Kimono: the origins, how to combine it and the models


Despite over time the kimono has earned a reputation for being a very uncomfortable and difficult garment to wear, in recent decades stylists and designers have immersed themselves in the study of the fascinating oriental cultures, coming to revisit it and propose it both in the Haute Couture and in the fast fashion collections.

Today it is worn as a nightgown or to stay at home, as well as combined with a pair of jeans or as if it were a real dress.

The kimono, history and origins

The history of this precious garment goes hand in hand with that of the development of Japanese fabrics and weaving techniques. The kimono was born almost 1300 years ago and it is considered the traditional dress of the culture Japanese. The term means “thing to wear” because, in the past, this word meant any dress, without particular distinctions, while today the kimono refers to the traditional outfit.

The structure and T-shape of this garment are made up of various pieces always rectangular in shape and traditionally obtained from a single roll of brocade, hemp, linen or hand-spun silk. Today, on the other hand, cheaper materials such as cotton, rayon and man-made fibers are preferred.

The seams, made by hand, are always and only straight (with the exception of some small curvature especially on the collar) also because there are no buttons or zippers of any kind.

Its purpose? If in the West there has always been a tendency to enhance and emphasize the shapes of the body, the kimono instead hides them.

Originally, in fact, it was very different from today:

  1. Nara period, 710-794. The first version of the kimono dates back to this period, when Chinese culture took hold so much that it expanded to Japan. To respect Chinese customs there were even laws that obliged the overlapping of clothes from left to right;
  2. Heian period, 794-1185. In this time the protagonist is Japan that begins to customize the aesthetics of this garment: the Juni-Hitoe was born, a 12-layer kimono that represented the fusion between Chinese culture and the unmistakable traits of Japanese aesthetics. Its weight even reached 20 kg and came mainly used by the Imperial Court as formal wear during important ceremonies and rites. In this period the color combinations were chosen on the basis of the age, the marital and social status of the person who wore it, the season or particular events;
  3. Kamakura period, 1185-1333. The number of layers that make up the kimono decreases and becomes thinner: for samurai this meant more freedom in movement, for women it represented a more practical solution than everyday life;
  4. Muromachi period, 1336-1587. Kosode, for women, undergoes a complete transformation: it is tinged with colors and even the first decorations appear. However, a solution had to be found for the closure and they opted for the Obi, a fabric band around the waist which paved the way for what would become the modern kimono;
  5. Edo period, 1603-1867. Here the technique was born “Yuzen“, a freehand dyeing made directly on the fabric with the help of glue and corn starch and, from here, designs inspired by culture and tradition began to appear in the more traditional kimonos. In this time the sleeves are also lengthened and the Obi knots are declined in different variations;
  6. Thus was born the modern kimono, which today it is worn only on the most important occasions such as weddings, tea ceremonies and funerals. But walking through the Japanese metropolis it is not unlikely that you will still come across someone who wears it even in everyday life!

When and how to wear it?

kimonoHow and when to wear the kimono: get inspired by street style outfits! Source: pinterest

In recent years it is also used a lot in beachwear where it has replaced the more classic sarong, but the kimono is also a very valid alternative to light dusters and trench coats for mid-seasons.

  • The short model it is perfect to complete daytime outfits: all you have to do is combine your inseparable jeans with a white t-shirt, a pair of kitten heels or ballet flats and that’s it.
  • If you want to show it off in everyday life, the advice is to play down this precious and refined garment by combining it with different styles, like the one that sees the combination of the kimono with the tracksuit and ankle boots with heel.
  • As for the most important occasions, such as ceremonies, aim for long versions and in unusual colors and then combine them with sober garments, with simple and never too flashy lines. A long pleated skirt and high heel are perfect with a kimono also used as a shirt (make sure the belt is closed properly and add a seam or button on the décolleté if too flashy!).
  • For the most elegant occasions, however, the dress cannot be missing: sophisticated and absolutely chic, choose a model and a material that contrasts the style of the kimono, play with the lengths and complete the look with low profile accessories, such as a pair of clean-cut heeled sandals and a handbag in neutral shades.

The best women’s kimonos to buy online

Years after its appearance today the kimono is available in many variations, from the cheapest to the most sought after. The models alternate between short and perfect for the day and long, more sophisticated and suitable to complete evening outfits.

Summer kimono in Coucoland floral pattern

Summer kimono in Coucoland floral pattern

Coucoland offers six different color variations of the kimono with belt at the waist, to be worn both at home and outside. The floral print and the different shades available can also be worn in your daily outfits instead of jackets and dusters.

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  • Available in six different colors, all with floral print
  • It can be used both as a dressing gown for the home, and to give a more fashionable touch and complete the simplest looks


  • Available in one size only, but fits most body types

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kimonoThe most beautiful women’s kimonos to buy online. Source: asos

If you are looking for your first kimono to put in your wardrobe better to opt for a jacket, easy to wear as well as to match. ASOS offers a jacquard kimono with a floral pattern on a black base, with dropped shoulders and a removable belt to tie at the waist.

Exclusively for ASOS the Lindex brand offers a long model, with ribbon at the waist and designed as a nightgown but, if combined with a pair of light jeans and a white t-shirt it will be very easy to show off even on the most spring and summer days.

In its collection ASOS Design also offers a dressed kimono with V-neck, long sleeves and fringe detail on the bottom, perfect to be worn with a pair of classic décolleté.

Kimono and fashion, a (long) love story

Oriental fashion has always been a source of great inspiration for stylists from all over the world. Unlike the western one, more tending to emphasize and enhance the female figure with an eye always turned to innovations, the oriental one focuses on culture, history and craftsmanship.

The style of the new generation of designers, including the famous brands of Yohij Yamamoto, Yves Saint Laurent and John Galliano, collides with the more traditionalist current that wants the kimono worn only on certain occasions and differentiated on the basis of class, social status or age.

The stylists then undertake one new road and encourage the wearer to upset the cards on the table.

kimonoThe influence of the kimono in fashion. From left: a look from Dior’s 2007 Haute Couture collection by Galliano, the latest collection by Yoshikimono and the exhibition at the V&A Museum in London. Source: pinterest

The best known example is that made in 2007 by John Galliano for Dior’s Haute Couture Spring / Summer where he let himself be inspired by Madama Butterfly interpreting it through the contamination with Japanese culture: an unforgettable show.

The combination of the daring glam metal current with the kimono is the intuition of the latest collection by Yoshikimono, the brand created by “X Japan” drummer Yoshiki Hayashi.

Become a dynamic icon and able to blend between fashion and culture, in 2020 the kimono is also the protagonist of the exhibition “Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk “, housed at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. This is the first European exhibition dedicated to this garment and Anna Jackson, custodian of the Asian Department of the V&A, specialist in Japanese clothing and cultural exchange between Japan and Europe, curates this exhibition inviting visitors to venture into the wonderful weaves of tailoring, historical and culture of a simple but immutable garment like the kimono.

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