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!
Me getting ready:
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:
- Modern office life isn’t suited to yukata wearing. Not in Singapore anyway.
- Kids love the prints on yukata and will tell you that you look beautiful/gorgeous/wonderful/insert-suitable-adjective-here.
- 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.
- 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.
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.