"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

While primarily designed to steer buyers to online vintage clothing shops, this blog is chock full of interesting, … [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    

Japanese Vintage Kimono, Silk, Furisode, Silky Pink-purple, Flower, P021723Japanese Vintage Uchikake, Silk, Embroidered Chinese Phoenix P022703Japanese Vintage Kimono, Silk, Furisode, Silky Whitelight Bule, P021730Large & Tall Purple, Green & Brown Silk "furisode" W/tsujigahana Flowers M714Japanese Vintage Kimono, Haori, Silk, Black, Rare Liner!! P022420Grayish Blue-green Silk "shioze Nagoya-obi" W/bird M721Japan Kimono Furisode Branches Wedding, Fine, Art 25644# Japanese Kimono / Antique Wedding Furisode / Kinsha / Embroidery / Pine AVintage Japanese Indigo Cotton Thicker Hakama Kendo Aikido For 5 Feet 6" PersonJapanese Kimono "yukata" / Black Yukata, Orange Obi With Small Articles O4080Japanese Kimono, Silk, Furisode, Separate Type, Rare!! P113004Very Old Japanese Silk Kimono Dyed Mums Maple Leaves 301-7R01z60 Vintage Japanese Cotton Fabric Indigo 33.1" Japanese Fukuro Obi Sash Silk, Rokutugara ,silver , Shippou, 360Blue Silk "furisode" W/"botan (peonies)" M719"tango Chirimen" Grayish Tea Green & Blue Silk Haori Fabric Bolt M709Wholesale Price!! Japanese Vintage Haorihimo, Lot Of 50!!! P022629Wholesale Price!! Japanese Vintage Haorihimo, Lot Of 50!!! P022628Estate ❸ Japanese Kanzashi Ornamental Hairpin Coral Set Geisha Fish Articulated Wholesale Price!! Japanese Vintage Haorihimo, Lot Of 50!!! P02263025656# Japanese Kimono / Antiqur Furisode / GrassJapanese Kimono Silk Girls Furisode & Juban Set / Red Shibori Rose GosyogurumaJapanese Kimono, Obijime Hand-tied Cord, 10 Pieces Set, Silk, 381 Cc02z30 Japanese Kimono Cotton Antique Fabric Indigo Blue Sekka Shibori 45.7" Japanese Vintage Kimono, Haori, Silk, Black, Embroidered Flower, P022413Antique - Japanese Embroidery Art Silk Kimono Japan Kimono Silver Ss Wedding Uchikake, Gown, ,25645# Japanese Kimono / Furisode / EmbroideryJapanese Vintage Kimono Haori Silk Shibori Jacket Ka-962 Cc01z20 Japanese Kimono Cotton Antique Fabric Indigo Blue Sekka Shibori 40.9" 4 Vintage Worn Out Boro Japanese Shop Cotton Maekake Apron Kimono Fabric KanjiJapanese Vintage Kimono, Haori, Silk, Yellow-green, Ume, Good Condition Y121637Japanese Kimono Haori Jacket Silk, Black, Chrysanthemums, 348Japanese Kimono Silk Fabric Light Green Scenery 43.3" A03z60 Black Silk "rokutsuu Fukuro-obi" W/phoenix, Haze M69210a5850 Tall Vintage Japanese Kimono Furisode Gorgeous Peacock SilkJapan Kimono Flowers Ss Wedding Uchikake, Gown, ,Japan Kimono Furisode Camellia Gs Wedding, Fine, Art Japanese Large! Cream & Purple Silk "rinzu Kimono" W/iris, Botan, Emb M74625663# Japanese Kimono / Furisode / Embroidery / Kinsai / Mandarin Duck And FlowJapanese Vintage Oofurisode, Silk, Blue, Gorgeous Embroidery P022702Green & Black Silk Fabric Bolt W/ribbon Weaves 36x720cm M74025664# Japanese Kimono / Antique Furisode Kimono / Embroidery / Screen25655# Japanese Kimono / Antique Furisode /seihaihaPurple Silk Haori Fabric Bolt W/camellia, Kikkou M701Japanese Vintage Silk Furisode Kimono Bold Peony Shibori Tie-dye303-7 Japanese Kimono Silk Uchikake Fabric Orange-red Crane, Peony 33.9" Su07z130 G01z70 Japanese Kimono Silk Fabric Black Chrysanthemum 47.2" 13a5495 Vintage Japanese Kimono Furisode Emboridery Dyed Silk Japanese Kimono Silk Uchikake Fabric Peacock 43.3" Ge04z170 Ka01z160 Japanese Kimono Silk Obi Fabric Orange, Gold Mandarin Duck 52.8" Japanese Kimono, Silk, Black, Tomesode, Folding Fan, P021720 Su01z220 Japanese Kimono Silk Obi Fabric Light Khaki Shell 52.8" Japan Kimono Oh Golden Ss Wedding Uchikake, Gown, ,Japan Kimono Oh Black Wedding Kakeshita, Gown,furisode ,Japan Kimono Furisode Robin, Wedding, Fine, Art 25657# Japanese Kimono / Furisode / Goshi Guruma With Flowers And Peacock25653# Japanese Kimono / Antique Furisode / Embroidery / Peacock And PaulowniaOrange-brown Silk Haori Fabric Bolt W/arabesque M75325647# Japanese Kimono / Antique Furisode / Flower Kusudama