“The neck is kind of what’s sexy in Japan, so you have to have the kimono a little bit back. It was just a whole different way of appealing to what was sexy.” – Lucy Liu, Chinese-American actress
Don’t think that kimonos are only worn by the Japanese. These beautiful, traditional garments are now revered all over the world. Praised for its delicate floral prints and flowy design, we can see these influences in modern clothing. Let’s explore how traditional kimonos have evolved into everyday, chic wear.
HISTORY OF THE KIMONO
Kimono (pronounced as kee-moe-no) was a type of traditional clothing that Japanese people wore daily during the 700s to 1800s. The kimono was heavily influenced by the Chinese where you will see that both countries embody the signature overlapping of the clothing and multicolour fabric.
Despite the heavy influence of China, the kimono does have its signature look. The clothing is known for its t-shaped with very wide sleeves and overlap wrapping in the chest area. Also, certain patterns and colours were significant in the traditional kimono where each colour combination and pattern would denote a certain season. For example, in spring, a woman may wear a cherry-blossom patterned kimono since it is during this time when cherry blossoms start to bloom. While men usually wore darker coloured kimonos, women and children often were seen in bold colours and patterns.
Though it’s not the staple clothing over in Japan anymore, you will still see many Japanese women wearing the kimono during special events and occasions, such as weddings like our very own Chictopian, NanaHoshino. However, kimonos aren’t quite easy to wear considering that each kimono has at least 12 parts! In fact, there is even a school where you can learn to be a professional kimono dresser due to the intricate procedure.
DRESSING THE PART
Kimono-inspired pieces are trending this summer as seen in this year’s Kenzo’s and Reed Krakoff’s S/S 2011 collections. In addition, who can forget the legendary Diane von Furstenberg signature wrap dresses?
1. Royal Robing Room
Traditional kimonos come in long lengths that go to your ankles. In other words, modern kimono jackets can end up looking like a robe. To nail the look, choose kimonos that have details (i.e., fringes, embellishments) and bold colours (i.e., red in the Asian culture denotes royalty, power, and class). Because of the long length, you can leave your jacket open to show what you’re wearing inside.
2. Proud and Loud
When you want to retain the kimono image with a modern twist, opt for kimono jackets that resemble the pattern and that are cropped. These work well during the summertime because they’re lightweight and breezy, while also retaining the elegant floral pattern.
3. Modern Balance
We know some gals gravitate towards solids instead of prints. Choose bat sleeve jackets that have the meticulous draping in the front. It’s because when you leave these opened, it gives the jacket that cascading effect, similar to when a kimono is wrapped. Can’t find any draped jackets? No problem, a coloured unbuttoned top can do the trick, too.
4. Simple Diy’s
With a few simple alterations (without the need for sewing), you can still achieve that kimono look with what you have in your closet. Simply get a loose jacket and create the overlapping effect yourself! Seal that look in with any belt, and you’ve got yourself a kimono styled jacket.
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By Crystal (watermoolen)
Main Image via Vanity Fair September 2010