I got my first (and currently only) Kurotomesode on my 20th birthday as a gift from my then boyfriend at the time, simply because I wanted one and given both of us would regularly wear kimono, it was an easy choice for him.
Kurotomesode are kimono that, nowadays, are mainly worn by the mother of the bride or groom at their wedding but not much elsewhere, although more initiatives are being created like the Kurotome Night event where people can bring out this gorgeous garment to wear in whatever style they wish. Salz Tokyo has written a lovely blog post about this event: Click here !
Distinctive about kimono is the black background which gives the kimono its name, the 5 white kamon and their design that only covers the skirt part. Often seasonal, they are incredibly luxurious with lots of gold and silver. With kurotomesode, you get this white extra layer called hiyoku, it stems from the days where an extra full layer (Kasane) was worn underneath.
Kurotomesode are kimono for married women, back in the day they were often made from black bridal furisode which had the sleeves cut after the wedding in order to create the kurotomesode and save some money as well. They’re quite a “recent” invention as they’re inspired by western tailcoats which are considered to be the most formal attire for men.
These days, they’re simply created as is and no longer come from bridal furisode.
As someone who is in their mid-twenties, I would be told off in Japan to even think of wearing kurotomesode to a formal event. Furisode is the one I should be wearing in these cases and no hair on the dressers head that would allow me to wear something else.
These days, I actually prefer to wear Irotomesode over Furisode simply because they’re far more practical and less heavy to wear for a whole day. No long sleeves that get in the way and no pretty musubi that could get squished if I lean back in my chair, plus Irotomesode are easier to dress in if you do your kitsuke yourself.
I know a lot of people who definitely aren’t married yet/too young who wear kurotomesode and while some love them purely due to their aesthetics, others may want to wear them for kitsuke experience like myself. I don’t think I’ve ever worn my kurotomesode outside of the house, mainly because it weighs nearly 2kg on its own but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t wear it outside in the future. Even if I’m too young and definitely not married.
It’s the same for when married women would like to wear furisode. In my opinion, if you can pull it off both agewise and kitsuke wise, why not? Have fun and flaunt those gorgeous sleeves!
Feel like a true princess, if you know what I mean ^^.
I understand that you may feel a need to adhere to all the rules and formalities but at some point you just really need to go with what you want to wear instead of what you should be wearing. Kimono wouldn’t be half as fun if you didn’t get to coordinate or wear what you want deep down.
I have no plans of ever getting married (lots of divorces in my family on both sides), so I probably won’t “earn” the right to wear kurotomesode but I don’t care, I wear them for the experience and to learn how one wears it to deepen my understanding of kimono.
The thing is, with kimono come these rules and traditions that you sometimes may have to bend or break a little in order to wear what you want. As a foreigner you can get away with things like that
All in all, please wear whatever you feel like but keep in mind what occasion you’ll be wearing it to and where you are. Knowledgeable people may be able to tell but most of the time, you can get away with so much more than you think ^^.
Thank you so much for reading!