“Kimono” - a word that has crossed nations, borders and languages to become one of the best known Japanese words. Nowadays the word has transcended its true meaning to be used to refer to various items of clothing. It is most commonly used to refer to what others may call a dressing gown or robe.
So what is a Kimono?
A kimono is a traditional garment which comes in a variety of prints and designs. The patterns and motifs on a kimono were used to communicate the wearer’s status, political ties, personality and virtues. Traditionally made from fibres such as lined, hemp and silk, the Kimono was once worn as an everyday item of clothing. Following increasing craft expertise and layering of the Kimono, it then became a garment which was a work of art and was passed on from one generation to the next within families.
Kimono vs Yukata
What is more commonly worn in Japan nowadays is a Yukata. A Yukata is a more lightweight version of the Kimono sitting between a breezy summer dress, robe and Kimono making it ideal for the warmer summer months. The name Yukata - translates to bathing cloth which it was originally used for. Similar to bathing gown or dressing gown in the west, the Yukata was used by bathers tub hopping at the local bathhouse. Nowadays the garment is worn by both men and women during the summer months for festivals and more casual events.
Is that different to a Kimono Robe?
A Kimono style robe draws inspiration from the Yukata with the main difference being in the way it is tied. While a Yukata still requires a wearer to use an obi belt over the fold similar to the way in which a Kimono is tied. A Kimono style robe on the other hand utilises a simple tie belt around the waist to secure the garment, similar to a dressing gown or robe. Because of its simplicity a Kimono style robe can be worn by both men and women and is quite versatile.
Why do you need a Kimono Style Robe?
1. It is usually made of lightweight material
As it draws inspiration from the Yukata, Kimono style robes are generally made from very lightweight materials such as cotton or synthetic polyesters. This makes it perfect for the warmer months to lounge in at home or for layering over other outfits. It makes it easier for the robe to be paired with other accessories without coming across as too bulky or cluttered.
2. It’s perfect for lounging in
The Kimono style robe is made for comfort, so lounging is its primary use. It's a one piece garment that most people would opt to have in silk, satin or a soft cotton to ensure maximum comfort. Because of its comfort and ease of getting on and off a kimono style robe is popular as a getting ready robe. Women may choose to get their hair and makeup done while wearing the robe prior to putting on an outfit before heading out. The Kimono style robe has also become popular with brides while getting ready with their bridal party on their wedding day for this very reason.
3. It can be worn over other outfits
The Kimono style robe doesn’t have to be limited to your home. After all, the very initial forms of the Kimono were worn open with no obi belt or tie. Because of the simplistic design of the Kimono style robe and the variety that it comes in, it can be easily paired with casual or dressier outfits. For warmer months it allows for a bit of light coverage and in cooler months a robe with heavier material and longer length can be used for some warmth.
4. They come in a variety of designs
The Kimono Style robe has evolved greatly through the years and can be found in a variety of lengths, prints, patterns, and designs. Shorter designs can be found and are perfect for summer months over shorts. Depending on the season and your needs, midi and maxi length robes can also be found. Designs may now also include trimmings, pockets and other design features along the sleeves and collar of the robe.
5. You can make it a statement piece
Wearing a printed Kimono style robe is a quicksmart way to spice up an outfit. It can help make a simple jeans and t-shirt combo stand out with a pop of colour. Depending on your style it can be used for layering and help dress up or down an outfit easily. Either way it is a stylish addition to any wardrobe.
With all these reasons, it's no wonder the Kimono Style robe has grown in popularity since its origins and evolved so much through the years. Its versatility, simplicity and elegance makes it a must have.
Also read about the difference between Kimonos, Kaftans and Robes.