Kimono sleeves

Kimono sleeves! Do you like them? What do you call them? When I’m searching for patterns on Etsy I see them tagged as ‘grown-on’, ‘kimono’, ‘dolman’, and occasionally ‘bat-wing’ (although that’s more for this kind of 80s style monstrosity).

Kimono sleeve is the most common term you hear sewers use, although if you actually look at a kimono it’s not an accurate description, as they do have shoulder seams, just without any shaping. They are basically large rectangles joined on one side at the top (there’s a good diagram on wikipedia).

Check out this gorgeous petrol-green beauty from Phillip Lim. The huge belt loops! The boat-neck! I wish I could see how it’s been put together. (Do you ever wish that shops would show line drawings of clothes, the way sewing-patterns do? It would make online shopping a million times easier.)

Whatever they’re called, I love them. They combine slouchiness and elegance in that 50s house-dress way. They are the definitive ‘This old thing? I just threw it on’ dress.

I fell in love with these sleeves when I visited the Horrocks exhibition at the Museum of Fashion and Textiles last year. Nearly all the dresses in the exhibition had them, and their perfect for the signature bright Horrocks prints as there’s nothing to distract your eye at the shoulder-line.

Horrocks Dresses

Two of my favourites are below (although I wanted to take home every dress). The super-sweet wedding gown has a weirdly 70s vibe.  The other dress has both a kimono sleeve and a halter-neck style band coming from the side-seams.

Too much goodness. Why don’t they make clothes like this any more?

Kimono sleeves

Gingham with lapel pockets

Have a look at the flower print on this dress bodice – it looks almost pixellated.

Pixellated flower print

There are millions of these on Etsy. I love this one with the giant buttons.

And this one with a separate bodice front

And this post is already too long but OH you have to see this polka-dot sheath with huge pockets and white gloves:

That hat looks suspiciously like Ms Blue Dress has just plonked a fruit bowl on her head. But the sleeves make even that look good! Is there anything they can’t do?

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4 thoughts on “Kimono sleeves

  1. outofmyshed August 5, 2011 / 12:34 PM

    Just bought a Horrocks Dress (£25.00) from Stroll, a second hand/vintage clothes shop in Stoke Newington. Don’t have a tiny waist (at all) and do have an ample (FF) bosom. Very tight on the chest, but couldn’t resist the dress-will be on the lookout for more now. Love the patterns-ah! to have a waist smaller than my head! V.best Naomi

    • yesilikethat August 5, 2011 / 2:14 PM

      Wow, what a great find, am very jealous! £25 is a complete bargain. That shop is so near my house, I’ll have to go in and have a rummage sometime. What’s the print like?

  2. Chuck July 21, 2011 / 10:12 PM

    I found the most beautiful Horrocks dress at a vintage fair this year. It was gorgeous. Unfortunately the waist was so small that even undone I couldn’t get it over my (admittedly big) head. Sad times…

    • yesilikethat July 22, 2011 / 1:47 PM

      Oh man, what a shame. The ones in the exhibition all had teeny-tiny waists as well. Were women really so much smaller back then or was it all down to the girdle, I wonder?

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