Many of the items below are traditional Japanese dress items that were once worn by all Japanese people. Today in Modern Japan you still see many people in traditional dress particularly on festivals. This would be equivalent to wearing black tie formalwear in Western society.
While many of these items are not unique to geisha society they are today uncommon to many and the names and descriptions of each item is given below.
Kimono are large robes, worn with an underrobe. Usually kimono are padded and bound to give a straight line. Kimono are seasonal, and also range in formality and style.
Obi are large waist bands wrapped around the outside of the kimono. These are usually held shut with obi belts and are often the most intricate part of a kimono outfit.
Maiko usually have their own hair styled, however Geiko tend to wear large ornamental wigs, mainly for formal occasions and dancing recitals.
Large platformed sandals worn by Maiko, usually made of wood and lacquered on the straps or all over
Zori are flat lacquered sandals, without platforms though sometimes with small ‘legs’ to protect against snow and puddles.
Maiko wear several hair ornaments though Geiko will usually wear a single comb. Maiko hair ornaments are seasonal, containing seasonal flower replicas.
As was common of many good clothing items before the rise of cheap textile manufacture collars on kimono are detachable and replaced frequently throughout the lifetime of a robe. Heavy padded fabric is sewed to the inside of the kimono and may collect sweat, make up or dirt through use. Accordingly the collar is changed regularly to preserve hygeine and the quality of the expensive kimono materials. It is is usually of a heavy white or white and red brocade, the colour and style of the collar used is an indicator of the maturity of the maiko or geiko.
Generally of thick paper coated in paint, lacquer or gold leaf with wooden spines, often lacquered. As well as being used for cooling fans are used as dancing props and to maintain makeup and are kept in the folds of the obi.
Small chord knotted belts used to tie the obi in place, very decorative and often adorned further with brooches
Usually rattan or palm woven flat bottoms with draw string/string tied fabric tops made from traditional style cotton dyed fabrics in old style patterns (often indigo)
‘Kimono’ jackets, these were once an item of men’s clothing only and the fashion for wearing these with female kimono is in fact attributed to Geisha fashion. These are short loose kimono style ‘coats’ and can be worn with small ties around the waist or with a white fur stole across the shoulders.