"When you think of Japanese culture, the first thing that comes to mind is probably their intricate and beautiful kimono dresses."
The word Kimono (着物) is a Japanese tha means "a thing to wear" and refers to a traditional Japanese dress. It has been worn for centuries in Japan by both men and women. The kimono dress is made of cotton and silk with multiple layers that are patterned in different ways. They can be brightly colored or white, depending on the occasion they are being used for. It's common knowledge that wearing a kimono takes time because there are many steps involved when putting one on. Let me take you through what it feels like to put on a kimono.
History of Kimono Dress - Where did Kimono Dress Come From?
The kimono's illustrious history dates back over a thousand years to the Heian Period, and its humble roots date back even further. Although this traditional clothing is not as popular as it used it be, it is still worn for special events like weddings, funerals and other ceremonies.
The earliest description of Japanese clothing dates back to the third century. According to this Chinese text from the Records of Wei, Japanese men at that time wore "kanfui," a single piece of cloth., Women, on the other hand, covered their body with a sleeveless outfit called "kantoi". Kantoi developed into Kasode (a short sleeve outfit) which eventually evolved into Kimono dress.
Kosode (小袖) was the traditional Japanese garment worn by both men and women during the Edo Era. It was worn by everyone in Japan, regardless of age, gender, or socioeconomic status. The kosode was a simple, unlined, short-sleeved robe and was a cultural identifier for Japanese.
When the four social ranks (warriors, artisans, farmers, and merchants) were equalized during the Meiji rule in 1868, Kimono dress was officially born when Kosode was renamed as Kimono.
Since then there has been no major change in the dress, however, with the advancements in technology, new designs have been made, more accessories have been added and materials used in making them have also changed.
How to Wear a Kimono Dress:
There are a few garments and accessories that are required to wear a kimono and others are optional such as Tabi and Geta. But without Tabi and Geta, your traditional Japanese look will be incomplete.
What is the traditional wear under Kimono Dress?
Japanese had their own undergarments to hide the shape of their body and cover their skin. They used to wear Hadajuban on the upper body and Susoyoke on the lower body as undergarments before wearing Kimono. However, today's women do not follow the "No Bra, No Underwear" rule; rather, they simply wear conventional bras and undergarments.
What is Hadajuban?
The word "hada" (肌) means "skin" in Japanese and "juban" (十番) is the word for "undergarment".
Hadajuban is a thin, white cotton shirt worn by Japanese men and women before putting on their Kimono. It is designed to be worn under the kimono to provide an additional layer of warmth and to conceal the shape of the body. This shirt has no collar, no pocket, and long sleeves to fulfill its role as an undergarment. Hadajuban has straight lines at the end of sleeves that are designed to be tucked into the kimono sleeves.
What is Susoyoke?
The word "su" (補) means "to fill up" and "yoke" (装) means "underwear".
Susoyoke is a piece of clothing worn under the Kimono. It is a pair of pants made from cotton that are designed to be worn under the kimono. Susoyoke have an elastic waistband and are usually ankle-length. They are designed to fill up the space between the kimono and the socks, which helps to keep the kimono in place.
Accessories Used in Wearing Kimono Dress:
A piece clothing that is used under the kimono is the Koshi-himo. The word "koshi" (腰) means "waist" and "himo" (締) means "string". Koshi-himo is a thin, white cotton belt that is worn by Japanese men and women to tie Hadajuban and hold their kimono in place. It is tied around the waist.
The final article of clothing that is worn over the Kimono dress is Obi (帯). It is a wide belt for men and women. The word "obi" (帯) means "belt" in Japanese. This type of belt helps to cinch the kimono over the waist tightly, giving off an even more graceful look. The Obi also has many decorative designs and can be made from a variety of materials, such as silk, brocade, or cotton.
Types of Obi:
There are various types of Obi, some of them are:
- Hanhaba Obi: The word "Hanhaba" (半分) means "half" in Japanese and "obi" (帯) means "belt". "Hanhaba obi" are a kind of "obi" for "kimono" that is considered informal and generally worn with Yukuta.
- Maru Obi: Maru Obi is the most luxurious of all of Obi. This was produced in Nishijin, but because of its high price, it's becoming increasingly difficult to acquire. Maru Obi is normally bigger than Fukuro Obi and Nagoya Obi. It's commonly seen on brides, Geisha or Maiko in a formal kimono. It's about 30cm wide and 400-450cm long.
- Fukuro Obi: The word "fukuro" (袋) means "bag" in Japanese and "obi" (帯) means "belt". Its width is approximately 30 cm and its length is around four meters for females.
- Kaku Obi: Kaku obis are a narrow form of traditional Obi worn with a kimono by men. Approximate length of Kaku obi is about 390-400cm and width is around 9-9.5cm. Cotton or silk is the most common material used to make kaku obi. The silk kakuobi are more comfortable to wear for martial arts, such as Aikido, than cotton ones. They're also thinner compared to versions made of cotton.
- Heko Obi: Heko Obi is a very wide belt, almost twice the width of a Fukuro Obi. It is generally worn with informal kimono dresses or Yukata. The length of a Heko Obi is usually two to three meters.
- Nagoya Obi: This type of obi is a wide belt, about the width of a Fukuro Obi. It is generally worn with formal kimono dresses. The length of a Nagoya Obi is usually three to four meters.
Underneath the obi is a thin strip of cloth called the "obiage." The obiage helps to keep everything in place, and also accents the beauty of the obi. It's usually made from a sheer or delicate fabric, like silk or lace, and can be a different color or pattern than the rest of the obi.
An obijime is a type of cord worn by women over their obi. It is often brightly colored and used to keep the obi in place.
The Date-jime is an optional piece of clothing that can be worn under the kimono. The word "date" (伊達) means "elegant" or "fashionable" and "jime" (締め) means "tie".
The Date-jime is a white, cotton sash that is worn at the waist. It can be tied in a bow or wrapped around the kimono to tighten it and prevent it from flapping open while walking.
The word "tabi" (足袋) means "socks". Tabi are a type of socks that are worn with traditional kimono dress and traditional footwear called Geta or Zori. They are also worn by some samurai warriors under their sandals. Because the socks are split in the big toe area, they allow the foot to be free, so it can move more naturally than traditional socks or stockings.
The traditional color of Tabi is white. It is made of cotton and comes in a standard white color and no decoration. Nowadays, there are also other colors, such as black, gray, blue, red or green to match the kimono.
In modern times Tabi can be worn to work as well as for casual use because people find them convenient. In Japan it is common to see people wearing Tabi with Geta or Zori.
The word "geta" (下駄) means "footwear". Geta are a type of traditional Japanese footwear that are worn with kimono dress. They have wooden flat base and two teeth below the base which make the Geta elevated from the ground. They're a useful shoes that keeps your kimono from dragging on the ground. It has to be an ideal footwear in areas where there used to rain a lot. Because it keeps your feet and dress away from the ground and keeps it clean.
Zori are another piece of traditional Japanese footwear that are worn with kimono dress. They have a fabric upper and the base is made of rice straw or wood. They usually don't have teeth on the bottom but they do have a cloth between your sole and the base of the sandal. The cloth is used to prevent your foot from slipping off the base when you walk.
How to Wear a Kimono [Step by Step Guide]:
You've bought your kimono dress and now you're ready to wear it.
STEP 1: Arrange the things you need to wear a Kimono dress and wear your Hadajuban and Susoyoke. Also wear the Tabi socks, they can be worn later but i'd recommend to put them on with the hadajuban and susoyoke.
STEP 2: Tie the hadajuban with koshi-himo just below the bust and then take one of the date-jime and tie it over the koshi-himo to tie it as well.
STEP 3: Put your Kimono dress on and adjust the collar and sides. Carefully hold the left side collar and wrap it over the right side.It's critical that you wrap the left side of the kimono over the right, as the other way is only used for the dead.
STEP 4: Tie your Kimono with another Koshi Himo and wrap the Obi over it. People also wear Japanese Haori Jacket above Kimono Dress.
You're now ready to walk around in your beautiful kimono dress! Enjoy!
Now that you know how to wear a kimono, go out and buy one!
Types of Kimono:
There are many different types of Kimono and they serve different purposes. For example there are formal and informal Kimonos. There are certain kimonos that are worn on weddings and tea parties. Young unmarried women wear a different Kimono dresses than married women. Well, lets start with the types of Kimonos.
Furisode: Furisode are the most formal kimonos for unmarried women. They are very long and have wide sleeves. They are adorned with a colorful design that covers the whole garment. Unmarried women wear this dress in special events including coming-of-age ceremonies, voting, wedding rituals (unmarried female relative from the bride's family), and tea ceremonies..
Yutaka: The Yutaka is worn during summer festivals. Yutaka is a bright, unadorned garment. It's a cotton, unlined kimono that men, women, and children of all ages wear informally. Yutaka kimonos are less expensive and simpler to wear and maintain than other types of kimonos. This kind of kimono is quite popular in Vietnam as well, especially among manga and cosplay events.
Mofuku: Mofuku is a unisex Kimono which is worn on funerals by the family members of the deceased. A Mofuku kimono is also known as a "Kuro-muji" or "Black iromuji," because it has no dyeing or any weaving designs.
Houmongi is widely known as visiting wear. It has decorative patterns around the hem and sleeve and sometimes up the body of the kimono. Women can wear houmongi in formal parties and wedding ceremonies (friends from the bride).
Tomesode is worn by married women. In other words, married women cannot wear furisode but tomesode, the type of kimono having the pattern only at the bottom and crests on the sleeves and shoulders. Married women wear Tomesode in special occasions. The more crests it has, the more formal occasions it may be worn at. There are two kinds of Tomesode, the black one, called Kuro Tomesode, is the most formal kimono for married women and worn by the mothers of the bride and groom in the wedding ceremony and another one, Iro Tomesode, has other color than black and is considered as semi-formal.
Uchikake is an incredibly heavy kimono worn by the bride as a coat. It is worn trailing on the floor, therefore, when the bride walks, the kimono is held up by bridesmaid. The bride wears uchikake over a kimono without an obi on the uchikake. If the wedding ceremony takes place in the form of tradition (Shinto wedding ceremony), the uchikake will be completely white as it represents the purity in soul and body of the bride. In this situation, the uchikake will be called shiromoku and worn over all white shirokakeshita kimono.
Komon means “fine pattern”. Having the pattern repeated over, this type of kimono is usually refferd as town wear, which means that both married and unmarried women wear Komon everyday walking around town. It can be dressed formally with obi when people have dinner out.
Tsukesage has the pattern at the bottom and on one sleeve at the front and another at the back. The pattern will meet together in the seams. Tsukesage is considered less formal than Houmongi. Generally, Tsukesage is worn in parties, not ceremonies.
Susohiki or Hikizuri:
Susohiki or Hikizuri Kimono is excessively lengthy kimono worn by maiko, geisha, kabuki actors and dancers in traditional japanese dances. The length of this kimono may range from 200 to 230 cm (79 to 91 in).
Odori katamigawari kimono are the brightly-colored Kimonos worn by dance performers. The designs of these kimono vary greatly, but are always brightly colored and often feature elaborate patterns or designs. They are typically made from a lightweight cloth such as silk, and are very comfortable to wear. Odori katamigawari kimono are considered an important part of traditional Japanese dance, and remain popular among dancers today.
Iromuji kimono are plain color (except black, which is specific for Mofuku) garments that provide a simple, yet sophisticated look. They are made of silk or cotton, and have no printed design, so they correspond to the tastes of every wearer. Iromuji kimono are worn for graduation ceremonies because they have an understated elegance in their simplicity, so they work well in both light-colored and dark-colored settings. Plus, this kind of garment is easy to find everywhere in Japan because it's what normal people wear without all the fancy patterns.
Shiromuki means "pure white" and they were traditionally worn by brides in samurai families. Shiromuki Kimono are only worn by brides on their wedding day. It is a very symbolic garment, representing virginity and purity. The bride's hair is styled in a bun, and she wears a special headpiece called a tsunokakushi. The shiromuki kimono is usually made of very fine silk, and it is often decorated with delicate embroidery or lace.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Kimono:
A kimono dress is a beautiful and unique piece of clothing that can be a great addition to any wardrobe. However, there are a few things you should know before buying one. In this blog post, we will discuss the different types of kimono dresses available, as well as some tips on how to choose the right one for you. So if you are considering purchasing a kimono dress, make sure to read on!
Material & Price:
Kimono dresses are available in a variety of materials, including silk, cotton, linen and other synthetic materials. They can also range in price from around $30 to $1000 or more. So before you buy, be sure to decide what material and price range you are comfortable with.
Silk kimono dresses are beautiful, but they usually the most expensive, costing more than cotton or other types of kimono. They are only worn on special occasions. Silk also requires special care. If you are interested in purchasing a silk kimono dress, make sure to research how to take care of it before buying one.
Cotton kimono dresses are the most common type of casual-use kimonos available. They are usually less expensive than silk ones, and can range in price depending on fabric thickness, design details and brand. Cotton material is also more practical for casual wear because it does not require special care like silk does.
The least costly Yukata Kimono are around 20-40 USD. We would suggest to avoid synthetic materials when shopping for clothing, since they will not only wear out faster but also cause sweating and require more washing.
Pattern & Style:
When choosing a kimono dress, it is important to consider the design and style. Kimonos come in a variety of different patterns, including floral, geometric and abstract designs. You should also decide whether you want a casual or formal kimono. Casual kimonos often have simple patterns and styles, while formal kimonos can be more elaborate with intricate designs.
If you're not sure what pattern you should get, pick something that is simple or similar to something you already wear.
Kimonos come in a variety of sizes, so it is important to measure yourself before buying one. Most kimonos are designed to fit people who are around 5'5" to 5'8" tall. If you are taller or shorter than this, you may need to have the kimono adjusted or altered to fit you.
If you are looking for a plus-size, it may be harder to find a kimono that fits your needs properly. However, there are some kimono dresses available in larger sizes. Find them here.
Which Kimono to Wear and When?
If you're new to kimonos, we recommend Yukata because it's easier to wear than a Kimono dress and may be worn casually.
Where to buy a Kimono Dress?
If you're looking to buy a kimono dress, we suggest searching online on Japanese stores. Be sure to read the product descriptions and reviews before purchasing to make sure you're getting the right size and style.
Tip: Remember to look for accessories that would look great on a kimono dress. Pair your Kimono with Japanese necklace, Japanese earrings and other items that will give you an outfit a more complete look.
Tip 2: Don't forget to check the return policy before buying a kimono dress, in case it doesn't fit or you want to return it for any reason!