verbal croquis

ramblings on kimono

Posted in my clothes,personal by verbalcroquis on December 27, 2005

I got another kimono. I promise I won’t buy another one for a long, long time. But this one was less than half the price of the other one!


So I’m a little obsessed with kimono. I’m not latching onto the “Memoirs of a Geisha” trend–believe me, I hardly look anything like a geisha when I go out in a kimono. I’ve been obsessed with kimono for a few years now and it’s only recently that I’ve discovered a place where I can get my fix in steady supply. I’m not quite sure if this is a good thing or not.

I’ve always loved hanbok (Korean traditional dress), but they were so difficult to wear–my armpits would scritch and I would always gets the hems dirty. Something about hanbok always made me feel like I should behave like a lady while wearing one, and y’all should know by now that I’ve never been very good at that.


Hanbok and kimono are not that dissimilar. Austere, softly geometric shapes, elegant folds, rich fabrics, intense color, various levels of embellishment, prominent sash, all skin hidden but for a bit of wrist, a bit of neck, different signs to show the marital status of the wearer. It’s no wonder the stereotype of the mysterious, unknowable asian beauty’s allure has been perpetuated for so long. We all portray the same image! (insert rolled eyes here.)

deconstructing jeans

While studying at school, I went through a fierce little deconstructionist phase (didn’t we all?) and the idea of ripping up something so steeped in history like asian traditional dress of course appealed to me. I had already ripped apart and put back together the American icon–the blue jean; cheongsam were gorgeous but reminded me too much of restaurant waitresses. So hanbok and kimono it was. Shortly after school I went to work for a woman who started her own label reworking kimono. Not deconstructing, reworking, which are very different. She has this enormous, extensive collection of kimono that I covet to this very day.

eva fortune debut piece

Personally, I like kimono because they’re so easy to wear, especially the ones with the shorter sleeves for married women. (I’m not married, but hey, I told you I don’t wear them in the traditional way.) I tie them with a charmeuse sash, wrapping the kimono around me to varying degrees of coverage. I wear them with gold flipflops, chokers, my big Oaxacan gold earrings, leather wrist cuffs, denim minis, lacy lingerie, nothing at all, jeans, whatever suits my mood.

Being Korean, people may (jokingly?) call me a traitor (my grandmother would not be joking) by wearing traditional dress of a country that I not only wasn’t a citizen of, but with which my heritage had conflicting history. Actually, it’s the opposite. I have too much pride and respect for hanbok to wear cheap vintage finds accessorized with western apparel like denim to parties. When I get one as an adult, I want to have enough money to get a truly amazing one custom made, along with the requisite petticoats, cotton socks, rubber and silk shoes and jade hair pins.

me in kimono

My kimono I wear with irreverance, not out of disrespect, but in a way people know I don’t associate with the culture of the kimono, just the aesthetic. I stand out in the crowd without looking like a freak, it works on “fat-days”, I love them because I can control how much skin to show, since my daring depends on the day and I never go out in public in sleeveless, I can drive in one, it works with flats.

All this to say: where the hell are my packages? I need one for NYE!


7 Responses to 'ramblings on kimono'

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  1. Ana said,

    Where do you get your fix?…

  2. conrath said,

    this is enchanting.

  3. voodooqueen126 said,

    you know when a westerner wears a kimono, shalwar kameez a sari a cheongsam, hanbok (any form of non western dress) , they look really stupid. being of korean extraction you can wear the kimono (despite it’s japness) and look good, unlike me. enjoy it

    • loves armistice said,

      “Japness”?….Despite your blatantly derogatory comment, you otherwise appeared to be simply ignorant right up till your use of that term. Thereafter you entered the category of ignorant bigot. THINK before you spew CRASSNESS!

  4. Pretty funny that I was Googling for ideas on sewing a hanbok and came upon your blog, PZ.

  5. December said,

    “you know when a westerner wears a kimono, shalwar kameez a sari a cheongsam, hanbok (any form of non western dress) , they look really stupid.”

    I actually find that a pretty lame comment.

    ANYONE can look * stupid * in kimono, whether *western* or *asian*.
    It’s dependent on HOW the kimono is worn in my opinion.

    ANYONE can also look fine in kimono. It depends how the garment is worn.
    Kimono is a piece of art. Treat it with respect and it will flatter you.

  6. Driver said,

    I just bought that Eva Fortune Kimono from Buffalo Exchange in Denver for 36 dollars. I LOVE IT! DO you know how much it was originally sold for?

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