Big Bold Bamboo

My finger has healed enough for me to do kitsuke, and while I did say I was looking forward to coordinating my new shrimp obi, this big bold bamboo piece from Ichiroya was calling my name. It took me a while to find the right obi for it but this one feels perfect. It’s pale so it brings light and contrast to the outfit, but the reds and yellows tie them together nicely.

I went for more stripes with the haneri, and think it blends in well but still feels distinct. A few hits of pale blue and bold red in the obiage and obijime helped bring some more brightness into an otherwise very muted coordination. I also think this is probably the nicest tsunodashi musubi I’ve ever tied, but honestly that’s not saying much. For some reason it’s always given me difficulty! It definitely feels easier for me to tie using a hakata obi like this one, so now I want to try it again with another hakata obi soon.

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L is for Layers

Layers, one thickness, course, or fold laid or lying over or under another

Today was a finicky one, since there is no L letter or phoneme in Japanese – loanwords from other languages such as English will typically use ru- or ra- syllables instead. So obviously I couldn’t use a traditional motif or technique for this entry. Instead, I decided to run with a relatively mundane English word. Layers. Lots of lovely layers!

The concept of layering one kimono over another is definitely nothing new. Think back to my entry about junihitoe from a few days ago! As recently as the Taisho era, it was common for formal kimono to come as a kasane set, including two or three layers of matching kimono in coordinating colours. Even after these were deemed too heavy and impractical, it was trendy to use a dounuki, which was somewhere between a kimono and a juban, to give the illusion of multiple layers.

I bought this kimono way back in the early autumn, before the whole flood nonsense, but I’d just never had the occasion to do anything with it until now. But I knew it would be gorgeous with a peek of bright golden yellow peeking out at the collar, sleeves, and hem, so out it came.

My vivid yellow rose houmongi made the perfect layer underneath, along with a green and gold date-eri to give the impression of even more layers! I used my beloved green and gold hakata obi to pull out more of the green and gold, and draw more attention to the gorgeous stained-glass designs on the kimono. Of course, my beloved lemon-yellow accessories worked perfectly here. But honestly, when don’t they work?

I love this whole coordination more than I can express. I knew in my mind it would work well, but seeing it in person it’s even better than I imagined. It’s always a great day when that happens!

Items used in this coordination

Timeless Elegance

Thank you so much for being patient while I was out of town, and settling back in. I apologise for the lack of content, and if you’re curious as to why I’ve been relatively radio silent there’s a bit of info at the bottom of this post. Feel free to skip it though.

I knew I needed to get back into the swing of things, and decided to do something with the gorgeous, timeless elegance of this vintage irotomesode. Like a lot of other pieces from this era, the designs on it are incredibly soft and dusty and subdued, and I wanted to make sure the obi didn’t compete or overwhelm in any way. As you may know, I’m of the mind that hakata obi go with everything and anything, so this very pale pink and white one seemed like the ideal complement to the dusky pastels of the kimono.

I’m trying to branch out and do more interesting things with my kitsuke, so I tried doing kouken musubi and I think it turned out quite well for a first attempt! Olive green accessories and a coordinating haneri helped give the whole outfit a bit of weight and contrast, which I think it definitely needed.

It felt good to get this done. While I was down in California, two separate tragedies struck at times when I felt helpless to do anything. My friend Dan Howard, the incredibly talented and sweet and funny artist who drew this portrait of me, lost a hard-fought battle with pneumonia. The following day our tiny, grumbly, loveable cat Tribble (whom you’ve definitely seen if you’re a long-time reader) succumbed to a very aggressive form of cancer. My folks made the humane choice to end her suffering but I was thousands of miles away and couldn’t say goodbye. So I was already not in a great place mentally or emotionally, and leaving Keith always makes me sad. On top of everything else, the trip home was long, full of incidents and delays. All these things have compounded to put me in a pretty bad state of mind. Distracting myself with something as familiar as kimono really helped today.

If you read all that, I apologise and I thank you. But I’m starting to do better, and we’ll be back to a more regular schedule from here on in. 💖

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#MonoKimono Challenge – Bold Red

Can you believe the year is finally over? I knew I wanted to end the #monokimono challenge with a bang, so I went with a really festive-feeling bold red coordination.

I know I use this kimono a lot, but I do love it to bits. It was my first kimono and it’s still one of the easiest to work with. This whole outfit fell into place very easily and dressing the mannequin took no effort at all. Which is a good thing, because I slipped on the ice getting into the car last night and pulled my entire right side out of alignment. Nothing serious, but it’s uncomfortable and annoying! So I’m very glad this outfit cooperated so well.

Once I had the red kimono sorted, this red and white hakata obi was a no-brainer. The reds are nearly identical, and the white geometric plays off the flowing white kiku of the kimono. I don’t have a red haneri so I went with white, also with kiku motif, and a gold kasane-eri for a little bit of punch. The obijime is one I bought at that big kimono bazaar in the autumn and I’m so happy to have found a way to feature it.

This is such a bright, vibrant outfit. It feels perfect for that liminal time between Christmas and New Year’s day. It also brought me a lot of joy to coordinate it, and that’s something I sorely needed in my life right now.

I don’t know if I’ll do this monthly challenge again in 2019, but I know I will still be making monochrome outfits now and again because it’s a lot of fun and encourages me to step out of the “typical kimono comfort zone”.

Items used in this coordination

#monoKimono Challenge – Summer White

This may be the last weekend in August, but we’re still suffering the heat here. With the humidity factored in, they’re predicting temperatures in the high 30s again this week. So I decided to run with some cool summer white usumono coordination for this month’s monochrome outfit, even though I did a white/cream one not long ago with the wedding ensemble.

I often find myself breaking the rules a bit with these monochrome outfits. I guess I figure that if I’m playing with one rule, I may as well play with them all. So this outfit is sort of all over the place formality-wise and season-wise, but I really wanted to keep it all in that warm white/cream family with yellow accents to make the bells on the kimono pop out.

Also, if I’m being honest, I just don’t have much variety when it comes to actual summer-weight accessories, so I had to use normal ones. Maybe I should limit myself to only buying usumono for a while. I’ve already cut down on my buying habits lately, this would be even better motivation to stick to that.

I quite like how this turned out, even if it does have a lot “wrong” with it. And it wasn’t too terribly overwhelming to put together even in this oppressive weather. Win-win!

Don’t forget, there’s only a few days left to enter the stencil giveaway!

Items used in this coordination