It might be the renewed sense of clarity that being at home with my mother's delish food has granted me that I'm suddenly remembering long-forgotten wardrobe aims and I'm wondering why this hasn't cropped up on the blog beforehand, even though it is blindingly obvious and has been simmering on the scummy surface of my brain for ages.  Long before this blog even begun, when I was buried in JSTOR papers at the UCL library, I had always always meant to buy some sort of kimono robe – preferably vintage, preferably fraying and preferably a bit faded – to wear as a spring coat.  As the cold snap is easing away (no coat today, just scarf – yay!) I'm sniffing spring already and so this stop-and-start search continues.  It's a protracted long-arse search that always seems to falter at some hurdle or an other.  I have been checking out my usual kimono haunts all these years – Beyond Retro (they have a rail of semi-decent robes), Annie's Vintage, Alfie's Antique Market and back in the day, Steinberg & Tolkien (blub blub blub…it's gone), every time I do remember my ongoing search and somehow, something always goes awry; too expensive, too lightweight, too short, too garish, too err…Chinese (?!?!) and just not quite right.  I can't quite articulate how this imaginary kimono spring coat needs to be.  I'm not even sure if I'm all that concerned with actual authenticity, (advanced apologies to all those kimono-know-it-alls out there who might saliently point out that the ones below are not in fact kimonos).  There's something in the type of pattern, the colours, the length, the weight of fabric and the cut that needs to be just so.  I'll definitely know it when I see it. 

It doesn't help that every now and again in this six year period of searching for this kimono that I get ickle reminders that once again fuels the search… a certain Olsen stepping out in one with some jeans, lingerie/nightwear-filled editorials, the 'Oriental' spin that filters down every now and then from the catwalks and thus creating numerous spin-offs on the high street, the Moss doing one for Topshop and lately The very stylish Glamourai utilising vintage kimono fabric to create wraps for Shrimpton Couture

Sadly, none of these work as satisfying alternatives and they only make me pile even more criteria on to tick all the boxes of this dreamt-up kimono.

eBay is no help these days either, with the search term 'kimono' spawning generic robes that are flogged in Chinese tourist destinations.  I've found a few possibilities on Etsy below but even then I'm umming and aaahing over the deets.  I'm hoping 2010 will bring this search to a close and even better if it comes in the first quarter of the year so that I can get some 'spring' wear out of it, pairing it with layers of loose thing jersey vests, selection of vintage slips, loose leather trousers, and some sculptural shoes. This is of course only a projected outfit that requires some readjustment once said kimono actually comes into my hands.  I may need a dose of my mother's food regularly throughout the year to keep this cause in mind and bring this to a satisfactory end.

(From top to bottom: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)

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Comments (39)

  1. Kamicha says:

    Hmm, I definitely love them, especially the first one – and the idea of using it as a quite casual overlayer. Maybe even a mousy-haired caucasian could do that (hmmm). And I guess that I can get what you mean, personally I’m quite into all kind of handworks (lace, knits, traditional costumes, or usually just parts of them), but I’m not necessarily searching for the most astonishing or authentic ones, I’m searching for those that speak to my sense of aesthetics. And it works exactly like that, I know when I see it.
    Cause I happen to know (as a long time reader) that you are probably a person who can distinguish a good chip from a sloppy one, I’m asking this totally irrelevant question: where to go for a really good fish & chips in London? 🙂

  2. dominique says:

    love the kimono!!!
    my blog dominique-ernest.blogspot.com
    xoxo

  3. Kamicha says:

    When I look it further, I’m getting especially interested in haori jackets – beautiful shape and many interesting designs, unisex ones have more subdued palette. But I have to say that I love also those pale, saturated, very Asian hues. But would not go for full blown dragon design, either…

  4. Jaime says:

    I’m loving the peacock kimono… gorgeous, Suzie!
    Love,
    Jaime
    http://denimdebutante.com

  5. S says:

    Gorgeous kimonos!! And they look so comfy.
    S
    http://notjustmedical.wordpress.com

  6. WendyB says:

    Ah, I once got a nice Ossie Clark tweed coat from Steinberg & Tolkien.

  7. Hewnly says:

    I adore kimonos!!!

  8. kim says:

    I picked up a yukata (cotton summer kimono-y thing) in Kyoto which I use as a robe in the summer. The sleeves can be a bit tricky though. In your list here I really like #3, a shorter one would be more versatile I think (and I just fell in love with the pattern)

  9. I’ve been thinking the same ever since I blogged that Jak and Jil picture of Catherine Baba wearing one under a velvet cape – they look fantastic aged and worn with a certain insousiance.

  10. The first one is a must have. I love the watercolor-y print. I’m excited to see how you would style the kimono you would end up getting. 😀
    -meream

  11. KD says:

    I love love LOVE the last one!

  12. its always a pleasure to visit your blog!
    its better than a fashion magazine! an enriching experience…
    love your sense of fashion!
    a big hug!
    xx
    from méxico with lovee!!
    maría vogel
    http://mariavogel.blogspot.com/

  13. daphne says:

    WOW. The last one is unbelievable. Almost looks Russian. The one with the embroidered peacock is incredible and the 6th- my mom actually owns one exactly like that, but with a light murky green background instead of that blue. It’s gorgeous and one of those pieces I’ve been looking at and adoring all my life. She was a performer and always wore it in her dressing rooms. She still has it and it’s in the exact condition you described- faded and a bit ragged at the edges. But still glorious. Some day I’ll steal it!

  14. kat says:

    wow, they’re all amazing, but i really like the last one. it’s stunning! 🙂

  15. Carina says:

    The third and fifth kimonos are my favorite…wow! you’re already talking abou spring! Winter has barely begun for me
    **
    http://carina-big-love.blogspot.com

  16. i wouldn’t mind wearing them as pjs but i know they’d crease badly >_<

  17. I love the first one and the one with the embroidered peacock. I’d love to see how you’d wear and style your own kimono when you find one that is right for you. Seeing the Glamourai really made me itch for a kimono because she wears them so creatively and makes them look so cool, but I’ve never found one that I really liked or that wasn’t super expensive. Maybe one day…

  18. Yahaira says:

    i want a Kimono so bad. great post.
    the print on the first one is beautiful and the colors are magical.
    i also love the ikat flower blue ground kimono, that seems more casual perhaps as a show stopper day jacket. 🙂
    http://myyahaira.blogspot.com

  19. mikodesu says:

    I personally prefer the solid blue (I loved the color of the lining and the texture of the fabric) and the light blue with what looked like ikat-inspired prints. I’d wear either… But I definitely see you the MOST in that short one covered in blossoming flowers. The colors are so vibrant and I can see you wearing them with your michael angel tights.

  20. Eline says:

    Oh god, I want a kimono so bad too! I can’t even remember HOW long I’ve wanted one, I cannot remember a time that I didn’t want one! I’m going to Japan in 2 years if all goes right and I’m thinking of saving up for one that’s not too fancy.

  21. Carla says:

    i am frustrated in the kimono department as well. bought one and it turned out to be some weird jumpsuit (huh?…..). good luck with finding the perfect one.

  22. Tomorrow says:

    You have inspired me! I have two yukatas (cotton kimonos) at home and I will have to fish them out to wear.
    This is the point in every persons comment when they dictate to you which is their favourite! But I am not going to do that because I do not have a favourite! I am just simply in love with them all!
    Brilliant post susie!

  23. I love the print on the third one. Not so sure how warm it will keep you but I suppose we all suffer in the name of fashion! Happy New Year Susie x

  24. rollergirl says:

    Ooooh! The 1st and 3rd ones are phenomenal. I bet Amanda Harlech and Daphne Guinness wear kimonos as housecoats. Well, I’d like to think so… Fred Butler gives good kimono too, where does she get hers from???

  25. JT says:

    such an amazing prints…

  26. abigail stern says:

    i adore kimonos & yukatas as well…..i wear my fav blue & white yukata every day as a robe, but want to find ways to wear out of house as well….here’s one of my paintings incorporating a yukata…..http://www.abigailstern.com/id298.htm

  27. I love the color and the pattern design of the last photo. It’s very beautiful.

  28. Shelley says:

    The print on the third one is beautiful and it would probably be a bit easier to wear because of the length–sigh, it would end up being something lovely to look at in my closet because I wouldn’t have the nerve to wear it. You, on the other hand, can wear anything, and I can just picture you in a pretty pastel-coloured one over your many layers!

  29. Lisa Gilby says:

    Hi Suzy,
    In the spirit of Christmas giving, I really enjoy your blog. I live in Tokyo and know more than a little about kimono. If you want me to point you to any reputable eBay sellers I will be MORE than happy to. Just email me 🙂
    Best,
    Lisa

  30. susie_bubble says:

    Rollergirl: I’ll have to ask her!
    Lisa: Don’t worry, I think this will be a case of buying the kimono in person what with my picky tastes…

  31. maria says:

    breathless!! totally in love.

  32. bird says:

    wOw… these are gorgeous. like something you’d see in heaven. so ethereal. hmmm, if had to wear one thing for the rest of my life…

  33. cloudtea says:

    Happy New Year!
    I love love love kimono. The fabric of the third one is GORGEOUS. It’s called meisen, and for some reason, meisen kimono mostly seem to have a real 50’s kind of vibe. Suzy, try Kimono Flea Market Ichiroya online. I have bought several things from them over the last couple of years, and they are really reliable and their site is clear and well put together. Lots of photos, and prices good.

  34. trevo says:

    i know what you mean, for year i have been after the “perfect” vintage kimono, nice details not to tacky or ott, good quality silk and well made, and like yourself i think there are so so many mass made crap like everything else!
    i think the best idea is to rob one from a museum lol
    im sure if you’d ask the V&A nicely they would lol!!!
    i love love the 4th and 6th kimono!
    think is if i did find the perfect one i would most likely frame it and not wear it!

  35. Aster says:

    You can find hundreds of gorgeous vintage Japanese proper kimonos and haoris and obis too at http://www.wafuku.co.uk
    They are in UK but all the kimonos are Japanese and really amazing. They have so many. I got some there.
    I love Style Bubble. So many gorgeous and strange things.

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