Bebe Taian: Coveted Kimono: Greys and Blues

November 14, 2013

Coveted Kimono: Greys and Blues

I've been in love with greys, browns, and blues for quite awhile now this year. I'm in love with late-Edo/Meiji mid-low class palettes, with modern cuts and fabrics. Or not-so-modern in material, but in manufacturing. I like small-patterned fabrics but natural cloth, such as hemp, cotton, or linen. Wool is fine, but it's itchy. x.x

I really don't like most synthetic fabrics. They're hot and don't breathe, or stiff, or itchy, or rough, and they're really environmentally bad to manufacture. It's much better at all stages to manufacture natural fabrics! While the plants grow, they filter our air. When we take what we need from the plants and leave the rest, it recycles back into the earth, enriching the soil and preparing for a new crop. There is no chemical waste due to making the synthetic materials before weaving, although there may be some from synthetic dyes; if you can avoid those too, you may find a rainbow of gorgeous, colour-safe hues that are just as beautiful. Plus, natural fabrics will eventually break down. Synthetics take forever.

Silk komon kimono from Ichiroya
I won't lie: I do have synthetic clothing, and surely most things are dyed synthetically, but if I'm buying a new item I'd rather get something more natural. Most of my clothes come from thrift store outlets for a few dollars a pound. I think it's a worse thing to throw those things away than to avoid them for fabric content. I'd rather not buy anything clothing-related if I can avoid it... but kimono are my weakness.

I think recreating the subtlety and maturity of this doll's outfit lies in picking a patterned kimono which is a muted colour from far away and up-close. Small amounts of deep burgundy, grey, purple, or other dark colours would work, but not bright blotches of colour.

Closeup of the komon pattern
Then, in order to match it to an obi and accessories, follow the usual rules: keep warm tones to warm tones, such as a warm grey kimono with a dull kiniro or mustard-coloured obi, and pair cool tones with like cool colours, such as the sky-blue obi or a deep cool burgundy. Even a darker grey or grey-green might work in some cases, depending on the up-close pattern of the kimono.

I think this particular kimono might go either way. True neutrals do exist! If a kimono in natural light looks great with both warm and cool colours, you have probably found a true neutral. These are the easiest shades to deal with for that reason. If you only have enough money for one kimono, attempt to get something as versatile as possible.

Asa obi from Ichiroya
In this case, even though it's a hemp summer obi, I'd probably wear this one often. It isn't transparent, and we have dragonflies here all year around, so maybe in Florida it wouldn't be considered season-specific. If I were in Japan coordinating such a thing, my choice might be different. The flowing line created by the dragonflies contrasts with the geometric pattern of the kimono up close, which adds an air of relaxation. The shades of blue-grey in the dragonflies' wings echo back to the kimono colour as well, without being too obvious of a match. White or very pale accessories should be worn with this kimono.

I adore hemp because it's like soft denim. It breathes, it's durable, it isn't uncomfortable on the skin... hemp is pretty much the perfect fabric, similar to thickly-woven cotton when it's processed the right way. The soft, 'fluttering' motif of dragonflies evokes an image of a cool breeze near water, and the tranquil blue colour can make a hot day feel nice again. This ability to transcend the world around you with only these images is the essence of kimono, isn't it?

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