Saturday, October 2, 2010

What Size Do Kimono Come In?

This is another question I get asked a lot recently, and the general answer is that kimono are basically one size fits all. They are longer than a typical Japanese person is tall, and they shorten them to fit by blousing the kimono out over a hidden cord you tie around your hips (appropriately called a "hip tie" or koshihimo).

Before doing that, you lift the kimono to the right hemline height by pinching the front collar corners together and the center back seam of the kimono and lifting, and then let go in back, pull it forward at the same time, and fold it shut according to your size, each front piece tucked in on either side either right on the hipbone or as close to it as you can get.

The traditional body type range is fairly narrow, but if you buy a kimono custom-made for you it can be sized up or down in terms of how far it will wrap around and close in the front, and where the sleeves will hang down on your wrist. This is why vintage kimono can vary a bit in the sizes they accommodate.

Long story short, if you see a kimono sized 10 or 12 or Small or Medium, it's a fake. Sizing is accomplished in the dressing rather than an off-the-rack size like most Western clothing. The only exception in my experience is the special longer "tall sizes" made in recent years to fit the newer generations of increasingly taller Japanese.

Edit: Thanks go to reader Diane, who adds that some modern synthetic kimono and hakama do come in an L or LL size, which I didn't know. However, these legitimate garments will still be a world away from the cheap shiny polyester knock-offs that can feature S/M/L tags, so if you're a newbie it still should be fairly easy to tell between a legitimate kimono "L" size and a fake. Thanks again, Diane!

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