Courage – A Canadian Farewell

I found this kimono on eBay a few weeks back and fell in loved with it. Last thing I need is another tiny kurotomesode, but it was too beautiful to let it escape and my folks said it could be my birthday present from them, so I took the plunge. It arrived yesterday and it was more gorgeous in person than I could have imagined, the auction photos did it no justice. So I knew right away that I was going to do something with it today, on my day off. My initial plan was to do a fairly straightforward traditional kitsuke, with a formal obi with lots of metallic, white accessories, something clean and simple.

All that went out the window this morning, when I woke up to the news that Gord Downie had passed away. He was the frontman for a group that nearly all Canadians are familiar with, the Tragically Hip. He was diagnosed with glioblastoma just over a year ago, and rather than withdraw from the public eye, he fought back with everything he could. The band went on one last tour, big and loud and loving. He continued to work tirelessly for justice and equality, speaking loudly for Canadians whose voices had been silenced over the years. Everyone knew he didn’t have long for the world, but he filled that time with so much love and passion and brightness that it still hurts enormously. All day I’ve seen people whose jobs require them to be professional and detached (news anchors, radio announcers, even our Prime Minister) lose their composure and break down while talking about Gord.

What does all this have to do with my kimono? Well, as you may have noticed I have a strange coping mechanism of coordinating outfits to deal with grief. Maybe it’s not the healthiest thing, but it works for me. So to deal with this, I decided to throw caution and tradition to the wind and coordinate it in a bright and bold way that makes me happy. I’d like to think that someone who wore brightly coloured holographic suits and fantastic hats during his farewell tour would appreciate that. A vintage chuuya obi with maple leaves felt appropriate for someone who took so much pride in his Canadian heritage, and the accessories brought a vibrant punch to the outfit.

I’ll leave you with some of the lyrics from Courage (for Hugh MacLennan), one of my favourite songs of theirs.

So there’s no simple explanation
For anything important any of us do
And yeah the human tragedy
Consists in the necessity
Of living with the consequences
Under pressure, under pressure.
Courage, my word, it didn’t come, it doesn’t matter,
Courage, it couldn’t come at a worse time.

Odori Otoko-Poi

I bought this dance kimono on a whim a while back, because I loved the graphic quality of it. The seller had listed it as a woman’s kimono but I was fairly certain it was actually a men’s dance piece. My suspicions were confirmed when it arrived. I don’t hold it against the seller, they list tons of items every single day and I’m sure it was an honest mistake. I was still very happy because it’s so fun and bold. I knew I wanted to do an otoko-poi or tomboyish look with it, and I wanted to keep the colour scheme really simple, so I pulled out my tenga obi with a gold side and stuck to black accessories. I would have preferred an all-black or monochrome haneri but since I don’t own one I thought the pink flowers on this one were neutral enough for the time being.

This is my first men’s kimono and I was actually quite surprised by how different putting it on was. I’m so used to slack in the collar, the extra length and ohashori, and the open sleeves that this was much more of a challenge than I’d initially anticipated. Despite that, eventually I’d like to try to wear this outfit, but I’d like a paler gold obi and a solid black collar first. I am curious to see if wearing a men’s kimono feels as different as using it on the mannequin did.

By the way, I am still on vacation, I just took these photos before I left so there wouldn’t be too huge a content gap while I was out of town 🙂 I’ve got a few more things in the works, but this will be the last mannequin coordination until I get home. Thanks for understanding! ❤️

Spookitsuke – We Can’t Giggle, It’s A Crime Scene!

Last week, I promised the next instalment of this feature would be creepier, and I’m fairly certain I’ve succeeded! It started with this bizarre haori Naomi sent me a while back. I’m assuming it’s supposed to be clouds or some sort of abstracted design but we both thought it looked like blood spatter. It seemed like the perfect place to start a Halloween outfit. I decided to run with the blood splatter and aim for a crime scene feeling. The kimono is another that Bonita sent to me, along with the gorgeous wedding kimono from a few weeks back. It is mofuku, and is in incredibly fragile condition. It’s tiny and several of the seams are coming apart, and between the fact that it’s funerary wear and the shape and size of it, I know it will never get worn. It seemed thematically apt for the outfit though, so I layered it over a red under-skirt. I found this crime scene tape ribbon and thought it would be interesting to use as an obi-jime. However, I misread the listing and ordered waaaaaay more than I actually needed, but I think it worked out in my favour. I love how it looks wrapped around so many times. The red shigoki obi evokes more blood, literally and figuratively tying it all together. I’d hate to run into the person wearing this outfit at the end of a dark alley!

We’ve got two coordinations to go, and they will both be more costumey than creepy. I hope you’ll check back to see! And yes, before anyone asks, the title of this entry is indeed a reference to BBC’s Sherlock.

Spookitsuke October 2016

Back to School, Meiji-Style!

I have always loved the look of the traditional Meiji/Taisho era schoolgirl outfits; the youthfulness of the hakama, the timeless feel of the yagasuri kimono, the modern and almost masculine touches of little leather ankle boots. When I splurged on this teal hakama a few months back, I’d imagined pairing it with my red and white yagasuri komon. What I hadn’t thought of was including this vintage taffeta haori I love to death, but as soon as I saw the three pieces sitting together in a pile I knew I’d found the perfect finishing touch to this outfit and with lots of schools starting this week, it seemed like an ideal time to pull it all together.

I knew I wanted to use a black obi to help anchor everything, but I don’t actually own a black hanhaba obi. Thankfully, because I was just dressing the mannequin, I could fudge things a little. I used the waist part of a two-piece tsuke-obi and a big obi-makura in the back to give the hakama something to anchor to. The plum motif of the haneri might not be totally seasonally appropriate for a “back to school” outfit, but the colours felt so right I had to run with it.

Aside from the haori (which is incredibly narrow, even by vintage standards), these pieces are all quite large which means I can totally fit into them. The hakama especially makes it easier and more comfortable for me, so expect to see this coordination on yours truly at some point in the near future. A cute pair of ankle boots would make things easy and still be appropriate to the ensemble. I just need to invest in a proper black hanhaba obi and then find somewhere to go and hope that the cooperates!

What’s Black and White and Red All Over?

A while back I got the idea of a bold, geometric, black & white outfit into my head. I got out my black diamond tsukesage-komon and my favourite black and white hakata tsuke-obi. The lining of the kimono is a bright red, which made the accessories a no-brainer. Black, white, and red is such a classic, timeless combination. A red obiage, objime, and red card suit patterned haneri pulled everything together but I still felt like the outfit was missing something. This black handbag with red Bakelite accents is one of my favourites, and fit perfectly with the mood I was building. The finishing touch ended up being my Deadpool pocket-watch. This is an outfit I can totally see myself wearing as soon as I fit into the kimono again.