Every time I put on a trendy kimono, at first I feel amazing. I love a flowing, brightly-hued addition to an outfit and especially right before spring. But it doesn’t take long when I go about doing regular human things to realize what a hazard the kimono can be. I just caught my sleeve on the bathroom doorknob, for example, and almost spilled the coffee I had in one hand and the water I had in the other. I would have spilled them both had I not already been on kimono alert after catching myself on the front doorknob, the hook where we keep our car keys, and then pulling a knife from the counter into the sink with my extra fabric.
You’ll be saying, “Look, Ma, no hands,” until you literally have no hands (or burn them badly).
Maybe the reason you so often traditionally see kimono paired with those flat, wooden, platform sandals is because regular kimono wearers know the importance of having to move slowly when you carry sleeves that could take you down while going through your daily chores. The wooden slabs you strap to your feet would prevent quick movements and, in turn, your personal demise.
Last summer my sister and I bought matching kimono (yes plural is without the “s,” and I feel like kind of a jerk writing it like that) at a cute shop in New Jersey called South Moon Under. There are so many embarrassing things about this paragraph already I should just roll myself up and be done with it. But I’ll plod on for your (hopefully) amusement and because it could save your life. I convinced her she should have the black kimono with the embroidered flowers because it was perfectly in line with her vocation as a social worker — someone with that kind of wardrobe must have all the answers.
The ’60s vibe embodying the kimono my sister and I both purchased implored me to dress flowingly and then attempt my Joan Didion dreams of making lentil soup in style. But I implore you to take heed: Do not wear a kimono and then “put lentils to soak on Saturday night for lentil soup on Sunday” as Didion might have done. The soaking part is OK, if messy. But never, ever attempt to cook while wearing a kimono unless you are a seasoned kimono-wearer who comes from at least one generation of kimono-wearers who have learned the pitfalls of extra fabric in the kitchen and can handle themselves around flame and drapes.
Other things of which you should be careful while wearing a kimono (if you’re still convinced it’s a good idea, and you might, because they are so cute): eating at a restaurant, family-style, especially if there are candles on the table; reaching for anything, anywhere, anytime; drawing a bath; cleaning; moving quickly about your house, your life, the world.
Wide open spaces, however, are the perfect environment to wear your adorable kimono. Spread your wings and fly. Just do not, under any circumstances, wear those sleeves and fry.
Jenn Sutkowski celebrates Japan’s Misao Okawa, the world’s oldest person, who celebrated her 117th birthday on March 5, 2015. Okawa is the daughter of kimono makers and, hence, knows her way around a kimono.
This Full Frontal column was first published in the Newport Mercury.
It's me, Jennifer Bernice (rhymes with "Furnace": it was my Granny's name) Sutkowski
• More details about my writing here.