hoes” in a non-ironic way and then drank 20 beers in one sitting before throwing up in a corner. Those were the extreme cases though. Many bros only wore pukas one time in eighth grade, felt weird about it and then never did again, which is why pictures exist.
And finally, while we all love to hate on the puka shell necklace, I’m disallowing one group of people from participating in this conversation, and that’s any girl who has ever come back from the Bahamas with a full head of cornrows and hair wraps. I’m sorry, but you’re just as bad.