Outfit of the Whenever: Sugar & Spice

I have accepted that calling this feature Outfit of the Week is unrealistic. I will try to continue posting at minimum once a month; we’ll see how that goes 😉

I’ve been wanting to do an outfit using a blouse in lieu of juban for quite some time now, but never really found inspiration until now. The other day I found this ruffled, high-necked, almost Victorian-inspired black blouse and everything fell right into place. I went with a very simple colour scheme, just using black and dusty pink. The kimono is an iromuji with a really lush, textured silk weave. The obi is actually my lobster tsuke obi wrapped backwards so it’s just solid black. I realised as I was dressing Tsukiko that it was coming across as a very pretty, demure, sort of outfit so I ramped that up with my pearls and an ume kanzashi from GirLinKimono on Etsy used as an obidome. It seemed very fitting for Valentine’s Day.

I love how soft and simple this coordination is, without being remotely boring. I also really like how the blouse-as-undergarment turned out, and I may end up having to try this out on myself sometime in the near future. It seems like it would be easier and more comfortable than worrying about juban and everything.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you all! May it be filled with love and chocolate or whatever else makes you happy.

Items used in this coordination

Ashes to Ashes

When I woke up this morning, my social media feed was full of posts expressing shock and sorrow about the passing of David Bowie. People of all ages and genders came together to lament the loss of someone who seemed above such boring human concerns as dying. I’m still not entirely done processing it.

In order to cope, I decided to dress Tsukiko. Rather than go for a typical mourning ensemble, I tried to capture the spirit of David Bowie at his most memorable. He was known for his theatrical and flamboyant personas, for his transcendence of time, space, sexuality, and gender. He was also an avid fan of Japanese culture, and often had stage outfits and clothing inspired by Japan. I set out to create an outfit that defied categorisation; a vintage woman’s kimono tied male-style with a low and narrow modern obi, a mid-century haori decorated with chrysanthemums – flowers that once signified queerness.

I’m happy how it turned out. It may not obviously scream his name, but I know what inspired it, and that’s enough for me. Farewell, Starman. Several generations of freaks and weirdos mourn today.

 

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Items used in this coordination

明けましておめでとう! Akemashite omedetou! Happy New Year!

The new year is upon us! A time of renewal, change, and hope. I wish all of you the best for 2016 and beyond.

To celebrate the beginning of a new year, I pulled out one of my favourite kimono to coordinate. I bought this one the last time I visited Vintage Kimono in Boulder, Colorado. At first glance it looks like a relatively minimalist kurotomesode, with a sparse design of chidori and matsu (plover and pine). However, it’s also got a smattering of chidori on one sleeve. This was a brief trend for kurodomesode, which traditionally only have patterns on the hem. As western-style seating spread through Japan, kimono designers realised that a lot of the artwork and craftsmanship of these most formal kimono were getting lost, as women sat up with their feet tucked away. They started putting a small design somewhere that would be visible in theatre-style seating, usually on one shoulder or sleeve.

The trend has since fallen out of favour and kurotomesode have gone back to their hem-only design placement, but you can still occasionally find little oddities like this one. I’ve been told that at this point I can choose to wear it as a kurotomesode, or a very formal houmongi. Which is probably a good thing, seeing as how I’m 34 and still single.

I paired the kimono with a fairly typical white-and-gold obi with auspicious designs, tied in standard niijudaiko musubi, to hopefully double my good fortune for the coming year. However, I’d forgotten what a complete and utter beast this thing is to tie. It’s very long, even by modern fukuro standards, as well as being very slippery and floppy. It has a core, but it’s a very soft one. So unless I go in forearmed with a handful of extra himo and clips, it always slides around and loosens while tying it. Thankfully I had not only a bunch of tools but also a very helpful and cooperative father to hold bits and pieces while I tied other bits and pieces.

I’ve decided that this year, I am not going to make resolutions. They never work for me. I am, however, going to set goals. If I attain them, fantastic! If I don’t quite succeed, at least I tried and progressed. There’s no point in making myself feel bad for not achieving relatively arbitrary marker points.

Kimono-related goals I would like to set for 2016:

  • Lose enough weight to comfortably wear kimono again.
  • Consistently and regularly work through the backlog of book and tea reviews I’ve got half-done.
  • Coordinate more outfits on Tsukiko.
  • Write more. Blog entries, fiction, personal journal entries. Doesn’t matter what, so long as it’s words.

Do you have any kimono-related goals or resolutions? I’d love to hear about them! Please share them in the comments.

 

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like… Something

We were tidying and decorating the living room in anticipation of Christmas entertaining, and I thought I’d get Tsukiko in on the action. I pulled out my trusty green iromuji, and a red-and-gold obi. I had a heck of a revelation while I was dressing her. She’s a standard store display torso, which means she’s roughly a US clothing size 2. The iromuji was small on her. How the heck did I ever successfully wear this thing?

I think she looks suitably festive and at-home with all the decorations. And don’t worry, she’ll be moved before we light a fire.

I wish you a wonderful holiday season, whatever you may celebrate, filled with love and light and food and family and happiness!

Outfit of the Week: Pretty Poppies

I really should rename this feature to Outfit of the Whenever I Have Time, but I digress. You may or may not know this, but my mother’s name is Poppy. Because of this, we have a lot of poppy-themed stuff in our house, and for the longest time I had made it a goal of mine to find a kimono with poppies on it. When I found this one, I knew I had to have it. I love the slightly abstract, retro style of the dye-work. I actually did dress my mother in this once, but nobody managed to take photos, so I decided to put it on Tsukiko. I went with a simple red tsuke-obi to highlight the lovely red of the poppies, and a brown and green obijime to echo the khaki green in the hem. I also used a green haneri to reinforce that green accent. The obiage is actually a much darker, richer purple, closer to the eggplant colour of the kimono, but no matter what I tried, it photographed as this bright electric indigo. Oh well!

Items used in this coordination