Let’s imagine you are going out for lunch with your friends and also you’re invited to a party. You’re going to the theater to see a musical.
And you are willing to wear a kimono!
Then what kind of kimono will you pick to wear for these different occasions? Is there any particular kimono which can be worn from casual and informal to a semi-formal occasion?
Yes there is, a versatile, multipurpose kimono exists! And it’s called ‘Komon’.
Komon is written as “小紋” in Japanese, and it means – small prints or marks. It doesn’t mean that komon should always have small prints or patterns on the fabric. What is a typical and remarkable aspect of komon is the repeated patterns all over the fabric. When you take a good look at “Homon-gi kimono”, you can see the typical aspect of komon more clearly. The motifs of homon-gi don’t repeat all over the fabric but are located in just a few spots such as the hem and shoulders.
On the other hand, the motifs or patterns of komon, cover the whole fabric and usually run in the same direction. The patterns in it are widely varied and can consist of unique and playful designs such as stripes, dots or geometric patterns which you mightn’t see in the more formal kimonos. Komon can mostly be divided into 3 different types depending on the dyeing techniques used; Edo-Komon, Kyo-Komon and Kaga-Komon.
Edo-Komon is representative of a semi-formal komon due to the pattern which usually consists of many tiny dots. These tiny dots can make it look like a solid colored kimono from a distance, similar to “Iro-muji kimono” – one of the formal kimonos.
As mentioned above, komon is a kimono which is more or less considered as casual or informal. Therefore, it is a perfect choice for everyday wear. You can wear it when you go shopping, when you meet up with your friends for lunch or even when you are at home. Additionally, It is also suitable for semi-formal occasions such as casual parties or events such as going to the theater to listen to classical music or attending a tea party. However, you might need to keep in mind that there are a few rules and considerations when you wear komon to a semi-formal occasion. The fabric type is a good example, wool is considered more casual than silk so you had better wear komon with silk for a semi-formal look. Also, elegant and gorgeous patterned komon and obi with silver or gold accents are more preferred for semi-formal scene.
To sum up, a combination of komon and obi is a very important key to being casual and semi-formal or to dress down and dress up. It means that it can be worn for casual events with casual a obi and for semi-formal events with a gorgeous and elegant obi preferably with silver or gold accents. It’s an interesting and fun process to think about combinations and coordination of komon and obi but is also difficult, especially for a kimono beginner. I give you the basic rules of combining komon and obi and simple examples from my own coordination.
For a casual occasion… casual komon (wool or ones with a casual pattern) han-haba (half width) obi or Nagoya obi.
For example, I wore an orange wool komon with a flower motif together with han-haba obi which I always put together with Yukata when I visited my grandmother’s house during the winter.
For a semi-formal occasion… elegant and gorgeous patterned komon + elegant Nagoya obi, simple fukuro-obi or less elegant decorations or modern patterned Fukuro-obi.
For example, I wore a pink Edo-komon with same pattern (very tiny dot pattern which looks like a sharks skin) for my cousin’s casual wedding party together with a gorgeous flower motif obi with silver thread, which is usually paired with Furisode.
As you can see, you can more freely combine komon and obi compared with more formal kimonos as long as you follow some basic rules. It is a versatile kimono and it is very convenient and useful to have for everyday life with kimono. However, don’t forget that you cannot wear it to a formal event at all, even if you combine it with the most elegant and gorgeous obi.
From Kyushu, Japan, based in Germany. Obsessed with the beauty of kimono. Wearing my grandmothers’ and mother’s kimonos when I go back to Japan is becoming a routine activity. I especially love the unique and cute antique kimonos!