Written by: DARLA TANAKA
Kimono is the traditional dress of Japan. The word is composed of two Chinese letters. Ki comes from kiru, which means "to wear", and mono means "thing". So it litterally means "a thing to wear".
A kimono is always put on a certain way. The right side is always folded over first and then the left side so that the open edge is along your right leg. This is very important to remember when you dress dolls. A kimono put on backwards with the open edge along the left leg is only used when dressing a body for a funeral. To check this, turn the doll around so that you are both facing the same direction and check to see that the open edge is along the right leg just like it would be if you were wearing one.
A kimono is always long and then folded over at the waist. If you sew kimono for dolls, this is an important thing to remember. Children kimonos also usually have tucks on the shoulders to allow for growth.
Many people have probably heard that kimonos are one size fits all. Well, I am living proof that is not so. When you buy a kimono, you are usually buying the fabric and then the company sews the kimono to fit you especially. This kimono will then fit you and will reasonably fit anyone near the same size as you. But the width is different and if someone is particularly skinnier, larger, taller, or shorter the kimono will not fit properly. The same goes for dolls. A Barbie kimono will usually not fit a Francie or Skipper. Takara Jenny and Francie are near the same size though so kimonos for those dolls are usually interchangable.
There are many types of kimono used for different occassions. Here are
some of the basic types that you will see made for dolls. There are many
ways of tying the obi (belt) on the kimono. I have shown the most common
ones in the pictures.
Furisode - Long sleeve kimono
The long sleeve kimono is a formal kimono and is only worn by young
unmarried woman. Once you are married, you don't wear this type. A long
sleeve kimono is worn for special occasions and ceremonies like a wedding,
New Years day, Coming of Age ceremony, etc. There is a long sleeve kimono
that 7 year old girls wear for their 7-5-3 ceremony which celebrates their
good health and well being at the age of 7. It varies only slightly from
the more adult version. White socks with the big toe sewn seperate are
always worn with the kimono.
This is a regular kimono. Depending on the fabric and the obi (belt), this type of kimono can be worn for everyday wear or for a formal occasion. For a wedding, many married women will wear one of these in black with gorgeous colorful designs along the bottom and their family crest on the sleeves and back of the neck. White socks with the big toe sewn seperate are usually worn with the kimono.
Summer kimono are called yukata in Japanese. They are made of cotton and usually have a very simple belt without all the accessories that the other kimonos have. The more traditional summer kimono is a navy and white design. In recent years, these have become more colorful and now you can find them in a wide variety of colors and designs. This type of kimono is considered casual. It is often worn at summer festivals. Usually wooden clogs are worn with it with no socks. Recently different types of thong type sandals have also become popular though. The children's version of this kimono is very similar to the adult except that the obi (belt) is usually a soft silk sash tied in a regular bow in back.