Under where?! Nagajuban and undergarments.

One of the most frequently misunderstood garments in a kimono wardrobe is the nagajuban (長襦袢, long juban, also referred to as nagajyuban, or sometimes simply juban). They are often so lovely and well-decorated that people might mistake them for proper kimono, which can be embarrassing and incorrect. It’s not uncommon to see attendees at anime conventions flaunting their “amazing kawaii new kimono” actually running around in these in-between garments. I have seen them worn as over-jackets (Angel Adoree does this quite often), and with proper styling choices this can be a fun look, but if you’re aiming for accuracy it’s quite awkward to be caught out and about in one with nothing over it.

They’re not quite “underwear” as we’d think of them in Western terms. When wearing a kimono, you typically start with either a kimono bra (that helps to flatten and smooth the bust line) and comfortable panties or a traditional wrapping cloth known as sarashi. On top of that layer, there is another fairly plain layer known as hadajuban (肌襦袢), though I admit – in very hot or muggy weather I often forgo the hadajuban and just wear my nagajuban over my bra and shorts. The nagajuban goes over these layers, but they are not proper outer garments either. They’re meant to be seen in very minute amounts – at the collar, at the sleeve edges, and occasionally at the hem while walking. Anything more would be kind of indecent. They also add shape and structure to the kimono, to help achieve that ideal columnar figure. Between these layers, there are often towels or small pads used to help smooth out the body line. It always gives me a good chuckle when people imagine a woman undressing and simply slipping the kimono off her shoulders and being essentially naked underneath. The reality is far less sexy, and is illustrated spectacularly in this comic by @nyorozo on Twitter. Fantasy on the left, reality on the right!

There are a few giveaways that can help you differentiate between a kimono and a juban. Kimono for women are meant to be worn with an ohashori (fold at the waist) and so are typically quite long. Nagajuban are typically much shorter, since they’re not meant to be folded. They also often have a white or contrasting collar over which a decorative haneri can be attached. Lastly, they also tend to be more narrow, without the diagonal okumi panel attached between the front and collar pieces.

There is also a variant called hanjuban (半襦袢, half juban) that is much shorter, and typically paired with a wrap-style skirt know as susoyoke (裾除け). These are easier to adjust to your height, tend to be much more convenient to wear. Many modern ones are available in a combination of breathable cotton and washable polyester. Together, they are sometimes referred to as nibushiki (separated) nagajuban.

Vintage undergarments were often red or other vivid colours, back when kimono in general were much bolder and more vibrant, and people wore them more often and could justify getting ones that coordinated with specific kimono. Naomi no Kimono Asobi has a lot of very amazing examples of brightly-coloured vintage undergarments. These bold patterns an vivid reds are also a throwback to the sumptuary laws of the Tokugawa shogunate, which prevented the merchant class from wearing fabrics that were showier than the samurai and aristocrats. To get around this, they would often hide flashy designs and bright colours on their undergarments, a trend which continued on even long after the sumptuary laws were rendered defunct.

Nowadays, nagajuban tend to be white or pale pastels, since those are much more neutral and versatile. When you don’t wear kimono every day it’s not really worthwhile to invest in a large collection of undergarments; it makes much more sense to buy one or two that you can wear with everything.

That being said, my collection is a combination of versatile modern pieces, vibrant vintage nagajuban, and a few home-made or modified items. Because I’m so tall, I often have to rely on the two-piece variants and even then sometimes have to lengthen the skirt portion. If it’s cool enough, I might also wear a full juban with susuyoke, but that can begin to get quite thick around my already not-insubstantial waistline. Another handy aspect of a two-piece is that if you’ve got broader hips and the front hem of your kimono flaps open sometimes, you can tie the susuyoke so the split is in the back. This way if your kimono hem spreads too wide, you’re assured of the under-skirt keeping you decent.

Hopefully this will help alleviate some of the confusion about what these garments are and how they’re traditionally worn!

Disney Princess Kitsuke Project! Complete!

You guys! It’s done! While part of me is excited to work on other things, I admit that I’ve had so much fun doing these that I am a little bit sad to see it end. I’m thinking of occasionally doing one-off other Disney ladies now and then (Alice, Kida, Esmeralda, Megara, etc). If you would like to see those, please let me know!

This has been a really interesting project for me, working with different styles and trying to make sure the spirit of each Princess comes through without being overly “costumey”. I think I’ve succeed quite well in the end. Seeing them all together like this is very satisfying! It’s also pretty neat to me to see how different the living room looks in different weather/lighting/etc.

For full details of each outfit, as well as my thought processes and any meaning in the textiles or designs, please check out the individual post for each princess.

This has been an amazingly fun project. It encouraged me to think out of the box while still technically adhering to the rules in most cases. It’s been a blast, but I am also happy to be finished. I’ve got a few simpler things in the works – something fun for Halloween and a little surprise for my Facebook followers. However my work schedule is about to get hellish. Not only are the holidays closer than they seem, by the first week of October I will be the only employee in the store, which means I’ll have to be in there all day every day six days a week. I will do my best to keep a semi-regular content schedule, but things will be sparse for a bit. Thanks in advance for understanding! 💖

If you’ve enjoyed this project and would like to see more things like this in the future, or would just like to encourage me in general, please consider dropping a few dollars in my PayPal account or support me on Patreon.

Rapunzel – Disney Princess Kitsuke Project

🎵 Flower gleam and glow 🎵

Rapunzel is definitely one of the more “fun” princesses. She’s got a chameleon for a best friend, she can fight with a frying pan, and she undeniably has the best hair of anyone. I wanted to find a way to acknowledge that amazing, magical hair without using a wig.

How better to emulate a long gold cascade than a gorgeous gold obi tied darari-style? This style is typically worn by maiko, but I feel like it was the best way to capture Rapunzel’s hair in a way that still felt true to the project. The addition of some silk flowers really kicked it up a notch. Of course I had to use a pink and purple kimono to echo her pink and purple dress. I purchased the obijime on a whim a while back, and I realised it would be a great reinforcement of not only the colour scheme but also her braided hair. Not only that, but the pearls on them form sweet little flowers that call back to the golden flower that granted Rapunzel’s healing powers. After that, braiding a few obiage together really pulled everything together, I think. And of course, Pascal the chameleon had to make an appearance.

And with that, all of the brave, brilliant, beautiful Disney Princesses are done! I’ve assembled a master post for the entire project, and I’m so happy with how they all look together!

Pocahontas – Disney Princess Kitsuke Project

🎵Can you paint with all the colours of the Wind?🎵

Ahhh, Pocahontas. Don’t get me wrong, I love the movie, but it’s so far removed from any remotely accurate representation of her story, as well as helping to reinforce the “noble savage” trope that I have conflicted feelings about it. That being said, I was looking forward to seeing how I could represent her without resorting to tired or hackneyed accessories and gimmicks. Her outfit is so simple that I knew converting it would be a challenge in sharp contrast to all the previous ones I’ve done, where I’ve had plenty of room for accessories and experimentation. I’m home sick today, dealing with an ear infection, so I thought I’d take advantage of the unexpected time off.

A light brown iromuji, reminiscent of buckskin, seemed like the ideal canvas. I did debate adding suede fringe somewhere but it started to feel like I was veering too far into cheesy costume territory. I remembered I had this lovely subdued brown obi with nature motifs on it, and loved the way the two pieces blended together in a nearly monochrome, uniform way. Unfortunately, the obi is quite short and hikinuki-style, which means the pattern on the tail end is reversed. I’d initially planned to do a relaxed, vintage-feeling obi and I remembered that Naomi had shared a fantastic tutorial for tsunodashi musubi done with a softer, older hikinuki obi. Great timing! It was definitely easy and quick to tie, even in my miserable ear-infected fever state.

Pale blue may seem like an incongruous choice for this outfit, but I chose it to echo the stone on her necklace, and the beaded accents on her tunic. It also had the added benefit of popping really well against the muted brown without being overpowering, which worked out really well. A few beaded accessories from some nearby First Nations communities added the perfect little punch of colour, reminiscent of the fall foliage often surrounding Pocahontas. I’d tried to find a way to include Grandmother Willow when it hit me that right behind her, already waiting happily, were branches of willow buds in a vase that belonged to my own grandmother. How perfect was that? And as I was dressing the mannequin, one of the cats brought down this ridiculous floppy raccoon toy they all love to bits, so of course Meeko had to make a cameo appearance.

We’re so close to the end, you guys! Only Rapunzel is left, and I’m hoping to get her done by the end of the week.

Mulan – Disney Princess Kitsuke Project

🎵True to you heart,
You must be true🎵

When I started this project, I knew Mulan was going to be a challenge. Unfortunately, there is a tendency to lump a lot of traditional Asian clothing together – quite often you’ll find Chinese cheongsam labelled as kimono, and vice-versa. I wanted to find a way to avoid compounding the confusion by putting Mulan in a very straightforward outfit. However, kimono are legitimately inspired by and derived from ancient Chinese hanfu so I knew there had to be a way to make this work.

After finding this gorgeous creamy yellow dress at the thrift store, everything clicked into place. By bustling a green iromuji over the dress I was able to achieve an outfit that evokes her outfit quite well while not deviating from the theme of the challenge. I finished the outfit off with a blue obi with a metallic tiger’s eye type pattern and red accessories to echo the red sash around her waist. The necklace is something i’ve owned for a while and reminded me of Mulan’s makeup in the matchmaker scene, and the pink floral corsage is a callback to her hair comb. Of course, I had to include a nod to Mushu, and this dragon was the perfect finishing touch.

I think I struck a good balance between hanfu and kimono, and I quite like the way it looks, but I’ll be happy to go back to a more traditional look for the last few outfits.