I need to understand kimono layers. Help?

1 min read
blix-it's avatar
By blix-it
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I'm such a bad manga fan. And a bad fan of other cultures' clothing?!? But I mean I'm not just drawing a thing, I'm needing to write a description of a thing! OH I'M SO AWKWARD. DX *sob* So I'm hoping someone here will be able to help me. I'm googling, but am failing to come up with the correct keywords and kind of need to solve the mystery sooner rather than later.

SO I know that layers are typical, though not so much now with centralized heat and air.

I'm looking at these photos and wondering what these three robes are, what are their various functions are, if they're worn beneath other type of robe??

This specific query deals with Japanese robes, but oh I would so love descriptions or references of similar robes from Korea, Mongolia, China, Thailand, Cambodia .... I know that time periods have different garments, I'm most interested in what is commonly found today.
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anonymous's avatar
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NoChristmasJokesPlz's avatar
I have a friend who's a HUGE kitsuke (I think that's the right word...) buff. She's *shatterscope if you want to shoot her a message?
frzndrknes's avatar
Hope this can help.
AGarmentOfWings's avatar
(Blix: I'm no expert; I've had no training, and I don't wear it in a non-costume-y context. This is a giant info-dump based on what I've picked up during research/by hanging around people who do wear kimono properly. I make no guarantee of accuracy. )

first, some links:
Here's a how to wear link that shows putting on women's clothing (starting from under-layer): [link]

List of things needed to wear modern kimono: [link]
or: [link]
(personal opinion: the blog entry shows what you really _need_ to get the look; the store's page shows what is traditionally used)

.... is a good place to start research. I recommend the bottom 5 subforums (dressing x2, glossary, types of.., time/place).

my general impression is that a lot of traditional clothing is not "commonly found today" outside of ceremonial contexts.

Answering your questions with questions:
what photos? ( can't describe something I can't see; so, posting a link to the pictures you're looking at would help.)
"3 layers" (again, a link to picture you're looking at would help or even just a description).

Are you looking for terms for modern/recent kimono? If not, what era? (when I hear "layers", I think Juunihitoe "12 layer robes" worn in Heian era Japan)

If you don't have a specific photo/set of photos:
What is the season?
What is the level of formality?
Gender and age of wearer (and, if female: marital status)?

In general:
lined=colder weather
certain weaves ("ro" and "sha", which are ligher and more open)=warmer weather
more layers=more formal (and/or colder weather ^_^).
additional purpose of underlayers: to keep the expensive, hard to clean outer layer away from sweat
a lot of plant motifs are seasonal; it's kind of frowned upon to wear flowers past the time they have bloomed (unless in a print with flowers from a different season), though this is often relaxed now, since most people can't afford lots of different kimono.

The "ideal" shape for kimono is a cylinder. since most women are not cylinders, there is a certain amount of binding (do a search on "kimono bra") and padding (pad out waist with towels or similar) that goes on behind the scenes.

the nape of the neck is considered sexy.

here are some terms (though, again, I'm really curious to see what you're looking at):
haori (jacket that can be worn over kimono)

juban (under-kimono): can be either hadajuban (long, 1-piece) or a 2 piece (top + wrap-skirt); for most kimono, the collar of juban should show underneath the kimono collar (unless it's yukata).
I've seen hadajuban (top)+susoyoke(wrap-skirt) used to refer to 2 piece juban, or (like in the link I've included) used to refer to a layer worn under the juban.

easy-collar (don't remember Japanese word for this): false collar worn to make it seem like there is a layer; not attached to kimono; typically, to get a nice dip in the back of the neckline, there is a piece of cloth sewn to the back that attaches to ties going around the waist (keeps it from sliding forward).

dounuki: second layer of kimono (worn between kimono and juban); wrapped _with_ the kimono; not as common nowadays; this was done with formal outfits in winter

some kimono have a false layer sewn in at the collar and sometimes also the hem to imitate the look of wearing kimono+dounuki

yukata: lightweight summer kimono; very informal.
geta: wooden sandals; informal

zori: more formal than geta; vinyl seems to be a really common material now; the ones for rain have a toe cover.
tabi: the socks ("foot mittens")
obi: the wide sash (there are different types)
obijime: that cord-thing that gets tied over it
obiage: scar-ish-thing that is near the top of the obi (if obi is tied in "drum knot", the obiage is used to hide the obimakura (obi pillow) that helps puff out the back of the knot.
various ties (koshihimo (himo="string")) are used to keep things closed/in place
obi-ita: board that give the front of the obi a nice, smooth appearance (cheap cheat: thin cardboard)
ohashori: that fold visible below the obi

hakama: pleated skirt or pants

kimono for dance wear often have false layers... because you don't want to get too hot while exerting yourself.

Kimono evolved from ancient Chinese clothing (when the Japanese were in cultural contact with China, they adopted (among other things) the writing system and similar clothing; then they changed the clothing to suit local tastes, climate, etc.) Ancient Chinese clothing in general is referred to as "hanfu". Look varied a lot throughout the different historical periods.
Traditional Korean clothing is "hanbok". All I know is: pleated skirt is tied really high up. Binding is used to compress the bust.
Majnouna's avatar
Also, there may be useful links in the Costumers Manifesto: [link]
gizemko3's avatar
chyba miałam kiedyś w jakimś czasopiśmie opisane ładnie wszystkie elementy kimona włącznie z metodą zakładania. jeśli nadal potrzebujesz, to poszukam i zeskanuję :)
Lergahin's avatar
Maybe this tumblr could help you : [link] the owner is really nice and you can ask her questions =)
Majnouna's avatar
I gathered an entire library of books to answer that question ( I was researching world costume for a long time) and I have a back-burner ambition to make references for precisely this purpose, but bah, I'm not of much use right now :( I hope you'll find answers on the net. But I can recommend books if it's a long-term need.
Slipping-Star's avatar


Both very long, but all of your answers can be found in here on kimono. As far as Chinese and stuff, I suggest looking up "-insert dress title here- tutorial" on here. That's how I found those.
QueenGwenevere's avatar
If it helps at all, here's some pages I found useful when researching a Heian era kimono... (one demonstrates dressing dolls, but the layers are all shown pretty clearly.)


Honestly, I had trouble finding much info, at least for the Heian era. :/
xCanesGalacticax's avatar
The book Okimono Kimono could be of use to you. It is written by the ladies at CLAMP, if I recall correctly and goes into a little bit of detail (through interviews) about kimono wearing in Japan today. Lots of pictures, too. It may not be detailed enough for your purposes though.

Charanty's avatar
Han Chinese clothing: [link]

Here is an explanation on kimono: [link]
More on kimono: [link]
And even more: [link]

Mongolian traditional clothes: [link](clothing)
I've found a ton of various interesting stuff, it has mongolian clothes in there: [link]

Thai traditional clothes: [link]

Korean traditional clothes: [link]
Superficial-Flummox's avatar
Since everyone else said something useful already, I'm just going to say:
I once saw this thing for modern kimono to emulate the look of layers without having to wear them (bulky/hot and all), which was basically just a big collar to wear around the neck. It sounded ingenious.
BrittanyMichel's avatar
Here's the Wiki link for Kimonos [link]

This one is more Geshia oriented (lots of pictures!)
watashiveracasan's avatar
I had searched on wiki and other sites and learned about Japanese kimonos traditionally...
There's a lightweight yukata worn underneath all other kimonos. The 2nd layer is another kind of kimono, and the outer most layer kimono is the most expensive and heavyweight. There's a fabric that goes under the obi to hold it in place and to keep it from digging too painfully into the wearer. Then there's the obi itself and special cords that go around it to hold it in place (not always needed).
Most kimonos consist of 3 layers, but some are 5. Summer kimonos ususally are 1 or 2 layers due to the heat, and are usually yukata, not actual kimono. Yukata alone are tied with a thinner set obi.
Long sleeves are for women who are married, I believe, and men have shorter sleeves and plainer designs. Most to all designs on kimono relate to nature- namely plants. (check up the sleeves thing, I might have that wrong).

I recall for marriage in India, they wear red robes similar to kimonos for the woman getting married.
Death kimonos in Japan are traditionally white, and usually appear to be regular yukata but are expensive white kimono.

Also for kimonos in Japan, the way it's folded matters. If its folded going to the left or right, signifies life or death. Only when you're dead does it go one way. I can't remember which way is which though ^^;
ah-kaziya's avatar
If I'm recalling my Japanese classes correctly (it's been 8 years), describing as the one wearing the kimono, you put the left over the right for life and the right over the left for death. [link] is an example of the left-over-right style.
watashiveracasan's avatar
That sounds right~ :D Thank you ^^
Animus-Panthera's avatar
Well there's LOTS of different types of kimono and the number of layers varies depending on the type. As a general rule more formal kimono have more layers, although that's not a hard and fast rule. I suggest things like "how to put on a kimono" and honestly, Wikipedia is pretty accurate when it comes to clothing and fashion. For the names of different types of clothing, I'd start with Wiki (try "[insert country here] clothing"), then use those names to further research specific types. If you want to know how it all works then "how to put on" guides are generally the best- otherwise you just tend to end up with pictures of what it looks like when completely on.
anonymous's avatar
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