I have been making obi purchases with a little more care recently.
I have been trying to focus on obi and accessories rather than kimono lately.
My kimono habit, which is completely out of control, means that I have a really nice selection of kimono but very little in the way of juban, obi and accessories. I realised I had 60-odd kimono and 60-odd haoris, but only 13 obi, almost of all which were fukuro, bought for display rather than wear – and I was really only wearing three: this brown Nagoya with botan, this purple and green reversible hanhaba, which is great because you can wear it green side out, purple side out or tied in a bow to show both colours, and this amazingly useful yellow yukata obi, which goes with a surprising number of my kimono, adding a welcome shot of colour. It’s also exactly the right depth for me, at 5.5in. However, with only these few obi to choose from, I found myself constantly ‘making do’ with whatever fabric I had around, so I decided to change all that.
Because I work in a chair, and also often wear a haori, my favourite way of wearing an obi is either simply wrapped around and held in place with an obi-jime, or tied a clamshell bow. I do, sometimes, wear a taiko, and am trying to find instructions for a Ginza musubi, which looks even flatter. But, in practice, this means I tend to wear hanhaba obis or the narrow part of a Nagoya, cut as a tsuke. (It’s easy to then fold the fat bit into a taiko and sew it in place, then when you want the taiko look, just slot it on.)
In terms of co-ordination, the style I like best (thank you Naomi!) is to match the obi to one of the colours in the kimono, then match the accessories to one of the accent colours (unless the kimono is very plain, which most of mine are not, in which case, a contrast obi works better).
Many of my kimono feature shades of red – red cranes on black, red accents in flowers, etc, so I decided that a red obi would be a useful first purchase – it would go with about 45 of my kimono.
I nearly bought a red hanhaba (and I still have my eye on it), but plumped in the end for this lovely fukuro hitoe with silver fans. Since it’s a hitoe, I’m hoping to wear it simply folded like the thin part of a nagoya, but if not, I’ll go back to the idea of the red hanhaba (it might, in any case, be useful to have a plainer obi, as many of my kimono are heavily patterned).
I also bought a red obi-jime and am on the hunt for a red shibori obi-age (I was beaten on my first bid).
As my second ‘useful’ obi, I went for this grey-purple tsumugi-style Nagoya, to be cut into a tsuke and worn with and without the bow. It looks pretty dull at first glance, and I would never have bought it for its own beauty, as such, but the soft colour – a bit grey, a bit purple, a bit brown – goes with nearly all my kimono, especially the softer komons in shades of brown, beige, purple and grey, and the slubby texture tones down Meisens and Omeshis, so I think this will get a lot of wear.
While I was at it, I also got myself a proper hakata datejime, and my first korin belt. I have no trouble keeping myself together with koshi-himo, but I thought I’d give this a try at knee-level to keep my kimono closed when I sit down. Because I’m usually wearing vintage kimono, designed for women much thinner than me, my overlap is often not as large as it should be, which is a problem when sitting.
Time now to think of some pretty susoyoke, which I aim to make myself, since the ones on sale are generally rubbish.