Falling in love with kimono again

After a long hiatus, I have fallen in love with kimono again.

Black meisen with yabaneI have been buying kimono again after a long gap, and oh what a joy it is.

The main reason has been the recession – for a couple of years, there simply hasn’t been the money to spend on things that I don’t actually need, however beautiful they may be. But just recently, things have improved a bit, so I have been able to indulge myself a little.

The other reason, though, is that I’ve come up with a form of kitsuke that actually fits my life.

There are many people who dress up in kimono very formally, keen to obey all the ‘rules’ about what kind of obi goes with what kind of kimono, and how you should wear your collar, etc.

Jinken sha with yabaneI am not one of those. Kimono have to fit into my everyday life. That means I have always worn my haoris a lot, over dresses, skirts and jeans (sometimes with the collars flipped forward and the ties held on by buttons), but my long kimono almost never got an outing. I felt rubbish about cutting into them to deal with the overlength, and had quite given up on formal kimono such as tomesode houmongi etc, because I hated to wrap left over right.

However, last winter was glacially cold and in searching about for something to wear, I suddenly realised that kimono were warmer and more comfortable than almost everything else I owned. I started keeping my navy wool komon in the office, to wear as a popover, and now, for some reason, I am suddenly wearing my long kimonos and yukatas, duly wrapped left over right, as if I had always done it this way.

tsumugi with tatewakuThe trick, I’ve realised, is the oshahori – the fold that you put in the waist of a modern kimono. I had always avoided this, instead preferring to shorten kimono from the hem, but if you do an ohoshori right, the kimono stays tight shut rather than flapping open all the time. I have come up with a method of securing it with a 2-yard piece of satin lingerie elastic. Fold it in half, slip the raw end through the loop and pull taut, then twist the loose ends in – voila. A very comfy koshi-himo that stays put but can be loosened with just a tug in the right place.

Over the fold, I wear either a narrow sash, or a length of kimono fabric folded in half lengthways and wrapped round 2-3 times. Whatever way, the bow goes at the front – I sit in a chair  to work and I can’t be doing with a taiko bow or somesuch getting in the way. Japanese women wore their obis tied softly at the front for centuries, so I refuse to feel bad about not going in for the obi-ita, obi-jime, obi-age and all the other gubbins that go along with the taiko musabi. Next step is to start making my own obis, I think. I have some cut-off stiff silk from a damaged fukuro that might take a bit of stencilling and work quite well.

Grey wool hippariI’ll blog individually about my new kimonos separately, but suffice it to say that it’s got a bit out of hand, just like before. I must now slow down a bit. But meanwhile, do enjoy these new purchases. They include this black meisen with shaded yabane, blue jinken sha with white yabane, green and yellow tsumugi with takewaku pattern, and grey wool hippari (or possibly a dochugi). I’ve also bought wool kimono, cotton kimono, juban and yukata, and for the DH four wafuku – a haori, a yukata, a summerweight wool juban and a heavy winter-weight silk kimono, of which I’m deeply envious – they are gorgeous.

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