The kimono, the national dress of Japan, is revered for its historic value and enduring aesthetic appeal. Putting on a kimono is more than just putting on some clothes; it’s a way to show respect for Japanese culture.
If the idea of wearing a kimono has ever piqued your interest, this book will explain all the ins and outs of this beautiful garment.
Understanding the Kimono
It’s important to understand the history and cultural significance of the kimono and the different styles available before attempting to put one on.
As a general phrase for Japanese clothing, “kimono” can mean anything from “thing to wear” to “traditional garment.” There are two main varieties of kimonos, the traditional and the contemporary.
1. Traditional Kimonos
These are the classic kimonos that are worn at festivals and other formal occasions. They are typically worn during formal events such as weddings and tea ceremonies due to their silk fabric, long sleeves, and intricate patterns.
2. Modern Kimonos
Often referred to as “komon” or “casual kimonos,” these are less formal and more practical for everyday use. They can be found in a wide range of informal fabrics and styles, from cotton to synthetics.
What Makes Up a Kimono Outfit
Each part of a kimono serves a specific function and carries symbolic meaning:
- Kimono (Hiro): This is the primary garment, the style and formality of which are determined by the event. It’s a long T-shaped shirt with balloon sleeves, and that’s how it’s usually worn.
- Obi: To keep the kimono in place, a wide belt called an obi is knotted around the wearer’s waist. It is essential in determining the overall style and formality of the ensemble.
- Obijime and Obiage: These are the ornaments and fasteners for the obi. The obiage is the decorative cloth tucked under the obi, while the obijime is the cord that ties the obi together in front.
- Nagajuban: This piece of clothing is worn below the kimono. It not only provides more coverage for privacy but also acts as a moisture barrier for the kimono.
- Tabi and Zori: Tabi are the traditional Japanese split-toe socks worn with zori. You can’t have a proper kimono ensemble without them.
Now that you know what goes into a kimono, it’s time to learn how to put one on.
Step-by-Step Guide of Wearing a Kimono
Step 1: Prepare Your Undergarments
Put on a nagajuban first; it will act as a slip for your dress. Check that it is centered and the correct length. The nagajuban’s sleeves should go past the ends of the kimono sleeves.
Step 2: Put on the Kimono
- Have a friend assist you in putting on the kimono while you stand with your arms wide. Make sure the collar is even with the nape of your neck.
- Wrap the kimono over your body in a crisscross fashion by crossing the left side over the right. Center and properly distribute the kimono on your body by making the necessary adjustments.
Step 3: Tie the Obi
The obi is essential to completing the kimono look, but mastering the art of tying it can be challenging. The otaiko knot is one option among many different designs.
- Make the back of the obi longer than the front and wrap it around your waist.
- Make a bow by crossing the longer end over the shorter end.
- Wrap the long end of the obi around the bow, then tuck it inside the obi, and make any necessary adjustments so that the bow is snug and symmetrical.
Step 4: Adjust the Kimono
To make the kimono both elegant and pleasant to wear after tying the obi, you may choose to:
- Iron out any creases, paying special attention to the garment’s back and shoulders.
- The kimono is folded or tucked under the obi to get the desired length.
- Check that the sleeve length is appropriate. Long, floor-length sleeves are appropriate for more formal occasions.
Step 5: Accessorize
Complete your kimono look by adding the finishing touches:
- Put on tabi socks, which are designed to be worn with zori sandals. Tabi has a distinctive split-toe design.
- Slip into zori sandals, and secure them using the straps provided.
- Accessorize further with obijime and obiage, as per your personal style and the formality of the occasion.
Tips for Wearing a Kimono with Grace
Putting on a kimono is more of an art than a simple act of putting on clothes. Here are some pointers on how to elegantly don a kimono:
- Learn from a Professional: It is highly advised that those who are unfamiliar with wearing kimonos see a seasoned dresser or enroll in kimono classes. The proper way to put on a kimono is an art form that they can help you master.
- Observe Etiquette: Remember proper etiquette when wearing a kimono, including how to sit, walk, and bow. Particularly in more formal situations, these are essential.
- Choose the Right Kimono for the Occasion: The level of formality required can change depending on the event. Choose a kimono that is appropriate for the occasion.
- Practice Tying the Obi: It is recommended to practice tying the obi before you need to wear it in public.
- Maintain Proper Posture: The elegance of a kimono is best displayed when the wearer stands tall.
- Respect Cultural Significance: The kimono is more than just a piece of apparel; it is a symbol of Japanese heritage that ought to be understood and appreciated.
The Bottom Line
Putting on a kimono is a powerful cultural experience that will transport you to another time and place. Following these instructions and pointers will help you wear a kimono with grace and style, whether you’re getting ready for a formal event or just appreciating the beauty of this unique garment.
The kimono is more than just traditional Japanese attire; its beauty and meaning have won over audiences around the world for centuries. So, the next time you put on a kimono, do so with a sense of pride in the centuries of tradition it represents.