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What is a Kimono Cardigan?

Kimono cardigan distance

You know how they say that the more fashion changes, the more it stays the same? One of the hottest fashion items trending on all social media and appearing in all closets right now was inspired by fashion dating back thousands of years. Who knew that the hottest thing you could wear this year would be something that’s been around since ancient times? What is a kimono cardigan…and why the heck aren’t you wearing one yet?

The Basics of the Kimono Cardigan

Also known as Noragi jackets, kimono cardigans are an open, wraparound item that was inspired by the ancient kimonos worn in Japan. The kimono cardigan has a very deep V neck because of the wraparound design and often contains colors and artwork that pays homage to traditional Japanese design elements. Sometimes, these cardigans have button closures but sometimes they’re made in a wrap style that is tied around the waist with an attached belt.

Because it’s a cardigan as well as a kimono, this can be a knit garment. It can be made in knits of all thicknesses, from lightweight jersey knit designs to heavy cable knit. However, kimono cardigans may also be made with lightweight materials, such as traditional silk or polyester made to feel like silk.

What is a Kimono?

The kimono is an ancient piece of fashion that has been worn literally for thousands of years. Traditionally, the kimono is a floor-length wraparound garment with long, wide, full sleeves. In more classic designs, it’s made with beautiful material and it is dyed in beautiful colors.

Sometimes, the kimono also has a very embellished and artistic design. Elaborate floral patterns, symbols and abstract designs and patterns are often used. Kimonos may have vivid jewel tones, soft pastel designs, neutral style or high-contrast looks in black and white. All colors and patterns might be used.

The first kimonos appeared sometime between 800 and 1200 in Japan. The design was somewhat refined by the 1600s, with smaller sleeve armholes. The name “kimono” wasn’t officially used until 1868, though the garment was already hundreds of years old by then. Small changes had refined the garment but kinos stayed pretty much the same through all history. The kimono has alwyas been a long garment with full sleeves and a wraparound design.

The thing that made the kimono unique is that everyone wore it. Across all class divides and economic levels, this was simply the piece of clothing that everyone wore. All men, women and children wore kimonos. However, the rich and upper-class wore highly embellished and beautiful kimonos made from fine fabric, while people from lower classes wore plainer kimonos made with coarser materials.

From Kimono to Cardigan

Compared to the kimono, the cardigan is a new arrival on the fashion scene. This item doesn’t have centuries of history behind it and there was no one place where everyone just wore a cardigan all the time. The cardigan’s story is one of accidental success.

The only reason people noticed the cardigan was because of the guy who wore it…a guy who became famous for making a really, really dumb decision.

Colorful kimono cardigan

In the 1850s, England was engaged in an active war with Russia. A man named Thomas Brudenell was leading a regiment when they came across a group of Russian soldiers. The Russian men had a better position and they were better armed.

They had a clear advantage. Brudenell decided to attack them anyway. He led his soldiers in the Charge of the Light Brigade, which became famous as a dismal failure. Brudenell achieved infamy as the man who led the charge, which was ill-fated at best. His name was associated with the failure all over England, which isn’t what any military leader wants.

But as he rose to infamous status, a particular clothing item he wore managed to gain much more positive attention. Thomas Brudenell wore a waistcoat like most men of the area, because a waistcoat was just an embellished vest. But Brudenell’s vest was made in lightweight wool in a knit design, something very different from the vests of the day. What you may not know is that Thomas Brudenell was officially the seventh Earl of Cardigan.

The knit vest he wore became known as a “cardigan” because of this. Soon, long sleeves were added to the knit vest and in the 1860s, the cardigan as most people know it today became popular all over Europe.

Wearing a Kimono Cardigan

Ready to give the kimono cardigan trend a try? Play around with some outfits that will pair well with this fashion item and experiment with some different looks to see how wearing a kimono cardigan can enhance all your outfits.

Smart Casual

Hotouch Cardigan for Women Lightweight Open Draped Front 3/4 Sleeve Black Kimono Cardigans Summer Tops

Create a smart casual look with a kimono cardigan that will look good for just about any casual occasion. Skinny jeans, a lightweight blouse and a long kimono cardigan create a look that is perfect for a day date, an afternoon gathering, running errands and all sorts of other activities. Finish the look with heeled sandals and you’re ready for anything.

Casual Cool

Women's Floral Summer Kimono Cardigan Loose Cover Up Casual Open Front Tops (Black, XL)

Top of a pair of blue jeans with a classic V-neck T-shirt and a kimono cardigan. This works great as a casual everyday look if you want to be both relaxed and comfortable but also stylish and trendy. This is a go-anywhere outfit that will wear well pretty much anywhere you might have to go during the course of a normal day.

You’ll look cool and casual and relaxed and best of all, you’ll also feel that way.

Sophisticated

Bsubseach Women Mesh Lace Beach Kimono Cardigan Open Front Swimsuit Cover Ups Swimwear Green

Fitted black slacks, a black silk blouse and a kimono cardigan will create a sophisticated, classy look that’s perfect for casual to semiformal events of all kinds. Wear a kimono in a lighter or neutral color shade and this outfit will work as day or night wear. A kimono cardigan is a great way to add some color to an outfit to create a bright, head-turning pop. After all, what’s the point of fashion if you can’t turn heads?

Classic

MBJ Womens Short Sleeve Dolman Cardigan 3XL Black

Create a look that says you’re ready for the country club by pairing dark jeans or pants with a striped blouse and a kimono cardigan. With a long chain necklace, this is a classic and traditional look that just seems to be high-end. This is a great casual to semi-formal look.

Boho

MEILING Women's Sexy Bikini Swimsuit Bathing Suit Cover Ups Swimwear Beach Dress Long Kimono Jacket Cardigan Robe (Print 6)

Use a long kimono cardigan to create a great boho look that will be super cute as daywear or evening wear. Distressed skinny jeans, high heel sandals and a tucked-in T-shirt are the foundation. The kimono cardigan gives the outfit color and style. Pair this with a large straw handbag and a pair of sunglasses and you will totally capture the bobo vibe.

Elegant

Manydress Women’s Bodycon Sleeveless Deep V Neck Summer Dress Wrap Ruched Cocktail Party Mini Dresses MY062 (Black, XL)

 

Wear a kimono cardigan as an elegant extra touch on top of a form-fitting dress. A lightweight kimono cardigan can add just the right extra touch of style to a dress. This is an amazing evening look that is great for a dressier semi-formal occasion. Try this look with heels and a pair of earrings and you’ll be ready to wow.

Down to Business

shermie Floral Kimonos for Women Beach Swimsuit Cover Up Long Kimono Cardigan (One Size, Beige)

Use a kimono cardigan to create an amazing professional look. A pair of flared pants with a silk blouse and a kimono cardigan shows a little personality and style while still sticking to a professional dress code. Sometimes, it’s good to have an outfit with a little flair.

This can give you a bit of an advantage when it comes to business meetings and making an impression. If you stand out a little as someone who is stylish and well put together you will seem to be more in command of every room you’re in. How can that hurt you in the business world?

What is a Kimono Cardigan?

A kimono cardigan is a newer piece of fashion that’s based on two fashion staples, one much older than the other. The two items combine to create a garment that is comfortable and loose, lightweight and stylish. The kimono cardigan looks great and it pairs with lots of outfits to put any look over the top.

Now that you know what a kinoo cardigan is and how to style it, you can play around with this item and turn heads everywhere you go.

FAQs

Still have questions about styling a kimono cardigan? We’ve got the answers to all the most frequently asked questions about the kimono cardigan to help you style this item just like a fashion expert would.

Kimono cardigan outside

Are kimono cardigans in style?

Kimono cardigans are very much in style right now. This is a hot item that lots of celebrities and other fashion-forward personalities are wearing and showing off on their social media. Many stores are carrying kimono cardigans and there are many options available if you want to give this look a try. Now is the time to try it because kimono cardigans are so trendy.

Are kimono cardigans cultural appropriation?

Sometimes, fashion is tricky for more than one reason. When you wear an item that was inspired by another group’s culture, you might wonder if you’re making some sort of style mistake and accidentally insulting others. No one wants to do the wrong thing or hurt someone else’s feelings, after all. So is it cultural appropriation to wear a kimono cardigan?

The question of cultural appropriation is fraught with opinions. Some people will say that no matter what you wear, if it comes from another culture then you shouldn’t wear it. However, wearing an item because you enjoy another culture and admire something about it, such as fashion, should not be considered to be an insult.

If you want to wear a kimono cardigan because you think they’re pretty, do so. However, knowing that these items are inspired by ancient Japanese clothing is a way for you to honor and respect the culture, rather than to be stealing from it.

Remember that fashion is always a personal choice and other people are always going to look at you and judge you for what you’re wearing. As long as you’re wearing what you like and you’re wearing it with the intention of being stylish and happy in your clothing, rather than with the intention to do harm or cause hate, you don’t need to worry about what other people think about your style.

How do you tie a kimono cardigan?

Kimono cardigans are styled in a number of different ways. Sometimes, they tie directly at the middle of the body. Sometimes, they can be tied off to one side with the knot over the hip. You can even tie some styles in the back, though this can be difficult to manage all by yourself.

You can choose to tie the kimono however you like. Create a standard knot, a bow, whatever you want to try.

What should you wear with a kimono cardigan?

There are many different ways to style a kimono cardigan. We’ve only touched on some of them and explored some of the style possibilities. Try your own looks to see what you like.

You might find that you enjoy belted looked or knotted looks, loose looks, or open looks. There are many different ways to wear these items and different styles to play around with. The more you experiment, the more different looks you’ll find.

You can wear kimono cardigans with dresses, jeans, pants or shorts. Get a few different styles and start using them to dress up all your different outfits.

When can you wear a cardigan kimono?

Cardigan kimonos are trendy and stylish, and they look nice. They can be worn with all kinds of outfits, from casual to formal outfits. That means you can wear cardigan kimonos any time with just about anything.

What is the difference between a kimono and a cardigan?

Both the kimono and the cardigan are open garments that wrap or close around the body, and both typically have V necklines. Kimonos and cardigans both have long sleeves in traditional designs. Both items are typically worn looser than they are worn fitted.

However, this is where the similarities end. Traditional cardigans are usually waist or hip length and they are always made in a knit construction. Kimonos are usually full-length with much fuller, wider sleeves and they are usually made with lightweight, smooth fabrics like silk.

Sources:

F Mag – Top 13 Kimono Cardigan Outfit Ideas for Women: Style Guide

GQ – Now, friends, is the age of the kimono cardigan

JSTOR – The Surprising History of the Kimono

Wisegeek – What are the Different Types of Kimono Sweater?