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1930s Japanse kimono or dressing gown?

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Nov. 27th, 2010 | 04:41 pm
posted by: mlleviolet in leavesoftea


[kimono] 


[kimono] 

My great-grandmother was born in 1910 and was married in the 1920s. After she gave birth to my grandmother, she purchased this kimono or dressing gown and our rough estimate is that she purchased it in the 1930s, maybe in NYC where they lived. She purchased it with the intention to wear it after the birth of her second child, possibly for a christening party or maybe just to take photos. Sadly, she had just the one child and so the kimono remained in her closet unworn for all those years. I inherited it when she died.

It looks like a kimono with the long sleeves, yet it doesn't have a characteristic obi tie. Instead it has a very long sash. It is made of fine silk, and the floral embroidery is quite breathtaking. Although the size is for a small woman, it sweeps the floor. The hem is padded with thick quilting, which gives it a very lovely silhouette. Because of the padded hem and the embroidery, I thought it might be an uchikake or wedding kimono. However, the overall construction looks more like a Western-style dressing gown than a kimono. There was a craze for Orientalism in the 20s and 30s, and this has the look of something created for the Western market. But that is just a guess, I really have no idea what this is.

Any information you can provide would be very helpful. In particular, I'm wondering if 1) it's accurate to call it a kimono, or is it a dressing gown? 2) was it made for the Western market, or for the Japanese market? 3) Does it have any value? I know this isn't a place to get an appraisal, but I'm not sure whether I'd need a kimono appraiser or a vintage textile appraiser, or perhaps a vintage lingerie appraiser? I really don't know where to start. Thanks!

EDIT WITH ADDITIONAL INFO:  After talking with my mom and taking a closer look at the robe, I have some additional info

She does not think this could have been purchased after 1935 given my the date of birth of her daughter (my grandmother) and my great-grandmother's knowledge that she could not have more children.

The robe is larger than I thought it was - we were afraid to try it on, but i did so last night, very gently, and it does fit me, and I'm a size 14 and 5'7". It does not reach the floor, though, and I think it was meant to so I am guessing it is for a shorter woman. For the proper flowing, drapey lines that it was intended to give, not to mention sparing the old fabric unecessary strain, I don't think anyone larger than a size 12 should wear this and it would probably look best on a woman no taller than 5'5".

The sash is one-sided, not double-sided as I had thought. The sash is clearly machine stitched and it is at least 100" long. Maybe it was meant to be wrapped around twice, or the robe was for a very tall person.

Though the sash is clearly machine-stitched, the robe appears to be hand-stitched at the seams. Perhaps it is a combination of hand and machine stitching, but the irregular stitching that attaches the lining to the exterior is obviously done by hand.

The robe is lined with a pale pink silk. The exterior is more of a creamy shell pink but very light, just barely pink, although it may have originally been white or cream and changed color over time.

The silk feels dry, not satiny, and it's not filmy but fairly substantial, especially the lining.

There is no seam along the back, either on the outside or the lining. The seams are at the sides only.

There are slits under the arms and along the side of the sleeve that rests next to the body. I understand the slits on the sleeves, because it probably drapes better with the opening, but why the slits under the arms? Was the sash meant to be threaded through the slits? If so, the sash was intended to be worn higher than I have it in the photo.

The sleeves are half-stitched closed with fancy white stitched loops, so that your arm goes through the top half of the sleeve only. This serves to keep the line of the sleeves nice and tidy, otherwise your arm would be floating around in this huge sleeve that would probably get bunched up.

Thanks again for taking an interest in my great-grandmother's dressing gown!




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Comments {25}

Lacrima

Re: souvenir kimono

from: lacrimawanders
date: Nov. 29th, 2010 08:04 am (UTC)
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Nancy, out of curiosity, do you think the belt could be a shigoki-obi or is it simply shigoki-obi-inspired? The tassels made me think it was, but it seems that there's some embroidery on it, and it looks rather short to be a shigoki-obi.

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kyotokimono

Re: souvenir kimono

from: kyotokimono
date: Nov. 29th, 2010 02:44 pm (UTC)
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Hmmm.. I don't think this kind of sash is inspired by the shigoki - maybe a heko obi if anything since it is usually soft, but not as long and of course the fringe on the ends isn't really seen at all (as far as I know) in tradtional obi. I really do think that these robes were modelled after western bath robes, and came with a simple sash meant to go onces around the body and be tied casually in the front.

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mlleviolet

Re: souvenir kimono

from: mlleviolet
date: Nov. 29th, 2010 05:18 pm (UTC)
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The sash is pretty long - note the fringed end in the back, it's almost at the floor, and I have also knotted it in a big loose knot, I may have even taken up some fabric in the back just so I could get the ends of the sash in the image. It is actually longer than is practical, and the hem of the garment also trails on the floor. No wonder people didn't really wear these things!

I do agree that it is styled after a Western dressing gown - especially with the lapels and the sash, although it has some Japanese-inspired details liked the padded hem.

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Lacrima

Re: souvenir kimono

from: lacrimawanders
date: Nov. 29th, 2010 10:03 pm (UTC)
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How long is it? Is there a seam down the center of the back? The more I look at this, the stranger (and cooler) it looks!

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mlleviolet

Re: souvenir kimono

from: mlleviolet
date: Nov. 29th, 2010 10:37 pm (UTC)
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I don't have it with me, I just remember when I took the photo, the sash seemed unnaturally long considering the small size of the kimono - I wondered how it wouldn't drag on the floor. I don't recall if there is a seam but I do think the sash is a double layer of fabric so there probably is a seam. I can take a closer look at it when I get home tonight. But I can't help but think the overall appearance is much closer to a Western dressing gown than a Japanese kimono. It is still beautiful, though.

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Lacrima

Re: souvenir kimono

from: lacrimawanders
date: Nov. 29th, 2010 10:55 pm (UTC)
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I mean a center-back seam on the kimono. Interesting that the sash is double-layered.

I wonder who made it! It's very cool.

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mlleviolet

Re: souvenir kimono

from: mlleviolet
date: Nov. 29th, 2010 11:20 pm (UTC)
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Oh, wait, maybe it isn't double layered, I'm looking at my photos and perhaps not. It's probably just that the sash got bunched up when I tied it, making it look like there is more than one layer. Not sure about the center seam, either. I will take a closer look tonight.

Thanks for taking an interest :)

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mlleviolet

Re: souvenir kimono

from: mlleviolet
date: Nov. 30th, 2010 05:47 pm (UTC)
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I posted some additional info above. Short answer to your question: no seam on the back, either on the outside or the lining. The seams are only at the sides. And the sash is not doubled but single - it's about 100" long, which I don't understand, that's way too long even for me and I'm 5'7", but my great-grandmother was I think barely five feet tall. Maybe it was meant to be wrapped around twice?

I also discovered some interesting things about the sleeves and a slit below the underarms that makes me think perhaps the sash was meant to be threaded through the slit in the obi style - of course that doesn't mean it is a kimono, just that it was made in the Japanese style to appeal to the Western fascination with Orientalism.

Thanks for taking an interest in my great-grandmother's dressing gown!

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Lacrima

Re: souvenir kimono

from: lacrimawanders
date: Nov. 29th, 2010 10:02 pm (UTC)
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To me it looked (except possibly for the length, unless in the op's pictures it's doubled around the waist) like a dead-ringer for this type of shigoki obi:
http://apparel-quon.d2.r-cms.jp/files/user/%E3%81%97%E3%81%94%E3%81%8D1_1.jpg

I thought the fringe would show for that type? Wearing it with the fringe hanging down has become pretty popular lately, at least with young women...
Here's how they've been tying it lately:
http://www4.ocn.ne.jp/~tomasan/753irast/sigoki.gif
And here's the Mamechiyo Modern blog, with a picture of a girl in the top post wearing one:
http://mamechiyo1.exblog.jp/i5/2/

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mlleviolet

Re: souvenir kimono

from: mlleviolet
date: Nov. 29th, 2010 10:40 pm (UTC)
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That girl looks absolutely stunning in her beautiful kimono (if that's what it is, pardon my cluelessness). I can't imagine putting all that on without some assistance? I know the geisha hire special dressers to assist them, I guess ordinary women get help from friends.

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Lacrima

Re: souvenir kimono

from: lacrimawanders
date: Nov. 29th, 2010 11:03 pm (UTC)
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Hahaha. Most people nowadays can't wear it without a dresser (and this is a service that kimono stores or hair salons offer), but it's not really hard to put on if you've practiced. Kimono rules have gotten a lot more nitpicky in the past 50 years since kimono has become less of an everyday mode of dress.

Yes, that's an unmarried woman's (semi)formal kimono. Mamechiyo Modern is a famous trendy kimono shop.

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