Sunday, May 22, 2011

Formal dress


The dress code for the party was "formal." So we all compared notes and decided it would be a good time to wear kimonos. As a married woman, for most formal occasions, I wear what is called a "houmongi," or "visiting dress." It's a kimono with standard length sleeves, and a large pattern that is either dyed or embroidered (tradition dictates that formal kimonos have large printed or embroidered patterns. Small printed patterns and woven patterns are considered less formal, even though they sometimes are more expensive. I guess it's like a JCrew cocktail dress being more affordable than a pair of Chanel jeans).

Of course, I do not own a houmongi (or a small print kimono or a woven pattern kimono, or for that matter, a JCrew cocktail dress or Chanel jeans), so I rented one. And I did not know how to dress myself in it, so I went to my trusty hairdresser (some Japanese hairdressers are also licensed kimono dressers). She did my hair and makeup, and then padded me in towels and gauze until I was the right shape (the design of the kimono is such that you want to be as cylindrical as possible) and then proceeded to strangle me dress me in my (OK, the dress shop's) beautiful kimono.

The sash, or obi is just as important, if not more so, than the kimono. The best are pure silk, and are frequently more expensive than the kimono. The way it is tied reflects your age social status. This plain flat tie shows I am an married lady.

Hair is always done up, although these days, most people (including me) get it done the way you would do for evening dresses.

Please don't ask me how I'm supposed to go to the toilet in this thing. Fortunately nor not, I didn't need to.


Annie Crow said...

Beautiful! But I'm glad that's not something I'll ever have to wear. (I'm always having to go to the bathroom.)

D. said...

Beautiful kimono! ^_^
I've always wondered about the toilet affair too, did you found out how you were suppose to go?

pumpkinmommy said...

Anne, I'm the person everyone teases as having a hamster bladder. I did hold off on the fluid intake until the food was served, but didn't really hold back once it was, so I was really surprised. When I went home and took everything off, all the towels and undergarments were soaked, so that may be where some of the water went.

D. thank you so much for stopping by! If you've got my style of kimono, with the standard length sleeves, it's pretty straightforward if not easy. You go into the stall and turn the bottom half of the outfit, complete with the undergarments, inside out as far as it will go (think of flipping a long pencil skirt inside out over your waist and torso) and go about your business. If you've got the below-knee length sleeves like young single women wear, you stash a few clothespins in your purse and pin your sleeves up around your wrists, and then you turn it all over like everyone else.

My friend (young single woman) said it took her 15 minutes to get in and out of the ladies' room. And there was no line.