After my last post on Cheongsams, it is only right that the spotlight be shone on another iconic dress with as rich a history. Japan’s national garment, the Kimono. A more loose fitting robe with sleeve hems that are almost at ground level. Used for most formal occasions (weddings, tea ceremonies and funeral), older women are more common wearers of Kimonos. Like so much of Japanese culture, what appears simple is actually intricate and precise. Kimono’s are ALWAYS wrapped from left to right, an Obi is used as a belt.
Despite the luscious name, Kimono translates as the rather bland ‘thing to wear’. As to the Kimono’s history, earliest versions were based on the clothing from China in the 8th Century. Originally known as a Korsode (meaning short sleeve), these were first worn by commoners or as underwear for the aristocracy. From such humble beginnings, the Korsode evolved into the Kimono. Worn by both men and women. Typical prints and motifs include cherry blossom, Cranes and other symbols of nature. Like the Cheongsam, the Kimono’s enduring appeal is down to stream lined simplicity. Except for the sleeves, a kimono would just be a plain wrap around robe. Loose fitting means that wearing Kimonos are an easy affair.
Not to to be confused with the Yukata, a more informal version of the Kimono. Though a charming item, not as elaborate as a Kimono nor as expensive. It must be noted that when western labels sell their own versions, the beauty is not in dispute. They simply are not a true Kimono. May the Kimono enjoy many more centuries of being adorned and adored.