Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Aya's Opinion on Common Kimono Questions: What Kind of Make-up Should I Wear With My Kimono?

Our newest installment of Common Kimono Questions is, again, extremely opinion-based and your mileage may vary. But the issue of kimono-appropriate makeup is also a question I have seen some ridiculous answers for so it seems like a decent one to address.

That said, my opinions and suggestions on the matter are pretty simple. In my opinion, kimono in the komon-houmongi range, as well as irotomesode and kurotomesoda, look best with subdued makeup, especially the kind that falls within the “natural look“ spectrum. If you’re a more adventurous type of person, you could try having one bold feature in your makeup with these styles (e.g. bold lips, bright eyes), but it’s better overall to keep the look more on the subdued or conservative side. To figure out how much leeway you have with your makeup, you might want to consider WHERE and WHY you’re wearing kimono in addition to what kind of kimono you’re wearing. For example, you can probably get away with a lot more play and experimentation if you’re just wearing your komon out around town than if you’re wearing your iromuji to a tea ceremony.

With yukata, you can almost definitely get away with brighter colors and flashier styles of makeup, since yukata are so informal and open to experimentation anyway. This is especially true if you’re interested in trying an already over-the-top style like agejo. Again, though, you might want to consider the where, when, and why of yukata-wearing before picking your makeup. I personally an more willing to play with brighter colors and wilder designs when I’m just going to a fireworks festival than, say, then time I wore yukata to play with my koto teacher’s ensemble (and for the record I wouldn’t have been wearing a yukata at all if she hadn’t told me to).

You may also be able to get away with a much stronger look when wearing furisode. Since they’re already a bit over the top and already require special accessories to balance out the extravagant look of the furisode (there’s a reason so many furisode-appropriate obi age are made of fabric died in the shibori method) you can probably get away with a stronger makeup look as well. Just don’t overdo it! Overdone makeup rarely, if ever, works.

That said…unless you’re doing henshin or cosplay, avoid maiko/geisha/geiko makeup at all costs. I couldn’t tell you where the idea that geisha makeup being appropriate for a non-geisha person to wear with a kimono comes from. I suspect it’s from the general misconception that all women in kimono must be geisha (followed by the equally inaccurate but much more understandable idea that all geisha always wear white makeup). This is absolutely not the case. While geisha and maiko make up a huge portion of the population of regular kimono-wearers in Japan today, they are hardly the only ones and I would argue that most of the women who wear kimono today -- including casual wearers -- are NOT geisha or maiko. Even among the geisha themselves, those over 30 and those not attending parties in full garb wear Western-style makeup and hair styles with their kimono.

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