When looking at the kimono magazine collection in a Japanese bookshop, you see many books with TPO in the collection.
TPO meaning: Time Place Occasion. When to wear which kimono.
There are many rules when wearing kimono.
Choosing a kimono by it’s formality for special occasions is a very important one.
Read my blog about kimono and seasons hier.
Kimono and Formality
for the Shinto ceremony the bride is dressed in a full white ensemble: a white kakeshita kimono, a long silk kimono that is worn trailing on the floor, obi and accessories are white too. On top of this goes the elaborate uchikake, a large coat like kimono that will be worn loose and trailing. For the Buddhist ceremony she will change into an iro uchikake, a brightly coloured uchikake. Sometimes a bride will also change into a bright coloured kakeshita kimono, a kimono worn trailing with long furisode sleeves.
This kimono is the most formal kimono for married women. Kurotomesode can only be worn to weddings of close relatives. Mothers of the bride and groom wear kurotomesode, but also the married sisters of the bride can choose to wear this kimono.
The kimono is always black (kuro meaning black) with 5 family crests two on the front and three in the back. The pattern is only at the hem and the older the wearer, the lower the patterns goes. The obi should be brocade with gold or silver to be chosen to fit the kimono. Accessories are always white (with gold or silver) as are the zori (shoes)
This kimono is the second most formal kimono for married women. Irotomesode can be worn to weddings of relatives. The kimono is always coloured (iro meaning colour) with 5 family crests two on the front and three in the back. The pattern is only at the hem and the older the wearer, the lower the patterns goes. The obi should be brocade with gold or silver to be chosen to fit the kimono. Accessories are always white (with gold or silver) as are the zori (shoes).
The furisode kimono is the most formal kimono for young unmarried women. The kimono is extremely brightly decorated and the sleeves are long: furi = swinging or waving and sode = sleeve. With these waving sleeves it is said ladies can attract the hart of a man, hence the kimono is for unmarried women. The furisode is usually worn to weddings, formal parties and especially to 成人の日 Seijin no Hi Coming of Age Day is a Japanese holiday held annually on the second Monday of January. It is held in order to congratulate and encourage all those who have reached the age of majority (20 years old)
Iromuji kimono are solid coloured kimono. The silk can be rinzu (a brocade type) but never with different coloured motives. This is a semi formal kimono. Very often it is worn to tea ceremonie. The kimono can be dressed up and dressed down. With a heavy brocade fukuro obi this kimono can be worn to a wedding, tea ceremony or other ceremonial affairs. With a fancy nagoya obi this kimono is suitable for any semi formal event and with an informal chuuya or nayoya obi this kimono can be worn to informal gatherings. It’s very versatile so if Japanese women have only one kimono, this type is the one.
Houmongi is a visiting kimono. It’s a semi-formal kimono so not suitable for a quick drink at the neighbors house, but perfect for gallery/museum openings and exhibitions and formal parties. The pattern on the houmongi kimono is placed at the skirt and shoulders, more on the left then right. The motif goes continuously over the seams, it is not broken at the seams or constricted to one panel. Obi worn with houmongi kimono should be fukuro or if you want more formal maru obi is fine. To dress this kimono down a fancy nagoya obi is a good choice.
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Komon kimono are informal kimono, kimono for daily wear. The pattern of the kimono can either be painted, stenciled or woven and is always repetitive, the pattern is all over the kimono. You can wear them around the house, a shopping trip with friends, a drink at the neighbours etc. As these kimono are informal you are very free on how to style the kimono. It should be paired with nagoya, hanhaba or chuuya obi, or if not too formal (with gold etc.) a fukuro could be used. With accessories you can do what ever you like and make it 100% your own style.
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The most informal kimono of them all. Yukata means as much as bathing wear yu ~ ゆ bath/hot-spring. Traditionally they where worn to the bathhouse, hence the name. Now they come in various patterns and are turned into summer wear. Usually worn to festivals and such, during the hot summer yukata can be wonderful relaxing to wear. No nagajuban or accessories are required a simple hanhaba obi is sufficient. You can dress it up a bit, as it is fashionable to wear yukata as kimono, with all under wear and accessories normally worn with kimono. But for a festival during the height of summer, wear it as is.