Mu‘umu‘u Month! It’s a Thing Now
New mom, therapist and now mu‘umu‘u maven, Christy Werner is leading a movement that spreads aloha in a fun, vibrant way.
Photos: David Croxford, Aaron K. Yoshino
The mu‘umu‘u. For many it brings back heartwarming remembrances of May Day, graduation or tūtū in her kitchen cooking. For Christy Werner, it triggered all of the above when she put on the iconic dress for the first time in 25 years. “All these nostalgic memories of grade school and my grandma came flooding back,” she says.
The 30-something-year-old tried on the Polynesian staple after being inspired by her friend and fashion designer Shannon Hiramoto-Rude—who created the mu‘umu‘u-for-a-month movement on Kaua‘i. “She felt that she was cutting up a piece of someone’s story every time she upcycled a mu‘u for her brand Machinemachine,” explains Werner. “After a visit with her, I went to Goodwill and left with five dresses.”
Finding the dresses was the easy part; finding the moxie to wear a different mu‘u every day for a month was a complete shift. Instead of her usual low-key duds that fit her lifestyle—she splits her time between caring for her 1-year-old son and being a social worker and therapist—Werner’s loud wardrobe now screamed “look at me!” She admits, “The first two years, I only made it to three weeks. [Ironically], it was my turn to feel the pressure of social norms. There was always the need to explain that I wasn’t crazy.”
— Christy Werner
Public judgment didn’t stop Werner. She focused on the mu‘u’s positive energy and deep history, a common thread she shared with Hiramoto-Rude. “There’s a magic in the ones I collected from vintage and consignments shops, and as gifts. I often wondered: ‘Who owned this and where did they wear it?’ I don’t feel that way in other clothes,” says Werner.
And, the revolution has bridged the gap from her personal life to her workplace. “My patients look forward to Mu‘u Month. It’s a great way to open up about self-esteem and other subjects they’re dealing with. Three clients even joined in,” says Werner, beaming all the while.
After four years of Mu‘u Months, Werner has no plans of relinquishing her pink-palaka gown. Laughing she says, “Even though it makes my butt look ginormous, I still love the interesting conversations it starts, even with strangers, and the people it inspires.”
WEA YOU WEN FIND DAT ONE?
Top left: My friend Wisa borrowed this mu‘u from her mom, who was so happy to see her wear it. So, when Wisa offered it to me, I felt very honored.
Top right: I told my husband about a mu‘u that I loved as a child and he found one that looked exactly like it on eBay.
Bottom left: I call this Goodwill find my Disney princess dress. The bright color, ribbons and lace are so fun.
Bottom right: My mom found this one at Savers and gave it to me for Christmas. It’s terribly unflattering, but coming from my mom, it feels very heartfelt. It’s one of my favorites.