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

Shishi Overload!

This kimono is eventually going to live with Naomi, since it’s got some of her favourite motifs and colours and will never, ever fit me, but I really wanted to have a little more fun with it before I sent it off to its new home.

Typically overloading on the same motif in the kimono and the obi isn’t ideal, but when has that sort of thing ever stopped me? I just wanted to do a full-on shishi overload! Despite the obi’s neutral black base, I wasn’t sure if they’d work together, but think the almost shocking contrast of the blue-and-red accessories managed to bring cohesion to the outfit.

I was also reminded how ridiculously short this obi is when I pulled a muscle in my back trying to tie it. I have skills, you guys. I had the same issues with it while doing the Gryffindor outfit, but I conveniently forgot about all that. One day I’ll likely end up turning it into a tsuke-obi to make it less of a pain (literally) in the future, but at least I got it to look the way I wanted it in the meantime.

#monoKimono Challenge – Warm Brown

If I’m being completely honest, when I embarked on the #monokimono challenge I had no real plans to do a brown coordination. Brown felt so blah and boring to me. And then I ended up with this stunning warm brown Taisho-era houmongi and all that changed. I’ve coordinated it three or four times already this year and here I am, doing it again. It’s just so pretty and soft.

My plan was intially to use my brown iromuji as a sort of dounuki, an extra inner layer. But the colours are so identical it didn’t really add anything visually, and the sleeves are so much shorter that it looked odd, so I just scrapped that plan. I’d never used this particular obi before and thought it would be a good time to feature it, since it’s got the same subdued, dusty feeling as the kimono and the brown tones are an excellent match. What I didn’t realise, however, is that it’s a hikinuki obi. Hikinuki obi are meant to be tied in a different way and the pattern on the drum is upside-down. Normally they’re much bolder designs, since they’re often used for quick changes by stage performers. This is by far the most “boring” hikinuki I’ve ever seen. I did manage to get it tied with the design the right way up though! It just took a little more fussing than I’m used to. A few more brown accessories finished things off. I only have one brown-based haneri and it’s much more modern and bold in feeling and looked out of place, so I went with basic white.

Only one month of monochrome kimono to go, and a much bolder outfit inn the works for December.

Items used in this coordination

Okiku – Yokai Halloween 2018

Okiku‘s story is one of the most tragic and, despite being hundreds of years old, still incredibly relevant today. She was a beautiful young woman who was a servant and dishwasher at Himeji castle. A retainer named Aoyama wanted her for his lover but she refused. Eventually he framed her for losing a prized plate and said he would not report it to their master if she agreed to be with him. Still, she refused. He resorted to beating her and repeatedly dunking her in the will and yet she still refused. Eventually his rage and fury took over and he stabbed her with his sword and dropped her body into the well.

Her vengeful ghost haunted the castle, looking for the missing dish, and tormented Aoyama until the lord called a priest to the palace to deal with the situation. He pretended to have found the missing dish and Okiku’s ghost was finally able to rest.

Okiku is a woman’s name derived from Kiku, or Chrysanthemum, so I chose this kimono both for its subtle vintage feel and the kiku motif repeated on it. Same for the haneri. I wanted a sort of dusty, ethereal feel for the coordination. Initially I had another obi in mind, but I found this one at the bazaar over the weekend and fell head-over-heels for it and was determined to feature it sometime soon. The motif on it is technically mirrors, but you have to admit that they look very much like fancy plates, which tied in perfectly with Okiku’s story. At first I was worried it would be too bold against the muted kimono but I think it adds just the right amount of drama. It also helps to bring out the teal-green foliage accents among the flowers.

Here’s a little behind-the-scenes bonus of Vinnie, since he hasn’t made a guest appearance here in a while.

Items used in this coordination