Friday, June 13, 2008

Part 2: Risk of looking like a lady of the night

はりえもんを多めに抜くと商売っぽくなりがちですね. I mistakenly left this line at the bottom of the previous post without explaining it. As I was trolling the net for information on the degrees to which the collar of a kimono can/should be pulled down, I found a note in a Japanese blog about it. The author said that when walking in the Ginza one evening they saw a young lady whose back collar was shockingly low. Apparently it had been pulled down to just above the "mountain top of her drum-knot". Scandalous!

This is of course, similar to how a maiko would wear hers. Or even a geisha when wearing her kimono in a certain style. However, the young lady spotted in the Ginza was neither maiko nor geisha, and the author mentions that she didn't even have her hair up! The story finishes up with the line above which basically means, if you pull your collar down quite far you will have a tendency to look like someone in the business. Call me crazy but I think it's hot.

Back to the website I mentioned below. According to its author, this is the breakdown of pulling down your collar:

The amount one separates her collar from her neck is a way to express individuality and personality, and depending on the type of kimono being worn, there is criteria for each level. [[[Seems a bit contradictory to me but OK.]]]

Brides: pull down to the extent you can see the back.

Young unmarried women in furisode (kimono with long swinging sleeves): the amount exposed should be the size of one fist (approx. 10-11cm). [[[To put this in perspective, geisha and maiko are said to pull theirs down about two fist sizes.]]]

Formal kimono such as black crested tomesode or houmongi: about four fingers should be able to fit (approx. 7-8cm).

The site then explains that when wearing everyday kimono, the general rule is "not to pull it down too far". In other words, you can pull it down as far as three fingers will fit (5-6cm max), as illustrated by the photo in my previous post. The author then hammers home that anywhere from 3-6cm is the range to aim for because if one pulls the collar down too far, it will look sexy and erotic. "The impression that you are setting out for night work" is how it is put. Just in case we still don't understand the site states, "even if you can't tell yourself, it is very noticeable to other people, so when you dress please check yourself in a mirror".

What's interesting is that one would normally think formal equals less neck, but according to this guide, it's the everyday kimono that requires the least neck. Perhaps this is because with the various types of formal kimono (including bridal wear and furisode), you can usually tell what kind of place the woman is going. But with an everyday kimono, well, you could end up looking like a street walker. Plus, these days there are not many young unmarried women running about in everyday kimono, which leaves old, married women (by old we are talking past mid-twenties) and no one wants to see a married woman looking like a whore, right?

With that knowledge now imparted, I better make the most of my twenties! And not just with the back collar. My sensei told me last week that because I am still young (phew) I can get away with showing more of my white under collar under the front fold of my kimono. Even if people do think I've been sold into the white slave trade, I will continue to pull down my collar because let's face it, kimono look so much better with a bit of neck showing. As parting wisdom and encouragement, the collar site says "as you become accustomed to wearing kimono you will come to understand how far your collar should be pulled down. Then, your individuality will come out".

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