The tomesode is the most formal kimono for married women. It refers to the kimonos made by cutting and shortening the sleeves of a furisode, typically after marriage. The kanji for “tome” means “to stay”, which is said to refer to a married women staying with her husband’s family. From the late Edo period, the tomesode with its shortened sleeves became the standard wear for married women.
There are two types of tomesode – the kuro (black) tomesode, and the iro (color) tomesode. Both types are distinguished by lavish and elaborate designs on the skirt of the kimono. The formality of the kimono can be differentiated by the number of family crests on the kimono – five, three or one. They are usually worn at celebratory occasions like weddings. A kuro tomesode with five crests ranks highest in formality for married women.
Iro tomesode can be worn by both married and unmarried women, and an iro tomesode with five crests is considered to be as formal as a kuro tomesode. At the highest level of formality, they are usually matched with an elegantly-patterned gold or silver obi, tied in a nijuudaiko musubi (double layer taiko). Kimonos with three or one crest are often worn at less formal occasions like parties.
To match the tomesode, the bag and the zori would usually be silver or gold on a white base.
These are preferably made of cloth, but beaded or enamel accessories can be used for less formal occasions.