Back to School, Meiji-Style!

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I have always loved the look of the traditional Meiji/Taisho era schoolgirl outfits; the youthfulness of the hakama, the timeless feel of the yagasuri kimono, the modern and almost masculine touches of little leather ankle boots. When I splurged on this teal hakama a few months back, I’d imagined pairing it with my red and white yagasuri komon. What I hadn’t thought of was including this vintage taffeta haori I love to death, but as soon as I saw the three pieces sitting together in a pile I knew I’d found the perfect finishing touch to this outfit and with lots of schools starting this week, it seemed like an ideal time to pull it all together.

I knew I wanted to use a black obi to help anchor everything, but I don’t actually own a black hanhaba obi. Thankfully, because I was just dressing the mannequin, I could fudge things a little. I used the waist part of a two-piece tsuke-obi and a big obi-makura in the back to give the hakama something to anchor to. The plum motif of the haneri might not be totally seasonally appropriate for a “back to school” outfit, but the colours felt so right I had to run with it.

Aside from the haori (which is incredibly narrow, even by vintage standards), these pieces are all quite large which means I can totally fit into them. The hakama especially makes it easier and more comfortable for me, so expect to see this coordination on yours truly at some point in the near future. A cute pair of ankle boots would make things easy and still be appropriate to the ensemble. I just need to invest in a proper black hanhaba obi and then find somewhere to go and hope that the cooperates!

Items used in this coordination

New Feature: Outfit of the week!

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Everyone, please say hello to the newest contributor to this blog. Her name is Tsukiko, she has no head, and she will be modelling outfits and coords that are either too small or too fragile for me to wear myself. As you probably know, my health is still not fantastic, and dressing myself simply for photoshoots is tiring and not ideal. Hopefully having Tsukiko around will encourage me to post more frequently! I am aiming to do one coordination a week, but we’ll see how long that lasts 😉

Today’s coordination was mostly an excuse to use this gorgeous antique irotomesode/komon hybrid. I have been in love with this thing since I received it, but it’s incredibly delicate and fragile silk and it’s very tiny. Realistically, even if I lost a hundred pounds, it still would not fit me. I paired it with a vintage remake obi I love to bits that’s also awkwardly small, and I love how soft and dusty they feel together. The obiage, obijime, and haneri are all modern, but they have a similarly desaturated pastel feel and I think they look perfect with the kimono. Please click on the images to see larger versions.

Items used in this coordination

Vintage Irotomesode-komon hybrid

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When I saw the listing for this item, I fell hard and fast in love. The late Meiji/Early Taisho style designs around the hem looked so soft and gorgeous, the varied-width stripe rinzu silk was awesome, and I found the small scattered pattern combined with the hem design really unique. I was expecting people to fight for it, but somehow it slipped under the radar and I got it for a great price.

It’s quite small, but I expected that. I will be able to wear it for photos but I don’t think I’ll be comfortable wearing it out of the house, sadly. However, as a conversation piece it’s pretty priceless. Nowadays kimono fall staunchly into very specific categories ranging from informal komon with all-over patterns to very formal tomesode with designs only below the knees, usually with a crest. This one somehow manages to be both. Before World War II, kimono were worn much more frequently and it was more common to see ones that blurred or outright crossed these formality lines, but I’d never seen one that was a combination of such blatantly different designs.

Another interesting aspect of it is that the motifs (peony, narcissus, and nandina) are very Spring season-specific. It’s a formal crested kimono, generally these tend to have more celebratory or all-season motifs, to prevent the need from owning too many. Anyone who could afford to have a formal, crested kimono that could only be worn for a month (possibly two) out of the year clearly had an appreciation for the finer things in life, and the finances to back that up.

The auction listing showed this as a standard indigo blue, so I was more than a little confused when I opened the package and a purple kimono fell out. I saw the rinzu stripes and the little leaves and knew it was the right item, but it’s a completely different colour. I don’t mind at all though – I’ve wanted a dark purple kimono for a very long time but they usually go for much higher prices. The yuzen work on the hem is also even more soft and delicate than the auction pictures had led me to believe. It’s a gorgeous piece, and my only complaint is that I like it even more than I thought I would so I am sad that it doesn’t fit me very well.

Irotomeosode-Komon Hybrid

Irotomeosode-Komon Hybrid