This Sha kimono is proving a godsend in the heat of summer.
I bought this Sha kimono quite recently from a vendor that was new to me – a British vendor called RubyMinky.
Ruby (as we shall call her) turned out to be a kimono collector like me, but with a far bigger collection that she was reducing, and she is also on the Immortal Geisha forum.
This kimono only had two pix, not many measurements and not much description, so I was taking a bit of a risk, but decided to take a punt. Ruby described this particular garment as ‘stiff’ and when it arrived, she was certainly right – it was like a board. But it looked pretty robust, so I popped it in a lingerie bag and put it on a 30 degree wash.
Sha, incidentally, is a robust, elastic, translucent silk gauze fabric with body, something like an organza, and it’s usually decorated with a woven or embroidered pattern. In Japan, sha kimono were restricted to July and August wear only, and in ancient times, it could only be worn in August when the wearer was actually en route to the Imperial Palace.
I thought it might lose some dye (it’s actually a very dark burgundy – less red than in these pictures) and indeed it did – enough to stain the bag, but not enough to cause any problems in the grey hibiscus flowers. And washing it also made it lose a deal of its stiffness (though not all, so several more washes are in order). It also absolutely reeked, of something like mothballs or possibly the size.
While ironing it later, I realised the sleeves had been taken up by about six inches. I let these down as, as I prefer longer sleeves (you can see the difference between the picture above and the picture at top left), and I concluded that it was probably Showa era – this burgundy/grey colour combination is very 1950s in feel, though the large pattern could also be a hangover from the Taisho Roman style. I did a burn test on the excess fabric in the sleeve curve and it turned out to be silk.
I’ve been wearing it all day today in 30-plus heat, and it’s very comfortable. As you can see, I’m wearing it like a yukata, without a juban, for extra coolness, though it is still a little scratchy at the neck and would probably benefit from a tsuke-eri. I sashed it loosely at the waist with an old burgundy silk dress sash I had hanging around – it’s a little too narrow, but will do for the moment – and held closed the neckline with a brooch.
This light fabric that is translucent but nevertheless preserves modesty, and stands away from the skin is lovely to wear in this humid heat and allows through every breath of wind. A very nice kimono that I hope will see a lot of wear.