May 27, 2012

The Kimono Challenge: Part 1

Inspired by many other kimono geeks that I follow, I finally decided to try The Challenge. 

These are the ten items in the Challenge.
1. How did you discover and get into kimono?
2. Your dearest kimono item(s).
3. Your most used kimono item(s) (not counting jubans, datejimes etc.).
4. Your least used kimono item(s).
5. Your favorite coordination(s) so far.
6. What do you like and don't like about kimono.
7. Kimono confessions. Did you know that...
8. Your dream kitsuke items (or at least items you really, really want but can't get for whatever reason).
9. Your biggest kimono fears.
10. Your biggest kimono inspiration. 

Part 1: 1. How did you discover and get into kimono? 

My first experience if wearing kimono was Spring 2005 at a Hinamatsuri put on by Watsonville Taiko. I was one of many volunteers to help set up for the event. I was working with my friend Chrissy, who had donated armloads of flowers and greenery and needed help with the flower arranging. We arrived early in the morning at the JACL and had a great time working with the flowers. As the start time of the event came closer, the JACL ladies started helping to dress some of the volunteers in kimono and yukata. Much to my surprise, my friend had brought something for me as well: a yukata to wear at the festival! Luckily, there were people there to dress me, since I have absolutely no idea what to do.

Since the obi was a nagoya obi and Chrissy had no obi makura, obi ita, etc., the nice ladies tied the obi in a bunko style. I do not have a photo of myself from the Hinamatsuri, but I have a later photo of myself in the yukata, taken in the mirror.
As you can see it's a classic design, with camellia flowers. The obi has a navy and white katazome-style print and is polyester. I closely observed the ladies tying the obi so I could do it myself if I ever had a chance to wear a yukata again in the future.
Chrissy said I looked so cute in it, that she gave it to me (really a long term loan) as a going-away gift after Hinamatsuri! You see, I was moving to Arizona in a month. 

Over the next few years, I wore that yukata many times, sometimes "kimono style" as you can see above, and sometimes with a red/yellow hanhaba obi I bought a year later. I even loaned it to a friend (See photo on the left) to wear at the San Jose Obon in 2010. That was the last time I "owned' it. I gave it back to my California friend shortly after the obon; by then I had purchased a few more yukata and obi. 

Yukata have been referred to as the "gateway drug" of the kimono world and I totally agree. Sometime in 2006, I was given a real kimono from Japan- from a friend's Japanese grandmother. I have worn it twice... and didn't really know what I was doing at the time of course- I had no idea about sizing! It's a lovely vermillion komon with creamy white kiku, pre-WW2. It's too small, barely long enough, and has a small stain on it but I wore it anyway since I was so smitten by the whole style and mystique of kimono. I do have one (awful!) photo of myself wearing at an obon festival but I haven't been able to locate it yet, but if I do, I'll post it. 

So that's how it all started. I only wish I had become interested about 20 years earlier!

May 25, 2012

Fun Friday: do you recognize the flower motif on this yukata?

Woohoo! I finally found a yukata with sleeves to fit my crazy long arms! Kyoto Kimono posted some new yukata on their website...and this one is now on it's way! It's 66" long and has a 54" wingspan.

I love the interesting color combination, the stripes, and the unusual flowers. It has kind of a retro-Hawaiian-Pop feel. I'm thinking of pairing this with my pink hakata obi or possibly a red obi. I'll have to see about coordination when it arrives.

The flowers are a mystery though...if you think you know what they might be, leave a comment. In the meantime, I will post this on the Immortal Geisha forum and see if anyone can identify the flower.

Have a fabulous Memorial Day weekend!

May 22, 2012

Yukata syle: English Garden Party

 Accessorizing your yukata can be as easy as a trip to the local mall. Obviously they don't have obi, obijime, or geta, but they have other fun stuff like flower clips for your hair, cute handbags, and even brooches that can work as obidome. Don't forget straw hats, sunglasses, hairbands, etc. It can be an endless search looking for just the perfect authentic Japanese clutch purse or kinchaku to match your yukata, so often times, I just look closer to home. Inspired by my own green yukata (Still hasn't arrived!), and the floral handbag below, I came up with a cute ensemble that would fit right in at a garden party!

For this ensemble, which I call "English Garden Party", I used accessories mainly from a store that seems to be everywhere nowadays,  Charming Charlie. Their merchandise is priced just right for when you are feeling like something trendy but don't want to spend a whole lot and everything is arranged by color, so it's easy to shop there. And you can shop online if you don't have a store near you.

Here is the breakdown:

This awesome floral handbag is available from Charming Charlie here. 
The enamel butterfly pin is available from Fantasyard for $10.59. It might work as an obidome and is in keeping with the butterfly print on the yukata.

Green straw hat is another Charming Charlie item, on sale for $14.98. The hot pink flower hair clip is also available there for only $7.97!

The green geta are from this store for 3600 yen, size is 23.5cm though, too small for me but I chose them for the color. I don't own any green geta, but they just looked super cute with this yukata and the color is perfect!
The obi? I don't have one this color, so I invented it in Photoshop. A light yellow, cream, or white hanhaba obi shouldn't be too difficult to find online. I do have a white hakata obi but I thought the creamy yellow looked better with the handbag. The lime green summer (open weave) obijime is something I do own. The whole ensemble is really just an could do something similar.

Let me know what you think of my styling. When the yukata finally arrives, I will have some more ideas for how to dress it up!

May 21, 2012

Ichiroya has some large/tall yukata!

Beautiful design with black and white peonies
If you are tall, have long arms like me, or are a true glamazon, check these out- $68.00 US + shipping. They also have lovely extra long hanhaba obi for $20 US if you are looking for a whole outfit! These are really nice yukata in hard to find sizes and they have about 14-15 left. Click here to see these lovelies.

I have a new Facebook page!

Just another way to see what I'm up to. Go check out the Red Hot Kimono page and make sure to "like"!

More news: there is an Obon in Phoenix on June 9th. A group of us are going, so I will post it as an event on my Facebook page. Look for it in a day or two!

May 18, 2012

Fun Friday: my own kimono design idea inspired by Absinthe

Here's another idea for a kimono: this time I used my own artwork.
It's from a photo-montage piece I created a few years ago called "The Green Fairy". If you are familiar with the culture of absinthe, the images used may look familiar. The female figure is from an original advertisement for absinthe circa 1900.

I haven't worked up an obi concept for this kimono yet but a full-color advert for absinthe such as this one would be amazing! Add a gold obiage and soft orange obijime and you would look mahvelous dahling!

Have a wonderful weekend!

May 17, 2012

Cool green yukata on it's way

I haven't purchased a yukata in a couple of years. I'm picky when it comes to yukata....they have to have an unusual design or color and not be too young and girly looking.

So when I saw this vibrant green gem on eBay, I thought this would be an excellent addition to my collection. It's for a taller person (yay!), 63" long and has a decent wingspan of 51.2", so I'm getting closer to something that will fit well. I'm not a glamazon at 5'5", but I do have a 54.5" wingspan, so eventually I will have to invest in a custom yukata and kimono. But for now, I enjoy the ones I do find very much.

This green butterfly yukata is so vibrant...I hope the color is as rich as it looks in these photos as it will be in person!  It should be really easy to coordinate an obi as well. For now, I keep seeing a crisp white or pale blue Hakata obi to add some cool contrast to the deep green. White and navy blue geta and other accessories would complete the crisp, cool feeling.

Of course, I can't help but seeing hot pink with this deep green, but then again it's one of my favorite colors! A yellow or orange obi would be pretty zingy as well- especially with some lime-green accessories!

So crisp and cool or zingy and bright, this will be a fun yukata to wear at the next Japanese festival.

May 12, 2012

Fun Saturday

I missed a "fun Friday" post, so here is one for Saturday; not that it's exactly a tradition on my blog, but fun is still fun no matter what day of the week it might be!

It's been hot for the last few days, around 90 F or more, so our summer heat has arrived, so I won't be posting any new photos of myself in kimono for a while unless I'm indoors. Which leads me to new and creative ways to entertain you, my dear blog readers!

I was playing around with some ideas in Photoshop this evening.
What if you could have any image on a custom kimono? Something crazy, fun, unusual, artistic, or very personal like photos from your last vacation? What about a collage of cat photos or favorite movie poster?
Here are two ideas I will share this evening....both are obviously images I pulled off the 'net. (I don't own my own police box! At least not yet). The second  is a fabulous image of a vintage Pan Am airlines poster.
What do you think? What would you want on a kimono if you could have anything?
TARDIS kimono
PAN AM England poster kimono
Next week, I'll post a new fun design. And maybe create some coordinating obi just for fun.
Have a wonderful Mother's Day tomorrow, whether you are celebrating or being celebrated.

May 4, 2012

Fun Friday: Yukata silliness in Phoenix

Just some photos of me and a few friends goofing around at Ro Ho En. Even Murray wore a yukata this time!
Have a great weekend!

Addendum: someone asked about my outfit, so here are the details: it's a vintage (1970's or 80's I think) yukata I bought from Yamatoku about 4 years ago. Motifs are hibiscus, leaves, and chrysanthemum; I love the colors in it, it's kind of a red-bean background color with cream, yellow, and black. I dressed it up with kimono-styling by adding a black polka-dot cotton han eri, a yellow cotton hanhaba obi with some a plain black obijime, and an "obidome" black and white polka-dot vintage metal flower pin from the early 1970's. I'm also borrowing one of Emma's cute kinchaku bags she made. Not shown; black bunny geta.

 (All photos copyright 2012 by Murray Writtle)

May 3, 2012

Too much kimono stuff: my collection

Can you have too many kimono and accessories? Maybe- especially if you realize some pieces you haven't even worn yet. (Just waiting for the perfect TPO...just sayin').

Undergarments and underpinnings
2 cotton hadajuban tops, 2 susyoke
1 kimono bra, 2 obi ita, 2 obi makura, 1 korin belt, 2 date jime (one silk, one velcro), 1 obidomegane, and a bunch of himo, 4 eri shin (2 are mesh); 9 juban (1 men's, 2 sample fabric, 2 for furisode)

14 obiage (1 is ro), 27 obijime, 4 summer obijime, 4 date eri, 5 silk han eri, bunches of homemade cotton han eri;
4 kimono purses, 2 kinchaku, 1 basket kinchaku,
2 pair plain white tabi, 9 pair colored casual tabi sox

8 pair zori, 6 pair geta

6 haori, 1 ama coat, 2 douchugi, 1 michiyuki

Kimono: summer
8 yukata,  2 ro kimono, 1 hitoe summer-weight wool

Kimono: other seasons
1 hitoe wool,  10 awase komon, 1 houmongi, 1 odori kimono, 2 iromuji, 1 kurotomosode

1 adon bakama (ladies undivided hakama)

16 hanhaba obi (includes 5 hakata), 3 fukuro obi (2 hitoe, 1 formal awase),  2 summer obi, 3 tsuke obi, 8 nagoya obi, 2 chuya obi, 2 heko obi (1 is for a boy), 2 maru obi (1 girl's obi)

If I have all of this, what am I looking for? Mainly casual summer kimono and accessories: ro obiage, ro obi, ro and sha kimono, etc. I seem to wear the warm-weather items more and more. I'm also still looking for an obi for the pink birch-tree houmongi. I'm also thinking of selling or gifting some items I do not wear much.