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Lengths of Kimono Sleeves

Nowadays, the sleeve lengths of ready-made Kimono (着物) and Juban (襦袢, Kimono undergarment) are standardized to approximately 49 centimeters so that the sleeves of outer and inner layers are almost always fit with each other. However, when I try to wear my grandmother’s Kimono on Juban I bought, sometimes the sleeve lengths are mismatch and it’s really inconvenient.

This happens because there was no rule for sleeve lengths in the age of my mother and grandmother. Only standards they had were: 1) longer sleeves for formal occasions, shorter for casual, and 2) longer sleeves for young people, shorter for old.

As you might know, there are many styles in Kimono fashion. As for Furisode (振袖, formal kimono with long, trailing sleeves) alone, we have Oh-Furisode (大振袖) with the longest sleeves, and Chu-Furisode (中振袖) with shorter sleeves, and of course, at the time of my grandmother’s generation, the sleeve length for each style was not specified. Accordingly, everybody including my grandmother had to have Juban as many as the number of Kimono they had.

Genroku-Sode (元禄袖) is a kind of Kimono popular in the Edo (江戸) period. In the old times, when Kimono was nothing special, and was just an everyday outfit, it was loved because of it’s short and round-shaped sleeves which were very convenient to do domestic duties.

I was thinking that ready-made products are convenient, but as I learn Genrokusode, I understood that Kimono fashion is far deeper than I thought. Trying various sleeve lengths and shapes can expand the joy of the Kimono fashion.

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