There are many people who are interested in or intrigued by kimono, the traditional Japanese dress. However, many also are unaware of which kimono and yukata are nice, or even the difference between kimono and yukata. This article will introduce kimono and yukata that can be bought online. They are given a general score based on price, material, design, and easiness to wear – things that Japanese people know a lot about.
The Pros and Cons of Kimono and Yukata
The Pros of Kimono
The proper set-up for kimono, if broken down into its most basic parts, consists of the “kimono” (robe), “obi” (sash), and “zori” (thonged sandals). However, each can be offered in various colors, patterns, and materials that can give off completely different vibes, especially when put into a plethora of combinations. More minute accessories such as the “obi-dome” (obi ornament) and “sensu” (folding fan) also allow for even more combinations.
・Can be worn in public places or as formal wear
As the formal dress of Japan, there are many strict rules regarding style and patterns when it comes to ceremonial kimono, but it can also be worn as nicer attire in public spaces.
・Can be worn as everyday wear
In the olden days, kimono was everyday wear, but nowadays the number of people who wear kimono is dwindling. Even so, there are a decent amount of people who wear kimono to go shopping, and it is considered quite stylish to dress oneself up in a kimono anywhere.
・The size can be changed freely (to a certain extent)
One of the special points about kimono is that the size can be altered to a certain degree. The kimono is generally 10-15 cm longer than the wearer’s height so that the kimono can be folded under the obi to appear smaller. This is why it is not uncommon for parents and children to wear the same kimono. However, do keep in mind that this may be untrue for quite tall people.
The Cons of Kimono
・The cost of all the pieces can be pricey
A basic kimono set-up requires “shirojuban” (a type of underwear, more commonly known as “nagajuban”), kimono, obi, obi-dome, “shiro-tabi” (white socks with a split toe), and zori, and getting all good-quality pieces can easily top one million yen. Moreover, the length of the “sode” (the fabric hanging from the sleeves) differs for married and unmarried women, and there are also different kimono for summer and winter, as well as certain patterns for public places. This, with the obi as well, can bring you to millions or tens of millions of yen depending on the time, place, and occasion you plan on wearing your kimono. Real, good-quality pieces can be found at “gofukuten” (kimono boutiques), but it can often feel awkward to enter, which is why many people patronize kimono rental shops, even in Japan.
・Can be difficult to put on
Kimono were everyday wear during the Edo period (1603 – 1868), and many people commonly wore them even into the Taisho period (1912 – 1926), meaning that most people were able to dress themselves in kimono. However, afterwards, Western clothing became the norm, and much of the population lost the ability to put kimono on by themselves. It has now become common to visit a shop that will put the kimono on for you when you are planning on wearing one, but it must certainly be difficult to find such shops overseas.
The Pros of Yukata
・Cheaper than kimono
As mentioned above, it is quite expensive to accumulate an entire kimono set. “Yukata” originally came into existence during the Edo period for people to wear when they got out of the baths during the hot summers, as it was a light and simple substitute to the heavy kimono. Your yukata set-up is complete if you have a yukata, obi, and zori, and even if you buy good-quality pieces, the price will rarely go over 100 thousand yen. Nowadays, there are even cheaper yukata marketed towards the younger generation. In Japan, rental yukata are readily available, but there are also many shops selling yukata in the summertime, so they are very easy to purchase. Many online shops also sell them year-round.
・Can be easily worn
Unlike kimono, yukata were designed to be easy to wear, and your look is complete with just a “haori” (Japanese coat) and obi. Recently, numerous variations on how to tie your obi have come into existence, which many young people enjoy experimenting with, but the bow is generally worn in the back.
・Can be worn as everyday wear during the summer
Yukata can often be seen at summer festivals, but yukata can be worn all throughout the summer, not just at festivals. Moreover, at most “onsen” (hot spring) towns in Japan, patrons wear yukata out and about instead of their regular clothes. After all, yukata were originally designed to be worn after a bath. Recently, many inns also have collections of cute, colorful yukata that female guests can freely enjoy.
・Can easily be washed
As long as it is not an extremely nice piece, most daily-wear yukata can be washed in the washing machine. On the other hand, it is difficult to wash kimono by oneself, so they often need to be dry cleaned, and it may be difficult to find a dry cleaner outside of Japan that can handle kimono.
The Cons of Yukata
・Cannot be worn in formal places
As yukata are simple pieces originally meant to be worn after a bath, they are not appropriate for formal places. You will almost never see them worn as nice attire at events such as parties.
・Cannot be worn in cold weather
Yukata were designed to be worn as cool, light pieces in lieu of heavy kimono after hot baths during the summer. For this reason, yukata are made out of material that is meant for summertime and isn’t suitable for cold weather. However, at most onsen towns, yukata are often paired with “tanzen” (padded kimono) that can be worn overtop during the colder seasons. You can still enjoy wearing yukata when it’s cold by having tanzen on top, but it often doesn’t complement the colorful yukata, turning it into a rather plain yukata simply meant to be worn at onsen towns.
1. Kimono Anime Cosplay Costume Lolita Dress (Cherry)
This goes past your knees like a true kimono, and is decorated with a cherry blossom and wisteria pattern. It also comes with an obi, making it very easy to put on. Traditionally, these longer sode (called “nagasode”) are meant for unmarried women. This particular kimono would not work as formal wear, but may be nice for a more casual party. The fabric is rather thin, which cannot be helped when considering the price. There are also other colors available, but these do not go past the knees, so while they may be cute as dresses, they cannot be considered kimono.
Size: Extra small～Extra large
Color: Cherry / Pink / Red-kimono / Sakura-black / Sakura-red
2. Women’s Kimono Costume Adult Japanese Geisha Yukata Sweet Floral Pattern Gown Blossom Satin Bathrobe Sleepwear with OBI Belt (30-long Black)
This sode length is called “tomesode,” traditionally worn by married women. However, there is no reason to be worried about this overseas, so it is fine for unmarried women to wear it as well. The shorter version that reaches the knees is also quite adorable, but can only be worn in certain places. Even the version of this kimono that goes past the knees shouldn’t be worn to formal places, but similar to the kimono above, may be nice for casual parties thanks to its more polished design.
Size: 7.87” x 3.94” x 0.79” (20 x 10 x 2cm); 9.17 ounces (260 g, 0.26 kg)
Color: 30-long Black / 25 other colors & variations
Brand: Wraith of East
3. KYOETSU Women’s Washable Unlined Kimono Hitoe (Dark Purple)
This kimono goes past the knees and has the proper shape. However, it is not made in Japan, and cannot be worn as a kimono by itself without the shirojuban, obi, obi-dome, shiro-tabi, and zori. It also requires being put on the proper way, which means that it is more difficult to wear. The sode are “tomesode,” which, as mentioned above, are meant for married women. However, unlike the previous kimono, it can be worn at slightly formal places.
Size: Small~X large
Color: Dark Purple / 10 other colors available
4. KYOETSU Men’s Japanese Kimono Komaro Summer Washable (Navy)
This item has the proper kimono shape, and it is a men’s kimono, which does not require as much attention on the obi as women’s do. However, this kimono does not come with an obi, which means that it may take some time to find one that is a complementary color. Even so, it is not as difficult to put on as a women’s kimono, and is in fact almost similar to putting on a yukata. Just as women’s kimono, it must be worn with a shirojuban as underwear, and although it is not necessary, accessorizing with “setta” (leather-soled sandals) or “geta” (thonged sandals) can really complete the outfit. If you don’t have any of these items, it can be fairly expensive to get them.
Size: Small – XX Large
Color: Navy / Silver / Deep Grey / Black / Smokey Blue / Olive
5. KYOETSU Women’s Retro Yukata 4 Piece Set (Yukata/OBI/Geta Sandal/Underwear)
This set comes with a yukata, “heko-obi” (obi made with softer fabric), geta, and underwear for yukata, which is quite a steal considering its price. However, be careful with sizing. Even though it says that people that are approximately 158 – 168 cm tall can wear this kimono, it is actually on the smaller side. Whether or not it fits perfectly will depend on your body shape, but it is ideal for people around 160 cm. This yukata cannot be worn at formal places, but there are many color variations which make for a stylish summer outfit.
Size (approx): Length: 64.17” (163 cm) / Length: 26.77” (68 cm) / Sleeve: 19.29” (49 cm) / Front width: 9.44” (24 cm) / Rear width: 11.81” (30 cm) / Set width: 5.9” (15 cm) / Hip: 35.43” – 39.37” (90 – 100 cm)
Color: Heko Obi Lilac / 40 other colors available
6. Yukata & Obi: Eden For Women
If you want to look fashionable in a modern yukata, look no further than this yukata. Made in Japan with a street-style kimono concept, the quality and design are top-grade. Though pricey, this yukata is acceptable to wear at slightly fancier places, and will give you a different vibe than those wearing other nice attire. It can also be worn as outerwear.
Size: S – L *Can be customized to your measurements
For Men：▶Yukata & Nawaobi: Eden [BECOS]
7. Stay Home Yukata: Black
This yukata is made with an absorbent and quick-drying jersey material. Yukata are usually worn with geta, but this modern design pairs well with other shoes such as sneakers. This versatile piece can be worn as everyday wear or an outer. It does not come with an obi, but a thick, white leather belt should do the trick. You can easily customize it to your liking!
Size: S – L *Can be customized to your measurements
Related article: ▶ 7 Japanese Accessories for Any Outfit and Occasion
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*These products may not be able to be shipped to certain countries. Please see the retailer’s website for more information.
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.