The Kimono: Summer’s Light-As-Air Outerwear


Our idea of the kimono today, at least in this part of the world, evokes an image that is less Madame Butterfly and more social butterfly, one with a summer calendar full of block parties, brunches, and bonfires, for which the lightweight warm-weather staple weaves together (no pun intended) the perfect amount of casual cool and effortless elegance. In contemporary fashion, the kimono is varied and versatile, with great diversity in its patterned prints, its silhouettes and cuts, its additions of unexpected fabrics and trims… We couldn’t imagine surviving a summer anymore without the draped cover-up and started longing for more information about its beginnings, about the traditional attire on which our favorite light-as-air outerwear was based. So we did a little research, some easy summer reading, if you will, and here’s what we found out.


1. Back To Basics – A kimono is a boxy, T-shaped robe with extra-wide sleeves that is wrapped around the body and tied with an obi, or sash. The traditional version is still worn for special ceremonies like weddings and funerals, while simpler variations, like the yukata summer kimono, can be seen on attendees of less formal events like summer festivals.

2. Piece Out – Customarily created using one bolt of fabric, the kimono consists of multiple straight-lined panels sewn together, which makes it a convenient article to disassemble if certain pieces are damaged or faded. (Not to mention, it’s an easy DIY for you home-seamstresses.)

3. Come Into Season – Nature is a common theme, and you can often tell by a kimono’s motif what time of year it is meant to be worn. Cherry blossoms, for example, are the epitome of springtime, while a garment bearing maple leaves perfectly represents the shift into autumn. The same can be said about an item’s color. It’s likely you will see pastels in spring, cool colors in summer… You get the pretty picture.

4. Size Does Matter – Furisode kimonos, known for their extra-long sleeves, are only worn by single women, who long ago would wave that excess fabric as a way to proclaim their love for the men in their lives. While kimonos have been able to maintain their general silhouette, that’s not to say there weren’t changes throughout the centuries, like length, sleeve size, and obi width, to name a few.

5. White On, Sister – A Japanese bride may choose to wear a shiromuku on her big day, and like the western wedding gown, this kimono is usually an all-white garment. Except in Japan, the color doesn’t signify purity or luxury but, rather, the beginning of the bride’s new journey.

Collage from left to right: 1. Tribe And True Triangle Print Kimono, 2. Rose Clusters Fringe Kimono, 3. Strap Happy Sheer Kimono, 4. Abstract Floral Print Kimono, 5. Short Story Semi-Sheer Solid Kimono, 6. Got Ur Back Leopard Print Kimono, 7. Ornate Paisley Print Kimono, 8. Medallion Crochet Kimono

Now, are you about ready for your new journey into kimonos? Slip into one of the modern versions above or…