How To Wear: Authentic Vintage Kimonos

How To Wear: Authentic Vintage Kimonos

Wearing a kimono can be as simple as changing out your regular 'grab' for a cardigan, pashmina, or jacket. It is an easy replacement that will keep you warm and stylish.

Authentic Japanese kimono come in so many colours, lengths, and styles - just like sweets! There are solid colours, florals, and many amazing patterns. There are short, medium, and long kimono with different traditional purposes and uses. 

The kimono remains - in all its forms solidly 'in vogue'. You may wonder how to transform this traditional beauty into something that is wearable for you. Here are my favourite ways to transform a humble kimono into what one of our fabulous painted birds (also named Steph!) coined ... "a KimoYES!"

Colour-Blocking Kimonos

The striking purple kimono (left) can be worn as a jacket or styled to be worn as a dress (right)! Achieve this look by pinning using the original kimono fixtures on the inside and adding a thin belt to hold secure. Don't get rid of existing sleeveless or shoulderless wardrobe items you love if you are no longer comfortable showing your arms. Kimonos can also be draped over the top of a shoulderless or strappy outfit (center) for an easy 'style win'. Put on a kimono and 'presto' sleeves!

How to wear a kimono


Celebrity Kimonos

"Its more than just a wrap dress, its a spirit. What is so special about a wrap dress is that it's actually a very traditional form of clothing. Its like a toga, its like a kimono, without buttons, without a zipper." Dianne Von Furstenberg

Style a colourful kimono by keeping accessories monochrome like the gorgeous Gwen Stefani (below, left). Use a belt or tie to wear a kimono as a dress as seen on Diane Von Furstenberg (below, center). DVF uses the more traditional styling to cinch her waist in like an obi (large sash) just like her iconic wrap dresses. Florence Welch brings an edgy look to her kimono with the addition of tassels on the sleeves and pairing with slim fit trousers seen here in New York.

Celebrities wearing Kimonos


One Kimono, Three Ways!

If you want to be a bit more discreet as you develop your own kimono wearing style, try a similar option as shown below. The key takeaway from these looks is to keep the colour palette in similar tones. Pick out the visual details such as metallic threads or individually coloured florals to blend in to the overall look. Centre and Left: Try channelling your inner boho with layering and long line accessories to finish off the look. Pair with pleated skirts or dresses (right) to build an Art Deco vibe.

Same Kimono 3 ways


Ready to take the plunge and try out what we think is the best building block your wardrobe can have? Here's our checklist of kimono accessories to help you get started!

Accessorize a kimono with:

  • A wide belt or tie to keep it together, to wear it as a dress
  • Silky shorts for a fun summer look
  • A bustier under or over top for a bit of 'edgy' addition
  • Mannish trousers or tight 'skinnies' to keep the eye travelling in a vertical line
  • A crisp white or cream shirt for casual chic.
  • An easy white 'T' will do the trick!
  • A silky singlet or lacy camisole and jeans
  • Monochrome or boho style accessories
  • A band or statement T-shirt for a more relaxed look
  • Textures like velvet, corduroy, patent or patterned leather in belts, PLU, skirts and trousers.

Why not let a kimono put your wardrobe through its paces - that is ... if you are game for a bit of fashion forward creativity!


Still not convinced? Here are some comments from a couple of our kimono-wearing Painted Birds:

I do not say ‘kimoNO’, I say ‘kimoYES’ - I can honestly state my Painted Bird kimono to be a favourite and the most versatile wardrobe item. If you’re a blazer person, try swapping your regular ho-hum jacket and jeans outfit with a vintage kimono instead, and watch your cool factor soar. Unique, individual, non-sizeist, trans-seasonal, loved and lovingly appreciated by a new generation - what’s not to adore about the kimono? It’s a KimoYES from me!


I love kimono. They are my favourite item of clothing. I was introduced to my first kimono (a beautiful deep chocolate brown) by Steph at Painted Bird about 4 years ago.  As soon as I put it on I fell in love with the style, comfort and beauty. Now I’m addicted to them. Since my first kimono I have added several more vintage and fashion kimono to my wardrobe. I’m always amazed at how versatile they are. They can be worn over just about EVERYTHING and can instantly transform an outfit.

Hope you are inspired!

Need a bit more help? Have you thought about treating yourself to a sustainable styling session? We start with what's already in your wardrobe so you don't have to worry that we will try to take you shopping to expensive stores. We endeavour to help you find ways to use what you already have with minimal further outlay. Get in quick before the sessions fill up and book your session now!

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