Bebe Taian

June 12, 2017

Getting a Stylish Look, pt. 4

The next project I'm doing is to pull together a winter outfit for a climate that only has two seasons; hot and hotter. I want to *feel* like winter, even just for a couple days! If we're fortunate, we might get a cold snap for a few weeks this December or January. Can you tell I'm in the Northern Hemisphere? heh.

I know it's only June, but that is the perfect time to buy off-season kimono and to give myself time to have the money to get together anything I might want or need for an outfit. I can also make a backup plan for anything I might not be able to find in time. I want to embody a feeling that doesn't easily translate in my climate: there is no snow in Florida.

Wintertime means dark, 'cold' colours: indigo, shades of brown, muted greens, purple, black. Light wood combs, coral hairpins, shawls and padded kimono. Lacquered or dark wood shoes with tea green, black, or dark blue hanao straps. Of course, these days, padded kimono don't really exist unless they are antique or are custom orders, but lined kimono will do just fine. I plan on sticking to basic patterns, subdued and barren, like winter itself. Why are these people barefoot in such weather?! Who knows, but one person has the right idea: tall geta to keep out of the snow drifts. I think it was fashionable to wear so much and to reveal a bare foot in the winter, a sort of devil-may-care image.

Snow is portrayed as these large clumps of ice in ukiyo-e. I have two snow pattern kimono; one which is royal purple with snow, and the shadows of snow in lighter purple; the other, almost black, with snow pattern. I like them both for different reasons. Purple, again, is a colour of deep winter- but it can also look like night in a city, where there is a lot of light pollution so snow looks different, too. Black can be worn both in winter and in April, when an unseasonal cold snap comes through sometimes, causing brief snowfall. In one case, you can pair it with reds or gold with coral colours; in the other, try pale sakura pinks, or something more suited to the Spring season. I have an obi with a pattern of Buddhist magatama beads which is gold, purple, and peach, which I will likely wear for Shiwasu this year! With black, I may go for a flower pattern.

If I am lucky, I may find a red juban of modern sleeve length which I love and can afford to give that tiny hint of warmth beneath all those black, brown, and blue layers. Of course, in this painting, the kimono may be indigo with either a black kosode or black haori over it, the hint of red at the sleeve slipping out, with a tan woolen shawl piled over the top. These are handy for when icy winds threaten to destroy your skin and hair- just wrap up!

I can likely find a nice shawl like this at a thrift store and launder it, and while I do have a black Taisho haori, without actual snow to give this feeling, I'll have to show coldness via motif.

Since Florida is so hot, even in the winter, it only drops to maybe 60F. I can possibly do a dark blue layer if I use hitoe kimono and maybe fake a juban. Going without tabi in this weather will not pose any threat of injury to me, and might even help me stay cool! But... I suppose if I can withstand 95F weather in three layers and walk over a mile in them... probably, I can find a way to stay cool in the same layers during better weather. <3

May 27, 2017

Getting a Stylish Look, pt. 3

Oda, 1920s - Beauty
Resting, Summer Evening
Whether a person is more or less experienced, you can always remember that fashionable women in the 'water business' were always considered stylish and sexy, whereas a 'proper wife' was demure, almost asexual. Whether you look to modern geisha or to ukiyo-e, you can get a historical sense of what kinds of style has lasted the test of time, and therefore is 'classic'- like the ever-present Western "little black dress".

I prefer the older styles, but it is important to recognise what is modern and what belonged in Edo period so that what I wear is appropriate to the modern era and does not look like an odd costume. For example, obijime did not exist until the mid-1800s, so copying exactly how something from before then looked today would appear strange or only partially done. Black silk contrasting collars were more frequent many years ago when clothing was washed much less often, so they can still be appropriate with certain outfits (such as machiko, "town girls"), but for the most part, you do not see these now. Wearing tabi is a matter of style; sex workers would sometimes not wear tabi, either because they are so lowly that it isn't worth the fabric expense, or because they are so high-ranking that a few toes peeking out of volumes of fabric, a sign of extreme wealth, was considered highly erotic. But for "normal women", generally, tabi should be worn except with geta. Geta are summer shoes, so it's often too hot to wear tabi. Today, many people choose lace tabi to prevent blisters from their shoes in the heat and humidity, so that gives more options that did not exist historically.

Hakuhou, 1930s -
Summer Clothing
Figuring out what works for you is a matter of experience. Figuring out what components keep cropping up in popular fashion takes work and can help provide experience. Figuring out what is routinely expected according to modern-day rules takes effort.

Sometimes, I just want to wear an outfit without needing to research it like I'm writing a capstone thesis.

Planning an outfit sounds so involved and tedious when I write out my thought process. But... now that I've done it so long, it's natural to me. Sometimes I don't even notice little connections until after I have the whole outfit on... You will get there, too.

In this case, the serenity of these two early Showa ukiyo-e show so much serenity despite the early stages of rising fascism and war in Japan, and have such excellent technical details for their medium that they are amongst my favourites during summertime. Taking cues from these, pairing black summer kimono (either sha or ro) with hakata obi and invoking the blues of water is essential to the height of fashion. Note the pale blue collar in Hakuhou, or the blue geta and matching obiage/obijime combo in Oda. The splash of deep royal purple in Oda's work is a colour associated with deep cold- a refreshing nod of hope on what must have been an oppressively hot, humid day, not unlike the ones we have in Florida. Bare feet are exposed, being far too hot for tabi in this weather. Jade hairpins are the norm, putting away the warm coral pieces for the chilly Autumn season. I paid close attention here- tiny hints of red are frequent, and it was a matter of pride to expertly pair a juban with the transparent kimono, the pattern of the lower layer being sighted through the upper layer, much as in the Cult of Beauty days of the Heian era. In Hakuhou, the juban colour is matched with the obiage colour, and a tea-green obijime is paired to literally and visually tie the disparate-looking elements together for an overall image of beauty. In Oda, she dresses more conservatively, matching komono (accessories) together for a cohesive feeling of total coolness.

I have a few black and deep blue summer kimono now, and bought a hakata obi some years ago. a knot that Tokyo geisha are known for. I own a red summer obiage and a narrow green obijime already- now I only need more appropriately-coloured geta! Although with a red obiage, my red hanao are quite nice. Appropriately, my favourite black summer kimono is a Taisho antique, made just before these two paintings! But it is also exceedingly fragile, so I have to be very careful when wearing it.

White base with blue or deep blue are most popular and fetch a higher price. Today, you mostly see hakata weave in men's kaku obi, on hanhaba obi, or on dancers. I have a special love for hakata weaves; they are tight, repeating patterns which make the fabric quite strong despite it's thinness, and every pattern has a story. The one I purchased is 'komochi Yoshiwara', a chainlink pattern which symbolizes enduring relationships which cannot break. Yoshiwara is also the former pleasure district of Tokyo, and the women there relied entirely on repeat patrons for their livelihoods. Unpopular courtesans did not fare well. I keep this in mind when I tie it in yanagi-musubi,

These paintings show exactly what I should buy by example, and how to put the outfit together- and you know what? This combination still looks as fantastic today as it did nearly 100 years ago.

May 11, 2017

Getting a Stylish Look, pt. 2

To get a stylish look, you have to know some basic rules and terminologies. This is because if you do not know these rules and attempt to mix something improperly, it shows inexperience, not fashion-forwardness. In order to artfully break rules, you have to know how to properly wear kimono first!

Lining: 
- Lined kimono are awase (quilted kimono are long gone these days, but once, there were two types of awase: quilted deep winters, and lined for regular cool days). These are worn most of the year.
- Unlined kimono are hitoe. These can be a few types: 'plain' unlined with a heavier fabric, transparent sha fabric, and transparent ro fabric. These are worn in increasingly hot summer days, and outside of Japan, maybe throughout the year in tropical climates.

Formalities (Note: there are shades of formality in each category; we won't delve into that now):
- Yukata: Literally, a bathrobe. Not normally worn outside unless for festivals during hot months, but today are sometimes worn with juban to 'elevate' formality. Certain types cannot be elevated; they stay in the sauna or onsen.
- Komon: Small-patterned or all-over-patterned informal kimono. These are the jeans of kimono formality.
- Iromuji: A fallback kimono for beginners, these can have 0-3 crests. They are single-coloured and plain, making them popular for people with few to no kimono, who want to dress it 'up' or 'down' with the obi.
- Houmongi + Tsukesage: These are most easily confused, and there are many hybrids since there were once many more shades of formality. Generally, however, these have patterns at the bottom of the kimono and on the sleeves, but not the main body. Also, these are usually coloured, not black. They are the flashiest kimono a married woman can wear.
- Irotomesode: These have designs only at the bottom of the kimono, none on the sleeves, and usually have 3-5 crests. Generally, married or women older than 25 wear these to quite formal events.
- Furisode + Kurotomesode: These are the most formal kimono a person can own for 'regular use' (ie, not a dance kimono or wedding outfit). Furisode are generally for children and young women. Kurotomesode are for married women or older women.

Obi (These also come in lined and unlined!):
- Hanhaba: Half-width, usually only 6" wide, and thin. Today these are usually synthetic, or more expensive wool or cotton. These are the least formal and can only be paired with yukata and lower-end komon.
- Nagoya: Invented in the 1940s, these are also informal, although vintage ones exist which were made from maru obi since they use only around 1/4 of the fabric necessary. Wear them with komon and crestless kimono. If they have metallic threads, a single crest kimono might be appropriate.
- Fukuro: Appropriate for more formal kimono and many furisode. Fukuro that are less patterned or without metallic threads may be able to 'downgrade' to komon status.
- Maru: Appropriate for kurotomesode, wedding outfits, and furisode. These are much harder to find these days, so most people only have fukuro obi.


There are, of course, more shades and formalities than this, like komon made of luxury shiny silk which should be paired with fukuro obi, and komon-tsukesage kimono, or other interesting mixes. You can figure these out when you've got a better footing. These are the basics. The accessories change throughout the year as well, but take your time and choose those based on the 'big things' you have: kimono and obi.

In this case, I'll show you one example:

This is a komon made of very shiny, upscale silk, paired with a silk Nagoya obi which has metallic threads. In daylight it is a warmer green, mint in colour with fewer blue tones, but the indoor light brings out the metallic gold in the brocade obi.

The weave of the komon is in a pattern much like coral, with pampass grass, ohagi (another type of grass), and small orange flowers that look like daisies, which mimic the shape of chrysanthemums. The obi is white and orange, as the patterns of the kimono are, with gold threads to imitate the tans and golds of the grass patterns. You can see that the exact flowers do not have to match; they just have to be in season, and compliment each other. Of course, my juban is also silk, woven and dyed with chrysanthemums in such a small pattern that the overall affect appears as pale pink mist. The obijime cord is flat, white, and woven with golden squares to imitate the obi pattern. Obiage is partially shibori, to pull in line the higher formality of the komon and the Nagoya obi, with patterns of rivers.

It was an outfit inspired by timing while shopping online for new pieces, and by a love for geisha-watching. Here, you can see that Umechika of Kamishichiken (Kyoto) is wearing a white obiage, black obi, and green kimono are paired for the late Summer (June 23, 2016), with a touch of purple, a colour that hints at deep cold, precious in the humid days of end of summer. (Original image source here.) The pattern on her obi is the same pattern that is woven into the fabric of my kosode!

Of course, normal wearers do not wear trailing hikizuri kimono, so we do not have certain garments like the red under-obi peeking out of geisha's clothing constantly, nor do we usually wear shigoki-obi, a kind of long scarf under the obi, to help tie up the long hem of the kimono while we walk. That is the purple cord you see under her sleeve. The ohashori (waist tie) of a regular kosode should be what ties up the hem to your ankles. Shigoki are sometimes still worn for fashionable effect, as I did with this outfit, but that is strictly optional and can look more childish.

When pairing kimono to imitate geisha, try to work with a 'theme': a feeling of coolness, repeating little patterns so that it isn't so obvious at first (such as the squares on the obi and the obijime), and try to keep in line with season. This can take a LOT of time and money. Many kimono are multi-season, so if you are just starting or are on a budget, YES, buy the multi-season kimono! Then you may only have to change accessories to demonstrate which one you are emphasizing. Look closely at the patterns on her outfit. If you can see group photos, look at what everyone is wearing to get an idea of palette or flowers in season. You can keep a small notebook of date the photo was taken and who is wearing what, to get better grip on the seasonal calendar.

Try to keep lined items with lined, gauze items with gauze or open-weave pieces. Most people do not even bother with hitoe items anymore if they are transparent because 'mistakes' in dressing are more prone to be obvious, and hitoe items have their own wardrobe of accessories. You may want to stick with awase when just starting! I did exactly that! And I'm still trying to put in money to build a hitoe selection. Florida is NOT 'cool'. It is 91F outside in May, and that's a 'relaxing summer day'. Ha! It sometimes gets over 100F in summer, especially with humidity, and heat stroke is not uncommon. And yet, it took me a years of practice until I could be confident enough to buy hitoe kimono.

Don't worry. You will get the hang of it. Keep practicing, and join us for part 3!

April 25, 2017

Getting A Stylish Look, pt. 1

It is no secret that geisha are the premiere wearers of kimono, and have access to luxury designers for every aspect of wearing, from collars that can reach over $1000USD in cost, to kimono which can fetch $40,000 easily. Even for informal, day-to-day running between classes, geiko in Kyoto must exude a luxury image to maintain their status. Therefore, a geisha should always be stylish as well.

Of course, the average person has no such luxury. Who of us have even $50 (considered cheap) to drop on a single piece of plain chirimen, a few feet long and all of 8" wide? Not many.

To clarify, we use the word 'kimono' today to mean the classic traditional Japanese garment. But actually, 'kimono' just means 'things to wear'. The outer garment with rectangular sleeves is called a 'kosode'. The distinction is necessary because different social classes wore different items depending on their jobs. Obviously, a farming girl will not be wearing the same clothing as a dancer or teahouse worker. A merchant will not wear the same clothing as a hunter or samurai. 'Average' women wore 'working clothes', rough cottons or hemps, or monpei- like pants and a shirt. Kosode were not for everyone only a short time ago, historically-speaking. Only at the turn of the 20th Century were we seeing a reduction in difference between classes, a major social upheaval that lasted well into the 50's when Western dress truly became the norm and use of traditional clothing fell out of favour.

Back to kimono:

How do we imitate the look while wearing kimono that is made for today's activities? By this, I mean that in the upper classes, kimono were once longer and trailed behind a person, making it easier to walk indoors. These were then tied up at the waist with shigoki obi. Today, they are shorter, and are tied automatically at the waist (ohashori). Only hikizuri trail behind a person, kimono reserved for dancers, actors, and other professionals. We must not only work with everyday kimono, but also on a budget that we can afford, which means most often buying secondhand and taking what we can get instead of having each kimono custom-tailoured to us.

But there is more! Rules of wearing are not always easily discerned outside of Japan, and there are four major seasons to follow, with 72 mini-seasons to think about timing for, plus many types of fabrics with their own seasonal meanings, etc. Seasons where you can wear lined kimono, but unlined juban; or situations where you can wear silk, but not hemp. Nana-no-ha for this week- next week, a butterfly is most appropriate. Does your look blend in with the season, enhancing the image? Or attempt to compete with the beauty of nature, and lose because of it?

With time and experience, these rules become easy to follow and you will know them by heart.

In the meantime, I can't even pretend to know every pointer, season, flower, etc. etc., nor do the vast majority of women have nearly the grandiose collection necessary to cover this entire spectrum. Not even geisha often have this many kimono!

In this short series, I can give pointers on how to achieve a good outfit, following what has been established as iki by kenban (geisha houses). Until you gain confidence in your own ideas, it is good to learn a solid base of what is/isn't worn together.

April 6, 2017

Tadaima, minna-san.

It's been a long time. Years. I've gotten older, but not much smarter it seems.

Watching the blog, which I once spent hours a week on, to becoming something I think of now and again but don't touch... it's like a treasured book that you never read. A mirror in a shrine that no one sees.

Over the years, the depression that I've talked about before hasn't gone away. It's only gotten worse. before, I could ignore it by absorbing myself in work. Now, I can't manage half of what I'd like to do. Chemical imbalances are... not something you can "just handle", like a bad day. It's having a perfect day with absolutely nothing going wrong, and having barely any energy to even sit up on your own, and wanting to burst into tears without reason. And it just don't stop, ever. There are only bad days and worse days. I've tried to tell this to doctor after doctor, and they don't listen worth a damn. "But you said you had an OK day ten minutes ago!" "Yes," through gritted teeth, "But MY 'okay' days involve being able to go grocery shopping AND throw frozen food in the oven AND eat on the same day. THAT IS NOT A NORMAL LIFE. My bad days involve panic attacks for no reason, or worse."

I think people don't talk about these things because there's a huge stigma around the issue, and neurotypical people have a habit of saying they're compassionate and understanding, and then they turn around an prove themselves to be absolutely terrible human beings. They equate "being depressed" with "just being sad", usually over some melodramatic bullshit like "oh, you didn't get something you didn't deserve just handed to you!" When that is absolutely NOT what is happening,

If we get *at all* angry about being invalidated or directly harmed by these people, "Woah, woah, woah! You're mental! You're too unstable to have a rational conversation about what's happening to you! I should dictate how your life REALLY is because you're too crazy!" Condescension, invalidation, and personal attacks are what we can expect if we try to talk to anyone or get help.

See, none of you are actually helping. Many of you make things infinitely worse, in fact. Especially terrible are the "medical professionals" who don't give a damn about their patients and are just there to collect a paycheque, paid up-front for appointments regardless of quality of actual service. Eventually, we just stop trying. To directly remind you all, that is to say that many of us WERE ACTIVELY TRYING TO HELP OURSELVES, on limited resources, and very limited energy- but the difference between normal sadness and depression is that sadness is a transient spring rain. Depression is a climate change, and now you have 12 months of monsoon season and you need help building your house up on stilts to escape floodwaters. Handing us an umbrella and then getting angry when we say, "Hey, we're still wet, in fact, we're drowning." won't cut it.

And you all wonder why the suicide rates are so breathtakingly high in America.

ha ha. breathtaking. that was a joke, people.

Anyways.

That's a large part of the reason I disappeared. I'd log in, stare at the screen, log out, defeated and more depressed than I started. I tried Xanax, but it just left me dissociated and unable to function very well. Life has gotten pretty bad in places, so it isn't like I'm entirely unreasonable, but it's starting to come back up, sort of. Dante, the Takehisa cat, died recently. Last week? It's so hard to keep track of what day it is. "Brain fog" is what it's called- depression so deep you can't figure out 'when' you are, when things happened, even important things to you. Lovecraft died in November. Azrael died a few years ago- did I write about that? I wrote about adopting him... My sister died too, shortly after the heart transplant... and so many others. Bebe and Seraphina are lonely without the other cats, but we're going to quasi-adopt two more. Maybe it'll cheer them up a little? I stopped collecting kimono for awhile too, and started again this year... I just... had no enthusiasm for anything. And no energy for anything that I once loved.

So why bother posting now?

hnnn well...

I finally decided to hell with it all. I'm going to die broke and unhappy anyways, working 60+ hours a week and making less than poverty-line wages. I might as well go to school and rack up debt, and get something done that was so far out of reach for me... I paid quite a bit of my student loans to medical bills, finally going to docs to try and get a diagnosis of why my bones hurt, my joints are on fire, and I feel like I'm walking on broken glass and legos half the time. I have most of the Brighton Score points. heh. And that's the better end of the health issue. The guy that wrecked my car (and my neck) in the hit-and-run back in 2013? He's suing ME for damages. That's rich. So I get to take care of that. There's a whole host of awful things happening, microaggressions on a major scale (hey, men- FYI, life is not television. We do NOT like it when you walk up to us, grab us, and start kissing us, and WE DON'T EVEN FUCKING KNOW YOU! WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH MEN?! FUCKING CHRIST! And if I say ANYTHING about it to anyone, *I'm* the problem! What the hell?!) SO yeah, definitely depressed for a damn good reason.

But I found one person who really loves kimono, at a local sushi bar run by Japanese people. So I've been trying to go in a new outfit every week, something in tune with the current or preceding of the 72 seasons. Someone said that one of the keys to dealing with depression is to have a ritual that you absolutely must stick to, in a way to kind of 'reorder' a life that seems to be passing by in a haze. To give clear delineation to that existence, you have to hang on to something, even when you really don't want to. So far, I've done four outfits, maybe five. I'm surprised by how many kimono I really own, even with so many in shops or having been sold already. I'm still waiting- five more should have been here by today, but haven't arrived yet. I hope they come soon, though.

I want to go out tonight, to wear kimono and such, but honestly I've done nothing today and somehow have no energy. Maybe later I will start posting what photos I have of past outings. I'd really like to renew and go through the blog, but I don't know if I have the spoons to commit to it yet.

June 21, 2015

Natsu Matsuri is Next Saturday!

OMG it's time already! I spent so long waiting for this week to come, and now it's here, and where did all the time go? The older I get, the faster I notice it slipping by.

Natsu Matsuri, the annual Summer Festival in Tampa, is next Saturday. I'll have a booth all to myself for a few hours. It only runs from 9am-12noon, since it gets really hot this time of year. I wish it did run longer, though, at least until 2pm. It would give us late-risers and night-shift workers a chance at attending! I don't know about you, but if I work at a gas station, call centre, or even as a first responder (EMS, police, whatever) until 2am, I am NOT getting up at 8am to go to a festival! ::sighs:: Even so, the organizers really do a wonderful job every year, working within the event location that we have. And they managed to secure a wonderful covered location that is large enough for us to spread out a bit, all under a cement pavilion, which helps us avoid the rain and wind of previous years.

I can't wait to break out some of the things I am bringing this year! I should probably get to sewing a bit, to have some handmade crafts for the event, but I don't know that I want to put forth effort on low-demand traditional goods. Unfortunately, competing means having large sums of start-up capital, something I've never had for niche-market projects. I do want to do something different this year, though! I may make a series of magnets or other items to showcase traditional Japanese beauty, and bring high-quality prints of ukiyo-e art to demonstrate that kimono are indeed wearable, and have been for two thousand years.

If you're in the Tampa, FL area, be sure to come by! We're at Christ the King Church on the corner of Henderson and S Dale Mabry Hwy.

June 4, 2015

It's Too Early for Ro, But...

I know it's two months too early for ro, but I seem to only have two sha kimono and a total lack of sha accessories. Really, I preferred only awase kimono for so long that I never bothered buying anything sheer, despite living in such a hot climate. I didn't want to deal with having only sha or ro accessories, juban, haneri, everything when they're only seasonally relevant for a month or two each in the strictest sense. It's very expensive! But now, I'm much more comfortable with my skill of wearing kimono, so finally I've come to terms and started trading out for gauzy things.

... well, it isn't just that. It's also that I'm really self-conscious, so I don't even really have any transparent yofuku either. I wear layers and long sleeves in public pretty often, even in the heat. If I could, I'd dress modestly for an Alaskan, but it's way too hot here.

That being said, I wanted to get dressed for an impromptu meeting at the local teahouse, Kalesia's. But I only have one really viable sha kimono, which is the blue one that keeps showing up in photos, since the other is a fragile Taisho piece that almost feels like stiff, thick paper. The risk of buying antiques: some are too fragile to wear when they arrive. That, paired with the lack of proper accessories, brought me to ro fabric. 80F+ is way too hot to even think about lined kimono! I wanted something bright and colourful. Only one option there: my muted purple kimono with faux-sashiko bishamon kikko in white.

I have a few ro obi, all of which match the kimono- do I do subtle 'older' proper woman, and go with a pale wheat-gold obi with dragons embroidered on it? Black and white hakata? Nah. Let's go bold. I've felt awful with anxiety for weeks. To heck with this. Let's do BRIGHT! A bold salmon-orange 1960s fukuro obi with white, sky-blue, and buttery yellow nadeshiko and metallic gold grass embroidered all over, a faded yellow silk obiage old enough to buy it's own liquor, and a pale pink obijime with a wide, open weave.

The juban is a thin, slightly rough fabric printed with asanoha in a shade of salmon so brilliantly neon that it actually hurts to look at. Under the kimono, it takes on a new dimension. Too bad it's so short! If it were a foot longer, it'd be perfect for me... but I wore it anyways. I adore it too much to worry. I need to make a pair of blue  hanao for the shoes sometime. I've got so much gorgeous fabric... but I never get it done... I think my favourite accessory was this fluffy long scarf that my friend gave me, with gathers similar to shibori, echoing the shibori in the obiage. The Bolivian bag my father sent me from Samaipata ties all of these brilliant colours together.

After the teahouse, we went to the bookstore to look around. Mojo Books is a great place for offbeat stuff that you won't find at a Barnes + Noble (and yeah, some things you will).

I do need to get better at tying Ginza musubi, to make it 'fluffier' at the bottom. I was mostly worried about pulling the fabric on such an old obi, but I might yet find a way that works. It's such a floppy, soft obi too, so it's definitely one of my favourites! If it ever tears, I'll (maybe cry a little) probably frame a section as art. I'll keep practicing! <3

May 21, 2015

Thinking Out Loud: It's Summer Already

It's summer already. Why. Why, Florida? Well, technically, it's been summer since the beginning of the year, but even so. This means I really need to work on converting all of my wardrobe to hitoe fabrics, preferably ro, sha, or perhaps even ra clothing. I'm seriously thinking of getting large spools of hemp and crocheting an obi! Something loose-weave and light for casual wear, which is all it could ever be, like heko obi-style. Fortunately, I still have one or two yukata to wear.

I'm getting prepped for Natsu Matsuri. I'm not sure what to do this year. I may have only one table and I'll bring the shoe rack. I need to find my Square reader and download the app for it. I do have two nice hanging mannequins to dress up this time! So exciting! Although I should think about a new design for how things are set up. I bought a display board for jewellery to help get it above eye level and painted it for Morigyaru style (my current fave). So... maybe a garment rack, which I can borrow... I will likely try to sell off a stack of books this year. There's so much to think about every time, and every time I think I over think the event! Really, it's only three hours long, and it starts so early in the morning most don't even start filtering in until the last hour. Maybe I should make some new stuff for the event?

I want to bring everything I can! Some things you can expect to see:

- Hanhaba obi, including synthetic and cotton obi in various stripes and colours.
- Vintage silk obiage
- LOTS of obijime! I cleared out my drawers of anything non-essential, and there's still plenty up for sale
- Haori accessories
- Obi kazari, charms to tuck into the obi that dangle and tie together colours you might not have thought to pair together
- Kimono (of course)
- A few high-end fukuro obi
- Lots of jewellery, including bracelets and earrings
- Books on Japan or about Japanese culture

Should I bring things like little drawstring pouches for sale (in addition to the jewellery)? Herb sachets for drawers? I'll probably make a bunch of magnets... those tend to be cheap, anyone can use them, and I can produce them quickly. How should I display them? Maybe I should get a really cheap but nice cookie sheet to prop up and cover in the bright sparkly things. I definitely need to print new business cards! Should I go with the old ukiyoe-based red/indigo/parchment yellow? Or should I go for a more modern peach/brown/mint/sky blue palette?

May 16, 2015

For Sale: New Obijime, Obi Kazari

Lots of things for sale this week! I'm clearing out my closets. There are so many beautiful things that I bought and love, but I either don't wear them because I don't wear many things of the formality level required, or I have enough similar things that my outfits can still work beautifully. I can always get more obijime later! I need to work on getting obiage!

 Obi kazari, an obi charm tucked into the top of the obi which dangles and catches light. Used for informal outfits. Hand-beaded in glass and copper; beads are in shades of purples, blues, and yellow, with a hint of pink in the AB finish.

Each kazari is one of a kind and made by me. I used new and vintage beads, so every item is unique! No one else will have one identical to this.

Wide obijime in hot pink and black! It's absolutely gorgeous, despite the subtle staining. I haven't tried to wash it, so they might come out. The tassels are in really good condition, too!

Wide obijime aren't very common, I think. They're informal in category, and this one is so bright and stark in contrast, you could go for a lot of different modern looks with this one obijime.

2.2cm wide x 133.5cm long, not including tassels.


Super-cute silk furisode obijime! Muted metallic threads, cotton candy pink on one side, saturated blue on the other. Tassels need some careful combing and ironing. There's a few tiny loose thread ends, but they don't seem to affect wearability.

1cm wide x 152.5cm long, not including tassels.

 Another formal obijime for young women, this one for ofurisode. It's still new with the tag and tassel protector on it! The main cord is mulberry red with a dusky pastel purple split cord. One side is a normal maru obijime, the other side splits into two cords to make fancier shapes like flowers or hearts when tying the obi.

1cm wide x 154cm long, not including tassel on one side. 

No flaws found.
Beautiful paprika red + green formal maru obijime! Bought new and worn only a few times. It's such a gorgeous colour combo! This one was perfect for houmongi, older iromuji (the kind that actually do have subtle colours and patterns, but pre-WW2 they were still considered iromuji), and maybe 1-3 crest irotomesode. You may also like wearing it with furisode! The tassels are still in great shape, too.

1cm wide x 157cm long, not including tassels.

Another new furisode obijime in mousy grey-green brown and soft purples. This one appears to have a loose thread or two from the manufacturing process. There are some other subtle additions of colour where the purples wrap into the main cords. The tag and tassel protectors are still on it.

1cm wide x 154cm long, not including tassels.

May 2, 2015

Eye-Candy Movie: Lady Maiko

*Paid*? To do art all day? And to hang out and perform and entertain people all night? Sign me up. Minus the art, that's basically what I already do as a waitress. You have to try to keep people entertained with conversation when the kitchen is running behind; it helps the time pass by more quickly, so they are not so upset when the food comes out. Pour drinks, offer another drink, are you sure you don't want just one more? Be beautiful every time you come in: a man will pay you more. But pay the most attention to a woman when she comes in with a man- she might take it the wrong way if you don't, and leave nothing at all. When I finally get some time off to pursue any kind of art, it's short-lived due to lack of resources or time/energy to invest in it. And I certainly don't get paid much for my efforts. Every crafter knows the dreaded "Why do you charge so much? I could make this at home!" or "Ugh, you know, I could get this much cheaper from Claire's!" Yes, you could make this at home... with about $200 in craft supplies, and four or five years of experience to learn how to make something meant to last years.

But that's a geisha's life, isn't it? Painstakingly dedicate years to learning art and how to entertain. Four or five years as a maiko to learn the ropes before you become a real professional. And you'd be paid exorbitant amounts to keep up with that lifestyle. Meanwhile, I spend a bad night's earnings on just makeup for that month... ::sighs::

I guess sometimes I share the fantasy of being something more. Or at least gaining something monetary beyond basic living expenses.

Anyways, I'm thinking this because I'm watching a new movie before I go to work. The downside: no subtitles, and I don't speak Japanese. Ara ma~ But even though it's hard to understand context without it, the storyline, in Kabuki fashion, is easy to follow without knowing the language. Young girl comes to talk with the okaasan of a maiko, is turned away, must learn some things, and reapply to become maiko. As the news review says, it's "My Fair Lady" in kimono.

Even though the movie isn't entirely accurate, even the person who created it says it's 'pure fantasy', so we'll go with it. ^_~ The sets and costumes are beautiful, and the lead actress has a Disney-quality voice (although it doesn't match with what is traditionally 'beautiful' for singing). The whole movie is on Youtube in two parts. Again, only in Japanese; no subtitles.





April 19, 2015

New Haircut

I've been fighting illness for over a week now. Last Sunday I thought, well, muscular soreness and a sinus headache, yeah of course. I'm a full-time + overtime waitress, and I have bad allergies to pollen, trees... basically if it grows from the ground I will have a stuffy face and sound like death. x.x And it's Spring in Florida! So instead of snowfall, we get pollen. Of course I feel wretched! I'll rest Tuesday and feel great by Wednesday...

Heh. heh. heh.

By Wednesday, fevers set in. Everything hurt. Arthritis is flaring up (fun!) and I'm exhausted from all of it. By Friday I was getting sent home from work. I'm glad. This is miserable.

But thanks to a friend making me some magical soul food from his grandmother's recipe, I felt good enough to get my first haircut in a few years! Motivated, even. Actually, I chopped most of it myself and tossed the hair outside for the birds. Then I went off to have the ends evened out, since I couldn't get the very back right on my own. I still look sick (oy, you can tell) and my skin decided that it would massively break out this week, but the hair looks good at least! ::sighs:: When you feel like this, it's the little things...

Can't wait to do a kimono day again, and see how it looks. ^_^ In the meantime, I have soup to eat!

April 14, 2015

Lunchtime Kitsuke

A quick shot from lunch with DH at Ichiban, where I worked years ago. The weather is so hot outside already, really, I should be in summer kimono all year. It was around 80F today, with high humidity... so... Japanese weather? The outer kosode and inner juban are both silk. To be honest, I didn't bother with a third layer under the juban (don't do that! Not having a cotton layer underneath can make your silk rot faster) but I was still way too overheated. If it weren't for the blinding sun and high UV rating, we'd probably have gone to the beach instead!

Even inside, it can be hard to cool off. When it's 80F-ish outside, you can only expect it to be maybe 75F inside in a small restaurant, since the doors open and close all the time. Still the food is good and fairly cheap, and the tea room is filled with framed noren and ukiyo-e prints, so it's comfortable and attractive!

This time, I didn't have a flat obijime that I liked with the obi, so I used two thin kumihimo that are of the variety used in furisode decoration instead. The obiage is plain white, partially shibori- I think I have nothing less formal that isn't sha silk. The obi itself was billed as a Nagoya obi, I think, but it's actually a fukuro that is very floppy and double-sided. One side is brightly patterned with royal blue and white plaid; red, white, and olive green botan (peonies); and bright metallic gold peacocks with hearts in their feathers. The other side is smooth olive silk, no pattern at all. The shigoki obi is only slightly darker than the peonies and is a very thin, loose gauze with a shadow-pattern of birds and tree branches. The kosode, a basket-patterned web, giving (hopefully) the illusion of air moving through the fabric.

All in all, it's a colour scheme I am very comfortable in. My current boss asked me to come to work in kimono one day... but it's a restaurant. Maybe I'll look into a synthetic outfit that I can wash more easily.

January 5, 2015

Iromuji Kitsuke w/ New Obi

Mz J at the grocers' took a few photos of my outfit for tonight. I had to put my hair back up pretty quick.

Not pictured: the other employees I was talking to about fabrics (second photo) and origins, or the friend I was with who was kind of laughing about the whole thing.

Yeah, it's January, I know. Out of season and all. But... it's Florida, and it's really hot and rainy out all night. Like mid-70s hot, especially with three layers on. x.x And I was finally getting to take said friend to dinner! The restaurant, naturally, was cold inside.

So what did I end up wearing?

From outer layer in:
- Deep-necked tank top w/ susoyoke
- Bright orange unlined silk juban
- Ink-blue synthetic sha iromuji (harder to stain accidentally)
- That gorgeous vintage obi with the fire flowers!
- Bright orange silk shibori obiage
- Orange creamsicle-coloured woven obijime
- Rain, and no amageta, so instead regular geta and fashionably(?) no tabi, keeping in line with the hitoe kimono and image of heat

I think I'd really like a darker kimono, likely in a deep rich purple or almost black-blue, with a geometric pattern reminiscent of the designs on the obi, to really make those yellows and oranges pop! I have the bright red iromuji of course, but wouldn't that be too 'loud'? Hnnn I'll have to think about it. I definitely don't want to pair orange with orange! And I'm not sure I'd look that great in all-over yellow with my skin lightening up from working indoors all day. Before I at least got sun from my job at the last restaurant, since we had sun-facing windows everywhere, but the current restaurant is just plain dark, even in the day. The boss thinks it's 'romantic', but really, everyone else thinks they just need a flashlight to see the menu at noon. x.x So I have to be more aware of my palette! Suggestions?

June 28, 2014

Sold! One of a Kind Beaded Haori Himo

I sold a few haori himo in the past two weeks! Very exciting since the festival was fun, but 0 profit... and well, it ended up costing money to prepare and go. But even so, it was very fun! I even re-found the tea canister maker! <3 His products are way superior to the cans sold at places like Teavana, and for the same price range. I can't wait to have some spending money to get a few.

But back to the haori himo. I made a pile of them because... well, I could make bracelets, but I like haori. >D Maybe I should try to make dual-purpose items? They're both 7-9" long... something to think about.

This one was made from discontinued Blue Moon leaf-shaped beads, metal spacers, and AB crystal-cut glass. My favourites are the late-Summer, mid-Fall dragonfly beads. Here in FL, there are mosquitoes all over the place, year-round, but they get bad especially in the damp, humid Summer and Fall before it starts to cool. Dragonflies come out from everywhere to eat them, as many as they can. It's pretty rare for me to see a red one, but a lot of dragonflies I find are green or blue, or black/gold with tortoiseshell wings. It'll be especially lovely on any Summer or Fall-motif haori, like the one it was photographed with! Congrats to the new owner.

This himo was bought by the same person who purchased the himo above. Another himo made with discontinued glass. You can't tell by the photos, since it's difficult to capture, but the red glass has golden frost in the centre which becomes brighter when the light shifts, matching the metal spacers and faceted glass beads. Somehow, gold clasps just didn't fit, though- or at least, I thought so at the time. Maybe to make the beads stand out more? Bronze was used instead.

Faux coral haori himo with plastic, glass, and metal gold-toned spacers. This was made from a vintage Japanese-made necklace that was just beyond repair. I wanted to re-use as many of the beads as possible to keep with the spirit of the original.

The benefit of plastic over almost any other material is that it's lightweight enough to use on older or more fragile fabrics without the weight breaking threads or pulling/tearing fabric. And because of the more traditional look, it's prime for any Taisho or war-era piece! Even though no one wore beaded himo then, it's a way to keep simplicity and style in line with the fashion of the times. I'm sure if there were such things as these during the 1920s, Japanese women would have taken to them as they did obijime and other accessories.

Anyways, I'm excited that these have gone. I expected to be a little sad, but I'm not. I'm really happy that they will (presumably) be worn and cared for. There are lots more up for sale if you want your own! And of course, I can do custom commission if you're trying to match a particular outfit.

Come see the others on BebeTaian.etsy.com

June 13, 2014

New things for Natsu Matsuri!

Some new things I bought for Natsu Matsuri, and later for Etsy. <3 A preview of what everyone else will get to see on Saturday!

Silk obiage with firework-like patterns in shibori, appropriately dyed a super-saturated highlighter green. This shade of green almost hurts to look at. Good thing an obiage is halfway hidden! A very bold pop of colour for a daring wearer.

One of four obiage I have for sale right now... I'm waiting on others to arrive. x.x Hope they get here soon!


 Another super-saturated piece, this silk/synthetic woven summer obijime is bright, intense royal blue. For it's weave it actually feels a little stiff. Most of the braid is silk, but the very thick cords are synthetic. The whole cord has a starched feel to it. Still, summer pieces aren't always easy to come by, and with the heat increasing in Florida, I have a penchant for pulling as many ro, sha, and ra pieces as I can into my collection. I may start wearing hitoe all year round! Surely anyone who lives here will feel the same...

A mofuku set meant for funerals can be awfully depressing to some, but here, I see potential. Black obijime really aren't fashionable for anything but funerary wear, but with an added thin obijime cord of a bright colour, perhaps that will change. I have a few myself in purples and blues which are only maybe half a centimetre thick to pair with wider obijime!

As for the obiage and shoes, the shoes are my favourite. Plain black zori are terribly inexpensive on their own; it's when you dress them up that they become unique and fun! In this case, a little lace, some beading, and some knowhow, and you have a gorgeous, unique pair of Lolita-like zori for gothy kimono fashion. The obiage can be embroidered with silks along it's existing pattern, or over it with another appropriate theme, which adds some versatility.

I hope more comes tomorrow! It's the last day I get to prepare before the show. I get two tables this time, since a friend is lending me hers. Also, I found this gorgeous silver and peach nadeshiko brocade fabric to use for a table runner! Of course, that's for sale, too... where would I keep it the rest of the year? So hopefully, I'll have enough to cover both tables. I've sold a lot in the past year... time for something new. ^_^