How to Wear Japanese Kimonos for Women?

Kimonos for Women

The Japanese kimono is a traditional garment worn by Japanese people ever since the 14th century. The art of putting on and wearing a traditional kimono, the kitsuke in Japanese, is the result of a codified know-how that only few people master nowadays.

According to Japanese tradition, the kimono is not just a simple garment. Depending on the patterns, the material, the length of the sleeves or the size of the obi (the kimono belt), this traditional Japanese garment informs us about the social class and the marital status of the person who wears it.

Nowadays, Japanese people adopted the Western style of clothing in their daily life. The kimono is only worn on special occasions such as weddings, ceremonies, festivals or traditional artistic performances.

The art of diverting the traditional Japanese kimono

The Japanese kimono is a magnificent garment and at times a true work of art. This large T-shaped piece of fabric is a privileged medium for artistic expressions among Japanese painters and designers. The shape of the kimono is quite simple but the prints can be infinitely varied, varying from traditional Japanese patterns to much more sophisticated graphics.

Modern Japanese kimono design

Example of modern Japanese kimono designs. Credits: Takahashi Hiroko

So, why would this garment be reserved exclusively for Japanese people? And for special occasions. Sure, the kimono is a very elaborate piece of clothing that has an ancestral code and technique for wearing it, but nothing stops us from evolving with the times. If we put aside the traditional practices attached to this garment, it will be much easier and more comfortable to wear.

Street style in the streets of Tokyo

Two very different kimono styles. Urban style in the streets of Tokyo. Credits: Ania Boniecka & Tyler Stalman

In the world of today, it is sometimes difficult to assume one's style of clothing and only the most daring among us will dare to include a kimono in their wardrobe. However, let us show you some of the advantages and renderings of wearing a kimono as a Westerner.

Due to the shape and amplitude, the Japanese kimono matches all body types and can be combined with all styles. Too often, the kimono has been associated with a sleepwear style with the image of a kimono pajama that we wear at home to be comfortable, or with a sportswear style like the famous judo or karate jacket. It is about time to put aside these prejudices and consider the kimono as a streetwear style.

Men's Japanese Kimono Streetwear Style

Also men are embracing the Japanese kimono for an underground streetwear style. Credits: O Ultimo Black Power.

The size of the kimono allows it to be worn as a large jacket over a basic or more elaborate outfit. It will either complete an outfit in an elegant and exotic way, or assume the place of a centerpiece for those who are not afraid to adopt a different style.

For the less daring, the traditional Japanese kimono can just as easily be replaced by the loose-fitting haori-like garment (jacket worn over a kimono) that is very popular among Western women and which you can find everywhere, in shops or Japanese online stores. Following this article, you will find examples of outfits that will allow to wear the Japanese kimono in the right way while avoiding fashion faux-pas.

Dare to wear the kimono at the office

Wearing a kimono at the office is not that evident for everyone, but with these tips you will manage without any problem. We are used to always see the same style of clothing at work, namely a blazer worn over a blouse or a top with a skirt or pants. How about spicing up this classic outfit by adding a Japanese twist with a kimono cardigan?

Kimono jacket ideal for the office

Credits: Design Mag.

The kimono has the advantage of having a straight fit which makes it formal enough for wearing to the office. It is about time to replace your boring blazer with an open, lightweight and flowing kimono jacket. However, be careful to follow certain rules to stay professional.

The kimono must be short, with a straight fit and a plain color. Avoid too many colors and patterns. Underneath, wear a basic top or a simple shirt (no blouse with a folded collar). As the kimono is a loose-fitting garment, choose a pair of close-fitting pants or skirt in order to preserve a good harmony of the silhouette. You can wear skinny jeans, pleated pants, a pencil skirt or a tube skirt.

Switch your evening dress for a sexy and stylish kimono

The kimono has all the features you need for a party: from chic to elegant to sexy. You can either choose it as the main piece of your outfit or simply as a complement to a sexy outfit.

In the first option, we will choose a long kimono to put over a simple adjusted dress or a nice lace bodysuit for the most daring. To avoid giving the impression of rolling out of your bed, sleepwear style, we advise you not to wear the belt provided with the kimono! Instead, pick a belt that has some character, a wide belt such as a leather waistband for example. In addition to marking your waist and highlighting your silhouette, the mix of textures is the secret of a successful outfit. And if your heels can match the leather of your belt, that's a big plus.

Japanese Kimono Evening Dress

Credits: Design Mag.

In the second option, a short or mid-length kimono jacket for women is ideal to balance out a short tight fitting dress with low neckline. The loose fabric of the kimono offsets the sexy side of a close-fitting dress. To figure out how to wear a kimono with a dress, opt for a printed kimono to match with a plain and sober dress that matches perfectly with the dominant color of your kimono jacket. For your feet, choose a pair of sober sandals with heels that are not too high. Extra touch: match your pair of shoes with a color present in the kimono.

Adopt the kimono for a chic and casual look at home

We love the kimono for its comfort and the ease with which it can be combined with the basics of our wardrobe. For a casual and relaxed look, simply slip on a kimono jacket on top of your favorite jeans or summer denim shorts paired with a simple shirt, bodysuit or tank top. It only takes seconds to transform a basic outfit into a sophisticated and chic one. We love the Japanese kimonos with floral patterns that adds lightness to the look.

Casual style Japanese Kimono with shorts

Credits: Design Mag.

The Japanese kimono will become an essential item in your closet. According to its size, prints and fabric, the kimono jacket or dress will allow you to create all the clothing styles you desire. One single kimono can also provide very different styles depending on the way it is worn and the clothes associated with it.

To create an underground streetwear style, simply wear it over a hoodie with a pair of sneakers. For the ultimate Japanese twist, opt for this sublime kimono jacket that honors the mythical creatures of Japanese culture. For a chic and urban look, combine the kimono with a pair of ripped jeans, a simple T-shirt and feminine sandals. The long, light and flowing kimono will delight all fans of the hippie boho style, extremely trendy in summer. Add a flower crown, some fringe to the kimono, a pair of spartans and you'll have the perfect outfit to wear to a music festival like Coachella. Lastly, don't forget that a kimono can also be worn over your swimsuit to stay stylish even on the beach.

Japanese kimono for women, vacation and festival spirit

Credits: Avantages Magazine.

It's not just this piece of Japanese clothing that is in fashion, Japanese patterns are also in vogue, especially the prints that represent symbolic Japanese animals, such as the Flight of Cranes kimono or a koi fish design kimono.

Choose the right kimono according to your body type

Whether you like to wear it open in a casual way or belted for a more sophisticated and elegant look, what is important is to adapt it to your silhouette in order to magnify both your body and your kimono.

Before talking about morphology, it is necessary to consider the criteria that differentiate one kimono from another and that will help you select the right one: length, color, patterns, fabrics and belt.

Long Kimono Crane Flight Women - Japan Avenue

Women's long kimono jacket, Crane flight - Japan Avenue.

If you are tall, you can as well wear a short kimono as a long kimono. The short kimono will be worn as an open jacket over a basic top or as a belted blouse without anything underneath for a daring and sexy look. The long kimono is very elegant, as a long jacket as well as an evening gown. On a tall person, it will have the advantage of visually lengthening the silhouette. However, if you are short, it is better to choose a short kimono with not too long sleeves, at the risk of disappearing under a too large garment.

As for the colors and patterns, the kimono is ideal for leaving its comfort zone and venture floral prints or prints inspired by Japanese culture for an even more unique look.

The kimono can be a winter or summer garment, which is why it is important to choose the right fabric. Winter kimonos are thick and often made of cotton or hemp, while summer kimonos are much lighter and more flowing.

The kimono can be worn either open or belted, it all depends on the style you want to create. However, if you have a generous waist and a bit of a belly, it is advisable not to choose a satin kimono and rather wear it open to make the small flaws disappear under a flowing and printed fabric.

kimono jackets for women - japan avenue

Kimono Jackets for Women - Japan Avenue

Once all these advices assimilated, it is time to find the ideal kimono according to your body type:

  • Figure 8 body type : you have beautiful feminine shapes, nicely rounded shoulders and a marked waist. With such a well-balanced silhouette, you can wear just about anything. A satin kimono will sublimate your curves in a subtle and elegant way and the belt will perfectly mark your waist.
  • H-shaped body type : your hips are as wide as your shoulders and you have a small waist. To emphasize your body, select a mid-length or long kimono to keep your waist from showing and wear it open to feminize your figure.
  • A-shaped body type : your hips are more developed than your shoulders. Go for a flowing, non-satin kimono with a length that reaches mid-thigh or longer and don't forget the belt to mark the waist.
  • V-shaped body type : your shoulders are more developed than your hips. Opt for a long, flowing kimono with straight sleeves and a rather neutral color, and focus on the belt to emphasize your waist.
  • X-shaped body type : you are slim with harmonious proportions and a rather marked waist. To offset this delicate shape, you will have to focus on your waist to feminize your silhouette to the maximum.  Go for a short kimono with a neckline to emphasize your small chest, floral prints and a belt to mark the waist.
  • O-shaped body type : you have beautiful feminine curves but a small waist. With a curvy figure, you should avoid wearing a belt and leave your kimono open to give an impression of vaporous fluidity. Opt for a printed and very colorful kimono, a flowing non-satin fabric and a short or mid-thigh length. 

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If this article has helped and convinced you to buy a kimono to include in your wardrobe essentials, then check out our collection of Japanese kimonos and kimono cardigan.

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