Two essentially signature elements of Asian dressing, the Yukata vs Kimono have long since been present in history and continue to be worn by women across the world.
While remaining a signature style of Japanese fashion, the garment has spread its roots globally, where women outside Japan and China are increasingly adopting the style and design into their everyday wear.
The difference between kimono and yukata has caused confusion among many wearers, who may not be aware of the things that make the garments different from one another.
The two have quite a few similarities that could cause confusion to people other than the locals who wear them. These also include those people who are relatively new to fashion and aren’t aware of what makes a yukata or kimono unique in their own way.
Here’s a detailed overview of kimono and yukata, their differences and similarities that will hopefully clear your confusion between the two.
Yukata vs Kimono: What Is A Kimono?
A kimono was originally a Chinese garment called the Hanfu that was adopted by Japanese people who gave their own local twist to it.
It provided a fashionable way for both men and women to keep the cold at bay during winters, where the people could choose it in silk fabrics with many layers underneath while maintaining a fancy outlook. The kimono is made of four pieces of fabric stitched together in a T-shape, with an obi belt on the waistline which proves useful in creating a slimmer illusion.
The word kimono is made up of two parts; ‘ki’ which means ‘wear’ and ‘mono’ which means thing. Put together in a sensible way, a kimono is a thing that you wear.
The kimono was available in a variety of fabrics, prints, and designs, where they could be chosen according to the look you wanted to create, and occasion-specific kimonos were also made.
The variety has only widened today, where kimonos are available in thicker fabrics and a range of designs. Polyester kimonos are quite a popular style among women these days. A modern touch is given to the garment to blend into current trends while maintaining its unique vibe.
Yukata vs Kimono: What Is A Yukata?
Yukata could be described as a variety of kimonos, although it’s often found in lighter fabrics more suited to the summers.
It is also more casual and can be worn in everyday affairs, where it seems to be a blend of different clothing, including a robe, a dress, and a kimono. It is significantly less priced than kimonos, which is one of the reasons why women prefer to buy yukatas over kimonos, especially the silk varieties which are much cheaper.
They were originally worn as bathing clothes, which is how the garment attains its name. The style is still casual, but more stylish varieties are available where they are formal enough to be worn outside and can pass as effective lingerie.
Unlike kimonos, yukatas are free from representing the status quota where common people wore the garment with relative ease and form cute outfits in summer.
What’s The Difference Between A Yukata And Kimono?
There are some elemental differences between a yukata and a kimono in style and design, that help you spot the differences and make your choice easier.
Since the purpose of the two garments was different, the fabrics to stitch the garments were chosen accordingly.
The kimono had a more social impact where it represented your status quota while the yukata was more functional, and had evolved so that it could be part of your everyday wardrobe.
This is why they had more breathable material like cotton to suit the hot weather in Japan, to soak sweat and water efficiently, although they are available in more efficient materials today and even have designs suited to more formal settings.
Kimonos were usually adorned with embroidery and brocade, where a double collar was essential for the garment to be identified as a kimono.
The style of the two garments varies considerably, but the way of tying the garment together is the same and essential to keep in mind.
You must take note of how you are arranging the front two panels. The left must always go over the right to avoid cultural appropriation and maintain respect for the garment.
There are differences in how you accessorize the two garments, where the yukata is more casual and outgoing than the kimono, which brings us to the next important part of when and how you should wear the Japanese robes.
Yukata and kimono differences also lie in when you should be wearing Japanese robes, where one may be more suitable than the other.
This should be taken care of when deciding between a kimono and yukata to wear to an event. Yukatas are often worn at festivals and should be avoided at formal settings like wedding attire, funerals, or high-end dinners.
This is where the kimono comes in and is often used as a symbol of luxury with the rich embroidery and material the robe is made of. It is accessorized generously with heavy jewelry as a display of wealth and status.
You need not wear it with wrong intentions, but it is important to do the kimono justice as well as fit into the formal settings.
Perhaps the most critical feature that distinguishes the two Japanese robes, is the collar. The yukata, staying true to its relaxed style, has a wide neck collar where frills or some kind of embellishment may be incorporated onto the neckline to enhance the design.
It is also relatively softer than those kimonos, which is mainly dependent on the material it is made of.
The kimonos almost always have a double collar, one on the neck and one beneath the real kimono. This usually belongs to the juban, an undergarment worn with the kimono.
Yukata vs Kimono: What It Means For Men?
The main difference arises in the type of fabric used for either of the garments. Like women, men’s yukatas are built for casual, everyday wear and sport breathable material, like cotton or linen, to keep ‘em cool during summers.
The kimonos are more formal and silk fabric is widely used. However, they can also be made with different fabrics, other than silk. Like women, men wear their kimonos with a juban to avoid getting them dirty, since they are usually made with fabrics not suited to washing.
Apart from that, the design and prints incorporated onto men’s yukata and kimonos also help in distinguishing between the two.
The kimono is typically kept simple and classic where the fabric is allowed to shine on its own and the design speaks for itself. The yukatas often have geometrical, fun prints and colors that bring out the vibe of summer.
The rules to wear Japanese robes for men are pretty much the same as for women, where care must be taken of the way you tie the garment, the occasion you’re wearing it, the cute hairstyle, as well as the footwear.
What Is The Difference Between Obi For Yukata And Obi For Kimono?
The obi is an essential feature in distinguishing between the yukata and Japanese kimono and forms an essential part of the aesthetic.
The different origins of the two Japanese robes play an important role in the obi chosen for either type of Japanese robe.
Due to the formal origin of the kimono, an intricate silk belt opts for the garment. This can be tied like a scarf around the waist and usually forms a thicker obi than the one used on a yukata.
A yukata usually has a narrower obi, often called hanhaba obi with half the width of a typical obi. It can also be twisted around to show different colors on either side of the belt. This style of obi is usually worn with yukatas rather than kimonos
There are many ways you can enhance and decorate your obi. One of them can be to use an obijime to hold the tie in place, as well as an obidome which is attached to the obijime, supporting your obi in a stylish way.
Concluding Our Thoughts on Yukata vs Kimono
The style of the two Japanese robes is quite similar to one another, and no stark contrast can be observed between the two. However, differences do exist and you should be looking for them if you want to wear the garment properly.
The fact that one is used for more formal wear while the other can be worn on a day-to-day basis translates into the cuts and fabrics used to design the two.
The basic features of the garments remain pretty much the same, with a similar style of tailoring, an obi, and collar opted in both robes as well as the long billowing sleeves. The differences occur in these features and are apparent to those willing to look.
With more and more people adopting the yukata and kimono, due to the increasing obsession with anime outfits the lines between the two may get blurred.
All that is well and good, but it is important to remember that the garment belongs to a culture and must be worn in a respectful way to avoid cultural appropriation.