The kimono is a multifaceted garment that bears witness to centuries of history in its fabric. Although ancient and associated with Japan, it remains a global timeless piece. The Japanese kimono was able to establish itself in fashion since the Edo period (1600-1868).
At first, the kimono was derived from a Chinese garment. It was then poorly adapted to the Japanese climate. The Japanese would then appropriate it: they completely redesigned it, it was worn in a rather restrictive way, the collar was moved slightly backwards, thus allowing the nape of the women's neck to be freed. It is also important to note that the Japanese kimono is both a male and a female garment. No matter who wears it, the Japanese kimono suits everyone! While the traditional Japanese kimono is worn by both sexes, the only difference is in the uses, ornaments, colors and accessories.
The kimono is most often considered as a whole piece of garment that is a simple robe. While it may be true to a certain extent, the term actually refers to the entire outfit rather than just one piece of clothing. The outfit consists of intricate parts to make up the kimono. Let’s take a look at some of the names of the main parts:
Sode (袖) refers to the sleeves of the kimono. The sodeguchi (袖口) is the armhole, and the sodetsuke (袖つけ) refers to the inner armhole of the garment. Kimono sleeves can come in a few different lengths. It’s believed that the longer and brighter sleeves are worn by younger maidens. The simpler sleeve styles, usually black and normal length, should be worn by married or older women.
The lower part of the sleeve that’s unsewn is known as the furi (振), which can be swung about freely. Performers like kabuki actors take advantage of this form of the kimono for their acts. There’s also a hidden pouch inside the furi part of the sleeve known as the tamoto (袂).
Only on the female kimono, there’s a small opening under the sleeve called the miyatsu-kuchi (宮津口) for the female kimono. This is used to adjust the fit of the kimono.
Eri (襟) refers to the kimono collar. The ura-eri (裏襟) is the inner lining part of the collar while the tomo-eri (とも襟) is the top piece of fabric,used as a protecting part that’s easily replaceable ifstained or damaged.
The inner lining of the kimono is called the do-ura (銅羅). In a female kimono, it’s usually a simple lining. The male kimono is often seen with more decorative patterns. This comes from the concept from ancient times where the men would flaunt their wealth based on the inner lining of the kimono. The lower lining has a different name called the suso-mawashi (裾回し).
Also known as the grown-on sleeve in some pattern-cutting books, basically it is formed by creating the body of a garment and the sleeve from the same continuous piece of fabric rather than separate bodice and sleeve pieces with a seam line running along the top of the sleeve as well as underneath to join the back and front. A close fitting kimono or grown-on sleeve variation may also include a gusset panel under the arm. This is a diamond shaped piece of fabric which allows for ease of movement.
The kimono sleeve style became incredibly popular throughout the 1950’s and into the early 1960’s. Garments and sewing patterns featured a variety of lengths of kimono or grown-on sleeves, from the tiniest cap sleeve variation, to ¾ lengths and longer, with and without the underarm gusset; and as you can see by these images certainly looked a million miles from what many would imagine a garment with ‘kimono sleeves’ to look like!