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

Kosode no Te – Yokai Halloween 2018

It’s finally Halloween! I hope you’ve been enjoying this month of yokai coordinations as much as I have! I knew for the finale I needed something bold, and since I’d already used my hikizuri for Iso-onna, I decided to feature the drama of a kurotomesode. And really, what’s more appropriate to finish off this project than an actual haunted kimono spirit? Kosode no Te literally means short-sleeved kimono with hands, and is typically a deceased courtesan’s kimono, or the kimono of someone with unresolved issues. Spectral hands reach out of the sleeves of the kimono and assault the person trying to wear it, or the person who may have wronged the previous owner.

The motif on this particular kimono is called Tagasode, or “Whose Sleeves?” and it’s literally a bunch of kimono airing out on racks. It’s absolutely perfect for this particular yokai, don’t you think? I paired it up with a vintage obi in similar desaturated vintage tones. The obi has a design of thread bobbins, further emphasising the clothing and textile motif. I decided to go with bright red accessories for a punch of almost violent colour to tie it all together.

I’ve had such a wonderful time doing this project, I think it was my favourite Halloween theme I’ve done so far. But I am looking forward to some more “normal” coordinations, not to mention my birthday coming up in November!

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

Kurotome & Jacket Experiment

Last October, amazing and modern kimono stylist Akira put out Akira Times – Wafuku Anarchist, a book of his work. On the cover is a gorgeous woman in a fantastic, punk-feeling kitsuke with a leather jacket over top. Needless to say, I fell in love immediately. I knew I wanted to try something similar, but somehow never got around to it.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I was reminded by Nichole Fiorentino, who also does some utterly gorgeous and aspirational kimono styling, when she posted older photos of her doing a similar kitsuke with holographic accessories and a holographic leather jacket. I knew the time had come for me to do a kurotme & jacket experiment of my own!

Amusingly enough, the jacket itself came from another dear friend named Nicole, and it’s one of my favourite things in my wardrobe. I knew I wanted to use it, instead of a plain black one, so I chose this vintage kurotome because of the similarities in colour accents, and the flower motifs. I figured since I was already doing something “wrong” I could just throw caution to the wind and have a little fun. I pulled out some really bold accessories, and went with the narrow band of my hakata tsuke-obi since the back would be hidden anyway, and it helped to reduce bulk under the jacket.

While I can’t say whether or not I’d ever be confident enough to wear something like this out in public, I do think the experiment was ultimately very successful and I’m glad I did it!

Items used in this coordination

(and one epic jacket!)

Kits-Mas Day 8 – Sho Chiku Bai

Sho Chiku Bai (松竹梅), or Three Friends of Winter, is an auspicious motif comprised of plum, pine, and bamboo. I’d initially wanted to do an ikebana on this theme, but finding flowering plum branches here at this time of year proved utterly impossible. But then I remembered that this beautiful vintage kurotomesode I got recently had it as a motif, along with other bright and auspicious items. I know it hasn’t been long since I coordinated it last, but it still felt like the perfect start for today’s outfit.

I debated doing a simple and traditional coordination with a metallic obi and white accessories, but something felt lacking so I ended up doing a more geisha-styled outfit with the red obiage and then coordinated with a wide red-and-green obijime. I tend to do this a lot with my vintage kurotomesode, but somehow I feel that it does them more justice. Also, these accessories just feel so much more vibrant and festive, don’t they?

I love how these pieces look together but this obi is in really rough shape – there are several places where the weave is basically just shredded. So there’s my first (and likely only) resolution of the year; I’m going to convert this into a tsuke-obi because it’s beautiful but I don’t want to risk tying it again in the state it’s currently in.

I hope your new year is off to a wonderful start! I’m hoping this will be an excellent year for all of us.

Items used in this coordination