Tokai-Dos and Tokai-Don’ts

I’ve had this 53 Stations of the Tokaido tsukesage for a long time now. I’ve never worn it myself, but I did put it on my friend Frances one day. The obi, by comparison, was an absolute impulse purchase a few weeks ago – I was buying another item from the seller and this was only $10 so I couldn’t say no! Especially since it’s a lovely stylisation of Station 49 – Saka-no-shita, which is a station I don’t have on any items in my collection yet. For the price, its absolutely gorgeous. The bulk of the design is woven in, and then touches are pulled out with beautifully lush embroidery to add depth and texture. It’s a bit slippery to tie, but definitely not the most challenging obi I’ve had to work with.

Generally the rules of kitsuke say not to match the motif on your kimono to the motif on your obi, and to contrast the colour of one against the other. However, when I saw these two pieces next to each other, my mind drifted back to my first experiment in very monochrome and matchy outfits, and I wanted to give it another shot. Rules are an excellent starting point, but sometimes breaking them with forethought and intention can produce some amazing results.

I’ve always loved the peachy pink sunset accents on the kimono and decided to make them pop with the accessories. I feel like this resulted in an overall very calm and serene outfit with a bit of punch, and I love it!

I do apologise for the quality of the photos today; my camera was being difficult so I used my mobile phone camera. It worked, but it’s not ideal. However, I make no apologies for the utterly terrible word-play in the title.

Items used in this coordination

Here Comes the Bride

The bride is not me! Let me get that out of the way! But if you follow me on Instagram you’ll have seen this uchikake already. If you’re not following me on Instagram, now’s a great time to start.

I found this beautiful vintage uchikake on a local classified listings site, and contacted the seller right away. We managed to arrange a meeting, and I’m very glad. The gentleman selling it was lovely, very friendly. The uchikake was passed down in his family, originally belonging to his step-mother’s mother, and he seemed very keen to make sure it would go to someone who would really appreciate it for what it is. I hope I’m giving it a good home!

It’s a bit hard to age, but based on how it looks and feels in person combined with what he told me of its history, I’d put it somewhere in early Showa. The metallic bits are synthetic, but the lining and base fabric look and behave like silk. It’s a really interesting combination.

I knew I wanted to do a bridal-style kitsuke with it, and my Taisho-era kakeshita seemed like a good place to start. Even if they’re not the same era, they really work together. Unfortunately, I don’t have a proper set of bridal kitsuke accessories yet, so I had to make do using a normal furisode obiage and obijime, and a shigoki obi beneath the obi, along with a normal kimono wallet in lieu of the traditional decorative wallet known as hakoseko. Overall, though, I think it looks beautiful. Obviously, this is not something I’m ever going to wear personally (except for a lecture or display at some point, I suppose), but it’s so beautiful I have a feeling I’m going to be leaving it on the mannequin for longer than usual.

Items used in this coordination

On Wednesdays We Wear Pink!

You know how I’m always joking about how I love every outfit I coordinate on the mannequin? Well, today I learnt that nobody can hit a home run every time!

I’ve been wanting to do an all-pink coordination on a Wednesday in honour of the iconic Mean Girls quote for a long time. It seemed like a good opportunity to use this gorgeous pink hakata obi I got in the huge obi bundle, and I tried to build the outfit around it using other pink items in my collection. While I don’t hate it, I’m not crazy about it either. Sometimes a theme or idea just isn’t a winner. I love all of these pieces independently, but together they feel like something is lacking. It even feels like the kimono isn’t hanging quite right on the mannequin. However, it’s been alarmingly hot here (over 40C/105F) for several days now, and I knew there was no way I’d have the energy to re-dress her. So I figured I would give you guys a small glimpse into what happens on the rare occasion that I’m not thrilled with how something turned out!

Hopefully once it cools down I’ll have more energy to do something a little more inspired 🙂 If not, I have a few book reviews to get done.

Oh, Canada!

Today is Canada Day! It is the anniversary of the first unifications of British colonies into the country we now call home. Since then, though, it has become much more. To me, it’s a celebration of all things Canadian, of our heritage, our cultures, the beautiful tapestry that makes us who we are, our country as a whole.

I knew I wanted to do a Canadian-themed kitsuke, but at first I wasn’t sure where to start. All I knew is that it had to include red, white, and maple leaves! My kiku houmongi, with its gorgeous red background and bold white flowers, seemed like a logical jumping-off point. I pulled out a vintage obi with maple leaves and a maple haneri. The obidome is a poppy, hand-beaded by a friend of a friend in a nearby Mohawk community. To me, it represents remembrance and appreciation of the First Nations people who were here first.

I wasn’t sure how this would look all together, I was worried the orange of the obi would clash with the kimono, but I was really happy seeing it all come together. I even like how the orange of the obi picks up on the salmon lining of the kimono, and the purple in the obi is echoed subtly in the haneri. The outfit is entirely inappropriate, seasonally, but thematically I think I’m spot-on.

Items used in this coordination

Vintage style with modern convenience

After Gofuku no Hi, I realised owning at least one other hakama would greatly expand my kimono wardrobe. Even though I’m still far too chunky to fit into most of my kimono properly, they do a great job of hiding a less-than-ideal hip wrap. I found a lovely modern teal polyester hakama from ebay seller Yoshihori and snatched it up. The seller had embroidered ones too, which were utterly lovely, but significantly more expensive. So I decided to be reasonable and buy the plain one. So imagine my surprise when the seller contacted me, incredibly apologetic, telling me the plain one was sold out and would I like the embroidered one instead, for no extra charge? Of course I said yes!

A few days after I bought it, but before it had arrived in the mail, a friend of a friend posted on facebook that she was selling off a large chunk of her collection, including a gorgeous mauve kofurisode that was clearly meant to be worn with hakama. The colours were gorgeous, and it had a wonderful sort of large-scale Taisho-inspired feel to it. I knew it had to come live with me, and be paired up with the new hakama as soon as it arrived in the mail.

Initially, I’d planned to wear the ensemble to Otakuthon, Montreal’s big anime convention. However, it’s in the middle of August and we’re already regularly breaking the high 30s temperature-wise. Even in a heavily air-conditioned convention centre, there’s no way I could wear synthetic awase and not die. So I decided to put the outfit together to see how it looks. Everything is very heavily decorated with sakura, so of course I chose a coordinating haneri. I waffled a bit between yellow and purple obi, but decided to use the purple so it sort of disappeared. The kimono and hakama are busy enough, the outfit didn’t need another level of contrast.

I know I say this a lot, but I love love love how this turned out. I can’t wait until it’s cool enough to wear it. Maybe for my birthday, in November?