C’MON KIMONO The Hervé Léger By Max Azria spring/summer 2015 collection, showcased at New York Fashion Week, contained many kimono-inspired pieces.
Kimono literally means ‘something to wear’ in Japanese. While the garment is most associated with Japan, it actually originated in China somewhere around the seventh century. Naturally, it has changed quite a bit over the centuries.
The long, obi-belted modern kimono didn’t arrive on the scene until around the 17th century. It was the key garment in Japanese culture, where people traditionally sat on the floor to eat and chat. Comfort was of the essence. It was also hugely important to project elegance and sophistication. The kimono expressed the wearer’s social standing.
Today, we know it best as a long robe with wide sleeves, in various designs. It’s not the preferred choice of dress in Japan anymore; in fact it is really now considered occasion wear and would largely be rented for weddings and special events.
In the Western world, the kimono has reemerged and is quite the fashion hit. Gucci included some fabulous ones for their spring/summer 2015 collections, and kimono-inspired garments were to be seen on runways everywhere. I love them for their sheer femininity factor.
Happily, this holy grail of style is now available in every store and boutique nationwide. Apparently New Look has been selling about 40,000 kimonos a week (granted they have 1,100 stores all over the world, so that helps to jack up sales).
The great thing is, you can wear a kimono irrespective of the weather. In summer sun they are floaty and cool, while in winter they can be worn with more substance, like an unstructured jacket or coat. An easy way to update your wardrobe, they’re incredibly easy to wear and are hugely versatile. You can wear them to work, at home, out for dinner or at the beach.
You can dress them up or down too. Wear one with jeans to instantly transform a casual outfit into something more edgy. Wear over a dress for a more glamorous ‘grown up’ look. Give yourself a killer waist by adding a belt or obi.
Choosing a kimono
Where will you wear it? Realistically, you can wear them just about anywhere, from weddings to summer concerts. Think about the length though, as full-length ones can be too much on a small body – better to keep them waist or knee length if you’re not tall.
Your particular style will depend on where you’re going in it. If you opt for a printed style, then wear with plain jeans or a plain dress. Because they tend to be rather shapeless, it’s best to keep the bottom garments structured to avoid looking sizes bigger than you are.
Can you wear this style at any age? Most definitely, yes! You can wear any style you feel great in, just maybe show a bit less skin as the years add up. Knowing your own body shape and its wobbly bits is liberating; embrace it by wearing clothes you feel great in.
There was a pivotal point in my 40s when I surrendered my passion for sleeveless tops/dresses to the ‘wishful thinking’ crematorium. My flabby arms screamed for cover, and now it’s of paramount importance that everything has a sleeve. This is where kimonos play a blinder. I’m loving them…
Maggie Gibbons is an Image/Style Consultant based in Louisburgh. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.