Bebe Taian: Using Everyday Items for Kimono Kitsuke!

December 4, 2010

Using Everyday Items for Kimono Kitsuke!

I really wanted photos for this. I will have to get permission from someone and update!

But if you didn't know, when you are buying kimono and you see auctions for things like "kimono shawls", or other such items, there are things you can do to replace them or everyday closet items you can use instead.


A "kimono shawl" can get very expensive, just as regular high-end shawls here can. However, you can often find normal wide, long shawls that are beautiful and which go well with kimono in malls, thrift stores, and consignment shops for what is often a fraction of the price of buying one new from a kimono retailer. Unless it is a particularly beautiful or unusual shawl, I would not buy it unless I LOVED it and would wear it with or without kimono!


This one I had to do for a long time before obiage became more readily available in the US for less than $30 apiece. I had a small assortment of scarves and appropriate fabrics that had been cut as obiage for more informal kitsuke. For example, a few layers of folded print chiffon with black background and pale beige leaves in a very small print were used as an obiage for a tomesode ensemble, before I 1) had money for kimono, 2) had access to the wealth of kimono items we have today in the States, and 3) had any idea what I was doing when getting dressed. LOL... All in all, it didn't work out too badly so long as I stuck to "flat", not ruffled, fabrics, appropriate colours, and formality level, which was almost always informal at komon level.


If you are doing an informal outfit for the day, try mixing in a little non-traditional kimonoHIME style! Use a narrower, long scarf (like the cheap, pretty kind from Bijou Brigette for $8) as a shigoki obi, the kind of scarf that ties in a bow beneath the obi as either decoration or for tying up very long skirts. I prefer a wide, thin, loooong scarf so that I can fold it three times to make it narrower before tying, but I can take it off and wear it as a shawl or headscarf if it suddenly gets chilly or windy. I don't want my hairpins blowing loose!


Real obidome are beautiful, and sometimes (rarely) you can find them under $25. If you cannot afford an obidome for $25 and wait for it to get to where you are from Japan, please consider using a favourite vintage or new pin, the kind with the closing mechanism that turns so that you do not have to pierce your obijime. Of course, flat obijime only must be used with obidome OR pins, so please pick one that fits suitably! I have found gorgeous pins new and used for as little as a dollar or two apiece. Scour flea markets for really good steals- people who set up for the weekend just want to get rid of it all and go home. Remember that other dealers will shark these people by buying out the best inventory as soon as the person sets up (or earlier) and resell it at their own booth, so get there early if you go this route!


Hairpins are another thing to look for at flea markets,thrift stores, and vintage shops. The kind which are combs can be bleached and sterilised, and often vintage plastics look much like the modern plastic imitation tortoiseshell pins girls wear in Japan when dressing in kimono.

If you are buying handmade hairpins, check the quality of the persons' handicraft. I have seen some excellent tsumami kanzashi and hana kanzashi (the kind with the fabric flowers and such), and some which are the exact opposite of quality... usually for comparable prices. If you want a really "authentic" kanzashi of this nature, there is really only one place for a girl to go: Atelier Kanawa. The trainee of one of the last five traditional kanzashi makers in Japan, she opened her shop at Etsy years ago and does excellent work with lots of imagination. You can even look through past sales for anything she made as a one-off! I adore her. <3


It's been difficult lately, but I have found very beautiful leather sandals, the "flip-flop" style, at places like Sears, Dillards, DSW, etc. for very cheap prices. Especially look for them at the end of Summer/early Fall, when prices are lowest during Clearance season. My black leather sandals, rarely worn, are currently for sale as they are too big for me now, only $25. I've done well losing weight, and it's time I get better-fitting shoes to reflect that! The sweet ladies at Ichibans' (restaurant) tend to wear the thick foam-bottomed black sandals with informal yukata instead of buying them from Japan. If you cannot get good zori in your size from Japanese websites or from here, or if they are simply too expensive (which is often the case), you can always try searching the places I've mentioned for a new pair that will fit you easily. Simply remember that foam-bottomed sandals will not work with, say, a homoungi or tomesode, but black leather or another type of leather sandals might, if they match the kimono well.

It IS possible to have a really great, unique kimono style without spending a fortune! Keep checking this blog for more items like these up for sale. Because I ship from the US, you do not have to worry about the 2-3 month delay from Japan caused by TSA customs regulations.

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