Monday, February 22, 2010

Geisha Costume - The Lament of the Long Arms

One of my goals for 2010 is to put together a "starter" geisha costume for conventions or Halloween or just because I'm obsessed with pretty, detailed costumes... ehehehe.

Well, part of the original plan was to save up money and get an honest-to-God geisha trailing kimono, a hikizuri (which I'd still like to get for collecting purposes at some point). However, looking around I've come to the realization I'm either just too tall at 5'7" or have freakishly long arms, because the "wingspan" from sleeve cuff to sleeve cuff, as collectors sometimes call it, of all the geisha hikizuri I've seen for sale aren't nearly wide enough for the sleeves to sit properly at my wrists.

So I've expanded my search to include really detailed kurotomesode (the formal black women's kimono with patterns along the hem), as you can occasionally find ones that are wide enough and that to the mostly uneducated American eye could pass for a formal geisha kimono. The plan is to get one wide enough at the arm-span for me, since that can't be altered, and then hack it in half across the middle to add in extra fabric and make it longer (since that section will be covered with an obi anyway). For anyone out there surprised by this idea, please understand that Japan itself has a long tradition of chopping up kimono for various reasons, either for recycling from too much wear or just because a lot of vintage secondhand kimono have very little resale value compared to the original prices and sell better as craft fabrics.

The altered kurotomesode idea is also much cheaper and I wouldn't mind it getting beat up at conventions and such, but at this point it's not really price: I'd rather have sleeves that fit me than an authentic one that sits halfway to my elbows and obviously fits wrong. Interestingly enough, online dealer Ichiroya has for sale a hikizuri that was made in a similar way: a kimono chopped with fabric added. So I have historical precedent for this! ;)

I'm bidding on a possible kurotomesode candidate right now. If I win it, I'm one step closer to getting my outfit going. Next step, an authentic geisha-style wig! I can always trade out the kimono for a legit one later if I can find one that fits, but the wig needs to be a real one in order to look nice.

So how about y'all? Does anyone have any costume or kimono goals for 2010? :)

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