Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tips for Newbies: How to Be Happy in Kimono

This may sound like an odd title for a post, but if you're new to wearing kimono here are some tips that will make you look more graceful and keep you more comfortable while wearing them.

1. Don't tie your obi too tight. It should be quite snug but not so snug that you can't breathe at all.

2. Wear a sports bra rather than a regular one: it makes a cleaner line and you won't have, for example, underwires pressed into you by an obi if you wear yours higher.

3. When you walk, take small steps so as not to billow the front of your kimono open. It takes a bit of getting used to, but the end result is that you'll glide along more gracefully and won't tug your kimono front out of place.

4. If you've never worn geta (wooden sandals) or zori (more formal sandals) before, bring regular sandals to change into so you're not stuck shoeless if breaking them in does a number on your feet.

5. Don't wear normal clothes under your kimono: underwear, bra, a tank top and slip or leggings/bike shorts are all you need. Remember, you're going to have at least one layer of kimono and another layer (the obi) wrapped around your stomach, where your body keeps a lot of heat, so you don't want to pile on too much under that.

6. Have fun! Don't obsess over your kitsuke (kimono wearing) if it's not perfect. Enjoy wearing it, and the more you do it the more practice you get and the more comfortable you'll be with your dressing skills. :)

7. Cell phones, cameras, and wallets can be dropped into the pockets on the sleeves if you don't want to carry a purse. I've never lost anything doing this, but don't put anything too light in there if you're a woman (as your sleeves are also open in the back and something could slide out if it's not heavy enough to stay in the front pocket corner).

8. Cheap casual folding fans (sensu, $5 or so on Ebay) are your friend. Weather or buildings that feel cool or comfy when you're in shorts and a T-shirt will feel a lot warmer in kimono, and folding fans tuck neatly into your obi when you're not using them.

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