Go With the Flow

Last week, I espoused the virtues of not always sticking to your initial plan. This week reminded me once again why that’s so important! I received this lovely purple-and-pink hakata and asanoha obi during the week and had an entirely different kimono in mind for it. I’m working from home today, so during some down-time I went into the kimono room to collect the pieces I needed and just couldn’t find the kimono anywhere! While rummaging, I pulled this vintage turquoise beauty out and decided to re-think my entire plan. Pink and purple of the obi are both very prominent accent colours in the kimono so I just ran from there.

Once I’d committed to this kimono the rest all slotted neatly into place. The haneri matches the plum purple of the obi and echoes the tachibana motif in the kimono, and my ridiculously versatile yellow accessories literally tied the rest together. The “obidome” is actually a brooch that belonged to my late grandmother and just happens to be a spot-on match for the kimono, as well as having a lovely vintage feel to it that suits the age of the kimono very well. I tied the obi in a sort of tsunodashi variation because it’s a knot that always feels vintage to me too, and I love the way it shows off the two-colour design of the obi so nicely.

I’m very glad I didn’t fight and get frustrated and give up when I couldn’t find the kimono for my initial plan, because I love this one so much more!

Items used in this coordination

 

Palate Cleanser

Lately, all the outfits I’ve put together have been high-concept in one way or another, be it stage hiki styling, non-traditional accents, or bugging other people for ideas. I was really in the mood for a simple, classic, and familiar palate cleanser of an outfit. I’ve also been watching the j-drama Watashitachi wa Dōka Shiteiru rather obsessively (review coming soon!) and was feeling inspired by the classic, traditional, and subtly elegant komon kitsuke often displayed in that show.

A while back I’d noticed that the dusty pink of this hakata weave nagoya obi perfectly  matched the flowers on this komon; I had been meaning to work with them for a while but kept putting it off in favour of “more interesting” pairings. But with my urge to do something clean and elegant, this was the perfect time.

A handful of matchy-matchy accessories, and this was exactly the mood I was going for. There’s enough contrast between the obi and kimono to be interesting, but nothing really screams out for attention. It just feels very balanced and effortlessly chic to me.

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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.

Items used in this coordination

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. 💖

Items used in this coordination