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The History and Influence of Kimonos in the Modern World

May 22, 2019

women wearing traditional kimonos in Japan

The beauty of kimonos cannot be denied. They display a quality of elegance and beauty as well as pay great respect to nature and the Earth. Continue reading to learn about the history of kimonos, as well as how they are worn today, and how you can purchase your own kimono!

Kimonos first came into existence over 1,000 years ago in Japan during the Heian period. Originally worn with hakama, or big, flowing trousers, it quickly became fashionable to wear them without. This, however, made it difficult to wear them just by themselves. Enter the obi – the thick sash worn around the waist, and an icon of the kimono fashion. Soon, kimonos went from traditional garb to everyday clothing, specifically during the Kamakura period, and spawned other versions, such as a yukata, or summer kimono! 

women wearing traditional kimonos in Japan in 1940s and 1950s

Via Lost Color Library: Left - A woman wearing a traditional kimono and haori set in the 1940s. Right - A couple in 1953, she is wearing a Meisen silk kimono. 

Eventually, the kimono began to fall a little out of fashion during the Meiji period spanning from October 23, 1868 to July 30, 1912, where Japan was first seeing influences of western clothing and culture. Nevertheless, the kimono and its roots has certainly never disappeared; rather, the rest of the world became more interested in this versatile piece of clothing, and it launched new fashion trends.

Paris, in particular, caught on to the look of kimonos – they took the piece and envisioned it in a new way, bringing a breezy, lounge-like edge to it. Silk, sheer robes became a fashion staple in the early 1900’s, and, during the 1920’s, designers drew inspiration from both the kimono and the robe to create gorgeous Japanese-styled dresses.

Modern versions of the kimono occur where you may least expect it – chances are, you have a kimono in your home and not even realize it! Not sure what we mean? Look no further than your bathroom – the bathrobe is technically considered a style of kimono, as it shares the collar shape and tie-around aspects!

woman wearing modern kimono cardigan

Many clothing worn outside the bathroom also draw from kimonos. Wide sleeves on shirts and dresses are considered kimono sleeves, and were quite popular during the 80’s and 90’s. Today, silk kimono vests and shawls are popular for the summertime, with flower patterns and tassels added to create a more carefree, hippie vibe. Check out our exclusive line of kimono cardigans made from vintage Indian Silk Saris.

kimono cardigan made from vintage Indian silk sari exclusively at this

If you’ve never worn a kimono before, consider checking out our store for a huge selection of gorgeous, vintage kimonos and kimono cardigans. We believe that once you get into a kimono, you most likely won’t want to get out of it!

vintage silk kimono robe with silk obiage sash from

Have you worn a kimono before, whether traditional or modern? What do you like to pair with kimono-styled clothing? Let us know in the comments!


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