Formality Series: Iromuji

I’ve always thought as Iromuji of the Japanese equivalent of our LBD or Little Black Dress, depending on the accessories that you choose you can either wear it in a casual setting or in a more semi-formal setting.
Typical of Iromuji is the fact that they have only woven design but no dyed ones. A plain and simple background colour is their trademark. The woven designs, however, may be intricate and depending on the placement, they can give you an idea of what formality the Iromuji should ideally be worn with.

Kimono: Iromuji
I love Iromuji myself, if you’re unsure what to wear then Iromuji can come to your rescue ^^. They’re the perfect kimono for those occasions where you want to dress up a bit but not too much or perhaps you would like to feel a little fancy. As I mentioned, Iromuji can be dressed up or down depending on the accessories that you use.
When it comes to their design, iromuji could have anything as long as it is woven and not dyed. This one, in particular, has a design of ripped paper, chrysanthemums and cherry blossoms however my purple one has a very small floral & arabesque design that is woven which you can only see up close, from afar it looks plain. If you want detailshots of these kimono, you can also find them on my FBpage under the photoalbum “Kimono Collection”.
The placement of the design can also indicate the formality to some extent. The pink one has an all over design which makes it look more like a komon while the blue-grey one only has its design on the skirt like an Irotomesode.
Kamon-wise, they can either have none to 1 or even 3. In my collection, I have only Iromuji that have none or just one kamon.
The date’eri that you may or may not want to add to increase the formality of your ensemble should be either white or a light colour that matches your iromuji.

Note: Mofuku or otherwise known as “Kuromuji” (black iromuji) are technically under this category too, they are the only ones that come with 5 kamon but are not supposed to be worn outside of funerals.
They do make a great canvas for any creative ideas that you may have. I personally turned one kimono and three obi into something that could be worn outside of funerals.
I already made a separate entry for the Mofuku formality of this series:

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Obi: Your choice of the obi depends a little on what occasion you’ll be wearing it to and the amount of kamon that your iromuji has.
You can select a casual Nagoya obi if your Iromuji has no mon but if it has 3, you may wear a fukuro obi that doesn’t have much metallics on it and everything in between. (no full gold or silver fukuro obi though) Also, formal nagoya obi are a great option. The full silver one in the picture is actually a Nagoya obi, despite it looking more like a fukuro one.
Something that I noticed in this book with the entry of Iromuji is that it had a little section about musubi for this specific formality.
The regular musubi for this formality would be the standard otaiko but for a younger person (it didn’t specify which age but I’m sure you can think of something) the musubi should be “kawari” which are the furisode-style ones, the really elaborate musubi.
I personally have always worn otaiko with it, nothing else.

Obiage: Rinzu, Chirimen or Shibori are all okay to wear with Iromuji. For casual it’s best to stick with either chirimen or rinzu while for formal, it would be better to choose something that has shibori in it.
When your Iromuji has 3 kamon your best choice would be to go with shibori only.
Colourwise a light colour or something that matches the iromuji is a good way to go. Bokashi or gradation obiage are a fashionable option.
Depending on the amount of kamon your Iromuji has, you may want to select something suitable.

Obijime: The obijime can be either round or flat and with or without metallic threads in them. Your choice depends on what occasion you’ll be going to as well as the amount of kamon that the iromuji has.
When your Iromuji has multiple kamon, your choice should reflect that by wearing a more formal obijime. If you want, you can select a wider obijime too.

Nagajuban: Preferably the juban should be a single colour for both casual and formal occasions however if you want, you can select a nagajuban with some coloured designs for the more casual occasions.
For formal occasions or if the Iromuji has 1 – 3 kamon, it’s best to use one that has a single colour.
Han’eri wise, it’s best to stick with an all-white han’eri. Although it didn’t say in the book, if you are wearing iromuji in a more casual setting, an han’eri with white or very light embroidery would be okay too.

Hadajuban/susoyoke: As always, these should be white.

Tabi: Tabi, when wearing Iromuji, regardless of the amount of kamon, should be white. Ideally with 4 kohaze or clasps.

Zori: For Iromuji, wearing zori with a low heel is most common. The zori itself can be either casual or formal depending on the amount of kamon present as well as the occasion that you’ll be wearing it to. If you want, you can wear leather zori too.
(Turquoise zori on loan from L.Kentie)

Fan: Depending on the formality of the occasion that you’ll be wearing your iromuji to, it may be handy to add this fan to your outfit.
I’ve always been told this is called a “kurobone” although I’ve seen the term “suehiro” too. Basically, this fan comes with a gold and silver side and is often used in formal occasions, despite being a fan, it’s not used to cool yourself down with and stays tucked into the side of your obi.
I only have a black version however with Iromuji, you would want to consider to get the white version instead of the black one which is called “shirobone”. I initially wanted to purchase one specifically for this entry however I had a VERY hard time finding one that wasn’t for bridal purposes as those were decorated and I needed a plain one.

All the info for this series comes from this book:
“Kimono no Kihon. Kitsuke to Obimusubi”.
ISBN: 9784072623329

Before I end this blog post, I would like to say that the information that I got out of this book is very hardcore traditional and most of us would probably never have to get our outfits down so specific for an event. It is a great guideline to what one would be wearing though!

Thank you so much for reading!

Chayatsuji Kimono

5 thoughts on “Formality Series: Iromuji

  1. First- thank you so so SO much for this blog! It’s so hard to study kitsuke when you don’t speak Japanese! Second- I have an Iromuji question. Actually a couple of questions. Are Iromuji always awase, even in summer? I have never seen a hitoe one myself, so I thought perhaps Iromuji are only worn when lined kimono are worn? Also, I have been under the impression that Iromuji are more formal and can be worn with a fukuro obi as long as there is at least one kamon. I have a carnation pink Iromuji that I bought to wear to hanami this spring with a fukuro obi depicting a spring garden and mountains in pinks, fuji blue, and gold. Is that not appropriate? I was also going to wear a han’eri embroidered with very pale pink sakura. The hanami was cancelled, but it was to be held by a tea society and I wanted so badly to get the kitsuke right! Now I feel like it must be all wrong 😔


    1. Hi Christine,

      Thank you so much for your kind words.

      Iromuji is only a formality, they come in hitoe as well as summer fabrics but as those are worn for only a small portion of the year (especially hitoe!) they’re less listed online. I have one gauze weave summer as well as one hitoe iromuji myself.
      Regarding the formality with obi, when one or more kamon it’s better to wear fukuro obi rather than nagoya obi. Although I would say that a brocade nagoya obi is still a possibility for one-kamon iromuji. That’s how I’ve learned/read it too ^^
      I’ve always viewed hanami as pretty casual so, in my opinion, it would depend on what the tea society generally wears to outings like these. With previous Dutch Kimono de Jack hanami meetings, everyone wore what they liked/had in their collection as the meetings are about wearing kimono and having fun versus adhering to the formality.

      I hope this helps !


      1. That absolutely helps! Thank you so much! ☺️🙏🏻 The formality at the tea society’s hanami is kind of all over the place, actually, now that I think about it. Most people wear western clothes, some casual and some a little dressy. The tea society members generally wear Iromuji or komon, but there’s always one lady who wears a fabulous kurotomesode with a full wig! It’s so beautiful! The hanami is held in a 14-acre Japanese garden that surrounds a lake with Yoshino cherry trees. 🥰 I’d be very interested in seeing a few of the summer weight pieces in your collection, if you are interested in doing a post on summer kitsuke. 🙂


      2. The garden sounds so beautiful * – * Regarding my collection, I have several photoalbums on my facebook page that have photo’s of my items listed. The albums are updated once a year to account for all the new items I purchased the previous year ^^


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