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. ❤️

Items used in this coordination

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

Kits-Mas Day 10 – Eye of the Tiger

It’s the eye of the tiger, it’s the thrill of the fight…

Okay, I confess. Today’s coordination has absolutely nothing to do with the theme. I initially had a completely different outfit planned for tonight, more red and green. I had a long, tiring day at work. One of those days where nothing explicitly terrible happens, but lots of little things go very slightly wrong. I was already kind of dreading having to redress and photograph the mannequin before I’d even left work, but I knew I would persevere and do it.

However, this kimono arrived while I was at work. I actually won it back at the beginning of November, and it’s been in customs limbo for months. Part of me had already given it up as a lost cause. So imagine how excited I was when I found out it had been delivered! It completely changed my mood, and I couldn’t wait to see how it looked. When I bought it, I had suspicions that it would work well with my “tiger’s-eye” tsuke obi, and I’m really happy with the pairing. It also helped motivate me knowing I wouldn’t have to wrestle with an obi. While dressing a mannequin does have its advantages, it also has some disadvantages compared to dressing a person – there’s no passive resistance so you constantly have to be pulling fabric while pushing the form away. In my exhausted state, the lessened effort really appealed to me.

I think the obi works not only colour-wise but also thematically in a way. While I know the motif on the kimono is whirlpools and waves, I can’t help but see eyes with really lush eyelashes! The blue accessories just tied it all together neatly, pulling out the hits of pale blue in the wave design. I really like how it all worked out, and I kind of wish I could leave it on the mannequin for longer. Maybe I’ll put it back for a bit after this project is over.

Items used in this coordination

Monochrome Magic

Typically, the rule of thumb for obi/kimono coordination is to choose contrasting colours and motifs. You want the two pieces to pop against each other and then be tied together with accessories. However, monochrome (or nearly monochrome) outfits are becoming more of a trend.

I found this plum tsukesage online and thought it would be a perfect match for the obi I already owned. While under the questionable influence of migraine medication I asked the lovely folks of the Immortal Geisha facebook group if I should go for it, and was actively and heartily encouraged. I tossed out an offer and promptly forgot about the whole thing. Imagine my surprise a week later when I got a shipping notice!

All that being said, I am completely and utterly thrilled with how well these two pieces suit each other. Not only are the base colours nearly identical, but the abstracted half-round peacock motifs perfectly echo the graphic round kiku on the obi. I decided to emphasize those motifs by accenting the outfit with cream and gold accessories, and I don’t think I could be happier!

Items used in this coordination

Obi Bundle Part III – Fukuro Obi

I continue to make ploddingly slow progress when it comes to my share of the obi bundle. Today, the fukuro obi.

Gold and white fukuro obi with traditional patterns
Obi Bundle - Fukuro
Obi Bundle - Fukuro

I love the variation of traditional kimono textures and patterns on this obi. I’ve needed a traditional white and gold obi to pair with kurotomesode for quite some time now, so I’m very pleased I managed to get this one. Another interesting note about it – unlike most modern fukuro obi, which are only patterned on the visible areas, this one is fully patterned down the entire length. This will allow for much more leeway when it comes to tying it.

Gold and seafoam green fukuro with round karabana and clouds
Obi Bundle - Fukuro
Obi Bundle - Fukuro

Okay, this one? IMPOSSIBLE to photograph properly. It’s just waaaaay too shiny. It’s not the sort of thing I’d normally consider my tastes, but I love the soft seafoam green colour, and the gold has this really interesting irridescent shift to it, so I couldn’t resist. I have no idea what I’ll pair it with, but I don’t care. It’s gorgeous!

Plum fukuro with kiku
Obi Bundle - Fukuro
Obi Bundle - Fukuro
This one is really interesting. At first glance it’s sort of dull and drab, even the gold and silver of the kiku is muted compared to most modern fukuro obi. However, the fabric is incredibly lush and rich-feeling, and the base is very unique. It’s a heavy rinzu of kiku leaves, so it’s almost as if the flowers are sitting on a bed of plants. The colour is also impossible to describe – in some lights it’s a plummy eggplant purple, and in some it’s sort of an espresso brown. I can’t stop looking at it, because there’s always something new to see. It’s so subtle, but so unique.

Cream fukuro with pastel tachibana
Obi Bundle - Fukuro
Obi Bundle - Fukuro
This poor beautiful baby has a fair amount of age-related patina, and due to the pale base colour it’s quite visible. However, I’m sure I can find a way to wrap and tie it so that the worst parts are hidden. I love tachibana so I had to give this one a chance.