March 5, 2018

Haute Couture Haori

If you have been visiting this blog for a while you may already know that I love Japanese haori jackets. These traditional Japanese garments are cut very similar to kimono and are designed to be worn atop full length kimono, but are often worn in their own right both in Japan and abroad. I have discussed wearing haori and the possible cultural appropriation encountered in doing so a little bit before here on the blog, see here, and as usual I want to say that it is never my intention to wear anything in an offensive or costumey way. I genuinely love studying and handling vintage clothing from all over the world, and especially from Japan as kimono are truly gorgeous. Here I am wearing a haori a little differently than I have before here on the blog because this jacket I have on is actually a men's haori jacket!

Mens and women's haori (and kimono) are cut/designed a bit differently from one another, with the most noticeable difference being the width and way the sleeves are attached to the main part of the garment. The sleeves on this men's style haori for example are completely set into the main body of the garment, as opposed to women's haori which have the bottom inside of the sleeves open. There were many cocoon style or oversized coats in 1950's women's fashion which borrowed a lot from the shape of a kimono jacket like the men's haori, and I find the way the sleeves drape is just so elegant. A mix of vintage styles from two different cultures, can it ever really be done respectfully? I know that is my intent, but I am also aware that some people may find my wearing a haori at all incorrect. I am interesed in the descussion around the topic for sure, so feel free to discuss it further in the comments!

Here I am wearing this vintage Showa (1926-1989) period silk haori jacket with a modern knit dress and various vintage accessories including 1960's nylon gloves and my 1940's plastiflex clutch. This dress is an odd one in my wardrobe, being a thin jersey fabric and totally modern item. It clings where I am not often comfortable having things cling, and is virtually sleeveless when I don't usually like showing my arms, but somehow despite my insecurities, I love this dress? I don't love it in photos (ah insecurities...why are you still here? go away) but I do love wearing it. It's odd, I know. I have sadly misplaced the long tie belt that came with the dress so I wore a thin patent leather belt from my days working at Banana Republic instead with a cute elephant buckle. I kept my jewelry simple with just a bracelet of black glass beads and long lantern shaped gold earrings. 

How do you all feel about wearing items of clothing, be they modern or vintage, from another culture outside your own? Have some items and designs been exchanged for so long that they are no longer at risk of being offensive? Or is erring on the side of caution always just safer? Let me know what you think!

Haori, Gloves, & Clutch: Vintage
Dress: Old Navy
Fishnets: TJ Maxx
Shoes: Remix
Earrings & Bracelet: Made by me
Belt: Banana Republic Factory Store


  1. Thank you for the haori inspiration! This looks absolutely fabulous on you. I picked one up last summer (also black, but a bit shorter than yours), and I've been at a loss for how to wear it. This is giving me some definite ideas!

    1. Thank you Jessica! The womens haori are usually shorter than this one I've got on here. I think they look great with jeans and a tee shirt too, but the languid drape lends itself well to 1920's looks as well <3

  2. I've seen it said so many times that when people are aware of the culture and being respectful in how they wear an item -- such as ensuring it isn't a religious item like, for instance, a native American headdress -- it's a wonderful way to show your appreciation for a culture. I'm not incredibly well versed on cultural appropriation, but to my understanding appropriation is more when something is done in an almost willfully ignorant or just plain disrespectful way (wearing a culture's print because it's "trendy"), or a way in which the person appropriating a culture is profiting from that appropriation and not using it to benefit the culture.

    So with that said, I think your wearing a haori isn't appropriation, but appreciation. But again, I'm not SUPER well versed in it!

    You look beautiful here, and I 100% feel you on having certain items of clothing that somehow you love when they also hit every insecurity, haha! I have a few dresses like that. They photograph terribly but oh, I do love them.


    1. Thank you Kristina! It can be a fine line, but one I'd always like to balance when I brush against it. As you say being conscientious and aware in general is important!

  3. As a white woman, I cannot guess how wearing this would be interpreted by a Japanese person, however, my guidelines are context and respect. Trashy Diva was trashed for using a (seemingly) white model in a campaign for kimono inspired robes and dresses. The model's hair was styled in a loose intrepretation of a geisha style, but it was clearly recognisable.

    My own standards:
    Wearing a full kimono to run errands = cultural appropriation
    Wearing a sari to traditional Indian wedding (if requested/required on the invite) = respectful
    Wearing any form of native dress as a Halloween costume = cultural appropriation (and offensive)

    Intention and context are critical because there's almost nothing that is not some form of cultural appropriation. Tattoos are cultural appropriation.

    1. With the world so much smaller now than it was hundreds of years ago when cultures were much more distinct, so many things have been adopted and exchanged (like tattoos) that it can be hard to know just where the lines are anymore. I agree with the standards you laid out closely too, and Trashy Diva definitely has made some missteps in the past in these regards. Appreciation is good, even lovely culturally specific prints are nice, it's just when it's made to be like a costume that things start leaning firmly in the wrong direction.

  4. I love how you have styled this!!! It's crisp, chic, and just so unique.

    As for your questions... I always try to learn about whatever I am wearing. For example, my Kachina doll rings, I always try to make sure I know which tribe they are from, and what they represent. I think as long as you arm yourself with knowledge then you'll know what is appropriate to wear and what isn't. And you'll be able to talk to people who may criticize you.


    1. Thank you Janey! Being able to really engage in those kinds of conversations instead of it turning into an immediate attack/defense situation is so important I think, plus it is just good to be informed in general. Who doesn't enjoy learning about other cultures clothing and accessories, its all beautiful and fascinating stuff!


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