The outer garment worn over the kosode (a sort of robe) by both men and women, the haori is cut like a kimono but is shorter, varying in length from mid thigh to mid calf. The haori has one layer of silk, like a kimono, and is lined with another layer of silk or cotton. It is loose-fitting and T-shaped. Unlike the kimono, the haori front does not overlap and is not secured by an obi, a type of sash. It is fastened at the center front by means of braided silk cords.
Geisha, professional hostesses and entertainers, were the first women to wear haori over their kimonos. During the seventeenth century geisha in the Fukagawa neighborhood of Edo, as Tokyo was then called, started to wear haori to assert their mastery and skill in the arts "like men." At first a radical fashion statement, within a century it was common to see women wear either haori under their kimono or hakama (full-cut trousers or a divided skirt) over their kimono, but not both. By this time the geishas were the only Japanese who would not wear the haori.
During the nineteenth century the haori became the chief garment for displaying the mon, or family crests, at occasions such as weddings and funerals. The mon are small, usually white logos that are simple decorative designs of natural symbols that families have adopted.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Japanese Costume Through the Ages. Tokyo, Japan: Tokyo National Museum, 1962.
[See also Volume 2, Early Asian Cultures: Kosode ; Volume 2, Early Asian Cultures: Geisha box on p. 231 ]