Understanding the Kimono Obi

Understanding the Kimono Obi

The traditional kimono is a staple wardrobe piece in Japanese culture. but understanding the Kimono Obi and it’s importance in completing the look is crucial. The long fitting robes with their trademark wide sleeves are incredibly versatile and often worn all year round – thicker fabrics with plenty of layers in the winter and more lightweight materials in the summer.

When finding the right kimono, however, it’s important to acknowledge the importance of the obi. This is a long, decorative piece of fabric that is used as a belt to go with the kimono. It has no formal fastening and is secured in a bow or decorative knot. The obi can be crafted from a range of fabrics including silk, polyester, cotton and linen. There are also different types of obi designed for different occasions and purposes. It’s important to get the etiquette of the obi right or you run the risk of devaluing the whole outfit.

So, what exactly do you need to understand when it comes to pairing the obi with the kimono and really nailing the look?

Understanding the Kimono Obi to Compliment

It’s important to understand that there are different types of obis. The differences may seem subtle to the untrained eye but they are not created equal. Certain obis are designed to match with certain kimonos – for example the Hanhaba obi is a thinner fabric intended to be worn with a summertime Yukata kimono.

A Nagoya obi should never be paired with a Furisode kimono and this creates a look that is unsavoury in Japanese culture. A Maru obi is a more formal piece designed for weddings or Geiko celebrations. A Fukuro is also crafted from heavy material for a more formal look but this is more multi-purpose than the Maru. So from this brief overview you can see just how many types of obi there are and how there are certain etiquettes involved in when and how to wear them.

Clashing of prints

From a western perspective, the idea of clashing bold prints may feel a little daunting. But this is something that you shouldn’t worry about when pairing an obi and a kimono. In fact, the bolder and brasher the better! Intricate designs layered on top of one another are a thing to be celebrated in Japanese culture, regardless as to whether the patterns and colours seem at odds with one another. So don’t be afraid to experiment. Floral, geometric, animal print…anything goes here so have fun and make the most of the freedom!

Tying your obi

Understanding the Kimono Obi and how to Secure your obi in a bow or decorative knot is an art form in itself and one that may take a while to master. Professional kimono dressers exist for this very reason! Once again, the way in which you secure your obi can have different meanings and interpretations. The Fukura-suzume musubi, for example, is a knot that is only worn by unmarried women. There are many more styles and variations of folding the obi but each has a different purpose and meaning so it’s worth researching this to avoid making any unfortunate faux pas in your attire.

Kimono Accessories – Obis

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