"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 Whitelight Bule, P021730Blue Silk "furisode" W/full "ume" Blossoms M680Japanese Vintage Kimono, Silk, Furisode, Silky Pink-purple, Flower, P021723Large & Tall Purple, Green & Brown Silk "furisode" W/tsujigahana Flowers M714Japanese Vintage Kimono, Haori, Silk, Black, Rare Liner!! P022420Japan Kimono Furisode Branches Wedding, Fine, Art Red Silk "rinzu Iro-muji Kimono" W/hand Drums, Crest M660Very Old Japanese Silk Kimono Bamboo Leaves 1 Crest 227-5Wholesale Price!! Japanese Vintage Haorihimo, Lot Of 50!!! P022629Antique Dark Indigo Silk "meisen Kimono" Fabric Bolt M688Wholesale Price!! Japanese Vintage Haorihimo, Lot Of 50!!! P022628Japanese Antique Small Silk Haori Dying Snow Flakes 227-2Japanese Kimono, Silk, Furisode, Separate Type, Rare!! P113004"tango Chirimen" Grayish Tea Green & Blue Silk Haori Fabric Bolt M70909a5796 Vintage Japanese Kimono Furisode Gorgeous Silk Ki01z140 Japanese Kimono Gilt Thread Obi Fabric Gold Pine 50.4" Very Old Japanese Omeshi Weave Silk Kimono 227-1Wwii Nara Prefecture Widow Association Obidome Badge Japan Japanese Medal Ww2Japan Kimono Peacocks Ss Wedding Uchikake, Gown, ,Japan Kimono Flowers Ss Wedding Uchikake, Gown, ,Japanese Furisode Dress, Kimono,fire Red, Silk, Chrysanthemums, 331Wholesale Price!! Japanese Vintage Haorihimo, Lot Of 50!!! P022630Black Silk "rokutsuu Fukuro-obi" W/"momiji", Clouds M668Light Yellow Gren Silk "rinzu Furisode" W/orchids, Emb M676Estate ❸ Japanese Kanzashi Ornamental Hairpin Coral Set Geisha Fish Articulated Purple Silk Haori Fabric Bolt W/camellia, Kikkou M701Japanese Kimono Gilt Thread Uchikake Fabric Gold Peacock 47.2" Ki13z130 Japanese Kimono Silk Fabric Light Blue Sayagata 47.2" #05z50 Phoenix Black Japanese Kimono Silk Fabric 245-aVery Old Japanese Silk Kimono Dyed Ume Plum Flowers 227-11Orange Silk "rokutsuu Fukuro-obi" W/"kiku" M641Very Old Japanese Silk Kimono Dyed Mums Maple Leaves 301-7Antique - Japanese Embroidery Art Silk Kimono Black Silk Haori Fabric Bolt W/leaves, Botan, Kikkou M665Brownish Purple Silk Haori Fabric Bolt W/"kikkou", Some "shibori" M632D01z180 Japanese Kimono Silk Uchikake Fabric Orange-gold Crane 44.1" Japanese Kimono "yukata" / Black Yukata, Orange Obi With Small Articles O408005v5761 Vintage Houmongi Japanese Kimono Robe Dress Dyed Silk Japanese Kimono Silk Uchikake Fabric Red Crane, Pine 48.8" D08z250 D01z180 Japanese Kimono Silk Uchikake Fabric Red Peacock 36.2" Japanese Vintage Uchikake, Silk, Embroidered Chinese Phoenix P022703Japanese Kimono Eri Collar/unused In Box 227-13Oh Embroidery Japan Kimono Wedding Kakeshita, Gown,furisode ,Japanese Vintage Oofurisode, Silk, Blue, Gorgeous Embroidery P022702Purplish Brown Silk Haori Fabric Bolt W/arabesque M633Japanese Vintage Kimono, Haori, Silk, Black, Sparkly Threads, Flower, P022430 Dd01z70 Japanese Kimono Silk Fabric Black Crane, Wave 47.2" 47 Samurai, Chushingura ,men's Haori Jacket ,silk, Black Tsumugi 340Vintage Kimono Fabric Teal Blue ShiboriJapan Kimono Cranes Sps Wedding Uchikake, Gown, ,Japan Kimono Furisode Camellia Gs Wedding, Fine, Art Cream & Yellow Silk "rinzu Furisode" W/shibori, Carriage M679Japan Sgs Kimono Tomesode Wedding, Fine, Art "tango Chirimen" Cream Silk Haori Fabric Bolt W/flowers M661Japanese Kimono "vintage Rare Real Gold Thread Sets " Z2517Japanese Vintage Kimono Haori Silk Shibori Jacket Ka-962 Very Old Japanese Silk Kimono Dyed Cranes 5 Crest Chirimen Silk 228-1406v5803 Girl Vintage Japanese Kimono Furisode Dove SyntheticVintage Japanese Kimono Yukata Fabric 12yds CottonJapan Kimono Butterfly Ssl Juban Nice