The day we became Kogane-hime and Sakura-hime

It’s the day of our Furisode photoshoot. I’m amazed. I felt glam. So glam. Glam and chi-chi, more so than I’ve ever felt in any western style dress I’ve worn. I’ve come away from today with valuable lessons in mind, that I shall – at length – share with you in chronological order of my learning:

1) Bliss comes in many forms.

The day began with me sleeping in late – which I usually do since, as Blossom will gladly point out, I sleep like a dead log. Shizuru, Blossom and I would be the Himes for the day, while Yukikahou (a.k.a. Kahouya/Kitsuke-oba-san), would help us get ready. As Kahouya did my hair ala Malay-Dance style, she proceeded to move on to the kitsuke, dressing us up one by one. I have to admit, she and I take a very different approach to the process. I tend to wrestle with it – to git r’ done, as it were. She, on the other hand, smiled all the way through, blissfully wrapping us in silks while constantly checking if we could breathe. We joked about her unusual joy found in dressing up other people, but I do realize that she approaches the process like an art form. Seeing the ‘creations’ come together in her own way made her happy, which is something I should pick up. Kahouya beat my kitsuke time, OBVIOUSLY, getting us all dressed and out the door like an efficient mother hen.

2) Photoshoots bring out a sense of your inner self.

And apparently, my inner self is old and dated and probably wrinkled and naggy. I wore my golden furisode, with yellow flowers in my hair and a comb and hair-sticks (they probably have proper names, but I am too tired to research). My bronzed look made me look… well, old poised and classically glamourous. Still, I was the Mama-san to my two geisha girls.

Shizuru had transformed into Shizuru-hime, garbed in red with her hair elaborately curled and done up. She was rather beautiful, truth be told, her hairstyle accentuating her features and making her look like a lost and severely culturally-confused westerner. Was it obvious that her hobby is doing her hair up? Yes, just a little. She was vibrant and eye-catching in her red, like a pretty lost ang-pao.

Blossom was sweetly flowery, revelling in the femininity of her furisode’s motif. For all that she sometimes comes across as caustic and jaded, she ultimately comes out of the clothing closet as the girly girl who wants to be pretty and girly and wreathed in flowers while being surrounded by Takeshi Kaneshiro/Daniel Henny clones – or the ultimate creation of a TK/DH lovechild, synthesizing their hotness into one mighty uber-stud. This paragraph took on a life of its own, it seems.

Even the props we used conveyed our personalities, with Blossom opting for a sweet lotus-leaf motif fan while I ran around looking murderous with a tanto stuck in my obi.

3) Posing is harder than it looks.

You feel so self-concious! Is my hand ok? Do I look kaku (stiff)/constipated/insanely-smiley? All these thoughts are running through one’s mind. Shizuru, the veteran of many a photo-shoot, took to it like a fish to water, while Blossom had a bit of trouble settling into it. Eventually, the OMGIAMPRETTY of her furisode seeped into her nervous system and she started to be more at ease. It was nice to see her finally opening up and enjoying herself, since she has this self-fulfilling belief that she grimaces on camera and always looks horrid in pictures. She even went so far as to try and take pictures with terrapins, but they were scared and ran from her for some reason. Don’t let it fool you, people. Posing is tiring, frustrating and moving from place to place hurts your feet more than anything.

4) Photographers have a hard job.

It is not just taking photos – point and click. The number of times I saw the frustration on their faces at a shot not taken right… I have to hand it to them. It was an honour working with them, for all that I probably irritated them with my stupid jokes. The effort put in was nearly palpable, and once again, I have to sit back and admire the talent and art that they create. Hats off to them, especially knowing that I have little to no patience to do their job. I was extremely impressed. And they even accommodated my whims to pose in the sunlight which made my furisode glitter (Magpie Mode Initiate)! I will forever be grateful to stand in the middle of the water, glittering like a fallen sunbeam!

5) Zori are the shoes they make you wear in hell.

They are narrow, uncomfortable, and have no distinction between left and right feet. Why? Isn’t it obvious that feet are shaped different? Why no left and right shapes? Why are they so narrow? Agony, agony and pain. My feet soaked for an hour and they still hurt.

Right, my long preamble is over. Goodness knows I talk/write too much. Pictures to come, promise! We have to begin the painful wait now for the photos to be processed. It was only towards the end of the day that I realized I’d survived posing, walking, shallow breathing for 5 hours on nothing but a cup of tea and half an egg-sandwich. I had a big dinner, believe me…

But I know I speak for Blossom/Sakura-hime when I say this: Thank you everyone. It has been truly a pleasure. You’ve made this day a day to remember for us and rekindled my love of kimono, which has dwindled in my busyness. Thank you Shizuru-hime for organizing the event so well (so teacher). Thank you Kahouya for dressing us up so professionally and prettily and for touching us up throughout the day – especially me. Thank you Eriol and Eugene, our photographers, for taking pains to immortalize our hime-ness in the best possible way. Thank you God for not making it rain that much today and for not letting us slip off stepping stones and fall in the water. Thank you to everyone else who was there, for your helpful advice, company and occasional bag-pulling. Even the people who walked by and stared at us with a smile – thank you! It really has been a wonderful day.

More かわいい, less こわい

NB:

かわいい – kawaii (cute) こわい – kowai (eerie)

So this post is a long time coming…

Our bad but better late than never. It’s unnerving to start all over again. Thankfully, the craziness is over for now. I figured it’s best to start off in a chronological order – starting with the halloween post that’s been collecting dust in a corner of my brain.

Between the two of us, Plum is the more outgoing and sociable personality. I’m more tethered to my room, home and all things familiar.

So it took her more than a week’s worth of nagging to get me to agree to attending a Halloween party. Even the bit about it being on a boat, while novel, didn’t hook me.

Halloween isn’t anything much beyond an excuse to party, for some girls to wear next to nothing under the guise of it being a costume and generally getting up to mischief. I’ve done my share of partying in my late teens and I can honestly say that another evening of this didn’t quite appeal to me.

However, like all other ideas, this one took root and my brain was soon running away with what I might like to wear should I choose to attend.

As you can tell from the onsite pics, gunning for the sexy school girl (overrated and too close to home) or the hot slutty sailor wasn’t going to work… so I decided to corner the market on Kawaii-ness.

And that meant dressing up like a porcelain doll or…going Loli.

I’m not and expert so I was in for a huge surprise. I didn’t know till doing some sort of research online just how much effort it took to constructing the Loli-look. It isn’t just some concoction of all things frilly and pink cooked up while one’s ‘discretion gland’ is suspended.

Here’s a summary of all the stuff I gleamed throughout the process and I hope it helps anyone who wants to know more or just wants a rough breakdown. (Do click on the links. Some of the sites aren’t active – which is a shame – but just take a look. ^_^; Enjoy!)

A few issues that certainly made me stop to think were:
– type of Lolita
– anatomy of a Lolita’s getup
– the cost of an ensemble
– my own cynicism

Type of Lolita
Just go on wiki or simply googling the term ‘Lolita Fashion’ and one can see the many types of Lolitas. So my first task was choosing the type of Lolita I was going to dress up as.

According to this site, there’s up to 16 types of Loli-styles to choose from – something I find completely mind boggling. Eventually, I narrowed them down to what I understand to be the ‘main’ types of Lolita:

  • Sweet Lolita

Sweet Loli (but somehow, I have a feeling we're seriously lacking frills here...)

The Sweet Lolita is the one we all recognise dressed in varying amounts of pink, flouncy things with lots of frills, natural make up, curly hair and… all things insanely girlish and feminine.

  • Gothic Lolita

Gothic Loli... personally, I love her entire look.

This brand of Lolitas seem to capture the same ‘spirit’ but with an approach involving contrasting colours such as white and black or pink and black… Lots of black, really because it’s an easy way to show contrast. It’s apparently modeled after Victorian servant wear or mourning clothes. One blogger mentioned that it was the oddest combination of Little Girl meets Old Woman… which reminded me a little of the Olsen Twins.

The other Loli sub-types fall in between these two. The Hime or Princess Loli is very baroque and elaborate in style with pearls, more frills and at times, seems possessed by the spirit of Marie Antoinette. The Ero Loli… is pretty much straight forward sexiness playing on the nymphet fetish. On a tangetial note, the Aristocrat is an interesting alternative that I recommend you pay attention to. It seems to be lumped under Loli because there’s no current classification for it.

The Anatomy of a Lolita Getup

After deciding that I would dress up as the normal Sweet Loli and Plum, as Gothic Loli, it was time to scout for items that would make up our look.

Note the frills on this otherwise scientific diagram! *points finger to heaven*

Looks simple enough, right?

We were so dead wrong. While we knew what to look for or what sort of colours we wanted after looking through the myriad of recommended websites like Baby, The Stars Shine Down (Paris site) or Innocent World, we discovered a distinct lack of shops that could provide us with the needed items at a reasonable enough price… which brings me to the next concern I had…

The Cost of an Ensemble

Most of the cost of an outfit is offloaded by making or crafting your own stuff. Most of the Loli-sites I went to were full of people sharing their works that they take great pride in. Most of these items are very elaborate and pretty… and only understandable that it would cost quite a bit when you put them up for sale.

Still, the cost of a full ensemble is staggering, especially if everything is storebought. After some calculation, we found that it could easily reach upwards of SGD$500 with the dress and shoes being the most expensive items.

Also, due to the scarcity of these sort of shops in Singapore, the few that do sell Loli fashion items e.g. Black Alice or Haru tend to:

  • charge super expensively
  • have terrible service (though this is attributed to the salespeople and not the style… I’m just still annoyed at their No-Trying policy and their hiring of totally uninterested teenagers-pretending-to-be-adults-working-at- Abercrombie&Fitch whose level of social skills are far below the standard known as ‘Lacking’)
  • have a limited range of goods and sizes.

Thankfully, we found a good enough shop called Atsuki at Liang Court. The salesperson aka ‘Holy Princess Devil’ Jolyn (I found her email quite amusing and couldn’t help but advertise it XD) was very helpful and even told us about the rental policy they had.

I rented this gorgeous skirt…

Teal skirt with black lace and crinoline

Gothic-esque... at least

… while Plum opted for this…

So, we ended up straying away from the strict definitions of Loli by a mile… I opted to go as a porcelain doll while Plum went as a cabaret girl.

After all that effort, I can understand why and recommend people actually sew their own clothes in this style. Its amazingly hard to find what you want in stores, even online.

My Own Cynicism

While we didn’t end up dressing as Loli as we wanted to, for many reasons ranging from cost to availability… I had to say that we had tons of fun exploring another facet of ‘extreme’ fashion that I otherwise would never have considered even trying out.

While I do still have a love-hate relationship with all things cute and typically girly, I do have newfound respect for the real Lolitas who really put in effort in creating their ensembles and expressing themselves with such fervour. It’s not easy. At all.

I was surprised that I didn’t look as silly as I thought I would but that could be attributed to the fact that I already have the curls and the lack of height that already labels me as pretty diminutive. I might not look like this…

(... well maybe in my fantasies involving a certain Japanese-Taiwanese actor)

All in all, it was good fun and a great experience to go through. I’d really recommend it to anyone who thinks that this is just some really ridiculous or inane subculture to simply try it out and make the decision based on your own experience as opposed to simply hopping on the Loli-bashing bandwagon.

~Blossom

P.S.

We’ll be doing our furisode shoot soon… Here’s to hoping that we don’t overtan ourselves while on holiday! -_-;

Walk a day in my getas and tell me what you think.

Yesterday was Children’s Day’s eve here in Singapore. It’s usually a huge affair for schools as the kids look forward to a concert put up by teachers who get to hog the limelight in a positive manner for once and do things that have got nothing to do with their immediate work duties.

I promised my kids that I would wear something special since it was Children’s Day and they scored perfect marks in their last spelling test. I deal with 7 year-olds so they’re still pretty easy to bribe. I was also tasked with co-hosting the concert, in addition to performing… so it was the perfect excuse to see how it was like to keep a yukata on while running around and working.

I’ll start with the positives and get to the negatives later.

I managed to get a set at the last moment (thanks to to Yukikahou! : )) and paired that ensemble with a few items of my own. Kids love bright colours so it gave me a chance to don a bright yellow obi with a creamy pink silk sash. Also borrowed Plum’s yellow getas.

I managed to get the yukata put on under 20 minutes at 9.30 am. It was a little messy but nothing a quick tuck and fold didn’t fix. Wrong fan but convenience trumps accuracy, in this case.

Kids loved it and I got thumbs up from students I don’t normally interact with. So that was all good.

I managed to keep the yukata up for most of the day, only taking it off at 5pm so that my mid-section could get a break and I could conduct a proper physical education lesson. Kids were disappointed that I changed out of it. Lol. The yukata is easy to adjust and with an extra tie to keep the sleeves up and out of the way, the sensation of wearing it is not unlike wearing a fitting kebaya with a structured camisole or corset.

Come 6.30 pm, I rushed out of the office… invoked BFF power and got Plum to come over and help me out with the komon. While I would tie it by myself, this wasn’t some Children’s Day concert I was going to but the proper Annual Teacher’s Day Dinner that the school holds.

Fixed the Sakura Drops komon ensemble with a proper cord and zori. Also, we remembered (somewhat) to pad the waist this time!

Sakura Drops Ensemble Close Up

Me getting ready:

What to do with hair?!

For both ensembles, I managed to get my hair up in little buns and embellished one with the kanzashi. I felt like a real-life doll and went to the dinner where I was greeted with a few surprised looks and praises. I wasn’t the centre of attention as was the case for Plum’s annual dinner affair. My experience with wearing the komon was a little more… colourful.

Firstly, while the kids loved the yukata and the idea of wearing clothes that expressed one’s interests and individuality, a few adults at the dinner didn’t. I got comments like ‘why so costume-y?’ or ‘oh, you must be so uncomfortable!’ without actually asking me if I was. I did hear a ‘why is she wearing that?!’ and a ‘*snicker* no waist.’ behind my back. No. Really.

It was a little like being back in school as a student and I got teased for having curly hair.

I won’t go into detail about the dinner in general, save that it was a generally unpleasant experience (for other unrelated reasons) and made me actually feel a little bad that while I looked good, no one appreciated the fact that a lot of thought went into this ensemble. Not to mention the efforts of so many people. Especially Plum’s.

I don’t want to sound like a social activist for kimono lovers but you’d think people would show more sensitivity and tact here.

Still, I had no regrets spending a entire working day in Japanese traditional dress. ^_^ I’ve learned a few things:

  1. Modern office life isn’t suited to yukata wearing. Not in Singapore anyway.
  2. Kids love the prints on yukata and will tell you that you look beautiful/gorgeous/wonderful/insert-suitable-adjective-here.
  3. The obi and all the stuff that goes around your waist, does prevent you from eating much. Though I didn’t feel faint. I just got full really fast and on portions much lesser than usual.
  4. Not everyone will see the kimono or anything that’s different in a positive light and they don’t even need to go through WW2 to be total a$$holes about it. It was more out of ignorance as opposed to malice though they do go hand-in-hand most times.

~Blossom

EDIT:

Yukikahou was kind enough to suggest wearing things as part of a group and I agree that it would help to have someone with you who would wear such an item. But people who would want to wear kimonos to functions are few and far between and the people I work with just aren’t comfortable with wearing it. Even after I tried convincing them that it’s not that much different from what they normally wear.

I think I can put up with the name-calling and insensitive remarks. This is really more of their problem than mine.

I’ll still wear the kimono to formal dinner functions. It’s comfortable and pretty… and downright more meaningful than any other off-the-rack strapless cocktail dress.

Sakura Drops Komon Ensemble – 1st joint post EVER!!

(Hurrah for our first joint-post, made possible by the power of googledocs! Italicised bits are Plum’s.)

Finally managed to invoke BFF power this weekend and got Plum down over to my place and ask her to test-drive the Sakura Drops komon I had. Putting on a kimono requires a great deal of coordinated pyscho-motor skills so instead of the normal concoction of cocktails (I’m alchohol-free these days anyway), we had coke, chocolates and Law & Order playing on tv while we got to getting me dressed up for our first ensemble snaps.

It was fun putting on the clothes for her. I was able to at least ensure that the cloth under her arms and back looked neat. One of the most painful realizations is that if you mess up putting on the kimono properly, you’re doomed, no matter how nicely you tie your obi and all that. Still, it was fun getting this done. While I wanted to try out the more elaborate taiko, I knew that Blossom would be melting under that komon so I decided to get it done fast and easily with a taiko musubi that I was familiar with. I felt like such a Kitsuke Lady o-o;

First, the result:

Sakura Drops Ensemble

God. I love more komon even more after putting it on proper. The blue obi looked wonderful against the cheerful floral pattern and even Plum’s getas were pretty matching, even if they are a little tight. Now, I know that a komon ought to be worn with informal zori and so far, all the books and sites we read through pointed that out but…

WWOD

Yeah, that’s pretty much my reasoning for making do with geta. What Would Oshin Do? I’ll tell you what this cultural icon of resilience would do. She’d make do. No zori? No money? No one has a decent pair of zori? It’s all right. I don’t think the normal everyday woman back in the Meiji period would go shopping to the wet market in her zori. She’d have that geta and very much use it for nearly every errand she had to run.

*Insert Gaijin Defensive Assertion* o.0

Anyway… here’s a close up:

Sakura Drops Ensemble Close Up Sakura Drops Ensemble Taiko Musubi

Overall, I found the komon much more comfortable than the yukata. First, the polyester material, while marginally warmer, was softer. The sleeves were also much shorter and that made it easier for me to at least, put it on by myself during the initial folding and securing with the koshihimos. I’m still not as neat as I would like to be but Plum didn’t have to do much repair work on the folds so… yay me, I guess. Lol.

I also have to point out that I learned a lot more by watching her tie and listening to her mother me about which fold goes where as opposed to studying a pictorial guide. Plum’s obi skilz are uber. It certainly made the process easier and maybe I’ll try it out. Later. *glances at obi she left hanging to air*

You should give it a go, the taiko is easy when tied in front, though you’ll need to either stretch or invoke Onee-chan Powers to get the makura and age tied behind your back.

To all us solo-ist kimono wearers out there, Almost any knot can be tied independantly in the front and then pulled around your waist to the back. Provided you wear your obi ita with a strap under the obi, not between the folds, and pull the obi around in a clockwise direction. Once it’s at the back, you can neaten the obi makura, obiage and obijime ties on your own. But you will need someone to help you straighten the musubi at the back, which will be out of shape because you had to push it under your arm. Tying musubi makes me wish I could eat spinach and get super arm strength like Popeye :/

I know. =.= My arms were pretty tired though by the time we were through adjusting and clipping and practically marinating me in kimono goodness. Not only did I have my hands up and out, I had to do some pseudo sleight-of-hand trick with getting the presewn haneri (fake juban collar) to stay over the collar stiffener and in place with the elasticised clips (which really put the flexibility of my shoulders and elbows to the test) that wove out of and into the kimono through the slits of the sides.

We realised that we had to make do with a lot of things e.g. the lack of a traditional obiage and obijime. Hence, we invoked the power of WWOD and decided to raid my mom’s closet for suitable replacements. *mental note to self: thank mom when she comes home from Jakarta*

After all that trouble though, came the realisation of just how important padding your waist is. Seriously. After twisting your own arm, standing still for a good 20-40 minutes while everything is being put on and adjusted, we realised that as the obi crumpled up by the side… that I had forgotten to pad my waist. Hence, resulting in this minor catastrophe:

Sakura Drops Ensemble Taiko Musubi

Moral of the story: PAD YOUR WAIST. Seriously. Just pad it. Even if it’s only at the back.

If I had remembered to pad it, this bit wouldn’t have crumpled as much. (On the bright side, this means I’ve lost weight! Go, me!)

All in all though, for our first ensemble, this wasn’t a bad attempt. I felt like a hime even if Plum felt like a kitsuke lady. After spending nearly an hour putting it on, I didn’t feel like taking it off just yet. Plus, I needed to testdrive it as I’m planning to wear the ensemble to a semi-casual dinner on Tuesday night.

Just as I had experienced at my own event wearing a tsukesage, it’s important to at least test drive your kimono lest you feel faint as I did. It’s hard to breathe when you’re tied up in an obi, let alone eat an 8 course meal, however cheap the food may be.

Things I learned just by sitting down in my living room in my komon, properly put on:

1. My posture is immediately corrected.
2. I’m able to fold my koshihimos into the correct starshaped folds for storage properly. Nihon-powers +100! (I am such a nerd. >_<;)
3. I drink my coke like ocha without realising with one hand under the bottom.
4. I don’t stomp around my own house.
5. So goddamned hard to reach for anything beyond an arm’s length as shown by picture here:

cant reach... hand it to meh!!!

(It’s like I’ve got a three-toed claw for a hand. Ugh.)

Also: 6. I (Blossom) will not sit under the fan even though I am so hot and melting under the komon because I hate draughts that much even if they would do me good. ^_^

Edit: I did sit in front of the fan with the komon on. I just refused to sit in front of it once I had it off. I’d rather cool down naturally. Which I did so within a couple of minutes. <_<;

Anyhow, just to wrap this post up before we ramble on and on… putting on a kimono is fun and yes, it will make you feel pretty. It’s good for the soul. Especially, with coke, chocolate and Law & Order playing in the background while your BFF is trying to adjust your obi-makura.

The Gaijin’s Insight into Kimono Coordination

Having drawn the recent avatars for our site, Blossom noted that she looks girly and that it was all a matter of perception. Perhaps she’s right, but I always perceived myself to be a lot less feminine than she was. However, she pointed out that one area of femininty I displayed was a desire to coordinate clothes according to obscure fashion rules. She’s also right. I do like to coordinate clothes when I have the desire to be pretty. That’s also part of the reason why I enjoy kimono coordination and find it a delightful task. So, I’ll be giving you Plum’s Gaijin Insights to Kimono Coordination.

Let me just point out before we begin that I am no expert. All the tips I’m giving you here are a result of my own personal tastes and what I see generally works according to some rules about colour selection and design. If you have any other tips to share, please feel free to comment and let me know.

First, let’s look at what will be visible when you put on a kimono (minus accessories like zori which I will be covering in another post). Pictured here is a pretty standard set up, we’ll be discussing all of these save the obi-dome.

Kimono Overview

Tip 1: Busy+Busy=Bad – Consider your kimono’s design.

Design Concept: Focal Points – part of a design that your eye is made to focus on, the key element in your design.

A lot of kimonos are easy to coordinate, usually bearing a pretty solid colour for the body with some woven or dyed motifs on the base, sleeve and/or shoulder. These are generally easy to coordinate since your obi will naturally draw the eye against a plain background. Yukatas and Furisodes tend to have bright designs all over, and are harder to coordinate since the eye will be drawn to the patterns on the yukata or furisode more so than the obi if your obi itself has designs on it.

Essentially, you want to decide at this point if you want your obi or the kimono to be your focal point. If your kimono has a striking design, pick a subdued obi. If your kimono has a relatively simple design like a tsukekage, pick an obi that stands out.

Tip 2: Colours Make or Break

Design Concept: Colour theory – Analogous and Complementary Colours.

Kimonos will usually come with certain motifs woven or dyed onto it. Flowers seem predominant, though there are many other sorts of motifs. When you select an obi design, you might want to either match the motifs on your kimono (e.g. flowers with flowers) or you can go for a similar theme with different elements (e.g. flowers with butterflies). Now comes the hard part: colours.

Let me introduce to you two concepts of colour theory.

Colours that are side-by-side on the colour wheel; matching colours

Analogous Colours: Colours that are side-by-side on the colour wheel; 'matching colours'

Colours that are opposite on the colour wheel; Striking colours

Complementary Colours: Colours that are opposite on the colour wheel; 'Striking colours'


Colours taken from both opposites and side-by-side; Focal point colours

Split-Complementary Colours: Colours taken from both opposites and side-by-side; 'Focal point colours'


An example of split-complementary colour scheme - yellow and green base colours with purple accents.

An example of split-complementary colour scheme - light orange and green base colours with purple accents.

It’s not too much information, but selecting colours based on your colour wheel will ensure you never go wrong. I’ve found that since your kimono essentially has three elements to coordinate (your kimono, obi and obi-age/jime), the split-complementary colour schemes are the best if you choose for your obi to be the focal point. Assess the predominant colour of your kimono. If the colours are purple and blue, an orange obi would be a good focal point. If your kimono is busy with colours, patterns and motifs in yellow and green, then an orange obi from the analagous colour scheme would not overpower your patterns. For yukatas, the complementary colour scheme works best.

Since you have already chosen your focal point, you now want to choose an obi-jime/age to draw attention to it. Using the above colour rules, you should try to select them in colours that are analogous to either your obi (if that is your focal point) or your kimono.

Tip 3: Musubi Meanings and Obi Types – RESEARCH

Design Concept: Not looking like an idiot to the natives.

Please, please research your musubi. Each type of knot has certain unwritten rules about who should wear them and when. For example, the most basic knot – the taiko-bashi – is worn by married women while unmarried women wear the ‘sparrow’ fukura suzume. While I think Japanese are willing to forgive the fact that some of those musubi knots are mixed up, it’s hard to get away with wearing the wrong sort of obi or knot formality entirely.

There are most commonly 3 types of obi depending on the formality of the occasion. The least formal is the hanhaba (half-width) which can be worn with yukatas and kimonos in very casual occasions. Next in line is the Nagoya obi, which is worn for casual to semi-formal events. Up the line is the Fukuro, the most formal and practical of obis these days, and also the longest for those more elaborate knots. The more formal the occasion, the more elaborate the design of the obi and the more complicated the musubi you have to tie.

If all else fails, wikipedia is your friend.

Blossom and I can spend hours trawling sites to mix and match a basic set. While all the tips above might seem daunting to you now as were they when I just learned them, sooner or later you’ll begin to be able to pick instinctively. Still, better to take some extra work to plan before hand rather than look like something a rainbow vomited out :/

~Plum