Kimono by season

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Deciding what to wear and when is a fine art in kimono, so it’s worth creating a rough guide for yourself.

Purple rinzu townwearMost kimono collectors don’t have a big collection of kimono but I am a bit of a magpie myself and I became aware recently that some of my kimono, which are nearly all bought to wear, sometimes never come out of the cupboard.

Part of this, I know, is down to their weight. For instance, I keep picking up my purple rinzu townwear kimono with tiny plants and finding that it’s just too heavy. Or a kimono that I think is heavy, once I put it on turns out to allow too free a passage of air.

I therefore decided to check on my kimonos’ weights, so that I can sort them out into rough seasons and make sure I’ve always got the right ones handy at the right time – unseasonal kimono can then be packed away, much as I do with my unseasonal western clothing. Yes, it’s completely anal, but then I like making lists…

Because I bought most of my kimono on Ebay, the weights are logged (I save out the description), but on some kimono the weight was never listed, so where I’m not sure about something I’ve grouped it with other kimono that seem to me to be similar in weight.

I decided on the following breakdown of seasons, which applies to where I live in Normandie:

  • komon with urushi cloudsWinter: December, January, February. Bitter weather, temps from minus-10 to about 7 degrees. Warmest awase kimono with wool jubans.
  • Early spring: March, April. Cold, blustery weather with temps in single figures to mid-teens. Warm awase kimono with wool or thick silk jubans.
  • Late spring/early summer: May, June. Bright weather with temperatures rising. Mid-lightweight lined kimono or hitoes with jubans in thin silk (May) or cotton (June).
  • Summer: July and August. The traditional ‘summer kimono’ months in Japan. Temps in the high 20s to 30s. Usumono kimono and yukata. Ro jubans or none at all.
  • Early autumn: September. Temperatures suddenly dropping back to mid-teens. Lighter-weight awase kimono. Thick silk or cotton jubans.
  • Late autumn: October, November. Heavier awase kimono with wool and silk jubans.

pink juban with shiboriThat little list told me straight away that I need to make some more jubans. Currently I have only four: lightweight shibori silk, ro silk, polyester and wool muslin. Accordingly, I’ve put aside some dress lengths in various weights of wool, silk and cotton to make some for the different seasons (mainly winter, as that’s what’s coming up).

tomesode with wispIt was also a surprise to me to find out that all of my heaviest kimono are tomesode, not wool. The same applies to haoris – the heaviest are the longer-length urushi haoris, especially those in omeshi. This doesn’t mean, of course, that they are necessarily the warmest, so doubtless there will be a bit of tweaking going on. But I hope in this way to have on hand roughly the right kimono for the season in future, with the wrong-season kimono packed away carefully.

After listing all my kimonos weights, I drew up a chart of week-by-week kimono wear (yes, I know, I know….), so my challenge now is to make sure that I wear each kimono listed at least once in its allocated week, giving me a ‘new’ kimono to look forward to on a regular basis.

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