E is for Ebi

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

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

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

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

Bold, Bright, Beautiful

Yesterday I got two obi in the mail that I wasn’t expecting until at least a few weeks from now. It was a lovely surprise! Of course, I knew I’d want to coordinate them soon, so I asked you guys on Facebook and Instagram which of the two I should coordinate. This bold black and red tsubaki nagoya won by a landslide, so here we go.

I couldn’t decide if I wanted to go with a very subdued kimono to really show off the obi, or something a bit more bright to try to balance it out visually. Then I remembered that this giant poly komon (one of two kimono I own that currently fit my fat butt) has accents of pretty much the exact same colours – red, cream, and yellow/gold. Loud and busy won the day, as it often does in my life lately!

Because the pattern on the obi is so large and graphic it almost reads as quiet next to the busy quality of the kimono. I think that rather than competing for attention they complement each other beautifully. I went with a solid yellow haneri because I figured there was enough going on with the two main pieces that I didn’t want to introduce yet another pattern or visual element. As for the obiage and obijime, I know I use these so often but they just work with so many of my things. I still don’t quite understand how such obnoxious, lemon-yellow accessories match basically everything, but they do. Kimono sorcery!

The finishing touch was a brooch that belonged to my grandmother. I’m not sure what the stone in the centre is, but it’s a perfect match to the kimono, and brings just the right pop of teal in to break up the obi slightly.

Items used in this coordination