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Home » How to Wear a Kimono-Different & Unique Styling Ideas

How to Wear a Kimono-Different & Unique Styling Ideas

Kimonos have been on the fashion scene for quite a while now and they don’t seem to be going anywhere, any time soon. The kimono being a traditional Japanese garment, has become popular in the world of fashion. Kimonos might be considered more of an extravagant fashion piece but I believe anyone can pull this look off! Depending on the type of kimono and what pieces you pair with it, you can create an outfit for casual wear as well as for formal occasions. When expressing your personal style, a kimono can take your look to the next level. I’ve got a few different kimono outfit ideas that I think you’ll love!

What is a Kimono?

First and foremost, the kimono is considered a traditional garment in the Japanese culture. It dates back to the 5th century and is still a part of Japanese culture today. It has a rich history for the Japanese people.

A traditional kimono is t-shaped with large bell like sleeves. The silhouette of a kimono is typically very boxy. Kimonos are usually silk but also come in satin, crepe and linen. Most are bright in color with a floral pattern. They are worn over the left side unless the person is deceased and therefore the kimono is worn over the right side. The kimono is tied with a sash called an obi and the specific way to tie it is called an obi knot. The traditional kimono actually consists of 12 different layers and is very heavy when worn! It is worn by both men and women.

In Japanese culture, a kimono is a sign of good fortune and longevity. They were often worn to formal events such as weddings, tea ceremonies, funerals and festivals. Today, kimonos are still widely worn on special occasions.

Until the 1930s, the majority of Japanese wore the kimono. Western fashions were restricted to out-of-home use by certain classes.

According to

The pattern on the surface of the garment is significant. Social status and personal identity are expressed through colour and decoration. Kimonos worn by younger women, which were the most richly decorated, are the ones that survive in collections. The images depicted on the materials have complex meanings. One popular image is that of a crane, which is a symbol of longevity and good fortune. Colours also have metaphorical meanings, and dyes embody the spirit of the plants from which they are extracted. The most popular colour is red, which signifies youthful glamour and allure.

During the early Edo period of Japanese history from the 17th-19th centuries, which saw political stability and economic growth, the kimono developed as a way of expressing wealth. There were fashion contests between the wives of wealthy merchants.

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Kimonos are Versatile:

Not only are kimonos great for many different occasions, they can also be worn casually as a swimsuit cover up or robe while lounging around the house! They provide great coverage for beachwear and can add a pop of color and interest to a solid colored, simple bathing suit.

I like to wear kimonos in the summer with my lounge wear. I find it cold in the summer with air conditioning and it’s a nice change to wear a kimono for added warmth rather than grabbing my old, trusty hoodie!

The first time I wore a kimono, I immediately felt it was a huge, bold statement. I felt a bit extra and wasn’t sure I liked it. However, it jives with my boho style so I pressed on trusting I looked OK. Today I own quite a few more kimonos and have been known to wear them with anything! They have definitely become part of my everyday wear.

Lately I’ve been trying to convert kimonos from strictly summer outfits to more winter friendly looks by adding layers.

Different Types of Kimonos:

  • Silk Robe
  • Kimono Cardigans/Kimono Top
  • ​Long Kimono
  • Silk Kimono
  • Traditional Kimono
  • Traditional Japanese Kimono

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Top Tips on How to Style A Kimono:

  • You can wear a kimono open with the tie hanging in the back. This is a laid back look and typically worn in the warmer months.
  • Wearing a kimono tied gives a more structured look and is the traditional way to wear a women’s kimono.
  • Adding a leather or woven belt can help structure the look as well as add a boho spin.
  • Large statement jewelry goes hand in hand with a kimono.
  • Graphic tees are a great way to mix prints with graphics and gives a more laid back look. It adds a bit of edge to an otherwise feminine look.
  • Denim shorts can be worn under kimonos and give a fun summer look. The kimono calms down the “trashy” look cutoff shorts can give. Plus, a kimono adds a bit of coverage.
  • Skinny blue jeans look great with kimonos and can give a more streamlined look.
  • High heels pull a kimono look together and give it a more night time look.
  • A solid color dress whether form fitting or loose looks great with a kimono.

Related Post: Eccentric Bird Kimono Outfit

Basic Rules of Kimono Fashion:

I don’t like to adhere to too many rules, whether it’s in style or life in general. However, with kimonos there are just a few faux pas that you might want to avoid.

Snow boots or Uggs should always be avoided when styling a kimono. The two just don’t mix.

Moto or bomber jackets don’t work with kimonos because the cropped length of the jacket looks awkward with the longer length of the kimono. I’m all about combining to very different styles but these two pieces don’t work at all together.

Hoodies should never be worn with a kimono. First off, a hoodie is typically bulky and won’t look right under or over a kimono. Plus the hood sticking out of a kimono just simply looks terrible.

Where to Find the Best Kimonos:

I personally don’t want to spend much money on a kimono. I said years ago it was a fleeting trend but even though it has passed the test of time to some degree, I still look at kimonos as a colorful accessory and would rather spend my money on classic basics, bags and shoes. However, that’s just me and what I do. There are several retailers that have gorgeous, well made kimonos that might be worth your dollar.

Recently I went wild ordering from Shein. Their kimonos are in the $10-$15 range (no joke) and while not the best quality, are lovely. They thrill me actually! They have many different styles, prints and colors and I have no shame wearing them everywhere. Shein is a great option if you aren’t quite sure the kimono trend it something you’ll stick with. I’ve linked the kimonos I bought from Shein below. I have been wearing kimonos on a daily basis which is what inspired me to write this post.

Depending on your choice of kimono, below are several absolutely stunning modern ways to wear a kimono that I think will inspire you. These looks are beyond the usual pair of jeans, cami, heels and a kimono look. These looks are elevated yet easy to recreate with a bit of creativity and thinking outside the box.

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Style Du Monde

I think this look is a good example of how a non-trendy traditional style can be achieved by choosing classic pieces to wear with a kimono. Her simple low v-neck cami with straight legged jeans keeps this look anchored while the robe-like kimono adds so much interest.

I love that this look includes a simple, loose fitting dress under a bright, velvet kimono. Her clutch and silver shoes add to the feminine look. There is something very chic about this look and I personally would have never thought to put this look together if I had not found this photo.

I included this pic for 2 reasons. One, I love the pops of red. It’s unexpected yet it works. I also love the classic black and white striped paired with the floral print of the kimono.

I love how she paired flowy baby pink pants with a red kimono. Both colors are in the same family yet not typically put together. It’s unexpected but it works so well. The flowy pants with a cropped, structured top and a flowy kimono is a silhouette not typically seen with a kimono but because of the small, tight top, it works. The purple bucket bag and silver shoes add to the whimsey of this look. I think it’s my favorite of all of them!

Throwing a kimono over a rocker tee can be tricky but when it works-it’s such a good look. It softens the edgy top, belt and boots.

A short kimono can be worn as a top with a tie or belt and perhaps a few (or a 100) safety pins. I love the chunky necklace with this look as well. I’m not a shorts girl so I’d for sure pair jeans with this look.

Here is another extremely chic kimono look worn as a top with a belt to hold it in place. You can’t tell from the picture but it looks like she has a slim skirt on. However, skinny jeans would work as well.

Here is more of a boho look with 3 flowy pieces that come together and work. The hem of the skirt being higher in the front as well as tying off the t-shirt is what makes this look work and keeps it from looking frumpy.

Here is another example of wearing a kimono as a top. It’s unexpected and simplifies the look leaving the kimono as the only top. I also like how wearable this look is with simple jeans and flat sandals.

Her New Tribe

I love this look. It’s hard to convert a kimono look for fall/winter but this shows it can be done. I love the layers and the gorgeous long necklace.

Emily Ratajkowski

Here is another example of wearing a shorter kimono as a top. She has added a feminine pearl belt which adds to the eclectic look. Let’s also acknowledge that this kimono looks a lot like a men’s pajama top which adds to the uniqueness of the look!

xx, Jenni