East Meets West in Colorful Kimono Fusion Fashion

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The venerable kimono is being revived as modern attire free from norms as people are combining it with Western clothing items and incorporating original ideas. While that may seem a somewhat challenging task at first glance, it can be very enjoyable, and may certainly make one feel closer to Japanese traditional clothing.

“It’s fun just to think about ways to combine kimono with Western clothing,” said Ayaaya, who organizes a kimono class in Osaka. She added happily: “Wearing kimono this way doesn’t take much effort as wearing them in the traditional way, so it’s very convenient.”

Ayaaya says that she received many of the kimono that had been worn by her grandmother. She found they were too short for her and was at a loss as to how to wear them. At a kimono-related event about 10 years ago, she saw a friend wear a combination of kimono with shoes and socks, instead of the traditional tabi socks and footwear. “I realized that I could wear my grandmother’s kimono if I combine them with all sorts of items and not follow its traditional way of wearing them.”

Since then, she has become hooked on matching kimono and Western clothing. I asked Ayaaya to recommend some examples of these combinations.

First, she demonstrated adding a detachable collar to a colorful kimono with a floral motif. She said that adding the collar easily gives it a fresh, new impression. She also added a Western-style hat, socks and pumps, all in pink to create a unified look. Underneath the kimono, she wore a petticoat-like item made with a scarf. When putting on the kimono, she raised the hem higher than normal to allow the cloth to peep out underneath, giving the outfit a more fashionable appearance.

As another example, she selected a chic kimono with a geometric pattern in an art deco style. She combined it with a blouse with a frilled collar and a long lace haori jacket. She also put on silver sneakers to add a trendy touch.

Both of the kimono are vintage. Secondhand kimono are beautiful, but their sleeves and lengths are often too short to wear in a traditional way for people today.

Ayaaya said, “That’s why I recommend combining them with Western clothing and accessories.” She said it is easy to make pretty combinations by, for example, wearing a long-sleeved blouse under a kimono so that the cuffs can be seen under the kimono sleeves or wearing a pleated skirt underneath a kimono. Such vintage kimono can be purchased inexpensively at secondhand goods shops.

To people who are unsure about how to combine kimono with Western clothing, Ayaaya suggests starting with small Western accessories such as earrings and sneakers. “In fall and winter, I suggest wearing a turtleneck sweater under your kimono. This will also keep you warm,” Ayaaya said.

Images of such fresh Japanese-Western crossover outfits are frequently posted on social media.

“I hope people will enjoy kimono without setting a boundary between Japanese and Western clothes using their own fashion sense, and by doing so, feeling closer to kimono,” Ayaaya said.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A chic kimono combined with a blouse, a long haori jacket and sneakers