Back in black, birthday-style.

In my entry about my birthday purchases, I mentioned that I’d gotten one other special piece that I was going to devote an entire entry to. Well, I finally had some free time today to devote to putting an ensemble together and dressing in that piece. Without further ado, allow me to present my kurotomesode/houmongi hybrid mystery kimono!

At first glance, it looks like a subdued kurotomesode, and that is where it was hanging at the kimono showroom. At first I was going to skip over the whole rack, having no real need for more formal items, but I can never pass up a good ogle. While I was rummaging, I noticed something a bit out of the ordinary about this particular piece – there were designs on the sleeves! Kurotomesode, the most formal kimono for married women, is typefied by several things. They are fully black, they have five white crests (three in the back, two in the front), they often have a white second layer known as a hiyoku, and they have designs on the hem only. This one fit all the criteria, but was thrown off by the decorated sleeves.

For the ensemble, I was inspired by the subdued, chic look of geiko in their formal outfits. I paired it up with a warm gold fukuro obi I received as a birthday gift, a white obiage with red shibori clouds, a green and gold obijime to highlight the green in the kimono. Underneath it all I wore a red juban with a lushly textured white and silver haneri. I also put my pearl necklace on, since it was a birthday gift and I felt it was subtle and classy enough not to look out of place.

Full view of the kimono

Close-up of the hem designs

Inside the hem, and the white hiyoku

Design on the sleeve

Here comes the (mother of the) bride!

This is my second kimono ever! A kuro-tomesode was an odd choice, seeing as how they’re only proper for older, married women going to a very formal event, and I was in my early twenties when I bought this, and never go anywhere fancier than the movies. I was not going out of my way to get one, but when I saw this one, I fell in love. I’m fairly certain it’s a rental, due to the fairly generic kamon, the synthetic lining, and the fact that there is a huge black reference number written on the lining in black marker. XD

The design is also very typically bridal, cranes are a standard motif for wedding items, and the pines are an auspicious design.

That all being said, I don’t care! I love it! I tried to tone down the wedding-y feel in this outfit by using a coloured obi and lavender accessories, rather than a gold obi with white accessories.

And behold, the huge orange menace in my life officially known as Vinnie

Birthday splurging.

Several weeks ago I was lucky enough to be able to go visit my dearest friend in Boulder, Colorado. Aside from being a beautiful city with a firm grip on my soul, Boulder is also home to a rather unexpected Vintage Kimono Showroom. Janine, the lovely owner, was kind enough to give me an early start on her holiday sale, since I was only going to be in town for a week. I went on my birthday, of all days, since my friend was stuck at work.

I managed to snag some really awesome pieces. I did my best to not go overboard, buying only things that I found really special. One piece in particular was so special that it’s going to get its own entry soon, I am just waiting on an obi to coordinate it with. In the meantime, here are the other things I picked up, behind the cut!

First up, a great little vintage yabane komon.

Based on the colours and sleeve length, I’d guesstimate it at early Showa. The sleeves are lined in red, but just by a few inches, I think someone may have added it in on their own. The fabric on this one is quite odd, it feels almost like a cotton-silk blend. It’s nice and airy, despite being fully lined, and I feel as though I could almost wear it year-round.

I also snagged two gorgeous haori, including my first-ever vintage one. The modern one is lovely, a thick black silk with karabana (fantasy flowers) in soft pastels. The way it’s dyed gives it a great artsy feel.

I actually wore this out to my birthday dinner, along with a green cowl-neck sweater and jeans, as well as the lovely pearl necklace I got from my friend. No photos of the outfit, but feel free to enjoy a blurry shot of my ugly mug enjoying a stuffed scallop!

The other haori is amazing. It’s a lush, crisp taffeta silk in a great teal, red, black and white stripe. The sleeves are deliciously long, it’s nice to finally have a haori I can wear with my vintage kimono.

The other great thing about vintage haori is the lining fabric they used to use. Often times they were much more vivid and crazy than the haori themselves.

My last addition were two obijime.

A cute, straightforward two-sided red and black casual obijime

And an adorable vivid fluorescent red-orange obijime with pastel hakata detail. I’m really loving these hakata obiage I keep finding. Another great thing about this one is that I can wear obidome with it 😀

Overall, I’m really happy with everything I got, and I am looking forward to sharing the other special piece soon!

Going Bananas!

I’d been trying to abstain from buying anything new, honestly! I was just idly browsing ebay when I found this beauty. I need to learn not to Windows-shop, it just leads to me spending money I don’t have!

Basho, or banana leaf, is a bit of a weird motif. I’d associate it with summer – tropical muggy climates and whatnot, but since it’s not native to Japan I keep getting conflicting information about seasonality. It’s lined, so definitely between fall and spring. I plan to just wear the hell out if it whenever.

The leaves are yuzen-dyed in vivid shades of pink – from a deep raspberry to a pale cotton candy, with some icy blue accents, all highlighted subtly in gold. The sleeves are deliciously long, almost two feet. Taisho length, but it’s definitely a more modern piece. The lining is pale cream, with dark pink around the edges.

I’ve got no idea what I am going to pair it up with yet, but you can bet there will be photos when I figure it out!

Cream Temple and Mountain Houmongi

No bad puns today, nothing remotely good was coming to mind. You can thank me later. 😉

I bought this one on a whim. The listing showed a few serious stains, but they’re all on the inside panel and are hidden when it’s worn. Also, because of the stains, I got it for a steal. It’s a little small on me (story of my life), but it’s so detailed and beautiful that I don’t mind.

It’s got a gorgeous temple and mountain design, with water around the hem, and flowers, glorious flowers! Every time I look, I find something new and interesting. So far I’ve found multitudinous grasses, plum, chrysanthemum, iris, pines, peonies, bamboo, pawlonia, maple.. well, you get the point!


I paired it up with an equally festive and floral orange nagoya obi, and blue and green accessories to bring out the water around the hem. Also, say hi to my kitty, Tribble. She also wears white tabi!