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Illustrations By Thea Milinairé

Kimonomoji: Wrap Yourself in Happiness

April 12, 2017, 12:00 am

There is something about a social prescription for acceptability (like the abhorrence for wearing white after Labor Day, or not drinking before noon, or expecting women of a certain age to be married and pregnant) that feels weighty and restrictive, especially when it comes to fashion. Your clothing choices, as all choices should be, are your own. No blouse is too low-cut; some people are just assholes. Personally, I use fashion as a means of expression, and this can go way beyond dark colors when one feels moody or pastels for the spring.

This season, models drifted down catwalks in outfits bucking notions of fashion propriety, experimenting with giving the aesthetic middle finger. From blatant statement tees in support of gender freedom and feminism paired with full-length tulle skirts, to the free-the-nipple craze, which resurrected ’70s-era rib-bone-bearing low-cut tops as a thumbs-up to feminine sexuality, there’s a general movement in fashion that encourages one to be and do and wear what they want. Like the current obsession with everything silk and satin or wearing underwear as outerwear—because why should lace and silk be relegated to the bedroom?

Robes are uncomplicated items to add to your closet, and they can fall in line with the pajama trend if you choose a satin version. Wearing something that makes others double-take or question the “acceptability” of your outfit means you’re on track to being a bit of a fashion punk. Who is anyone to say you can’t wear a beautiful flowered silk robe over your jeans?

Anson Stevens-Bollen

Did you read the last Bed Head about Georgia O’Keeffe and her amazing sense of minimal style (March 29: “Existential Style”)? We are again nodding to her brilliance with this endorsement of wrappy, mid-length kimono-like layers. The iconic painter knew they’re a lovely way to play with length and texture, and they’re comfortable, so you can actually move around in them.

Add a belt or tie (which many come with) and a robe can make a beautiful summer blouse with a bandeau underneath, or a swim cover for a lake day. Wear them over a hoodie or with a dress. Their uses are really endless, and a good one is an asset every season.

Kimonos are also a great way to add a rare or vibrant textile to your closet, which might not be as wearable featured in a different piece. It’s much harder to rock a Latin-inspired pair of woven pants than it is to play with that same textile in a kimono.

There’s that too-often-quoted thing Coco Chanel said about looking in the mirror on your way out the door and removing one accessory, but I am going the other way with this. Look in the mirror before you leave the house and add a kimono. They’re fabulous and go with nearly anything.

Light outerwear layers are the kinds of things for which one can spend a lifetime searching. Make a habit of peeking in eclectic shops and corner boutiques to find the one that’s right for you. Kimonos come in pretty much every fabric and color you can imagine, so some will fit your aesthetic better than others. Don’t settle for the wrong one.

A good kimono that fits your vibe is like the perfect leather jacket: a layer you’ll rely on so much that it will become a natural part of your dressing routine.

There are local kimono-friendly spots, like Underpinnings (150 Washington Ave., 983-9103), which focuses on wear-around-the-house items. You may be brave enough to rock one out of the house, too. Or dive into AGNES via their dreamy Instagram account (@wearagnes), which features locally designed, handmade unisex kimonos in indigo, sky pink and burgundy-patterned natural textiles. Search for a wrappy piece at the spring market hosted by Betterday Coffee (905 W Alameda St., 780-8059) this Friday, Saturday and Sunday (10 am-5 pm). With a ton of local vendors and some vintage clothing options, you may luck out.


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