All About Japanese Kimono Styles for Women

The kimono is a traditional Japanese garment. It is a T-shaped, wraparound robe with square sleeves and a rectangle-shaped body. The left side is always worn over the right unless the kimono is being used to dress a deceased person. The word “kimono” literally means “a thing to wear” and the most famous of Japanese attires is the country’s national dress.

The kimono is not, as it is commonly perceived, only a formal dress, nor is it only worn by women. In Japan, there are actually many different styles of kimonos that are worn for various occasions and even simply at home and informally, and there are also kimonos for men and children as well.

Japanese kimono styles have left a big impact on modern fashion. It’s easy to shop women’s kimono style dresses, robes and jackets and find beautiful pieces from the latest fashion trends inspired by Japanese clothing.

Kimono Fashion Styles

There are numerous accessories that accompany wearing a full kimono incomplete traditional regalia, such as the obi belt, hakama boots, zori sandals, and tabi socks to name a few. Formal and professional styles of the kimono are worn with more accessories and are more intricate and extravagant in design and fit.

The yukata is the more popular informal style of kimono dress, although formal kimonos are still worn to parties. Geishas wear kimonos as part of their professional attire, and it is tradition for sumo wrestlers to wear kimonos in public at all times.

Another style of kimono is the furisode, which means ‘swinging sleeve’. This type of kimono is worn by young, single women and has very long sleeves ranging in length from 80cm ‘ko-furisode’ to the 114cm ‘o-furisode.

Modern Take on the Kimono

Although the kimono dress looks simple, wearing a full kimono -even an informal one- is a complicated process that takes time, practice, and effort. The tying of the obi belt, which is the main accessory for kimonos is an especially intricate process.

Additionally, due to the materials from which they are made and the usually thick set to the clothes, wearing kimonos during the spring and summer can be difficult simply because of the humidity.

Fortunately, in recent times, the modern resurgence of the kimono as an everyday dress in Japan has been followed by a global appreciation for its beauty and proliferation of modern interpretations on the design of the kimono as well as other clothing styles that are inspired by it. Kimonos are now more often being made from fabric of lighter, free-breathing material.

Even in its home country, modern takes on the kimono are quickly gaining traction. An example is the increasingly popular fashion trend of wearing a thin knit turtleneck top with a heavily patterned kimono-like overcoat with straight lapels called a haori with skinny or flared jeans during the winter months.

Kimono inspired dresses, robes, and jackets are becoming popular both on Japanese and international fashion scenes. The elegant, often brightly and colorfully patterned, overlapping lapel designs synonymous with kimonos are influencing the designs of dresses, robes, and jackets alike. In recent years, seasonal collections released by fashion houses from Christian Louboutin to Mason Margiela to Tom Brown have all featured kimono inspired outfits.

From formal wear to household robes, clothing based on the design of kimonos are numerous and very diverse.

The kimono has a rustic and at the same time modern appeal that is being appreciated by the fashion world. Jackets, dresses, and robes based on the kimono style are easily identified for featuring intricate embroideries and bold patterns, and although kimonos are worn with the left lapel overlapping the right one, modern takes usually have straight lapels.

An open, button-less design with a straight cut is typical, along with bold, bright, flowery patterns and embroidery. Long, loose-fitting dresses made from light materials are also common kimono-inspired clothing.

As a result of the flowing, loose, non-conforming to any body shape style of kimono-inspired jackets and robes, they match well with denim shorts, midi skirts, and jeans. The bright patterns are also good to pair with simple colors and monochromatic tones as an offset to the brightness of the kimono.

The kimono is a classic, timeless jewel that is the pride of a nation. And where most cultures would be offended that such an artifact is being copied and modified, the Japanese people are glad that the world can enjoy their beautiful national dress.