The Physics of Kimono Hair According to Blossom – Part 2: Hair Texture, Length and Accessories

Had some free time at work so decided to start on this post instead of burning my brain and working even harder than I already am. :/

In my last post about kimono hair, I talked about face shapes and hinted about how hair texture was going to play an equally important part in getting that hairstyle right. Again, I’m putting up the disclaimer that I really am not a professional and I’m just sharing tips that I’ve gathered from talking to friends and my own hairstylists (God knows I’ve been through a few of them.)

There are many types of hair. Even if you’re not going to do an updo anytime soon, knowing what type of hair you have is a good thing so you’d know how to care for it better on a day-to-day basis. I spent years buying the wrong sort of shampoo. It took two stylists, a few friends and a website to point me in the right direction.

If you’re unsure as to what’s your hair type, you can try this link at naturallycurly.com.

Once you have your hair type down pat, you can decide whether or not you want to go for that sleek smooth look when you’ve got ringlets. You might also wish to consider long beautiful straight hair can be worn half-up and half-down, in a classic manner.

Texture

Texture also dictates the kind of kanzashis you can put in your hair. Generally speaking, thicker, straight hair like Plum’s can benefit from thicker plastic combs that tend to be a little heavier and require little grip to keep it in place. The same type of comb isn’t going to stay in my hair – which is fine but in rather voluminous ringlets. Instead, I’d go for a light wire comb that has enough teeth to get a grip.

Generally, the rule for kanzashis and hair accessories (based on my trial and error) is as such…

-thick and straight hair benefit from clips that have a thicker or stronger hold e.g. butterfly clips, crocodile clips, hair sticks and barettes. Thicker hair can go for larger more spectacular pieces that tend to be heavier. These can be placed at the side of the head e.g. above or behind the ear because the hair is strong enough to support the weight.

– fine hair can support finer, lighter pieces of hair jewellery e.g. those attached to wire combs, mini-butterfly clips. Crocodile clips will hold but in my personal opinion, the damage done by the teeth to the hair shaft is just not worth it. It leads to breakages and more problems down the road. If you do wish to wear a larger and heavier piece, you might wish to support with bobbypins or position it at the base of the bun, ponytail where there’s more hair gathered to support it.

– curly hair; depending on your curls, different pieces will work. Fine, curly hair would look good with the smaller hair jewels. Thick curly hair would be able to support the heavier pieces that act as a sleek accent to the piled waves or ringlets. Its hard to say what would work because there’s a tendency for curls to overwhelm the pieces that actually hold the style together. So you really have to experiment

For examples of hair jewellery or accessories, here are some great examples I came across and more examples of how you can wear them. I won’t comment much on the whole ‘dirty your hair up a bit’ because I’ve got an oily scalp and most of the time I’ve got enough sebum-goodness to coat my curls.

– Afro-textured hair: Only after watching a few shows like Tyra (yes, I watch rubbish sometimes, even judgmental supermodels) and catching snippets of Chris Rock’s Good Hair, did I become aware of the entirely unique and different hair fibre that is afro-textured hair. I don’t have any personal experience with Afro-textured hair so I’m not going to dispense any advice on an area I don’t know about. What I do know is that, judging by the intricate cornrows, braids and patterns I’ve seen people do with Afro-textured hair, there shouldn’t be a problem with incorporating the neat, beautiful aesthetics of kimono hair. Granted, it would look different but hell, it’d still be pretty if you do it right. So if you have afro-textured hair and still want to wear a kimono, go ahead and work it.

Length

The most popular way to wear your hair, due to the crisp and smart collar of the kimono, is to have a bun worn high at the back of the head. The same formal effect can be faked with extensions and fake hair pieces. If you wish to wear your short hair as naturally as you can, you could fluff it up and to emphasise the curls, while smoothing down the fringe for a more formal appearance.

I’d really suggest browsing through the Japanese books section of your local bookstore, if you’re lucky enough to have a Kinokuniya or Sasuga near you for guides like these. Even if you can’t understand the language, the pictorial guides are enough for you to figure out the basics.

Accessories

Now that we have the texture and length out of the way, I can talk about the sort of kanzashis you want to consider. Generally speaking, floral patterns are the way to go. While most kanzashis are expensive, there are affordable pieces available on Etsy.com. This is one seller I love to bookmark. So there isn’t any need to fork out hundreds of dollars for a piece that while authentic and super traditional, its one that you won’t/can’t wear with anything else other than your kimono.

~Blossom

The Physics of Kimono Hair according to Blossom – Part 1: Face Shape

It’s funny how many life lessons one can extrapolate from a kimono – from the structure, the history of how the design came about, the type of cloth, the knots… it’s all really one massive exercise in coordination. You don’t really need Plum or I to point that out. So after sweating buckets over the right obi to go with the right kimono with the right sort of footwear, kanzashi and bag, you’d think you’re done with the hard part. Well, there’s the issue of what to do with that mop of cilia on top of your head – your hair. How are you going to do your hair? The ginko style isn’t going to suit everyone and unless you’re a real Japanese, this is going to look super costume-y on you.

spare fabric

Theatrical but no. Unless you’re really Japanese or Liza Dalby.

Big huge no-no there. There are easy escape routes like the chignon but if you’re non-Japanese and are wearing a kimono to a function, you don’t want to look just okay. You want to look great. That means getting the right updo, dammit. Thusly, I’ve regurgitated what I’ve learned about wearing your hair with any sort of kimono. I’m not a professional and God knows, there are days that I need help with my own hair but if I can save someone out there the trouble I went through in choosing what hairstyle to choose… why not? If the kimono was ice-cream, your hair is the topping that makes or breaks it.

Personally, I prefer the more polished look since the kimono is a garment meant for semi-formal to formal events. Unfortunately, having short curls puts me on the road towards ‘fun and flirty’ as opposed to ‘dignified goddess’. :/

When choosing an updo to go with your kimono, there are a few things to consider:

1. Face shape
2. Hair colour, type and texture
3. Length of hair
4. Accessories
5. The function you’re dressing up for (Dinner? Open-air wedding reception? Prom?)
6. Your own personality and threshold for fussiness

Because this is going to be pretty long and lengthy… I’m just going to touch on face shape.

Before starting, get a jacket with a proper collar. This will help you see how your neck looks like, more or less, and how high you ought to style your hair without having to put on a kimono.

By now, you should know your face type is one of these types:
– round
– square
– heart
– oval

Depending on the shape of your face, there are certain parts of your face you want to elongate or disguise.

For round faces, choose updos that add focus to your crown and elongate your face. Side swept fringes and long, tousled bangs able to be tucked behind the ear will work well. The idea is to break the line of your cheek and jaw. Avoid slick backed styles and flat bangs as these just look awkward and have a tendency to look school-marmish. This is a nice example, even if it is Selena Gomez:

spare fabric

If you’ve got a squarish face, then you might want to consider adding some wispy (not unkempt) strands at the side of your face to soften the angles:

spare fabric

Heart-shaped faces have wide foreheads and cheekbones and a rather pointy chin. So choose updos that give the illusion of a smaller forehead and not-too-small chin. You could do a half-up-half-down hairstyle if you’ve got short to medium length hair. If you’ve got longer hair, you could pin your hair a little lower or to a side bun where it can be seen from the front. Try not to pile everything on top of your head or hide it. Wispy but arranged strands look nice so I’d suggest really experimenting.

spare fabric spare fabric

If you’ve got an oval-shaped face, then you’re lucky. The common opinion is that you can pull off most styles with little consideration in choosing. I still say experiment because while the style might suit your face… There’s still the issue of hair colour and texture to consider next. (And you oval-shaped faced people thought you could get away easy…. XD)

~Blossom

I did try to find a more varied range of pictures but scouring the internetz for examples and trying to guess which face looks like which shape is harder than it looks. Much, much harder.

New Kimono Literature (of sorts)

So Blossom and I, on my father’s credit card (unbeknownst and to be duly reimbursed before he is beknownst), went to Kinokuniya to look up stuff for our budding library of kimono literature. After some stomping around the Japanese section – which I swear to me is like a foreign land – we finally were directed to the appropriate section. I also learned 2 new Japanese characters and can now read the word ‘kimono’ in kanji. I’m proud of myself.

However, since neither of us could read kanji, which most of the books were titled in, the conversation eventually descended to:

P: What’s this about?
B: something something… ki-mo-mo-… It’s about kimonos, lah.
P: Really. @.@

Yes. However, we soon found a good set of books but because I was worried about money, we had to only select 2. We have plans for an upcoming photoshoot for Furisodes and so realize that our choices regarding our hobby are now geared towards that. We picked up two books as follows (with grammatical approximation):

Title: Kimono Hairstyles of the Day

ISBN: 4-418-04405-1

Price: SG$35.10

The hairstyles in the hairstyle book are beautiful, though maybe some a little too aged for us – very eighties older woman type buns. Some were classic. We realized that a lot of the accessories selected for their hair tended towards the mimicry or appreciation of the beauty of nature. All that glittered was only gold. Until we came to the hairstyles of the ‘modern’ kimono-girl. Think being attacked my dragonflies after your hair gets shocked out of its bun due to electrocution. Okay, that was unfair. No, that sort of style is not for us. We tend towards the more subtle and elegant of the styles so… probably we have the combined chic/hippie taste that screams older woman anyway. <_<; Not that we care.

(Blossom is the hippie.)

Title: Basic Kimono Musubi

ISBN:4-418-06405-2

Price: SG$38.20

Plum says (8:48 PM):
Blossom we picked up the BASIC OBI BOOK
Blossom says (8:49 PM):

that was f&^%$#g basic?
Plum says (8:49 PM):
yes
Blossom says (8:51 PM):
well. there goes our first conversation excerpt for you.

These musubis are BASIC???? The book was selected because we saw a few designs that could be used for future furisodes. And if that is basic… what is intermediate or advanced? Origami kimonos? Okay, I know me looking at these musibis from my point of view is like a prawn in the primordial pool trying to comprehend chartered accounting, but the amount of ingenuity that went into the humble knot to turn it into such a work of art is staggering!

There is a reason why I kept this book while Blossom kept the hair book. She hates tieing musubis because it makes her tired and her blue blood probably rebels against it. I, on the other hand, don’t care much about my hair as long as it looks decent and is out of my face.

(In case you’re wondering, yes, we do make little jibes about each other even in real life. She will mock my lack of regard to such things as Rules Against Bending New Shoes You Happen To Be Wearing At The Time In Public while I will mock the fact that she is a kampong dowager-to-be born in the wrong era).

You know, if nothing else, this hobby will prompt us to learn Japanese seriously if only just to read these how-to books.

Plum

Plum