Kimono – The Ultimate Layered Look

Jan 17th, 2009 | By | Category: History & Culture

The ultimate layered look never goes out of style in Japan.  The Kimono is the most well know piece of wafaku (traditional Japanese clothing) outside of Japan and a beautiful women dressed in an elaborate kimono is an iconic image of Japan. Young and old, men and women wear Kimonos on a number of different occasions but it is no longer an item for daily wear as it was in ancient times.

Properly dressing yourself in a Kimono can be a bit of a challenge and for more formal occasions the assistance of a friend or professional dresser will come in handy.   In the west, we tend to embrace or avoid talking about or showing off our curves altogether and the latter is true in Japan.  In fact a well-dressed woman in a Kimono will appear to have no waist and it is considered alluring to show only a small “v” of skin at the neckline and a hint of skin at the nape of the neck.  It is considered risqué, or low class, to show too much of the neck and back when wearing a kimono – in ancient times this was a common practice of prostitutes.

As many as fourteen different items are required to properly wear a Kimono!  Ichiroya claims that 70% of Japanese women would have a hard time dressing themselves in a formal Kimono even if the required items were laid out for them:

Susoyoke-Half slip
Nagajuban(Juban)-Full-length under kimono
Han eri-Half collar
Eri shin-Half-collar lining
Datejime-Under sash
Koshi himo-Sash
Obi – decorative belt
Obi ita-Obi stay
Obi makura-Obi-pad
Obiage-Bustle sash
Obijime-Obi cord
Tabi-Split-toed socks

The next time you see a woman in a Kimono, take a moment to consider the time and effort involved in dressing as well and the special care to pick fabrics and patterns appropriate to the season and occasion.  Dressing in a kimono is an art form that many have studied for year and few have perfected.

Try it yourself when you visit Japan, or wherever you live but be sure to pass the left over the right when you don your kimono.  The opposite is the way that the dead are dressed for their funerals and it is considered bad luck to do otherwise while you are still alive.  But how to remember?  A tip is in the video below on how to put on a Yukata.

Kimono/Yukata Basics – Getting ready for the Obi

Kimono/Yukata Basics – Tying the Obi

During next summer’s matsuri (festival) season I’m going to try this myself – and I’ll be sure to remember “left-over rice” so that I am not mistaken for an obake (ghost)!

Image Credit:  Flickr, Gion – Maiko neck

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  1. It always catches my eye to see a gal dressed in a Kimono. It makes women look so beautiful.

  2. […] Dressing in a Kimono is a complicated affair and these young women pull it off well. […]

  3. […] are traditional Japanese wooden clogs that are worn with Yukata and can be heard before they are seen.  As the wearer approaches on a quiet street the click-clack […]

  4. Very informative. I knew there was a great deal to getting the obi tied correctly, I didn’t realize it was that involved. No wonder little girls of seven begin to wear them. That way by the time they are grown, they will really know how to put the obi on correctly.

  5. […] in the trendy neighborhood of Shibuya where you are just a bit more likely to see a women in a kimono than on a street in New York or […]

  6. Shane,
    Great articles; I found you. Still learning the Twitter thing. I’ll be back !

  7. […] along the walk of vendors. Most kids will be excited to eat that. Often men and women clad in yukata are sautéing noodles for yakisoba. It might differ in style between Kansai and Kanto, but […]

  8. […] July 1st-12th if you wear a yukata to Tokyo Tower you will gain free admission to the main observatory where you will see an […]

  9. […] July 1st-12th if you wear a yukata to Tokyo Tower you will gain free admission to the main observatory where you will see an […]

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