Indigo Girl

I’d been waffling about buying a Taisho-era indigo piece for a while when this came up on Ichiroya, and while it was a bit more than I usually pay for kimono, the colour, size, and condition of it were all worth the investment in my mind. This is a houmongi with era-typical long sleeves and a beautiful, multiseasonal floral design. It’s got branches of ume (plum blossom), iris, botan (peony), and bamboo around the hem, and a bold, graphic stem of tachibana, which is probably my favourite floral motif. I love how squishy and fun they look!

It also has some gorgeous, lush embroidery on some of the geometric designs

However, I think one of my favourite things about this kimono is probably one of the most subtle. Woven directly into the fabric, before the dyeing process was started, is a gorgeous red and gold windowpane plaid. You’d never see detailing like this on a modern houmongi, as nowadays that sort of design is considered strictly informal. Naomi wrote a great piece on the qualities of indigo dye, and the transitional phenomenon of putting stripes (which are very casual by modern standards) on more formal kimono. It’s a trend I think is beautiful and needs to come back into vogue.

I’ve worn this kimono once, but only inside the yard, as I’m a little worried about wearing such an old piece out and about. Maybe one day when the right time and place come up, I will do so. I chose to pair it with a late-Showa era obi, which may seem odd but the clouds, grasses, and colours just seemed perfect with it. The obiage and obijime were a gift from a friend, and bring out the soft blue and olive tones in the kimono perfectly. For a vintage feel, I chose some burnt paulownia geta instead of zori.

Birthday splurging.

Several weeks ago I was lucky enough to be able to go visit my dearest friend in Boulder, Colorado. Aside from being a beautiful city with a firm grip on my soul, Boulder is also home to a rather unexpected Vintage Kimono Showroom. Janine, the lovely owner, was kind enough to give me an early start on her holiday sale, since I was only going to be in town for a week. I went on my birthday, of all days, since my friend was stuck at work.

I managed to snag some really awesome pieces. I did my best to not go overboard, buying only things that I found really special. One piece in particular was so special that it’s going to get its own entry soon, I am just waiting on an obi to coordinate it with. In the meantime, here are the other things I picked up, behind the cut!

First up, a great little vintage yabane komon.

Based on the colours and sleeve length, I’d guesstimate it at early Showa. The sleeves are lined in red, but just by a few inches, I think someone may have added it in on their own. The fabric on this one is quite odd, it feels almost like a cotton-silk blend. It’s nice and airy, despite being fully lined, and I feel as though I could almost wear it year-round.

I also snagged two gorgeous haori, including my first-ever vintage one. The modern one is lovely, a thick black silk with karabana (fantasy flowers) in soft pastels. The way it’s dyed gives it a great artsy feel.

I actually wore this out to my birthday dinner, along with a green cowl-neck sweater and jeans, as well as the lovely pearl necklace I got from my friend. No photos of the outfit, but feel free to enjoy a blurry shot of my ugly mug enjoying a stuffed scallop!

The other haori is amazing. It’s a lush, crisp taffeta silk in a great teal, red, black and white stripe. The sleeves are deliciously long, it’s nice to finally have a haori I can wear with my vintage kimono.

The other great thing about vintage haori is the lining fabric they used to use. Often times they were much more vivid and crazy than the haori themselves.

My last addition were two obijime.

A cute, straightforward two-sided red and black casual obijime

And an adorable vivid fluorescent red-orange obijime with pastel hakata detail. I’m really loving these hakata obiage I keep finding. Another great thing about this one is that I can wear obidome with it 😀

Overall, I’m really happy with everything I got, and I am looking forward to sharing the other special piece soon!

Bingata-style blue komon

This was a gift from the ever-lovely Naomi. I’d been meaning to wear it for a while, and had planned this outfit for a work event last weekend, but unfortunately I was sick as a dog, and ended up not leaving the house. Today the weather was nice and I had some time, so I figured I’d give the outfit some air, even if I wasn’t going anywhere.

The kimono is beautiful – deep rich indigo-type blue with patterns of woven fences and flowers. It’s new, but has a very vintage feel with the long sleeves. It’s also deliciously large, it gives me nearly a full wingspan, wraps well around my hips, and is long enough to get a great ohashori.

I paired it up with my red hakata hanhaba obi and a green sayagata (key/swastika motif) haneri, plain white tabi, and my black ukon geta with green hanao. Wearing them made me realize how urgently I need to adjust the straps, after a few minutes they were digging into my feet and causing hideous pain. I’d put the red headband on to keep my overly-long bangs out of my face while doing my makeup, but realized the red lips and red satin hairband gave the whole outfit a really cute retro feel.

A huge thank you to my lovely neighbour Tom taking the pictures in his yard. 🙂

Items used in this coordination

The one that started it all…

Have you ever bought something on somewhat of an impulse that you both cherish and regret? I sure as hell have! I love this piece to bits and I’m so proud I snagged it before I knew what I was doing, but my wallet still holds it partially responsible for this habit hobby.

Back in 2003, I’d toyed with the idea of buying a kimono for some time, due most likely to my paternal grandmother’s appreciation of Asian antiques and textiles. She’s not been with us for a very long time, but I’m sure she would heartily encourage this silly hobby. But I digress..

As I mentioned, I’d waffled with the idea but did essentially no research. A smart person would have probably started with a yukata or something, but I honestly had no idea of types, formality, eras, motifs, etc. I just saw this beast and fell head over heels. I had to have it.

It’s a gorgeous early-Showa era houmongi. The silk is thick and rich and delicious, and the design is sweeping streams of spider-style kiku in white with faint black and gold accents. The dramatic, graphic contrast is what drew me to it in the first place. The sleeves are long, not quite Taisho-era, but still elegant and draping, and the lining is a vivid red. I love the subtle black to grey yuzen dyeing on the leaves so much.

I’ve paired it up with a black, red, and gold formal obi, but I’d like to try it with a softer, more vintage style at some point. Though, I have to say I love how it looks with the contrast of black, and how the red makes my skin and hair look. Is that conceited? XD

Items used in this coordination

Black Taisho bridal furisode

This is probably one of the jewels of my collection; a black-based, five crested bridal hikizuri. The hem is padded but it is too short for me to wear trailing, so I wear it as a normal furisode. I came across it on eBay and couldn’t bear to risk getting involved in a bidding war. Thankfully there was a reasonable Buy It Now option so I just went for it.

It’s not in the best condition, some of the gold couching is coming off and one of the sleeves was a bit detached when it arrived, but it doesn’t detract from the overall beauty of the piece. I have fixed the sleeve, and am looking for someone who can fix the couching. The embroidery and details on it are breathtaking. I have never seen such lush, textured needlework before.

I chose to pair it up with a green and gold hakata obi and orange and green accessories. I love this outfit. It’s a shame I do not feel comfortable wearing such an old and delicate piece out, nor do I have anywhere formal enough for it to be appropriate.

Items used in this coordination