Hello, welcome to the never-ending summer of 2018! For our first CBUS post, I wanted to share some of my thoughts about wearing kimono during the hottest time of the year. Something I didn’t quite connect with when I first started wearing kimono publicly was the concept of fabric and structural seasonality. It wasn’t until I really understood the concept of kimono for summer vs. kimono worn the rest of the year that I actually noticed these hitoe (unlined) sheer, airy kimono floating around in the web shops I frequented. I was that person who wore awase (lined) kimono and obi in 80+ degree heat. I’ll never forget the single time I attended Otakon and someone pulled the fire alarm forcing everyone to stand outside. Sweating. Profusely. Lined kimono + August in Maryland = misery.
A big hump people new to the kimono hobby experience is the financial input required just to have a couple basic outfits. At a bare minimum, I would have to say you need 3 full ensembles if you’re not planning to replace your formal attire with kimono. One aseasonal lined outfit for early spring, late fall and winter, a summer outfit (unlined and of an open weave like ro, probably with no specific motif or a very general summer design), and a yukata. If you really wanted to be spartan, you could use a single hanhaba for all three outfits and pass on a lot of the obi accessories. You could. I can’t stress enough that a yukata should be the thing you start with anyway, please please please don’t jump into this hobby by buying a furisode to wear right off the bat. Please. Should I write a post about why that’s a terrible idea? I should.
Your under kimono, juban and accessories (for the enthusiastic purists, me) all come in summer forms. Open woven and sheer materials, linen and linen blends, space age homeostasis materials, etcetera. I’ve fallen into the pit of ro polyester kimono which have the benefit of being easy to wash after a good hardy sweat. I can’t say they breath but I can attest that a good breeze feels amazing. If you happen to come across a yukata that’s constructed with of an open weave ‘ro’ cotton, I HIGHLY encourage that purchase. The point of all this is if you’re presented with the opportunity to go out in the summer in casual kimono you have to ask yourself; do I have the appropriate kimono? If all you have is synthetic lined kimono, will you survive? If all you have is a lined silk kimono, will you risk staining it with your body’s attempts to keep you alive? If you’re even considering wearing a vintage kimono with natural red dyed lining, STOP! That stuff will run and transfer like crazy, okay, just don’t do it!
Is it worth being miserable? Your kimono will be there for another day. Of course if you do choose to wear kimono, the usual things apply; hydrate well, rest frequently, avoid standing in strong sunlight and don’t forget your handy dandy fan! Can you imagine the worst case scenario? You’ve passed out from heat, someone calls for emergency medical services… those paramedics WILL NOT TAKE THE TIME TO UNWRAP YOU! YOU WILL BE CUT OUT OF YOUR KIMONO AND OBI. Absolute worst case, okay? It could happen.
Here are some basic examples of summer wear (you WILL need proper under garments and juban for light colored kimono like this!) A synthetic ro komon and a double sided hanhaba obi. (If the links are broken, the items are no longer available, sorry!)
Close up of the ro weave.
Open weave, Ro komon wish fish scale design.
A double sided hanhaba that could be used year ’round with informal kimono and yukata.
This upcoming weekend, August 24th-26th 2018, Columbus Kimono will be at Matsuricon in Columbus Ohio. We will have one panel Friday night on the topic of Geisha in the modern world. I am planning to wear an incredibly boring drab brown summer kimono. But that sucker is some sort of natural magic fiber and is soooo comfy! Actually it’s kinda raw and itchy, but will keep me moderately cool in August in Ohio so please enjoy my ugly kimono (though we did order nice new geta made with bamboo mat so yippee new shoes.) In an effort to stay hydrated I’ll finish up my stamp card at the bubble tea shop.