Japanese Fashion Designs - Part VII

June 10, 2010

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So then the samurai kimono was the basic clothing fashion design item in a samurai's 'everyday' wardrobe. For men it normally consisted of an outer and inner layer. In the latter Heian period, such outfits of silk were called kariginu, which literally means "hunting silk" often translated as "hunting robe" and those of hemp cloth were called hoi. Silk was the preferred material, considered superior to cotton and hemp. By one hand its appearance and consistence were better, and by the other it felt relatively cooler in the hot Japanese summer. It was adapted by the "fashion designers" of the samurai elite in the mediaeval era as their most formal outfit.

During the Muromachi Period new ways of wearing clothes fashion designs came about and women ceased wearing hakama on a regular basis and their robes reached ankle length. A number of strange ways of wearing robes began to be fashionable, including over the head as a veil. The hitatare, the two-piece costume, comparably flowing and ample, court robe of samurai became formal wear, and the kataginu, made of silk was also developed for men in this period. Kataginu's wide shoulder's purpose appears to be to project image of authority. The hitatare and the suo, a crested linen robe designed for everyday wear were characterized by V-shaped necklines.

Naturally, the quality of a kimono a given samurai might wear largely depended on his personal station and income. Also women of samurai families tended to wear kimono layers and colours dependant upon the station and/or power of their husband. Older samurai tended towards shades of gray or brown, in keeping with their dignified age.

During the winter "fashion designs" of heavier kimonos were worn, while in the summer lighter examples (those made of finer silk, for instance) were worn.

Traditionally on the 1st day of the Fourth Month there was a ceremonial day where winter kimonos were exchanged for their summer counterparts.

For rainy days, samurai wore raincoats like everyone else. They were made out of straw (kappa) and availed themselves of folding umbrellas (which looked rather like Victorian era parasols, complete with decoration).

Footwear generally consisted of sandals (waraji), made from various sorts of material, including straw, hemp, and cotton thread, and wooden clogs (geta). Although samurai wore them from time to time these clogs were generally associated with the lower classes (geisha, for instance, and kabuki actors are often depicted wearing geta). Bearskin boots were at one time popular, especially with armor, but by the 16th Century had come to be considered archaic.

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