From the Archives – retro-style wool komon coordination

Okay, this is kind of a cheat. This is an outfit I wore quite some time ago, but I quite liked how it turned out. It’s murderously hot out, so I thought maybe an outfit for the fall would remind me of the lovely crisp weather in early spring, and cool everyone down.

It’s all over the place formality-wise, and not really correct with the gloves and boots, but I was going for an overall look, feel and style here, not perfect Sodo kimono regulations. I was aiming for a sort of subdued 20s style, and I think I kind of pulled it off. I’d love to wear some sort of little cloche hat with this, but I look like a total doofus in any sort of hat so let us never speak of that again.

 

I paired up my great black, white, and red wool komon with my red tsuke-obi and red synthetic haori. A green kasane-eri, green shibori obiage, and round green obijime hold everything together and add a bit of pop. See what I mean about mixing formality? For those of you who aren’t familiar with the rules, I’ve put cocktail-level formal accessories with a “running grubby errands” kimono. And then, if that wasn’t enough, I’m wearing high-heeled black leather boots and black opera gloves! The scandal!

Items used in this coordination

Red Kiku Tsukesage

I originally bought this kimono to go with a specific obi, my Stations of the Tokaido Hakata obi. It’s a warm, rich brick red that really screams fall, which goes very well with the delicate kiku motif saraga nui embroidery around the hem.

It’s a much more mature kimono than my tastes usually veer to, but I think sometimes it’s nice to have simple, classic things to fall back on. It’s also great for dressing people who may be older, or may not be comfortable with really crazy vivid vintage kimono designs.

The embroidery is very delicate. I’ve come to notice that between this and my shifuku houmongi, I’m starting to amass a collection of really intricate french knot embroidered kimono. Perhaps I can use this as an excuse to buy more!

I’ve only had the chance to wear it once, when I went out to visit Amelie, but hopefully I’ll have more appropriate and seasonal opportunities to wear it in the future.

Traveling down the Tokaido Road

This is an entry that’s been a long time in coming. It may get a bit verbose, and I apologize. If you’re not interested in personal ramblings and art-related discussion, feel free to skip it.

My interest in kimono stemmed from an interest in traditional Japanese aesthetic in general, which I believe I inherited from my grandmother. I have always been fond of traditional woodblock prints; landscapes in particular.

The Tokaido Road is a highway connecting the New Capital, Edo (tokyo), with the Old Capital, Kyoto. There are 53 famous way-stations along this road, plus the start and end points. Edo-era artist Hiroshige Ando became so enamored of the views of these stations that he produced several series of prints, known as the “Stations of the Tokaido“. There are four editions of these, each from slightly different vantage points and during different times of year. The most famous, however, is the Hoeido Edition, and is the one I will most often be referencing here.

About a year ago, I found an obi on Ichiroya of a snow-covered cabin in the mountains. As soon as I saw it, I felt an immense pull and a desperate desire to have it. As I’ve mentioned before, my best friend lives in Colorado, and I often go visit him (sometimes buying kimono while I’m there), and I initially chalked the nostalgia the obi made me feel to my love of the mountains there. Naomi‘s darling husband Arian took pity on me and my obsessive infatuation, and bought me the obi as a gift.

The more I thought about it though, the more visually and emotionally familiar it felt. It took me a while, and a great bit of help from Erica, it finally hit me. It was a creative interpretation of Station 15, Kambara, with the people removed.

This discovery, unfortunately, created a torrent I’ve since been unable to stop. I dove headfirst into more detailed research of the Stations of the Tokaido, mostly on the internet, but in my own bookshelves as well. I’d actually purchased books about Hiroshige years before, and one that’s always come in handy is Hiroshige In Tokyo, by Julian Bicknell. Armed with a new wealth of information and a new obsesson, I dove in. I made the unfortunate discovery that these prints are a fairly popular motif for kimono and related items – obi in particular. With that knowledge in hand, I have begun to amass a “collection within a collection,” if you will.

Since that first obi, I have acquired several more, and a decorative dance fan. My ambition is to eventually have items with all the stations on them, but that is a long-term goal for when I have much more expendable income!

I am not sure, but I believe this is an interpretation of Station 14, Yoshiwara. As always, if you have further information or can read the text on it, by all means let me know.

This one is also very special to me – I have mentioned before my love of hakata, so when I found an obi that was both hakata weave and several stations, I knew I had to have it. I saved up, and the day I was ready to purchase it, someone I know online bought it for herself. I’m not going to lie, I was devastated. Through her own kindness, and the helpfulness of Yuka at Ichiroya, the obi found its way to me. I love it to bits. It contains stations Kuwana, Mariko, and Hakone.

The last obi is another one of Hakone. I already had the hakata one at this point, but I loved the soft pastel colours on this one and it was a bargain, so I couldn’t pass it up.

The last item I currently own is not an obi, but rather a nice, solid dance fan. It has the starting point (or station 0 if you will), Nihonbashi Bridge.

I am, in fact, so obsessed with this that I am currently coveting a particular nail polish – NARS Tokaido Express. Those of you who know me well are aware that I also have a passion for doing my nails and ferreting away a huge collection of nail polishes (I have over 200 at this point). When I found this polish, I knew I had to have it! The fact that it’s a gorgeous rich espresso brown with purple and gold shimmer doesn’t help! Unfortunately, it’s an expensive designer brand and actually more expensive than several of my cheaper kimono! I will have it eventually though! Probably much sooner than the kimono-related goal.

If you would like to learn more about Hiroshige or purchase prints of his work, please check out the Utagawa Hiroshige page on Artsy.

New kimono and obi

It’s difficult to get everything I own catalogued when I keep buying new things! Nothing terribly exciting to see here, just posting reference photos of some of the new komon and hakata obi I’ve acquired recently. I also got a new iromuji not long ago, but since I haven’t catalogued my other iromuji yet, I plan to just do them all together.

Taisho Pink Ume Komon


This is a gorgeous vintage piece. It’s covered in thick ume branches and sweet flowers, a few of which are outlined in gold and silver. I snagged this for an amazing price, due to a few unfortunate water spots on the front. They’re not terribly visible, and I’m going to look into removing them eventually.

Purple Lamé Komon


This is the kimono I wore here, so yes, if you’re a regular reader (thank you!) you’ve seen it before. It’s a bit of a weird thing, being heavy lined synthetic, but covered in high-summer motifs. If you can’t be warm, at least you can think warm!

Striped Mauve Komon


This is the kimono I wore here. It’s a nice, big, synthetic piece that has an old feel to it. Cute multi-season designs of kiku (chrysanthemum), sakura (cherry blossom), and yukiwa (snow crystal design).

Pink and White Hakata Obi


A sweet pale pink and white hakata fukuro obi that I got for a steal, due to a few spots of rust discolouration on the ends. I figure so long as it’s tied in something other than otaiko musubi, it won’t ever be visible. Haven’t worn it yet, but I’m looking forward to it!

Reversible Red and White Hakata



Two, two, two obi in one! One side is a gorgeous, dramatic white-on-red hakata, and the other is a great versatile bright red with gold, silver, and white diamonds and various designs. I’m shocked this didn’t sell for more, and thrilled that I won it.

Happy Accidents

At this point I have enough kimono and obi that when I buy new items, I try to justify them by pairing them with an item I already own. Lately though, I’ve been making ridiculous impulse purchases with no real forethought about coordination. The first such purchase was a purple komon with silver lamé designs of nadeshiko (pinks), hagi (bush clover), and waves. These are all typically high-summer designs but the kimono is thick and fully-lined, so it’s likely for winter, to evoke the warm feeling of summer.

The auction photos made it look like a fairly soft, dusty purple with some faint silver patterns, so imagine my shock when it arrived and was a bright, vivid, grape soda colour with incredibly reflective and irridescent designs all over! My first thought was “Wow!” My second thought, however, was “what on earth am I going to wear this with?!” Thankfully, one of my other recent impulse purchases was a vivid, fire-engine red reversible hakata obi. It arrived yesterday and today, after a horribly long and harrowing work-week involving threats at my store, the police, and my grandmother being hospitalized, I decided it was high time to relax with kimono.

I paired them up with my blue and red shibori obiage and a blue, red, and pink hakata obijime. A red vintage juban with a white and silver haneri and silver zori and some glittery red lipstick and nail polish completed the ridiculously metallic outfit. One thing I did not bother doing was binding my breasts, so I apologize for the less-than-smooth line. I was only wearing this outfit as a test run, not actually going out, and I’m currently experiencing some… um… time-of-the-month tenderness that makes binding somewhat uncomfortable.

It was very windy in the yard today!

I am very pleased with how these play off each other. They’re both dramatic enough to hold their own but not so busy that they clash. I’d never intended to pair them up, but it was serendipity that they arrived so close together.