Menswear-Inspired Coordination

Several years ago, I came across a photo of a very handsome man in an excellent combination of western-style modern clothing and kimono. He was wearing a crisp white button-down and a tie in lieu of traditional undergarments. Recently, I was reminded of this photo and set out to track it down. Some savvy friends of mine recognised what I was talking about and pointed me in the direction of Kidera-san, the owner and stylist of men’s kimono shop Fujikiya. Lo and behold, there he was in all his dapper glory.

I was spurred on to do my own interpretation of this style, using women’s pieces but still keeping a decidedly masculine vibe. I’ve always loved this tartan kimono and thought it would be an excellent place to start. The colours in it have always reminded me of the tartan of the Black Watch Royal Highland Regiment of Canada, so I asked my father if I could borrow his regimental tie. The plain side of my red grosgrain hanhaba obi and a thin green ribbon pulled it all together. Initially I’d planned to fold the obi in half and use it more like a men’s narrow kaku obi, but it’s quite thick and doubling it up made it impossible to tie. Instead, I went with a flat, fairly neutral karuta musubi.

I think the whole outfit ended up being really effective, and if I ever get back to the point where I can comfortably wear kimono I’m definitely going to do something like this at some point.

Everyone cheer, Melons are here!

I am really making an effort not to buy new kimono, but sometimes I find things that just call to me. When I found this komon (for less than ten dollars, I might add) I knew I had to have it. In my mind, it looked just like a slab of malachite. However, when it arrived the general consensus was that it looked like watermelon, especially with the pink lining. I’m still very likely going to do a coordination around the green stone, but I had to go with the melon first.

A sweet pink hakata obi and pink haneri seemed like the way to go, and then I remembered I have this cute black spade obidome that sort of evokes the feel of a watermelon seed against the pink of the obi. It’s a very simple, very casual outfit but I think it really conveys the fresh, summery feeling of biting into a juicy slice of watermelon. Now, if only the warmer weather would hurry up and get here!

(If the title of this entry seems familiar to you, that’s because it is from a very silly (and not exactly work-safe) video by Mr. Weebl)

Something old, Something new…

Kimono, like any other garment out there, is subject to trends and changes in fashion. Usually, this just impacts the colours and patterns used, since the shape of a kimono is so fixed. Every so often, however, someone comes up with something really different and unique. Traditionally, brides in Japan will wear a special type of furisode called a kakeshita on their wedding day. The colours and styles and motifs of these can vary greatly, but they’ve always been the same basic garment. However, modern women are looking for ways to wear more modern dresses but still retaining a bit of that traditional feel. For a while now, there have been designers such as Aliansa who will convert a kimono into a western-style dress, but this requires irreversible changes to the kimono. This isn’t ideal for family heirlooms or treasured gifts. So what’s a bride to do?

Enter The Oriental Wasou, a bridal studio that’s figured out a fantastic way to temporarily convert a furisode simply by folding it carefully and draping it over a western-style ballgown! They claim it takes only ten minutes, and after the event all you’d need to do is give your furisode a good steaming, fold it carefully, and store it away. When I first saw these adaptations, I knew I wanted to give one a try. However, I am not the sort of person who has ballgowns or wedding gowns just lying around, so the idea went onto the back-burner until I was at the thrift store a few weeks ago and found this utterly beautiful mauvey pink gown with a sheer black overlay. I knew right away it would be the perfect complement to my favourite furisode.

This furisode and I have had a colourful history. I bought it years ago while visiting my best friend at the time, even though I knew I’d never have a valid or justifiable reason to wear it. It didn’t matter, I was in love with it. I dressed myself in it a few times for photos, I had a lot of fun with it, and then a few years ago my friend and I parted ways. There was a lot of silly emotional baggage whenever I looked at the kimono, and I stopped doing pretty much anything with it. Fast-forward to middle of last year, and not only have we reconciled, it feels like we’re closer than ever. I knew I had to pair this outfit with the pearl necklace he’d given me for my birthday one year. The other accessories were chosen to help emphasise some of the colours in the kimono. The obiage and obijime perfectly mirror the shading in the peonies, and the obi helps draw out the gold flecks in the background. Since this is such a non-standard outfit, I had fun making up a big flashy obi musubi. It also helped to hide the draping and folding in the back of the kimono.

Overall, I think this experiment was quite successful. It’s definitely a departure from what I’m used to, but everyone needs to step out of their comfortable rut now and again, right?

One Kimono, Four Ways – Week 3: Punchy and Popping

One of the great things about iromuji is how they can allow you to really focus attention on something other than the kimono itself. They make a great neutral canvas for a really bright or busy obi. I decided for this week’s entry that I’d do a really high-contrast coordination with a lot of “punch” to it, and this obi was the perfect place to start. It’s a very special obi; I received it anonymously from some lovely person online. I suspect their intent was to have me coordinate it with my Shah Mosque houmongi, but in the end the styles and colours were too different and I could never get them to work together. This kimono, however, is ideal. It’s a similar background colour to the houmongi and the orange-red of the obi really pops against it, but it doesn’t compete with the pattern on the obi itself. It’s a wonderfully neutral foil for the gorgeous obi, and the colours couldn’t work better together if they’d been made to go together. I’d initially thought of using a third bright colour (yellow or pink) for the obiage and obijime but then I remembered these pieces, and everything just clicked.

We’ve also got a special guest photobomber today! Those of you who are longtime readers have probably seen Vinnie before. He usually avoids the mannequin but today he decided he wanted to be the star of the show.

I hope you’re enjoying seeing these posts as much as I’m enjoying doing them! We’ve got one left, and then it’s time to focus on newer things.

One Kimono Four Ways

One Kimono, Four Ways – Week 2: Modern and Monochrome

For this week’s outfit featuring my mint iromuji, I wanted a big departure from the very standard coordination from last week. This adorable kitty haneri is a very deep rich teal, and it struck me that I had a bunch of similar items in various shades of the same colour. I think pairing the iromuji up with them and using cooler lighting than last week’s photo really drives home the point that I was trying to make, that one kimono can look incredibly different with different accessories, and in different situations. Surrounded by the cool tones of the haneri, obi, and hakama the kimono itself leans much more towards the blue side of things than it did against the gold and lavender of last week.

So far, I think this experiment is going swimmingly! I look forward to seeing what else I can do with this piece.

One Kimono Four Ways