Back in the groove

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I’ve been buying kimono again, for the first time this year.

Omeshi michiyuki

I’ve been on a bit of a splurge lately.

The reason was that someone asked me if I still buy kimono, which made me realise I hadn’t bought one since around July 2013, nearly a year ago. How strange, I thought.

I was busy organising a mini exhibition of my kimono to hang in a friend’s art gallery (more of this later), and just looking at them again and handling the silks made the craving start up. But I tried to be sensible and I adopted a new policy.

A: new kimono should fill a gap in my collection. There weren’t many of these, but they included a full-shibori kimono, an iro-tomesode, a sha kimono with urushi, and michiyukis (I once bought one but looked so terrible in it that I took it apart for the fabric).

B: when I buy a kimono, I should buy the accessories to go with it – an obi, obi-age and obi-jime. This is because I have far too many kimono and haori and nowhere near enough obis and accessories. There is a saying that for each kimono you should have three obi, but for me it’s the other way around.

Saffron Taisho iro-tomesode

I logged onto Ebay and had a furtle around, and soon came across this beautiful saffron-colour Taisho-era iro-tomesode for a decent Buy-it-now price. The Greater Taisho era (1912-1940) is MY era – I love the long sleeves, soft fabrics, red linings and bright colours, and this kimono ticks all the boxes with its fabulous saffron colour (never seen an iro-tomesode this colour) and gorgeous wave patterned hem.

Silver fukuro obi with rope pattern

To go with it I bought this lovely fukuro obi with multicoloured rope pattern. Yes, I know the designs are meant to contrast, but I can’t help but think that doesn’t matter on a tomesode, where the obi won’t be overlapping the hem pattern, causing clash.

Lime green obi-jime with red flecks

To pick up on the colour theme, I then chanced upon this gorgeous obi-jime in lime green with red flecks (and while I was at it, I bought its sister cord in beige). Then, from another vendor, I found this wonderful red and green shibori obi-age. I like a shibori obi-age because the elasticity seems to me to make it easier to tie and the knot grips better than a chirimen one.

Red obi-age with green shibori

So, one complete outfit, and I was very well pleased.

Next, to the michiyuki issue. You know, I’m just not sure about these things. To me, they look kinda frumpy, but that’s because I tend to think of them when worn only over jeans and other western clothing. Worn over kimono, as intended, the neckline is filled in by the juban and kimono collars, and furthermore, I love the little furry or lace capes that cosplay wearers wear these days, which covers the whole thing up anyway. One real advantage of michiyuki, at least from the Greater Taisho era, is that they are really long – much longer than a haori.

Having been inspired by a still from the film The Makioka Sisters, I decided to go for a lovely purple Taisho michiyuki with huge shibori flowers, and I put in a secondary snipe on the black Taisho Omeshi with red flowers at top left, which has a beautiful shibori lining in blue and red. But something went wrong with my bid and I ended up getting both of them! Oh well, they were both cheap… I don’t know if I’ll ever be much of a michiyuki wearer but at least that’s another gap in my collection filled.

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