Types of Kimono - Tomesode

The most formal kind of kimono for married women is the tomesode. Different from the flamboyant furisode (for unmarried young ladies), tomesode has shorter sleeves and patterns only below the obi line, usually on the lower part of the garment. Still, rich dyeing and brocade are used, giving the kimono a high level of formality.

Notice details related to a more "mature" look in kimono aesthetics: shorter sleeves with 
less "round-shaped" borders, and obi worn lower in the torso, as the wearer grows older.

This kind of kimono can be divided in two types: kurotomesode and irotomesode. Kurotomesode, meaning "black tomesode", is worn solely by married women, usually mothers and grandmothers of the couple in a marriage. Irotomesode, or "color tomesode", can also be worn by unmarried women, usually close relatives to the marrying couple in a wedding. It can be considered as formal as the kurotomesode, or a little less formal, if it doesn't have kamon (family crests).

From left to right: irotomesode and kurotomesode. 
The kamon (on the second) add formality to the kimono.

 Since it's very formal, tomesode is often worn with equally formal, brocade obi, like maru or fukura obi, and tied in taiko musubi ("drum knot"), very traditional and suitable for married women.

Clockwise from the top left: detail of brocade in a tomesode pattern, taiko musubi, and five kamon in an irotomesode, adding to it the same level of formality than a kurotomesode. The crests are always placed as shown: both sides of the eri (collar) in front, both sleeves and under the eri in the back.

Tomesode shows a "general rule" in kimono aesthetics that is quite opposite to western common concept of formality vs gaudyness: the more formal and elegant is considered a type of kimono, the smaller are it's patterned areas, and, usually, the more subdued it's colors.

There are exceptions, like furisode or uchikake (wedding kimono), because kimono aesthetics associates flashyness with youth; therefore, it's fitting for the outfit of an unmarried young woman to be flamboyant. Overall, thou, there's a visible tendency in casual kimono to be more bright and full of patterns than formal kimono; you'll be able to notice that as these posts move on to more and more casual types of kimono.

From left to right, these irotomesode look increasily more mature due to it's colors.

Next post: Homoungi and Tsukesage kimono! ^_^

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