明けましておめでとう! Akemashite omedetou! Happy New Year!

The new year is upon us! A time of renewal, change, and hope. I wish all of you the best for 2016 and beyond.

To celebrate the beginning of a new year, I pulled out one of my favourite kimono to coordinate. I bought this one the last time I visited Vintage Kimono in Boulder, Colorado. At first glance it looks like a relatively minimalist kurotomesode, with a sparse design of chidori and matsu (plover and pine). However, it’s also got a smattering of chidori on one sleeve. This was a brief trend for kurodomesode, which traditionally only have patterns on the hem. As western-style seating spread through Japan, kimono designers realised that a lot of the artwork and craftsmanship of these most formal kimono were getting lost, as women sat up with their feet tucked away. They started putting a small design somewhere that would be visible in theatre-style seating, usually on one shoulder or sleeve.

The trend has since fallen out of favour and kurotomesode have gone back to their hem-only design placement, but you can still occasionally find little oddities like this one. I’ve been told that at this point I can choose to wear it as a kurotomesode, or a very formal houmongi. Which is probably a good thing, seeing as how I’m 34 and still single.

I paired the kimono with a fairly typical white-and-gold obi with auspicious designs, tied in standard niijudaiko musubi, to hopefully double my good fortune for the coming year. However, I’d forgotten what a complete and utter beast this thing is to tie. It’s very long, even by modern fukuro standards, as well as being very slippery and floppy. It has a core, but it’s a very soft one. So unless I go in forearmed with a handful of extra himo and clips, it always slides around and loosens while tying it. Thankfully I had not only a bunch of tools but also a very helpful and cooperative father to hold bits and pieces while I tied other bits and pieces.

[AFG_gallery id=’46’]

I’ve decided that this year, I am not going to make resolutions. They never work for me. I am, however, going to set goals. If I attain them, fantastic! If I don’t quite succeed, at least I tried and progressed. There’s no point in making myself feel bad for not achieving relatively arbitrary marker points.

Kimono-related goals I would like to set for 2016:

  • Lose enough weight to comfortably wear kimono again.
  • Consistently and regularly work through the backlog of book and tea reviews I’ve got half-done.
  • Coordinate more outfits on Tsukiko.
  • Write more. Blog entries, fiction, personal journal entries. Doesn’t matter what, so long as it’s words.

Do you have any kimono-related goals or resolutions? I’d love to hear about them! Please share them in the comments.

 

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like… Something

We were tidying and decorating the living room in anticipation of Christmas entertaining, and I thought I’d get Tsukiko in on the action. I pulled out my trusty green iromuji, and a red-and-gold obi. I had a heck of a revelation while I was dressing her. She’s a standard store display torso, which means she’s roughly a US clothing size 2. The iromuji was small on her. How the heck did I ever successfully wear this thing?

[AFG_gallery id=’45’]

I think she looks suitably festive and at-home with all the decorations. And don’t worry, she’ll be moved before we light a fire.

I wish you a wonderful holiday season, whatever you may celebrate, filled with love and light and food and family and happiness!

Outfit of the Week: Pretty Poppies

I really should rename this feature to Outfit of the Whenever I Have Time, but I digress. You may or may not know this, but my mother’s name is Poppy. Because of this, we have a lot of poppy-themed stuff in our house, and for the longest time I had made it a goal of mine to find a kimono with poppies on it. When I found this one, I knew I had to have it. I love the slightly abstract, retro style of the dye-work. I actually did dress my mother in this once, but nobody managed to take photos, so I decided to put it on Tsukiko. I went with a simple red tsuke-obi to highlight the lovely red of the poppies, and a brown and green obijime to echo the khaki green in the hem. I also used a green haneri to reinforce that green accent. The obiage is actually a much darker, richer purple, closer to the eggplant colour of the kimono, but no matter what I tried, it photographed as this bright electric indigo. Oh well!

Items used in this coordination

Outfit of the Week: Mystery Dragonflies!

While folding and organising some of my older kimono the other day, I came across something that threw me for a loop. I do not remember procuring this kimono in any way. I don’t know if I bought it, if it was a gift, something I rescued from a thrift store… I really have no idea. In my dozen-plus years of collecting, I can tell you where nearly every piece in my collection came from, down to things like tabi and haneri. To have forgotten an entire (lovely!) kimono is quite a feat, I think.

That being said, I’m not complaining! This is a gorgeous piece. It’s a casual summer piece, very lightweight. I’m not positive on the fabric but it feels like a linen blend of some sort. It might be cotton, but it’s definitely softer and more refined than a yukata. The collar is conveniently sewn down and there is a light lining in the bum area and across the shoulders for cleanliness and reinforcement. It’s a beautiful dove grey with dusty blue foliage and adorable little dragonflies. The era is a bit hard to pin-point; it feels like it could be quite old, or it could be more modern but made to look vintage.

I wanted to make the coordination very cool and comfortable-feeling, so I kept things simple with a hanhaba obi. I also learnt a valuable lesson – this particular obi, while one of my favourites, is a finicky little thing that refuses to hold tight. I managed to get the kai-no-kuchi musubi to stay in place with the help of an obijime, but would not be comfortable wearing it out of the house like this. At least I know for the future!

Items used in this coordination

Gofuku no Hi, a day late and a dollar short.

Yesterday, May 29, was  着物着ます (Gofuku no Hi), or Wear Kimono Day. It is a day to encourage kimono enthusiasts around the world to get out and wear kimono and have fun. Unfortunately, yesterday was an absolute no-go for me. I had work, I wasn’t feeling well to begin with, and it was incredibly hot and humid. So I decided to dress Tsukiko today instead.

I have been dying to pair this basho (banana leaf) houmongi and kikyou hakata obi for years now, and just never found the right opportunity until now. This kimono is one of the few that actually still fits me properly, but it’s still much more comfortable for me to dress the mannequin. I absolutely love the hints of icy blue in the leaves on the kimono and decided to accessorise in the same colour, to emphasise the cool feeling. I love how this outfit turned out, nearly monochrome but with the hits of blue for punch.