Back in black, birthday-style.

In my entry about my birthday purchases, I mentioned that I’d gotten one other special piece that I was going to devote an entire entry to. Well, I finally had some free time today to devote to putting an ensemble together and dressing in that piece. Without further ado, allow me to present my kurotomesode/houmongi hybrid mystery kimono!

At first glance, it looks like a subdued kurotomesode, and that is where it was hanging at the kimono showroom. At first I was going to skip over the whole rack, having no real need for more formal items, but I can never pass up a good ogle. While I was rummaging, I noticed something a bit out of the ordinary about this particular piece – there were designs on the sleeves! Kurotomesode, the most formal kimono for married women, is typefied by several things. They are fully black, they have five white crests (three in the back, two in the front), they often have a white second layer known as a hiyoku, and they have designs on the hem only. This one fit all the criteria, but was thrown off by the decorated sleeves.

For the ensemble, I was inspired by the subdued, chic look of geiko in their formal outfits. I paired it up with a warm gold fukuro obi I received as a birthday gift, a white obiage with red shibori clouds, a green and gold obijime to highlight the green in the kimono. Underneath it all I wore a red juban with a lushly textured white and silver haneri. I also put my pearl necklace on, since it was a birthday gift and I felt it was subtle and classy enough not to look out of place.

Full view of the kimono

Close-up of the hem designs

Inside the hem, and the white hiyoku

Design on the sleeve

Chidori-ble! Chidori irotomesode.

Yes, that title was an attempt at a play on chidori and adorable. Sometimes my witticisms just kind of.. fail. Please accept it.

This is another one of those sort of beginner fluke things. I’ve always loved the chidori, or plover, motif. I think they are pudgy and adorable and quirky. When I saw this, I was struck by how cute and graphic it is, but didn’t really think more into it than that.

It is an iro-tomesode, a formal short-sleeved kimono primarily for older women. Usually they are far more subdued, and have simple soft floral type motifs, they’re worn for weddings and whatnot. It’s rare to see one with such a vibrant, graphic design, especially one that comes up so high. It does allow a great view of the goofy little birds though!

It was Erica who first suggested it may have been a stage item. It had never occurred to me because it is actual silk, not synthetic, and it’s fairly short, obviously not meant to be worn trailing. However, it may have been intended for a woman in a stronger or more manly role, I don’t know. One thing that does support this theory is that the kamon on it, a form of stylized tachibana, are apparently the kamon of a dance school in Kyoto. If anyone has more information about this, I’d love to know!

As for wearing this piece, I’ve done something a little different. At first, I wore it “normally”, pairing it up with a pale cream tsuke-obi and my awesome wrought-iron haori. Please forgive how I look in these photos, I’d just spent 20 minutes chasing a hornet out of the living room before I took them!

Items used in this coordination

Quite some time later, however, I decided to see if I could live up to the stage-y nature of the piece, and dressed in an intentionally boyish style. Padded my tummy, tied my obi low on my hips, the whole nine yards. The obi is actually a hakata hanhaba obi folded in half to emulate the look of a man’s kaku obi. I had way too much fun styling myself for this one.

Ladies, lock up your daughters!

Items used in this coordination