Kimono for men are available in various sizes and should fall approximately to the ankle without tucking. A woman's kimono has additional length to allow for the ohashori, the tuck that can be seen under the obi which is used to adjust the kimono to the individual wearer. An ideally tailored kimono has sleeves that fall to the wrist when the arms are lowered. Kimonos are traditionally made from a single bolt of fabric called a tan. Tan come in standard dimensions - about 14 inches wide and 12˝ yards long - and the entire bolt is used to make one kimono. The finished kimono consists of four main strips of fabric - two panels covering the body and two panels forming the sleeves - with additional smaller strips forming the narrow front panels and collar. Historically, kimono were often taken apart for washing as separate panels and resewn by hand. Because the entire bolt remains in the finished garment without cutting, the kimono can be retailored easily to fit a different person. The maximum width of the sleeve is dictated by the width of the fabric. The distance from the center of the spine to the end of the sleeve could not exceed twice the width of the fabric. Traditional kimono fabric was typically no more than 36 centimeters (14 inches) wide. Thus the distance from spine to wrist could not exceed a maximum of roughly 68 centimeters (27 inches). Modern kimono fabric is woven as wide as 42 centimeters (17 inches) to accommodate modern Japanese body sizes. Very tall or heavy people, such as sumo wrestlers, must have kimono custom-made by either joining multiple bolts, weaving custom - width fabric, or using non-standard size fabric. Traditionally, kimono are sewn by hand, but even machine-made kimonos require substantial hand-stitching. Kimono fabrics are also frequently hand made and hand decorated. Various techniques such as yuzen dye resist are used for applying decoration and patterns to the base cloth. Repeating patterns that cover a large area of a kimono are traditionally done with the yuzen resist technique and a stencil. Over time there have been many variations in color, fabric and style, as well as accessories such as the obi. The kimono and obi (sash) are traditionally made of silk, silk brocade, silk crepes (such as chirimen) and satin weaves (such as rinzu). Modern kimonos are also widely available in less-expensive easy-care fabrics such as rayon, cotton sateen, cotton, polyester and other synthetic fibers. Silk is still considered the ideal fabric.
Customarily, woven patterns and dyed repeat patterns are considered informal; Formal kimonos have free-style designs dyed over the whole surface or along the hem. During the Heian-era, kimono were worn with up to a dozen or more colorful contrasting layers, with each combination of colors being a named pattern. Today, the kimono is normally worn with a single layer on top of one or more undergarments. The pattern of the kimono can also determine in which season it should be worn. For example, a pattern with butterflies or cherry blossoms would be worn in spring. Watery designs are common during the summer. A popular autumn motif is the russet leaf of the Japanese maple; for winter, designs may include bamboo, pine trees and plum blossoms. A popular form of textile art in Japan is shibori (intricate tie dye), found on some of the more expensive kimono and haori jackets. Patterns are created by minutely binding the fabric and masking off areas, then dying it, usually done by hand. When the bindings are removed, an undyed pattern is revealed. Shibori work can be further enhanced with yuzen (hand applied) drawing or painting with textile dyes or with embroidery; it is then known as tsujigahana. Shibori textiles are very time consuming to produce and require great skill, so the textiles and garments created from them are very expensive and highly prized. Old kimonos are often recycled in various ways: altered to make haori, or kimonos for children, used to patch similar kimono, used for making handbags and similar kimono accessories, and used to make covers, bags or cases for various implements, especially for sweet-picks used in tea ceremonies. Damaged kimono can be disassembled and resewn to hide the soiled areas, and those with damage below the waistline can be worn under a hakama. Historically, skilled craftsmen laboriously picked the silk thread from old kimono and rewove it into a new textile in the width of a heko obi for men's kimono, using a recycling weaving method called saki-ori.
Kimono range from extremely formal to casual. The level of formality of women's kimono is determined mostly by the pattern of the fabric, and color. Young women's kimono have longer sleeves, signifying that they are not married, and tend to be more elaborate than similarly formal older women's kimono. Men's kimono are usually one basic shape and are mainly worn in subdued colors. Formality is also determined by the type and color of accessories, the fabric, and the number or absence of kamon (family crests), with five crests signifying extreme formality. Silk is the most desirable, and most formal, fabric. Kimono made of fabrics such as cotton and polyester generally reflect a more casual style.
A young woman wearing a furisode kimono. Furisode literally translates as swinging sleeves - the sleeves of furisode average between 39 and 42 inches (110 cm) in length. Furisode are the most formal kimono for unmarried women, with colorful patterns that cover the entire garment. They are usually worn at coming-of-age ceremonies (seijin shiki) and by unmarried female relatives of the bride at weddings and wedding receptions.
Literally translates as visiting wear. Characterized by patterns that flow over the shoulders, seams and sleeves, homongi rank slightly higher than their close relative, the tsukesage. Homongi may be worn by both married and unmarried women; often friends of the bride will wear homongi at weddings and receptions. They may also be worn to formal parties.
Single-colored kimono that may be worn by married and unmarried women. They are mainly worn to tea ceremonies. The dyed silk may be figured (rinzu, similar to jacquard), but has no differently colored patterns.
"Fine pattern". Kimono with a small, repeated pattern throughout the garment. This style is more casual and may be worn around town, or dressed up with a formal obi for a restaurant. Both married and unmarried women may wear komon.
Edo komon is a type of komon characterized by tiny dots arranged in dense patterns that form larger designs. The Edo komon dyeing technique originated with the samurai class during the Edo-era. A kimono with this type of pattern is of the same formality as an iromuji, and when decorated with kamon, may be worn as visiting wear (equivalent to a tsukesage or homongi).
The mofuku is a formal garment intended for mourning. It is made of pitch black silk, without any embellishment other than the 5 kamon. The obi, obijime, obiage, zori, and handbag are also black. The mofuku is worn on the days of the wake, funeral, and cremation of the deceased in a Buddhist funeral ceremony. Due to white being symbolic of death in Japan, the mofuku was formerly a white garment; however, the modern mofuku is now a black garment, to contrast with the white kimono of the dead. The completely black mourning ensemble is usually reserved for family and others that are close to the deceased. For others, it is customary to wear a colored iromuji with black accessories, to symbolize that they are in mourning but are not particularly close to the deceased.
Tomesode and Irotomesode
Single-color kimono, patterned only below the waistline. Irotomesode are slightly less formal than kurotomesode, and are worn by married women, usually close relatives of the bride and groom at weddings. An irotomesode may have three or five kamon.
A black kimono patterned only below the waistline, kurotoroko are the most formal kimono for married women. They are often worn by the mothers of the bride and groom at weddings. Kurotomesode usually have five kamon printed on the sleeves, chest and back of the kimono.
Tsukesage has more modest patterns that cover a smaller area—mainly below the waist - than the more formal homongi. They may also be worn by married women.
Uchikake is a highly formal kimono worn only by a bride or at a stage performance. The Uchikake is often heavily brocaded and is supposed to be worn outside the actual kimono and obi, as a sort of coat. One therefore never ties the obi around the uchikake. It is supposed to trail along the floor, this is also why it is heavily padded along the hem. The uchikake of the bridal costume is either white or very colorful often with red as the base color.
Women dressed as maiko (apprentice geisha), wearing specially tailored "maiko-style" furisode kimonos with tucks in sleeves and at shoulders
The susohiki is mostly worn by geisha or by stage performers of the traditional Japanese dance. It is quite long, compared to regular kimono, because the skirt is supposed to trail along the floor. Susohiki literally means "trail the skirt". Where a normal kimono for women is normally 1.5–1.6 m (4.7–5.2 ft) long, a susohiki can be up to 2 m (6.3 ft) long. This is also why geisha and maiko lift their kimono skirt when walking outside, also to show their beautiful underkimono or "nagajuban."