Classic Elegance

It feels like I’ve been doing a fair number of casual and non-traditional outfits lately, and while there’s nothing wrong with that I was in the mood for a little classic elegance. To me, there’s nothing like the graceful simplicity of a kurotomesode to really demonstrate the luxury and refinement of kimono.

Admittedly, I still managed to inject some of my personal style and preferences into this outfit. Typically, a kurotomesode should be paired with a metallic fukuro obi and white/metallic accessories. However, this kimono actually occupies a strange liminal space between kurotomesode and houmongi. The black base colour and five crests imply the highest level of formality, but the fact that there is pattern, however subtle, on one sleeve, knocks it down a peg. Because of that, I knew I could get away with deviating from the norm a little bit.

I thought it would be a good time to use this gorgeous tsuke-obi that I got recently, It was clearly a fukuro obi at some point in its life, but was converted to make it easier to wear. However, whoever converted it did so with their specific body in mind; because of this, it was an absolute bear to tie on the mannequin. Both the obi and the kimono were too big for her, which is not a problem I come across very often! However, this does mean I could probably wear this outfit myself if I lost a few pounds. It’s always good to have one very formal outfit ready to go, I suppose. I went with olive accessories since there’s a very similar green in both the kimono and the obi. Thanks to the gold accents, they still feel appropriately formal but feel a little more interesting than plain white would have been.

Overall, I really like how this looks. It conveys the traditional mood I was aiming for but still has a sense of unique personality.

Items used in this coordination

Concert Style

You might have seen this awesome treble-clef obijime knot going around lately. Youandi over at Chayatsuji Kimono posted a great video showing how to tie it, and it’s actually deceptively simple once you’ve got the basic concept down.

This rich purple nami-chidori irotomesode has always been one of my favourite kimono, and it’s always given me a dramatic stage vibe with its bold contrast and large scale design. It seemed like a good opportunity to pull it out and show it some love. I wanted to go for something you might see on an enka singer, bridging the gap between traditional and modern.

The obijime knot and the kimono really needed to be the focus here so I kept the obi and accessories simple. A white haneri with white sakura and a geometric white-and-silver obi help to bring a subtle bling to the outfit without being distracting, and my ice-blue obiage echoes the pale end of the obijime. It’s a very simple, classic, elegant coordination and I think it would look absolutely perfect up on a stage. I definitely accomplished what I’d set out to, which always makes me very happy.

Items used in this coordination

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.

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.

 

Chidori Obidome

This adorable obidome was one of the awesome things in the last box of goodies Kansai_gal sent me. I love chidori, but I also love the amusing multi-faceted aspect of this particular piece.

Chidori is the Japanese term for plover (a type of small wading bird), and when it comes to kimono the term generally refers to depictions of this bird. The depictions can be realistic, or very stylised, much like the depiction of the silver bird on this particular piece.

However, due to the similarity in appearance, the Japanese name for the houndstooth pattern on the background is also referred to as chidori. So this particular piece is technically chidori-on-chidori! Isn’t that cute?

Art Gallery – More kimono artwork

This is a fairly old piece, but I still love it to bits. It’s got a really pretty ethereal anime feel, which is in rather stark contrast to how rumpled I looked when I actually wore this outfit. Thank goodness for artistic liberties, right?

The artist was very pleasant to and worked with me to ensure I’d be happy with the final product, and I really am. To see a larger version, you can either click the image or visit the artist on her DeviantArt page.