kimono image by Francis Lempérière from

Japanese clothing is worn to complement each season and varies by the person’s age or the event the clothing will be worn to. Traditional Japanese clothing is called “wafuku.” Japanese clothing can be broken down into several categories. Nagajugan refers to undergarments. Haoris are short, silk jackets, and michiyukis are overcoats. Hakamas are Japanese pants.

Seasonal Clothing

In the summer, much Japanese clothing is made from cotton. Yukatas are kimonos worn specifically in the summer. Traditional clothing worn by the Japanese in the spring contains bright colors and floral patterns. Floral patterns may be made up of chrysanthemums or maple leaves. Japanese winter clothing traditionally contains patterns or designs consisting of bamboo, pine trees or plum blossoms, particularly around the holidays. Winter clothing symbolizes good luck and prosperity. In the fall and winter, Japanese clothing is made from heavier fabrics.

Formal Clothing

Formal Japanese clothing will either have elaborate or simple, elegant designs. Traditional uchikake wedding kimonos, or happi coats, are considered formal wear. Shiro-maku kimonos are also worn for weddings. Clothing consisting of elegant designs and subdued colors are worn for formal family visits or at formal functions, such as weddings.

Informal Clothing

Informal traditional Japanese clothing may be either dyed or consist of woven or repetitive patterns. Cotton yukatas, woven cotton haoris and dyed ikat kimonos are all informal Japanese clothes. They are worn as common daily wear in bath houses or for informal friend or family visits.


Kimonos are not worn as daily attire any longer, however elders on small islands like Okinawa still wear them daily. Traditionally, young women who were not married would wear kimonos with long sleeves, vibrant colors and patterns. Women who were older or married would wear kimonos with more subdued colors and patterns. Japanese women would wear a furosode kimono for their 19th birthday and coming-of-age ceremony.

Men’s Kimonos

Men wear kimono robes for festivals, special occasions and ceremonies. Kimono patterns include dragons, koi, kanji symbols, bamboo canes, geometric patterns and other masculine designs. Colors are typically conservative and the background is usually blue, black, brown or gray with contrasting-colored designs. The sleeves of a man’s kimono are sewn closed under the arm, unlike the open-armed sleeve for a woman.


The two typical types of traditional Japanese shoes are the zori and the geta, which come in a variety of colors and styles. Red and black shoes are the most popular. Japanese sandals are also made to match the exact pattern of a kimono. The kimono should hang at the ankle so that the shoes are shown off.


Japanese Harajuku style is a type of fashion most commonly worn by teens and young adults in the area surrounding the Harajuku train station. The location has several boutiques and trendy clothing stores. Harajuku style ranges from dark and gothic to sweet and cute. Additional styles include Lolita, Visual Kei and Ganguro. Some Harajuku Girls dress as anime characters. The clothing is often colorful and creative and is accompanied by bizarre hairstyles.

About the Author

Lindsay Pietroluongo

As a full-time writer in New York's Hudson Valley, Lindsay Pietroluongo's nightlife column and photos have appeared regularly in the "Poughkeepsie Journal" since 2007. Additional publications include "Chronogram," the "New Paltz Sojourn," "About Town" newspaper and "Outsider" magazine. Pietroluongo graduated from Marist College with a B.A. in English.