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. And choosing a kimono for the season is a very important one.
Here is a very strict kimono seasons PDF chart which tells the kimono lover when to wear which style of kimono:
Read my blog about kimono and formality hier.
It is “chic to wear flower patterns a head of season, so wearing plum-blossom when the blossom actually blooms is a no no. If you do anyway, (which is of course not really a problem) the Japanese call this “competing with nature”. In other words, never compete with the real thing.
Spring time is an interesting season. Up to the 14th of May you wear lined kimono and from the 15th of May you change to hitoe (unlined) kimono. The obi stays lined up to the 9th of May, from the 10th it will be hitoe (unlined).
Colours would be light and fresh. In early spring ume and sakura can be worn as patterns, but not when they really bloom. All flowers are good in spring as all will be in full bloom soon.
The whole month of June you wear hitoe (unlined) kimono. But on the 10th of June you change your obi to a summer fabric. Ro, sha, ra, lace etc. All very thin and see through textiles.
In summer time the whole months of July and August you wear usumono; cool see-through fabrics like ro, sha and lace, open weaves, some types of organza are nice too. The obi changes from see-through open weave to hitoe (unlined) on the 20th of august. The colours need to be cool as everything in summer kimono should be to give a cool feeling. Both for the wearer and the people looking at you. Often it’s more for the people around you, because you will be warm in a kimono!
Patterns are (flowing) water, rain, sometimes even snowflakes, all to give a cool feeling. The floral patterns are all summer flowers but also autumn grasses.
Another great garment often worn in summer is the yukata, the most informal kimono of them all. Made from light cotton with bold happy patterns it is popular for festivals and informal festive gatherings.
In September hitoe kimono are worn with a hitoe obi, from the 20th of September the obi changes to lined again. Though the kimono is light (unlined in September) the the colours need to be warm and depict fall. Purple, reds, oranges and yellow are preferred.
Asanoha (hemp) is a popular pattern, actually it can be worn all year round, but for autumn choose a warm shade and pair it with an obi that tells winter is coming.
On a side note. These rules seem very strict and they can be, but times change we can be more free towards these rules as even the climate changes. Summers seem to become longer and warmer, so the period of wearing unlined kimono and even open weave fabrics becomes longer and longer, I think we can shift the rules for fabric types by a month. For more on kimono as daily wear and how to use or not use this strict rules here is a blog with my conversations with Mamechiyo about this subject.
One more kimono not discussed here is the wool kimono. As informal as a yukata, you can compare it to jeans e.a. It is warm enough to be without lining and can be washed. It can be worn all year round maybe not in summer because it will be too hot, but when in a cold climate, it will be a great choice. Like yukata, they are informal so great to play with and have fun with styling anyway you like.
Kimono seasons are important, but most important of all, have fun wearing your kimono!