The fashion influence of traditional Japanese styles of clothing, from trousers to dresses to blouses, has been widespread. The classic Japanese kimono blouse, a T-shaped garment with a wraparound shape and wide sleeves, was traditionally worn with a matching lower skirt as an undergarment under the more formal kimono. Starting in the mid-19th century, when Japan opened contact with the West for cultural exchange, Western designers began adapting the kimono style into blouses meant to be seen.
The kimono blouse began as a clothing article known as han-juban and was designed to be worn as underwear. Like the outer kimono, it features a wrap closure and wide sleeves, but it is only half the length of the kimono. The collar of the han-juban is meant to be visible from under the kimono, adding depth and dimension to the ensemble, as well as preventing the kimono collar from getting dirty. It is worn with the susoyoke, a matching wrap skirt. It can be white or patterned, and can even be pieced together from scraps of discarded kimonos.
The kimono blouse designed for men, known only as a juban, is similar to the han-juban in that it is designed to be worn underneath a kimono. Men's juban differ in that they are usually made of silk in a darker, more conservative color, without the patterns one might find on a han-juban, though patchwork juban for men can sometimes be found. Kimono blouses for men and women may be hand-painted, dyed or made with rinzu silk. Western women often wear men's or women's kimono blouses as eveningwear or loungewear.
Hadagi is another type of shirt that can also be worn underneath a kimono. It may have sleeves or be sleeveless. The fabric is generally silk, cotton or linen, and it measures around 2 inches to 4 inches (5 cm to 10 cm) long and is thickly lined for wear in cold climates. In Japan, it was originally worn by men of the Samurai class, but it can also serve the same purpose as a kimono blouse.
As Japanese culture influenced Western culture more and more, designers began incorporating kimono elements in blouses and other garments. The wide sleeves and columnar shape of the kimono blouse appealed to Victorian women who were used to cultivating a curvy, hourglass shape. The style of the kimono blouse also influenced the sleek shape of the Edwardian-era lampshade tunic. At this time, the kimono blouse was bold and dramatic with cord, braids and buttons embellishing it.
The wide, delicate sleeve of the kimono blouse emerged again in the 1940s, when fashion called for more demure, feminine silhouettes. In the early 21st century, the term "kimono blouse" generally refers to a wrap blouse. It can be made from natural or synthetic fabrics and in a range of designs based on a traditional Japanese fabric patterns or modern high fashion.