Kits-Mas Day 7 – Midnight Bubbly

The last day of the year is upon us! I think we can all agree that 2017 was a bit of a dumpster fire. I don’t know about you, but I’m certainly glad to see the end of it!

When I was younger, I enjoyed going out on New Year’s Eve, but the older I get, the more content I am to stay inside in a nice fuzzy pair of pyjamas. We’re also still in the depths of a record-breaking cold snap here, as is the rest of Canada and the eastern United States, so going out to watch fireworks at midnight was just not remotely appealing to me. Instead, I thought it would be fun to run with a New Year’s theme for the mannequin tonight.

I thought this gold-accented men’s odori kimono would be the ideal place to start, since it’s so bold and flashy. I considered of all the trappings of a really fun party; sparkling champagne, glitter, fireworks, laughter. The next logical step seemed like this fun hanhaba obi I bought recently with stars on it. It’s a little dull next to the kimono, so I pulled out some gorgeous silver ribbon to use as an accent and a haneri. I still don’t quite have the hang of using a men’s kimono like this, as a woman’s outfit, but all I can do is practice, right?

While the obi still feels a bit subdued against the kimono, I do think this is a bubbly, sparkly, fun outfit that seems like a fitting end to the year.

I am utterly terrible at keeping resolutions, so rather than enumerate things I will inevitably not complete, I am just going to head into the new year with an open mind, an open heart, and a wealth of unbridled enthusiasm. I hope the coming year brings you all sorts of amazing things!

Kits-Mas Day 3 – Pretty Package

First I did something thematic colour-wise, then I did something thematic subject-wise, so today I thought I’d do a little bit of both. I love the graphic visual punch of both yabane and hakata motifs, and thought they’d make pretty fantastic wrapping paper. So here’s my attempt at a giftwrap-inspired outfit!

I honestly don’t have a ton to say about this outfit. I kept the accessories very simple and tied a very fluffy bow-style knot for the obi. My cute little maneki neko netsuke added a final little accent of red and a bell for that perfect finishing touch. Jingle all the way!

There’s really not much more to say about today’s coordination. I think the simplicity of this outfit is what makes it so effective. Tomorrow’s will be more fun and vibrant though, so be sure to check back!

 

Memorial Ikebana

Today marks the 28th anniversary of the École Polytechnique massacre here in Montreal. A man, one who explicitly blamed women for all of his problems and failures, stormed a local university and shot twenty-eight people, killing fourteen women. December sixth has since become a day of remembrance for the women who lost their lives as well as a more general National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

Today’s ikebana is my way of memorialising and remembering the victims. White roses anchor the piece and represent hope, as well as the White Ribbon Campaign. The green buds bring a little texture in and protect the white roses, and the large leaves work to bridge the two disparate halves of the arrangement as well as evoking a bridge to a better world.

I’m fairly proud of this one. I’ve been trying to do more low, wide pieces and this worked out quite well. It feels balanced and organic as well, which I’ve come to realise is something I’m very fond of doing.

Realistically, I know that playing with flowers isn’t going to change anything in a world where there are still people who view women as second-class citizens, even here in North America. However, I would ask that you please spare a moment today to think of these women who violently and senselessly lost their lives for nothing more than the “crime” of wanting an education. Think of them, and think of the women worldwide who suffer at the hands of society around them.


Geneviève Bergeron
Hélène Colgan
Nathalie Croteau
Barbara Daigneault
Anne-Marie Edward
Maud Haviernick
Maryse Laganière
Maryse Leclair
Anne-Marie Lemay
Sonia Pelletier
Michèle Richard
Annie St-Arneault
Annie Turcotte
Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz

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!

Modern Monstera Ikebana

What first drew me to ikebana was the clean-lined simplicity of it all, the focus on a few sparse blooms without all the fluff and clutter that tends to be found in western-style flower deisgn. I’ve been experimenting a fair bit lately but I was itching to do a very sleek and low moribana-style arrangement, and when I found this gorgeous monstera leaf at the florist I knew it would be the perfect anchor for my next project. This interesting flower was all by its lonesome in a bucket in the flower fridge, and the texture and shape of it felt like a wonderful counterpoint to the glossy green foliage. I’m afraid I don’t remember what the flower is, but if anyone recognises it I’d love to know. The arrangement feels very heady and tropical to me, well-suited for to the oppressively muggy weather we’ve been having lately. I chose a very simple container to anchor them, in keeping with the clean and modernist vibe. I’m also quite pleased by how well the whole arrangement pops against the warm brown backdrop. This one might be incredibly simple, but it’s also incredibly effective.