It’s a Man’s World

Today, I finally got my grubby little paws on something I’ve wanted for a very long time. A full men’s formal kuromontsuki set! It seemed like every time I found one it was way beyond my budget. I’m glad I waited because this set showed up for an unbelievably low price and here in Canada to boot so I jumped on it. Originally it was just the kimono, haori, and hakama but the seller was kind enough to throw in an absolutely awesome juban too. All I had to do was find a suitable kaku-obi and I now have a full formal men’s set. I’d love to dress a bride and groom up for photos some day when the world is back to normal!

I cheated and used the same mannequin as usual, I just padded “her” with towels until her tummy protruded a bit more than her chest, and voila! Men’s kitsuke feels odd to me; it’s both very similar and very different from what I’m used to, and I’ll definitely need more practice but I think I did quite well for a first attempt. I do need to learn how to tie men’s haori-himo properly though. I watched a few tutorials and just could not get the hang of it! I’ll try again tomorrow.

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Lavender Formal

Today’s entry is something a little more straightforward, formal, and traditional than I’ve done lately. I got this beautiful two-sided obi from Sasa. It’s white with gorgeous silver floral round designs with tiny lavender accents. The other side is a very pale lilac with an asanoha texture. I’m honestly not sure what to quantify it as, but since this side feels like a formal fukuro obi I thought it would work well with my kurotomesode with lavender and peach tones.

I tried to keep the kitsuke “correct” and traditional here; white-based formal obi, white haneri, gold and white obijime. However, being me, I did deviate a tiny bit by going with a peach obiage which is a spot-on perfect match for the ume flowers on the kimono. The obi is also incredibly easy to tie, which is always a good thing. I made one of the neatest and tidiest nijuudaiko musubi I’ve ever done, I think! I’m very much looking forward to coordinating this obi with other kimono, and maybe featuring the opposite, more casual side sometime soon.

Thankfully my life has calmed down a bit and some personal behind-the-scenes stuff that was causing me anxiety has been sorted out, so I can finally live up to the promise I keep making to be more active here. I’ve also got Patreon back up and running. While the blog will always be totally free, there are little perks you can get for helping support this passion of mine and enable me to keep sharing pictures, references, and information with you all. This hobby is not a cheap one!

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(The detail photo of the obi above is terrible, and will be replaced with a decent one as soon as I can set up my backdrop and stuff properly again!)

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 🙂

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Hope for the New Year

To say that 2018 has been a wreck would be a bit of an understatement. Ecological, financial, moral and political instability across the globe. And on a smaller, more personal scale, the loss of more beautiful lives than I wish to tally up. The one that hit me the hardest, by far, happened only yesterday and is still painful and raw.

A friend and bright shining light in the lives of so many people lost their life to incredibly aggressive cancer yesterday. The diagnosis was less than a month ago, and now only a few days before Christmas they’ve left behind a husband and two children. It happened way too fast, to someone way too young and vibrant.

Of course, I did my best to deal with it the way I usually do, by distracting myself with kitsuke. I thought it would be a good time to throw myself into something somewhat productive and decided to make a new year’s inspired outfit because I am more than ready for 2019 to get here and wash away all the pain 2018 brought with it.

This kimono was only the second or third I ever bought, and I don’t bring it out often enough. My initial plan was to do a proper kurotome-style kitsuke, featuring only white and metallic, but you all know I can’t leave well enough alone. I remembered this silver and white obi has tiny pink-peach accents that echo the peachy ume in the hem design, so I ran with it. Eagle-eyed readers might notice I’m using the exact same haneri and obiage as the last coordination, but they worked so perfectly I couldn’t resist. I do love that this has such wintery motifs of ume and pine, and despite clearly being a wedding rental piece it works quite well for the season. In retrospect, I should have found a way to include some bamboo so I would have the sho-chiku-bai (three friends of winter) motif often used at New Year’s. Oh well.

As the year comes to a close, I’d just like to take a moment to wish you all the best possible upcoming new year. And remind you that life is short and precious and beautiful, so please be sure to tell someone you love them and hug them tightly today because you may not get another chance. ❤️

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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.

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