Tuesday, July 28, 2015

My Kimono Evolution

2015 is the 8th year I've been practicing kitsuke. At the end of 2007, I bought my first yukata, and then this thing we affectionately call the "kimono bug" bit me, and I've been hooked ever since! My reflection started as the result of a recent post on the IG Facebook page asking for us to show our early kitsuke and describe our improvements. This prompted me to take a look back at all 8 years and see what has changed. I'd like to share my journey with you.

END OF 2007

My first kitsuke ever. This was taken shortly after buying this yukata. Unfortunately, I have no full shots of this particular kitsuke attempt. I did research before buying the yukata on the old IG forums, and I remember using a shoe string to act as a koshi himo.


After that initial kitsuke attempt in 2007, I didn't expand my collection much. At that time, I don't think I realized that my love would grow following this attempt right before my first local Japanese festival. This is the same yukata as before with pre-tied obi. I had no idea about undergarments or padding at the time. I also still had those shoe string "koshi himo" and no obiita. Following the festival and seeing tons of girls in lovely yukata, my true obsession began.

EARLY 2009

2009 began with a boom in my kitsuke collection. I bought my first silk kimono, an orange tsukesage. I remember receiving it in the mail after an extraordinarily long time (I had NO understand of SAL back then!). I also bought a green pre-tied obi. I had no obiage or obijime, so I used a length of fabric and cord, respectively, from the fabric store. I also bought my first nagajuban. I had no eri shin or obi makura, and I was still using those shoe string koshi himo.

Following that orange tsukesage, I purchased 3 or 4 more kimono and a few obi and began tying them myself. I don't think I own any of those kimono anymore because they were all too small for me except for this one. This checkered komon was a decent size, and I still don't know why I sold it. I bought my first zori and full komono set in the early spring and did my first panel on kimono at an anime convention. I probably was still too green to do it, but as they say, "you don't know what you don't know". This was a hanhaba obi that I believe I tied in a feeble attempt at kai no kuchi. The obijime is quite high, the collars are messy, and the ohashori is too long and bulky. But, I am beginning to see noticeable improvement at this stage. I was heavy into the IG forums at this time, and I had just gotten out of a long, bad relationship, and I think this spurred me forward.

LATE 2009

This was the first time I wore kimono for Halloween. I really loved this kimono, and it was truly stunning in natural light, but it was sadly quite small. I'm starting to see a little neater ohashori, obiage, and obijime here. My obi tying was starting to look a little better. Two very clear issues I had here were the center seam being way off to the left and the collar is quite high in the back. It's not an amazing amount of improvement, but more noticeable at this point.

EARLY 2010

 That spring, I started attending conventions more regularly. I also was more inspired by modern kimono fashion and kimono hime at the time. These photos are from MTAC, and the kitsuke is a little sloppy. The collar was a especially bad that day. I think in early 2010, I started to get a little over-confident in my abilities, and I let a lot of things go.


I bought my first summer kimono in 2010. Another piece that I loved dearly but was too small. I found the ro fabric to be difficult to work with, and I hardly ever had anything stay put for any length of time. 

LATE 2010

2010 was the first year I really tried kimono hime. This is the only attempt I ever got photos of. While the overall image is still nice to me, I clearly was still dealing with kitsuke problems. The obiage was the most glaring thing here. Collars were getting better as I finally was introduced to chikara nuno. The obijime turned out quite nice for my level at the time. I remember being so proud of that ohashori! I had finally learned how to fold the fabric so that the bulk rested under the obi rather than within the ohashori.

EARLY 2011

2011 saw more refinement and was the beginning of the changes with my style. This photo from January of that year was my first full formal kitsuke. I bought real kimono padding for the first time that year, and this is around the time when i first bought a bra specifically meant for kimono.

This was right before my graduation from college. My kitsuke is considerably neater overall, and I was a fan of a large obiage. I had bought this kimono as a ko-furisode and altered the sleeves to make it a houmongi. This kimono is still in my possession and is one of the more bright pieces that I still own. In fact, everything in this photo is still in my possession.


This was my first sha kimono. I loved the omodaka design and the colors from the moment I saw it. This kitsuke was my first full summer set. I remember that this juban was hard to wear and quite slippery, so the collars are too tight, though they did mostly stay together.


The end of 2011 and early 2012 was very busy for me as I was still in the beginnings of my first nursing job. I started tea ceremony lessons in March of 2012. This yukata ensemble was the first more expensive purchase I had made. It was also my first TL size yukata. This outfit is still one of my favorites, and the sunglasses still make me giggle. With tea ceremony lessons - and therefore more opportunities to wear kimono out - my kitsuke started to become more refined. After this point, almost all of my kimono-wearing occasions are for tea ceremony practice, and I started wearing kimono less for just kitsuke practice.

LATE 2012

 Some of my choices for tea practice were better than others at that time. My sensei is not very picky about the choice of kimono since so few people in our area can wear it, but there are some faux pas here that bother me a little now. The first photo was in October. While I like the color combo here, the komon is a little too bright for me now to wear to even a practice session, although my sensei would still allow it. The second photo was likely in November. I think most of what I chose here is much better, but I was wearing an obidome, which is a big no-no in chado.

EARLY 2013

January of 2013 was my first Hatsugama. Overall, I think I chose a very appropriate outfit. I remember that this one was quite slippery, and the collars did ride up, despite wearing korin and a chikara nuno. I started wearing korin more regularly around this time, but I actually often made them too tight which allows the collar to ride up.

My first (and only) public furisode kitsuke was that January as well. I wore this to a small one-day anime convention. This furisode is one of the prizes of my collection. It is a very large size that I found on Rakuten - brand new and 90% off. It had originally been listed for over $1,000 dollars. The fabric was amazing to wear! I also did a tateya musubi with the help of my then fiance (now my husband).


This was my last kitsuke before I got married. This blue edo komon I'm wearing here is definitely one of my favorites. This kitsuke attempt in general is a favorite of mine. This ensemble was worn in early September, even though the kimono is awase. The obi was another great discount from Rakuten and features a set of kikyou. The biggest kitsuke criticism I started to have around this time was the "boobs eating the obiage". It is not as bad in this photo, but it was a constant issue at this time.

EARLY 2014

This photo is from my 2nd Hatsugama. This photo demonstrates that my style did not change much from the previous year. Two things I still kick myself about over this picture because I should have known better: 1. Hair partially down, and 2. Painted nails. I didn't realize that my sensei would be asking me to perform that day (surprise!). NEVER AGAIN will I be unprepared!

 I seemed to have gotten my act straight after that early year mishap. The first photo features the blue edo komon again, and I am very much having issues with the "boob shelf" in this photo. The second photo features one of my all-time favorite ensembles. This komon is actually cotton, despite the sheen that appears in the photo.


This photo is a late summer ensemble that I wore to a tea practice. This is the point where I started to realize the importance of more padding underneath the bust to compensate for the dreaded "boob shelf". While not perfect, the effect is much better. 

EARLY 2015

We have finally come to the current year. This was the ensemble I chose for the most recent Hatsugama. I think this demonstrates the improvement in my knowledge of appropriate wear for tea. After the previous year, I knew I would be asked to take part somehow, and I ended up performing usucha furodana temae. I made sure that my nails were natural this time around and my hair was up. I am much prouder of this past year's choices.


 These two ensembles are quite recent. The black ro zakuro komon on the left was worn to an art show. In the past, I haven't really cared much about the bag I was using, but upon seeing these ata bags, I had a yearning to purchase one, and it is certainly a prize in my collection. The second photo is from a presentation I gave earlier in July on Tokyo geisha. The yukata is worn in the geisha style, using a nagoya obi, tabi, and zori.

I know this was a long post, and thank you for looking through it. As you have seen, my style is continually evolving. My inspirations change, and of course, fashion itself changes and patterns and colors are popular things to play with in kimono. I wonder what the next year will bring?


  1. I really love this post. Sadly I think I may have burned any early images of my kitsuke attempts ... due to the horror.

    But it is such a pleasure to see how much you've improved! Congratulations, Tsukiko-san!

  2. This post is really helpful. I'm still a beginner, and my kitsuke is still not perfect. Hopefully I will be as good as you some day!

    1. I'm glad you found it helpful! Good luck in your kitsuke "journey"!