Wool kimonos are a practical addition to my winter wardrobe.
A couple of new kimono arrived today – both of them wool, which seems a bit weird in the middle of summer, but a girl likes to be prepared.
This red one with a broken stripe is from KimonoBestBuy on Ebay, and was only a few cents. I’m guessing it dates from the 1950s from the colour, which in real life is rust-red shot through with black slubs, with additions of green in every other stripe. The fabric is the harsh, stiff kind of wool tsumugi that is practically bulletproof – very easy to wear.
I already have this same fabric in this purple wool komon, bought in 2004, and both are very different from my other wool komon – this navy one with Edo houses, which is much more like a gabardine in feel.
Throughout last winter I kept this navy one hanging up behind my desk as a popover, and it’s really extraordinarily warm and comfortable – probably, overall, my most-worn kimono.
I wear winter kimono over my thermals and a polo-neck sweater, and they’re usually teamed – most unflatteringly – with Uggs, as our house is freezing in winter.
The other kimono that arrived today was this man’s one from KimonoBestBuy. Theoretically it’s for me. I was so enamoured of the brown striped silk one that I bought for the DH recently, that I put in a one-dollar bid for this one just to make the most of the combined shipping from Japan.
I was the only bidder, which is madness really – this kimono is absolutely beautiful, pretty heavy at 980g, and very warm – the fabric feels something like a quality wool suiting. The DH’s eyes lit up when he saw it and I can see I’m going to have to wrest it from him to have any chance of wearing it. My aim then is to hem it up by a couple of inches so that both of us can wear it.
Wool kimono are nearly always unlined, and although you’re meant to dry-clean them, they’re actually washable in the machine, in a lingerie bag – you need the lingerie bag to prevent the garment getting twisted and stressing the hand-done stitches.
They are also always considered informal kimono. Wool was a late addition to the Japanese panoply of fibres, and is a western introduction, so cannot be considered as formal. Also, designs are always woven, which makes the garment inherently ‘everyday’.
Geometrics and other kasuri-type weaves and abstract designs that look like solid colour from a distance are all common in wool, while multi-coloured pictorial designs like the Edo landscape are less common and considered a bit posher.