I’m saving my post about Otakon for a little until I have all the pictures to go with it, so in the meantime, I’ll try to give my best advice about getting your first kimono.
Lately, I’ve had some people approach me about getting their first kimono from the Facebook group for our local convention here in Pittsburgh, Tekkoshocon. For the sake of this not being ridiculously long, I’m going to assume you’ve done your research on the different kind of kimono. Oh, and that you are buying women’s kimono. So let’s start, shall we?
Step 1: Finding real kimono for affordable prices
The best advice I can give here is go the “links” tab above and click “ebay links.” Favorite every seller on that list. Go to “advanced” on the side of the search bar in eBay, paste “kimono -haori -tabi -zori -geta -michiyuki -fabric -bolt -obi -juban -kinchaku -bag -hippari -happi -doll -uchikake -furoshiki -kanzashi -obijime -obiage -jinbei -thread -han -haneri -date” into the search bar. Then go to the bottom of the page to “sellers” and select “only show items from” and then make “my saved sellers list” the only checked box. Press “search.” Before you go browsing, save the search by pressing “save search” above the listings so you can go back to it any time. This will effectively list all the real kimono on eBay by sellers you can trust (until you learn how to pick out fakes). Now, some are going to be expensive, obviously, but many are much more affordable than people think. If you decide to invest in an expensive piece down the road, that’s great and well worth it, but for now, let’s get a feel for pricing and worth.
Step 2: Pick stuff you like and watchlist them
Go ahead, pick anything you like! This will help you get a sense for which kind of kimono you like. The reason I’m not telling you to get a yukata because they are the easiest is because you should spend you’re money on something you like and will wear. You can learn how to dress in any kind of kimono with practice. Some people may disagree with this method, but once you learn how to dress in one kind of kimono, you can dress in them all. I started with a kurotomesode, which is arguably one of the hardest kind of kimono to dress in. So anyway start watchlisting some kimono!
Step 3: Picking a kimono (or two)
Now you have a list of kimono you like. You may have read somewhere that kimono are one size fits most. This is mostly a lie. One size fits most Japanese. The sad truth is that we Westerners do not have a Japanese person’s build. There are two things about sizing that you have to worry about: width and height. Let’s start with height. A kimono that is ideal for a person is about as tall as they are. This is because you adjust the length of the kimono when dressing, and the excess is put in a fold at the waist called an ohashori or ohashiori (this seems to be dialectal). This waist fold is proper when wearing kimono (for women’s kimono only) . At the very shortest, a kimono can be 10 centimeters shorter than you are tall. A kimono can not be “too tall” for you, so don’t worry about that. Did I mention you’re going to have to get used to the metric system? Easy enough? On to width! This is the part that is hard for me to break to some people. Kimono do accommodate up to a certain size person. There is a limit, however. I have yet to put this into an American women’s size. Kimono do have different widths, but they stay within a certain range. This is because Japanese bolts of fabric for kimono (called tan) only come traditionally in one width, and due to the way kimono are constructed, without seam allowances, the maximum width of a kimono is 5 times as wide as the bolt. A fitting kimono needs to wrap around you at least 1 1/4 times, and at best 1 1/2 or more times. Most sellers give this measurement as the “shoulder to shoulder” width. Multiply that by about 2.5 to get it’s width. So now go through you’re kimono and find the ones that fit you. As a side note, there is one more important measurement for a kimono and it is the wingspan. Due to the way Westerners are built, our wingspan is about as big as our height. That is not the case for Japanese people. A kimono that fits in the wingspan goes from wrist to wrist. I’m 5’5″ and have never found a kimono that fits me properly in wingspan. Due to the fact that we can’t fix a kimono for our arm length, this shouldn’t matter unless you’ve found a kimono that would not go past your elbows. If it hits your forearm, you’re good.
Step 4: Buying the kimono
eBay is easy to use, and you must have a paypal account to pay most sellers on eBay. Just remember, if you love a kimono, but won’t be able to pay your rent if you get it, it isn’t worth getting. Save up first, or buy what you know you can afford. Sure that kimono that was owned by a kubuki star is beautiful, but you can’t eat it or live in it. Now this sounds like common sense, but the hobby of kimono is a slippery slope. You’ve been warned.
For my next installment, I’ll go over the next step: buying an obi to go with the kimono. As a last note, the seller ryujapan-99 has a weird way of payment. They will send a form to your email, that you will have to fill in once. It will tell you the final cost of the item, as well as listing the shipping options. See how much you have to pay and send the form. Go to http://www.paypal.com and send the amount you owe to email@example.com and list the payment as “goods.” The most important part so they don’t screw up your order is this: under the “message” section, copy and paste to it the name of the listing, which is in the description in big, black, bold print. You can read more about Shinei and ryujapan in this IG thread. Disclaimer: I am NOT responsible for your individual experience with this seller! But I can say I’ve been a loyal customer and have never had a problem. *knocks on wood*
I love comments and feedback about my blog and my posts! Please share your experience about your first kimono with me, or ask me questions! Did this help?
Thanks for reading!