Kitsuke Aids and Collars.

Generally we think of kimono as having changed little since the Edo period so I always get a little excited when new dressing gadgets come out (or are newly discovered) The basics haven’t changed much, but elastic has made a pretty big impact along with synthetic fibers. I noticed in this kitsuke mai (literally kimono dressing dance) the ladies are using what looks like a korin belt and a datejime had a baby and my eye balls very nearly popped out of my face. Maybe I’m just behind in the times, but this was the first time I’d seen this bit of gear! I wondered if maybe it was specific to a certain school of kitsuke, but was able to find it easily enough on Rakuten. I hope this is the general direction that kimono dressing is headed towards even though I’m not a huge fan of the whole ‘you NEED this thing to dress properly’ trend (you can call me old school; in my opinion you don’t need more than himo to hold your collars together unless you’re working with a kimono that doesn’t fit you). But if you’re the type that wants the extra support or you’re dressing for something formal… you’ve got a plenty of toys to invest in.

image from the rakuten listing

A little back ground info for terms; the datejime is a band about 10 centimeters wide that is often worn under the obi, but over the himo holding your collars shut. These were usually made of a thin hakata (woven) which was well known for gripping and staying in place, but you’ll often find ‘magic’ datejime made of a thick elastic and with velcro at the ends. A lot of these that I’ve ended up with were second hand and old so the elastic was quite brittle not to mention they’re often not long enough to stretch over anyone of a more… substantial build. The cheap modern ones are usually of a thin synthetic fabric with a section of reinforcement at the ‘front’ where it will best support the obi to lay nice and flat (but it does not replace an obi stiffener). If you splurge for a kitsuke kit, you’ll get the datejime, the obi ita (stiffener) and obi makura (pillow) all in the same pattern; these matching kits are pretty chic! I’ve seen some DIY’d sets out of very fun bold fabrics too (the mass produced ones are usually a soft pink color).

A korin belt is a length of adjustable elastic (like a thick bra strap) with two grippy alligator clips. They can be used on the juban collar, the kimono collar, or both (using two or like in this lovely video, 2 at once!) and can help keep your collars stay crossed, a common issue for us busty types trying to wrangle a too narrow kimono into submission. To use one, you clip one end to the right collar edge, run it counter clock wise under the left (outer panel), pulling it out from under the left sleeve to wrap around your back and attach to the edge of the left collar. It does not replace a himo, especially when you have a collar strap to pull the back of your collar down from your neck. Also something to consider is the depth of angle of your collars. A very wide, obtuse angle is appropriate for younger folks, but I think also helps balance someone like myself with a round face. A very narrow collar (by which I mean a very long skinny V)  is more appropriate for much older ladies, along with a narrower strip of haneri (juban collar) showing. When I see someone under 80 with narrowly angled collars, I assume their kimono doesn’t fit quite right, not that they’re intentionally dressing ‘elderly’. Check out this newly turned Geiko compared to the lady walking with her (possibly her Okaasan?) The Geiko’s collar is of course very exaggerated compared to how we would normally wear, but you can really see the difference.

The ‘datejime with clips’ as Microsoft translate calls it on the Rakuten listing combines the collar clipping action of the korin belt and the smoothing/securing action of the datejime, with clips at the right and left sides. I suspect there’s not enough give at the front where the elastic is to allow you to pull the clips far enough to give someone like myself enough cross pull on the collars. The more I think about it, the more this thing addresses a problem that doesn’t really exist… at least not for the people who really struggle with collar placement. Maybe I’m wrong and there’s a lot of ‘give’ in that elastic, but this thing doesn’t measure much different than the non-elastic version I use occasionally which I can barely get a decent knot out of. If you’re small busted and average/smaller built and wearing an ‘average’ size kimono, you’ll get a very nice clean look, but honestly it’s not necessary. Would I use it? Absolutely, I love these sorts of kitsuke tools especially when it’s part of a matching set and I’m giving a dressing demonstration. That stuff just looks cool and professional compared to a hodgepodge of self-made and mismatched items. I hope more of these fancy new dressing aids become available. But as a plus sized enthusiast I have my doubts I’ll be able to make use of this particular item. We do see more LL and larger sized kimono becoming available, hopefully it’s only a matter of time before obi and dressing aids will follow.

Fingers (collars) crossed!!

Columbus Kimono



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