Authentic Japanese kimono are distinct and unique from western fashion. Unlike most modern clothing sold in American traditional kimono do not come in sizes such as small, medium, or large. Rather, kimono have a variety of measurements that a person will need to take to know their measurements to find a kimono that will accommodate them. When most Japanese kimono are first assembled, they are most often tailor to a specific person, and since we mostly deal in vintage used kimono, the majority of our stock has a wide range of sizes because of all the different potential combinations for body types.
That said, Japanese fashion tends to run slightly smaller than American and European sizes.
Measure Yourself For Japanese Kimono
Measurement Tool: Tape Measure (can be purchased at almost every craft store and general big box store for about $1 - we suggest one that is 120 inches)
Paper & Writing tool: To Record Measurements
A Friend: Optional, but some folks like to have a friend help them measure themselves
Measurements To Take
There are many measurements one can take for when sizing themselves for a kimono. However, for beginners and people new to wearing kimono we suggest 4, and as you learn more about kimono you can explore the other measurements such as the sodetake (sleeve length).
Back Width: (outside of the shoulder to the other outside of the opposite shoulder)
Length: for female dressing styles you want the top of your shoulders to the ground + 10 cm (we recommend measuring from the front to accommodate natural curves such as the slope of breasts which will take fabric to cover and thus impact the dressing length). For male dressing styles you want roughly top of your shoulders to your ankle, from the front (follow the curves of your body, things like a stomach will take up extra fabric which will impact the length needed).
Wrist To Wrist, at a 45-degree angle: just follow the path of your arms to get the total length. This measurement helps with making certain the kimono sleeves are long enough to accommodate your arms when in a variety of different positions.
Girth At Widest Point: the easiest way to figure out the girth of a kimono is to take its back measurement and times it by 2 and add 5cm for a rough estimate. So if you have a 20 inch back on a kimono, it most likely has a 45 inch girth roughly. This is only a rough estimation, so always give yourself room for error. Keep in mind many kimono can be altered to increase or decrease their girth.
TIP ABOUT WOMEN'S KIMONO FITTINGS: Kimono are cut to favor a body without curves, and yet curves are naturally a part of who we are. In Japan, for more formal types of kimono, it is normal to take steps to reduce a woman's natural curves such as reducing her chest, and even adding towels around the waistline to fill in an hourglass.
When measuring yourself, we recommend ladies have on a good quality comfortabe sports bra to help you understand your own 'kimono shape'.