Thursday, February 25, 2010

Kimono Coordination: Balancing Patterns

Today's coordination topic is patterns. As mentioned before on here, contrast is a big part of putting together a visually-pleasing kimono look. Contrast of varying degrees is accomplished through color, but can also be created through patterns.

If you have a very busy komon, with small, fine patterns all over, go with an obi that is either a solid color or has large, bold patterns. If you get one with a small, fine pattern, it will blend into the kimono most of the time and make visual mush out of the outfit.

Kimono with large, bold patterns, like many furisode, can look great with finely patterned obi. If there's enough blank color on the kimono around the obi area (furisode, houmongi, irotomesode, kurotomesode, etc.), any pattern obi will often look good. (Fine patterns "work" because they are immediately surrounded by blank color and then the pattern kicks in further out on the kimono, and bold patterns because they'll pick up the pattern on the kimono further out).

To get a feel for what patterns look good and what don't, you can look around at kimono catalogs, which often feature fully-coordinated looks. Not only are they fun to look at, but they can also help train your eye. Here's an online catalog of a recent furisode collection, and here's Mamechiyo Modern's kimono sales page, where you can click on kimono you like to see additional photos of them coordinated.

One important thing to remember is that, just like in Western clothing, some pattern combinations will be to your taste and some won't. It's also entirely possible to have tacky looks in kimono as well: as far back as author Lady Murasaki about a thousand years ago, people were playing fashion cop. ;) So if you think a particular ensemble looks really bad, you're probably right. Trust your instincts, find what you like, and after a while you'll find you've developed your own sense of coordinating patterns.

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