G is for Gosho-Guruma

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Gosho-guruma, 御所車図, Imperial Carts

Confession time: these representations of the carts used by imperial nobles are quite possibly one of my least-favourite kimono motifs. To me they look like deformed marshmallows. Because of that, using gosho-guruma as today’s word for the letter G didn’t even occur to me at first. But then I remembered I have this one kimono I love, despite the motifs. I guess the fact that they’re partially hidden behind lovely flowers helps a lot!

I’ve been wanting to see how this kimono looks with this particular orange obi ever since I bought it. I think it’s perfect for this particular coordination, since it’s very low-contrast against the kimono, which helps make the cart motifs the main feature. I pulled out accessory colours from the floral arrangements in front of the carts. I’m not sure how well this particular obijime works, but I don’t hate it. I just think it might have been better with a more muted one to match the low-contrast feel of the rest of the ensemble.

Overall I think I did a good job of featuring a motif I am not fond of! That’s the important part.

Items used in this coordination

E is for Ebi

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Ebi, 海老 , shrimp, lobster, or other long-tailed crustacean

Quite possibly one of my favourite motifs! I love all sea-creature motifs, but I seem to have a soft spot for the goofy-looking rock lobsters often found on wafuku. I had several choices to work with for today’s coordination (you can see them all below) but in the end this pente lobster tsuke-obi won out. I just love it so much.

I paired it with this gorgeous soft brown Taisho-era houmongi. I love how the black pops against the muted brown, and the beige clouds on the kimono echo the shells on the back of the obi. Red accessories draw further attention to the ebi itself and anchor the red sleeve lining. The finishing touch was a brown obijime tied in a way to faintly evoke a lobster trap or net.

As much as I love this obi I tend to forget how long it’s pre-tied in the back. It would suit a taller person (like me, hello!) much better than the mannequin, I think. I don’t mind though, I still love the finished outfit to bits.

So far these are all the items I have with ebi motif in one form or another, but I’ll never say no to more!

Items used in this coordination

C is for Chidori

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Chidori, 千鳥, plover

Since today’s feature is about everyone’s favourite goofy little bird motif, chidori, I had two obvious choices for this entry. My bold, high-contrast irotomesode with nami-chidori (plovers on waves) around the hem, or the quieter but more unusual kurotomesode with tiny chidori over stylised matsu (pines).

The subtle, small chidori won out in the end though. I really love this kimono so much, for several reasons. It was purchased in Boulder, Colorado, which is a place that means a lot to me, and it’s also a rarity since there was only a brief period where it was acceptable and stylish for kurotomesode to have a small amount of motif on the back of one sleeve. As much as I love the showier irotomesode, this piece below will always have my heart.

I paired it with a tsuke-obi that also has pine motifs and went for accessories all in the same sort of warm green/brown colour scheme. It’s a very subdued and harmonious outfit, which appeals to me more and more as I get older.

Since “chidori” is also the term used for herringbone patterns, I debated using this obidome as well. You can see where the name came from, the little interlocking shapes do indeed look like the stylised shape used to represent the birds. But it felt too modern and casual for the rest of the outfit, and didn’t fit over the obijime I’d chosen, so I’ll save it for another time 🙂

Items used in this coordination

Clear as Black and White

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I’ve been rolling the idea of an all black and white coordinate for quite a while now. I find myself with a surfeit of free time now, due to my sudden lack of employment due to the COVID-19 outbreak, so I figured I may as well really buckle down and start doing all the kimono-related things I’ve had loosely percolating in the back of my mind for months now.

Of course, I started with my all-white shiromuku bridal furisode. The black anchor came from the homsue-hem style juban I made last summer for the fashion show. I debated removing the ruffles afterwards but decided I liked it so much I wanted to use it in other ways. I’m very glad I kept it! To balance out the black at the cuffs and hem, I went with a black obi. For the haneri and obiage, I actually used some fabric I had left over from last year’s Halloween costume, where I went as a sort of celestial moon goddess. I really love how it works here and I’m seriously debating cutting and hemming some pieces properly, to use again in the future. The final finishing touch was a beaded silvery-white obijime that echoes the sparkle of the stars on the accessories as well as breaking up the solid black of the obi.

The fun thing about this outfit is that it allows me to use pieces that would traditionally never be used outside of specific circumstances; a wedding kimono and mourning obi and accessories! But since it’s such an out-there ensemble, and the addition of the very non-traditional ruffles on the juban, I think I got away with it just fine  😉

As I mentioned up top, I have indeed (temporarily) lost my job. The store where I work is a small, non-essential business, and we had no choice but to close indefinitely. I’m incredibly lucky to share a house with my folks which means that I’m not at risk for eviction or starvation. However, running this blog and bringing you guys new and exciting content on a regular basis isn’t exactly free. Whether it be new coordinations, book reviews, DIY projects, or even just covering the cost of hosting the blog, things might take a hit if I’m out of work for much longer. I know this crazy pandemic situation is affecting everyone, so I’m certainly not expecting anything, but if you are lucky enough to be working from home and have a steady income, I’m not too proud to add a link here to my donation & support page. Thank you for reading all this!

Items used in this coordination

Kitsuke à la Québecoise

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Last weekend, as I’ve mentioned a couple of times, I was supposed to give several presentations at Costume-Con 38. Unfortunately, in this era nothing is certain, and because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the con was cancelled.

Needless to say, I was gutted. I completely understand that the decision was out of the hands of the organisers, and it was the best thing for everyone involved, but it’s still upsetting to be so excited for something only to have it fall apart literally at the last minute. Aside from my own presentation, I was really looking forward to the Friday evening social. The theme was “traditional Québec” and I thought I’d have some fun with it by combining old-school Québecois Coureur Des Bois style with kimono.

Even though I wasn’t able to wear this in person, there’s nothing stopping me from subjecting the mannequin to it! I went with a wool kimono to evoke warm wool clothing, and this hanhaba obi has always reminded me a bit of a ceinture fléchée or traditional woven arrow belt. Over the top I put this weird dochugi-haori hybrid that looks like good old lumberjack buffalo plaid. Somehow, this particular coat has escaped my cataloguing efforts, along with the kimono it matches. I’ll fix that eventually.

This outfit may not make a lot of sense to anyone not from Québec, but that’s fine. Sometimes it’s good to do something that makes you happy. What are you doing to keep yourself happy in this panicky and uncertain time? Let me know!

I do plan to share the handouts and slideshow I created for the convention here when I can. Unfortunately, my Surface tablet PC (where the files were created and are stored) decided to bite the bullet yesterday. I don’t know if I can fix it, but if I can’t I’ll do my best to at least recover the files so I can upload them here soon!

Items used in this coordination