We love the kimono.  With stunning fabrics, intricate patterns and incredible construction, they are a timeless piece for your wardrobe. With the V&A exhibition serving as amazing inspiration, we have loads of vintage kimono available to buy instore and online, but first, lets delve into the history of these unique pieces...

Vintage Kimono

The classic kimono is a traditional Japanese garment which in Japanese means “something to wear.” Up until the mid 19th century, the kimono was worn by everyone in Japan. This began to change as western fashions came into the country, but traditional kimono are still worn at weddings and other special occasions.

There are several parts of a kimono, which is a testament to how wonderfully constructed they are:

Doura – Upper lining

Eri – Collar

Fuki – Hem guard

Furi – Sleeve below armhole

Maemigoro – Front main section

Miyatsukuchi – Opening below

Okumi – Front panel below the collar

Sode – Sleeve

Sodeguchi – Sleeve opening

Sodetsuke – Armhole seam

Susomawashi – Lower lining

Tamoto – Sleeve pouch

Tomoeri – Overcollar

Uraeri – Inner collar

Ushiromigoro – Rear main section

Yuki – Sleeve length


Vintage Kimono

Vintage Kimono

The word “Kimono” translates as “wearing thing”, which has a lovely functionality to it. The kimono is not actually as old you might think, coming from the 19th century, but similar simple curts of fabric sewn together have been common in Japan for centuries.

Vintage Kimono

Vintage Floral Kimono


The Kosode predates the Kimono, a similar looking item but with smaller sleeves. Worn during the Edo period, it was a profoundly egalitarian way of dressing, as everyone wore one, regardless of their age, sex or background, and they would be differentiated by what was sewn into them, only the technique, colour or fabric being ways to say something about yourself.

Vintage Kimono

Vintage Floral Kimono

In contemporary Japan, western clothing is generally worn on a day to day basis, so the Kimono is usually kept for formal occasions, such as weddings, funerals, and summer events and parties. Men's and women's kimono retain some historical features. A woman's kimono, which trailed along the floor throughout certain eras, ideally should be as tall as the person wearing them, with the excess length folded and tied in hip fold known as the “ohashori”.

Vintage Kimono 

Vintage Printed Kimono

While men’s kimono don’t vary very much, and are usually simple in dark muted fabrics, there are many different kinds of kimono for women, from lightweight cotton summer styles such as the “Yukata” to the “Furisode”, a bright colourful kimono specifically for young, single woman. There are different kimono worn for tea ceremonies, weddings, and kimono for women from different backgrounds and class.

Check out our selection of antique Kimonos at Beyond Retro here


November 03, 2020 — Neda Hashemi