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

Roaring Twenties

A while back, a friend sent me this awesome michiyuki with gorgeous long sleeves. It sat in storage for some time while I wondered what to do with it, and it recently struck me that it would make an amazing dress-like outfit.

Michiyuki like these are intended as over-coats for inclement weather, but they are also great to wear and style as mod-era dresses. Their boxy shape is perfect, and since they’re the only common kimono garment that actually snaps up the front, they’re very easy to wear.

The styling for this one was super simple; I wanted to keep the Taisho vibe of the piece in focus so I went for a bit of a sleek twenties feel. A gold necklace worked to bring out the warm tones in the garment, and a big chunky belt gave it a bit of shape and definition at the waist. I have another michiyuki with a much more modern and graphic pattern, and I can’t wait to do a similar outfit with that one as well, but trying to evoke the mod style of the 1960s.

I’m still on vacation, but I’m keeping up with things as much as I can. How do we all feel about the new upcoming era name, Reiwa? I’m not sure how I feel, I think it will really depend on how people choose to interpret it. The intention of “good/auspicious peace” is lovely, but the fact that it can also be read as “commanded peace” feels a bit odd to me. I guess only time will tell!

Items used in this coordination

Armed & Dangerous

The mannequin, I mean. Not me! She’s still not perfect, but we managed to make her arms work for the time being. After all the fuss and bother on Saturday, I figured that since she had arms now, I should probably work on getting her dressed. I thought that to get myself out of the funk, I’d try to redo one of my favourite old outfits featuring one of my most prized kimono. Unfortunately, it’s basically unwearable now due to the sleeves detaching and a lot of the gold embroidery lifting off the silk, but gently draping it on the mannequin is safe enough.

Rather than use the same old hakata obi I used last time, I decided to see what I could do with the tsuke darari obi I got over the summer. I think I managed to disguise it quite well and I totally love how they tied together. This green and gold date-eri really looks like it belongs with this obi, doesn’t it? Red accessories finished things off and pulled out some of the warmer tones from the kimono. I had fun with the obijime too. I love playing with the multiple thin ends on some of these fancy furisode obijime.

It may have been a struggle, but I’m glad I pushed through because the end result is so beautiful. I will, however, be looking for someone to repair this kimono. At the very least, the sleeves need to be re-attached properly and the gold couching needs to be fixed where it’s coming off.

Items used in this coordination

Memories of Summer

It’s snowing today. Again. We had a blizzard on Monday. It’s been frigid enough lately that there’s been warnings to stay indoors. I live in Quebc, I expect winter to be unpleasant. But this winter hasn’t just been unpleasant, it’s been brutal. So I thought I’d do my best to remind myself that summer will be here eventually!

I bought this gorgeous usumono (summer weight) vintage komon at the kimono bazaar back in November and initially had no plans to do anything with it until it was more seasonally appropriate. But I really needed a breath of warm summer air, and decided to feature it.

I love the colour of this piece; it’s a shade of plum that’s somehow rich but muted all at once. And the art-deco feeling birds on it are utterly charming. It’s tiny and will never fit me, but it was incredibly affordable for its age and fragility, and I loved it too much to pass it by.

Typically, I don’t bother putting a juban on the mannequin. She doesn’t sweat so I don’t need a layer to protect the kimono, she doesn’t move so I don’t need the security of it, and she doesn’t need any further padding or smoothing, so usually it’s not necessary. However, this kimono is so sheer that it would have looked odd and shapeless, and I’ve been wanting to feature this ridiculously adorable shrimp juban Naomi gave me for a while now. It’s technically too heavy for the weight of the kimono, but I love how the colours work together and thematically I like the idea of birds swooping over the cool, breezy ocean and diving in to catch the shrimp!

I used my white ro hakata obi, partially because it looks refreshing against the purple and partially because it’s the only summer weight obi I own. Pale purple summer weight accessories and a cool white ro haneri tie it all together.

It may be completely disgusting and frigid and messy outside, but it’s good to look back on happy memories of summer.

Items used in this coordination

Outfit Generator Experiment

A few months back, I coded up a little script to generate some kimono coordination ideas. If you click that link you can play with it as well! I thought it would be fun to use it myself, since I was feeling motivated to play with kimono but wasn’t getting that strike of inspiration I usually start with.

This is the combination I got, so I got to work. Purple iromuji was straightforward enough, since I only have the one. It’s not quite Taisho but it is lined with red and has elegantly long sleeves, so it felt sufficiently vintage to me. All I had to do after that was work on creating an outfit around it.

My original plan was to use this bright turquoise nagoya obi, but against the purple it definitely felt more bold and youthful than “Elegant”. But then I remembered a conversation I had with a friend about how gingko are one of my favourite ornamental trees ever and yet I only have one item with them as a motif, and even then it’s a very small, subtle part.

It seemed like the universe was telling me to use that particular obi. It’s fairly modern, but something about the designs and colour palette feel timeless, and the hints of purple in it play very well with the purple kimono. I pulled accessories out of the obi’s colour selection and finally found an opportunity to use this new haneri.

Everything really came together well, I think. I managed to stick quite close to the suggestions the generator threw at me, and the outfit still feels totally wearable, not costumey or ridiculous. I think whenever I’m feeling uninspired, I’ll use the generator again and see what happens. If you use it, I’d love to see what you come up with!

Items used in this coordination