"Kimono" technically means Japanese dress, but for Westerners, the word refers to traditional robes like "kasode" with shorter sleeves; "furisode" with longer, open-bottom sleeves; "uchikake," an elaborate wedding robe or overcoat; "juban," a softer under-robe; and "haori," a shorter jacket for men. Inner kimonos are tied closed with a sash known as "obi," which also comes in a wide variety of shapes, colors, and styles—including the formal "maru," the 1920s-style "fukuro," the simple "nagoya," and the wide "hanhaba."

The flamboyance, vivid colors, and artistry of antique kimonos were once a source of national pride for Japan, and also point to the influence of Noh Theater. Kimonos developed as a logical way to stay cool and comfortable in the humid climate, and they worked for kneeling on wood floors. The long, draping sleeves of furisode and fine, richly decorated silks became symbols of leisure and wealth for aristocrats. In the Heian era (794-1185), courtesans wore 12 simple and brightly colored kimonos at once, most of which could only be seen at the collars and cuffs.

Supple, sleek kimonos made of silk ("kinu") are the most desirable, even though they can be made of any material such as the stiffer silk crepe ("chirimen"), satin, hemp, thread-banana fiber, abaca cloth, hemp, linen, wool, or cotton. Kimonos are often made from fabrics with patterns woven into them, like "kasuri" or "ikat" (made of pre-dyed thread), "tsuzure ori" (tapestry), "nishiki" (multicolored pattern), "Kara-ori" (Chinese weaving that looks embroidered), and "tsujigahana" (made with a tie-dye-thread base and post-weaving flourishes).

Dyeing techniques contribute greatly to the beauty and artistry of kimonos. The most typical "yuzen" technique, developed in the 17th century, lets artisans hand-draw elaborate images with thin, delicate lines. Other popular means include stencil-dyeing, or "katazome," tie-dying or "shibori-zome," stenciling unique to Okinawa called "bingata," and a technique known as "tsutsugaki" that involves drawing with rice paste that will resist indigo dye. Thanks to the stencils, small repeated patterns called "komon"—such as "seigaiha" or stylized waves, "yamagata" or mountain forms, and medallions resembling cranes, chrysanthemum, and wisteria—became common.

These days, most Japanese wear modern Western-style clothing, and perceive vintage kimonos as tremendously out-dated outfits that disguise the body, impractical for the fast pace of 21st century life. There, silk kimonos, which sell for thousands new, are reserved for special occasions like the Shichigosan Festival and New Year's Day, and for older people, Noh and Kabuki performers, geishas, and others involved in the traditional arts of tea service and flower arrangement. Used kimonos can be found for about $100 at Japanese flea markets.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

MyVintageVogue

MyVintageVogue

The history of 20th-century women’s fashion largely played out in the pages of magazines such as “Harper’s Ba… [read review or visit site]

Asian Art Museum

Asian Art Museum

You can get happily lost searching through the 10,000 or so objects on the Asian Art Museum's website. For example,… [read review or visit site]

Fashion Columbia Study Collection

Fashion Columbia Study Collection

The Fashion Columbia Study Collection (FCSC) is the digital home of the Columbia College Chicago’s fashion archiv… [read review or visit site]

Gotheborg.com

Gotheborg.com

Jan-Erik Nilsson's extensive reference on antique Chinese porcelain. Jam-packed with information (e.g. on porcelain… [read review or visit site]

1960s Fashion and Textiles

1960s Fashion and Textiles

Put on your go-go boots and check out this wavy, groovy tribute to 1960s fashion and textiles, courtesy of the Vict… [read review or visit site]

Vintage Fashion Guild

Vintage Fashion Guild

The VFG is a non-profit international educational organization dedicated to the promotion and preservation of vinta… [read review or visit site]

Fashion-Era

Fashion-Era

Bursting at the seams with content, this site contains hundreds of pages of fashion and costume history, including … [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Most watched eBay auctions    

Elegant! White Silk Bridal "uchikake" W/emb Cranes, "sensu" G521Large-size! Reddish Silk "kimono" W/kiku G627Japanese Vintage Kimono, Haori, Silk, Light Pink, Gorgeous Ume Y020617Faint Green Silk "furisode" W/peacock's Feather, Gold Emb G481 2024m09z880 Vintage Japanese Kimono Cotton Noragi Indigo Stripe Japanese Kanzashi Set, Ornamental Hairpin, Set Of 3Wholesale Price!! Japanese Vintage Obiage, Silk, Lot Of 10!!! K083001Large Size Japanese Vintage Kimono Silk Robe Wedding Robe Sexy Night Gown Dress Ge06z110 Japanese Kimono Gilt Thread Uchikake Fabric Light Blue Crane 38.6" N06z120 Vintage Japanese Kimono Cotton Momen Boro Fabric Indigo 54.3" Bridal Cream-white "kakeshita Kimono" W/"kiku", Cranes G523 Z04z50 Japanese Kimono Silk Fabric Black Chrysanthemum 59.8" 2012a03z980 Japanese Kimono Silk Houmongi Orange-brown Flowers Wholesale Price!! Japanese Vintage Obijime, Lot Of 30!!! K082901Wholesale Price!! Japanese Vintage Haorihimo, Lot Of 50!!! K090101 Ge01z120 Japanese Kimono Gilt Thread Obi Fabric Gold Old Japanese Scenery 44.9"Cream Silk "rinzu Furisode Kimono" W/"ume, Kiku" G528Japanese Kimono, Silk, Black, Tomesode, Embroidery Bird, Wave&cloud, P071638Wholesale Price!! Japanese Vintage Obijime, Lot Of 30!!! K090105 Ge01z80 Japanese Kimono Gilt Thread Obi Fabric Gold Princess 26.8" Cc07z120 Vintage Japanese Kimono Cotton Momen Boro Fabric Indigo 59.8" 05v7265 Vintage Japanese Kimono Haori Jacket Rinzu SilkJapanese Vintage Kimono Sexy Black Tomesode Wedding Kimono Women Dress #14 Ka01z90 Japanese Kimono Gilt Thread Obi Fabric Gold Kyoto Gion Festival 22.8" Ka01z180 Japanese Kimono Silk Obi Fabric Light Gold Old Japanese Noble 40.2" Wholesale Price!! Japanese Vintage Haorihimo, Lot Of 50!!! K090301Kissako K-8198 Japanese Vtg Kimono Dress Robe For Women Old Fashion Silk Jj04z110 Japanese Kimono Crepe Silk Fabric Gray Flowers, Butterfly 67.7" Mv16z40 Vintage Japanese Kimono Cotton Fabric Indigo Blue Sekka Shibori 44.9" Japanese Vintage Kimono, Haori, Silk, Light Beige, Gray, Flower Y021001Kissako K-8187 Japanese Kimono Dress Vtg Haori Jacket Women Fashion Silk CoatCream & Faint Orange Silk "syare Fukuro-obi" W/"fukurashi-ori", Butterfly G51606v7965 Tall Japanese Kimono Yukata Rabbit Cotton2012a09z1040 Japanese Kimono Silk Houmongi Light Gray Butterfly Vintage Japanese Kimono Yukata Fabric 12yds Cotton #sumo #cat Ge02z110 Japanese Kimono Silk Obi Fabric Scenery 35.4" 2010m02z540 Japanese Kimono Silk Shibori Haori Black Flowers 2026m06z590 Japanese Kimono Silk Haori Black Cloud Japanese Vintage Kimono Silk Robe Women Sexy Night Gown Red Asian Women StyleVintage Silk Uchikake Japanese Wedding Kimono Phoenix Birds Pine Fans Bridal Nr05a7954 Vintage Japanese Kimono Haori Jacket Meisen SilkCream & Green Silk "tsumugi Nagoya-obi" W/leaves Pttn G502 2026m03z640 Japanese Kimono Silk Haori Black Bird Flower 05v7986 Men Vintage Japanese Kimono Haori Jacket Black Mon Silk Ge07z200 Japanese Kimono Silk Uchikake Fabric Orange-red Crane 40.9" Ge07z100 Japanese Kimono Gilt Thread Obi Fabric Japanese Scenery 29.9" Blueish Dark Gray Cotton Yukata Fabric Bolt W/bamboo, Butterfly G495Bright Blue Silk "rinzu Iro-muji Kimono" W/1 Family Crest G540Japanese Vintage Kimono Silk Robe Wedding Robe Sexy Night Gown Asian Women DressJapanese Vintage Kimono, Haori, Silk, Light Orange, Good Condition, P082511Kimono Yukata Half Band Classy Band Obi Elegant12v8038 Tall Vintage Japanese Kimono Furisode Gorgeous Silk06a7962 Japanese Kimono Yukata Asanoha Pattern Cotton06a8001 Vintage Japanese Kimono Haori Jacket SilkBrand New Japanese Tsukuri-obi For Yukata / Pre-tied / Goldfish O2772 Jj04z90 Japanese Kimono Silk Fabric Navy Wave 64.6" Antique Reversible Pink & Light Blue Silk "chuuya-obi" G517Japanese Antique Silk Kimono Nagajyuban/dye/shibori Style S8223Japanese Black Gray Pink Purple Floral 100% Cotton Yukata Kimono New 52" X 64" L01z120 Japanese Kimono Silk Fabric Black Flying Crane 45.7"