Bridal Redux

Bridal kitsuke is probably the most complex and exhausting of all standard forms of kitsuke. I’ve done it on the mannequin a few times before, but always having to improvise a little. I’ve done  fully coloured ensemble and an all-white ensemble, but when I found this red and gold accessory set for a fantastic price, I knew I wanted to do the transitional style often done for a reception. I paired the bold accessories with my flamboyant and loud uchikake but kept the demure subtle white kimono and obi. I think this is actually my favourite type of bridal ensemble.

I think I’m finally getting the hang of wrapping hikizuri-style kimono to get that lovely x-shaped drape of the hem. It’s not perfect, but I can see definite improvement every time I attempt it. The collar’s pretty mangled, but let’s not speak of that… Because this is my first real, full set of accessories, including a proper-sized bira and an actual kakae-obi, I couldn’t resist taking a bunch of detail shots. I hope you enjoy them!

It’s very satisfying to see the whole thing put together like this. Maybe one day someone will let me dress them up in the whole ensemble.

Queen Serenity

Eons ago, I found this pretty rhinestone moon-and-star pendant at Michaels, and my mind immediately went to Sailormoon. I’d been trying to figure out how to do an outfit inspired by Queen Serenity, and the other day while chatting with a friend I finally got the spark of motivation I needed. I took inspiration from the Mulan kitsuke I did. The under-dress is the same one. The fact that it matches the kimono so well was a happy coincidence.

I love the soft, flowing layers of the ivory kimono over the ivory dress. I played up the metallic accessories both to evoke the gold ornamentation on the inspiration image and to tie in the pendant that inspired the whole project. I tied the soft gold obi in an improvised bow somewhere between a bunko and a cho-cho musubi, to echo Queen Serenity’s wings. In a perfect world, I’d have a shimmering gold darari obi to get more length and volume to it, but they’re not exactly easy or affordable to get hold of. An obiage that leaned more gold would have also been an improvement over this very yellow-toned one, but again, I used what I had on hand.

One thing I was not expecting is how elegant and wearable this actually looks. I could see this sort of a combination being worn to a wedding, bridging the gap between traditional and modern aesthetics. Heck, I could even see myself considering an outfit like this if I were ever to get married. Not that it’s remotely in the plans or anything XD

Items used in this coordination

A Little Maiko Inspiration

Sometimes, despite my best efforts to avoid it, I find myself browsing Kijiji for local kimono-related things. Imagine my surprise when I came across someone right near my work, selling a pre-tied darari obi! A darari is the very long, dangling style obi maiko wear. Han-darari means “half-darari” and they’re still cute and dangling, but a much more practical length. They’re typically worn by minarai, the young women in training to become maiko, but can also be worn for stage performances or as a dramatic stylistic choice. This one is actually a bit longer than a standard han-darari, but not long enough or thick enough to be a full darari. I suspect it may have been for a young teenage girl, or a stage show.

Colour-wise, this one was such a perfect match for the beautiful kakeshita a very kind friend sent me, so I thought I’d steal a little bit of maiko inspiration and go for some bright, youthful drama with the bold colour scheme, long obi, and trailing hem of the kimono.

I won’t lie, I’m a little jealous of the mannequin right now! These pieces just look so good together. I think I will make an attempt to wear this outfit later myself, when it’s not 40 degrees centigrade out. Even just coordinating this outfit made me feel gross and overheated. I forgot how many layers this kimono has; not just a secondary hiyoku but it’s got a layered collar and fully double-lined sleeves as well. You could almost get away with not wearing a full juban with it, and that’s very likely what I’ll if I ever get around to putting it on myself.

The nice thing about wedding kimono is that in general, they tend to fit me right now even though I am, to put it delicately, not very small. There’s another fun hint for you all – kimono that are meant to be worn trailing will often be wider as well as longer, giving a bigger person more “wiggle room”.

Items used in this coordination

#monoKIMONO Challenge – Wedding White

I never set out to assemble a full wedding white ensemble, but once I had, it only seemed logical to feature it as a #monokimono outfit. Since lots of folks are still talking about the recent Royal Wedding, I decided to run with it for May!

I originally got this ivory silk uchikake waaaaay back when I first started collecting. I had no intention of buying one, but a professor in the college IT lab where I was working overheard me talking to a co-worker about my collection and asked if I’d be interested in buying a piece that’d he brought home from Japan as a souvenir years earlier. I said I’d take a look, but I’ll be honest, I was fully expecting some satiny tourist robe. So imagine my shock when he showed up lugging a gorgeous warm ivory uchikake in a trash bag! Of course I had to rescue it, and he accepted my ridiculously low offer.

Fast-forward to earlier this year when I stumbled across an astonishingly inexpensive ($18) ivory shiromuku furisode on Ichiroya. Since neither piece was pure white, I expected a close coordination but not an exact match, so you can imagine how thrilled I was when I discovered they’re spot-on perfect.

The rest of the accessories kind of fell into place after that. I love the look of beaded obijime, and found a white one on the cheap. The hakoseko set was also a bargain and happens to tie my silver zori into the outfit really nicely too. I don’t usually include footwear in these outfits, but with a wedding set it’s really Go Big or Go Home, right?

Technically, I should have used one of my off-white fukuro obi, but I couldn’t get over how well the hakata coordinated. And I’m firmly of the mindset that hakata ori goes with everything. Since this isn’t actually being worn to a wedding (unless my mannequin’s hiding something from me…) I figured I had a little more leeway. It’s also not unheard of now for brides to add a little more personal and non-traditional touches to their outfits. I love this look with extra lace and a lovely hat instead of the traditional white tsuno-kakushi hood, for example. Since I’d veered off-track with the obi already, I couldn’t resist using my silvery-white beaded obijime as well. This also makes the fact that I’ve yet to find an ivory kakae obi (the narrow, stiff band worn below the regular obi) a little easier to overlook, honestly.

Bonus: For those of you who  miss my furry little interlopers, they’re still around, they just tend to ignore the mannequin. Tribble decided to show up today though!

Items used in this coordination

Something old, Something new…

Kimono, like any other garment out there, is subject to trends and changes in fashion. Usually, this just impacts the colours and patterns used, since the shape of a kimono is so fixed. Every so often, however, someone comes up with something really different and unique. Traditionally, brides in Japan will wear a special type of furisode called a kakeshita on their wedding day. The colours and styles and motifs of these can vary greatly, but they’ve always been the same basic garment. However, modern women are looking for ways to wear more modern dresses but still retaining a bit of that traditional feel. For a while now, there have been designers such as Aliansa who will convert a kimono into a western-style dress, but this requires irreversible changes to the kimono. This isn’t ideal for family heirlooms or treasured gifts. So what’s a bride to do?

Enter The Oriental Wasou, a bridal studio that’s figured out a fantastic way to temporarily convert a furisode simply by folding it carefully and draping it over a western-style ballgown! They claim it takes only ten minutes, and after the event all you’d need to do is give your furisode a good steaming, fold it carefully, and store it away. When I first saw these adaptations, I knew I wanted to give one a try. However, I am not the sort of person who has ballgowns or wedding gowns just lying around, so the idea went onto the back-burner until I was at the thrift store a few weeks ago and found this utterly beautiful mauvey pink gown with a sheer black overlay. I knew right away it would be the perfect complement to my favourite furisode.

This furisode and I have had a colourful history. I bought it years ago while visiting my best friend at the time, even though I knew I’d never have a valid or justifiable reason to wear it. It didn’t matter, I was in love with it. I dressed myself in it a few times for photos, I had a lot of fun with it, and then a few years ago my friend and I parted ways. There was a lot of silly emotional baggage whenever I looked at the kimono, and I stopped doing pretty much anything with it. Fast-forward to middle of last year, and not only have we reconciled, it feels like we’re closer than ever. I knew I had to pair this outfit with the pearl necklace he’d given me for my birthday one year. The other accessories were chosen to help emphasise some of the colours in the kimono. The obiage and obijime perfectly mirror the shading in the peonies, and the obi helps draw out the gold flecks in the background. Since this is such a non-standard outfit, I had fun making up a big flashy obi musubi. It also helped to hide the draping and folding in the back of the kimono.

Overall, I think this experiment was quite successful. It’s definitely a departure from what I’m used to, but everyone needs to step out of their comfortable rut now and again, right?

Items used in this coordination