May 16, 2012

Appropriate Dress

I have some new students and they were asking last week what is appropriate to wear to okeiko? What is appropriate to wear to a chakai?

The short response is kimono is always appropriate to wear in the tea room.  I almost always wear kimono, whether I am teaching, or receiving a bowl of tea in the tea room.  If you have kimono and know how to dress, please wear kimono.

What if you do not have kimono?  For women, a blouse and skirt or dresses are appropriate (not too short either, you will be sitting on the tatami). Slacks if you don't or won't wear a skirt. Long sleeves, please.  For men, loose fitting slacks and button down shirt are appropriate for okeiko. No shorts, jeans, short sleeves, tank tops or sleeveless shirts.

Consider chakai, semi formal events.  Kimono is always appropriate.  Men in sportcoats and tie, women in long dress, skirt and blouse or jacket.  Business attire is also appropriate. This is not the place to wear fleece jackets, jeans or even khakis. Definitely not track suits, sweat pants or even stretch pants or tights.   Women please tie your hair up so it doesn't fall in your face or on the back of your neck. Take off your hats when you come inside.

The thing is, tea is not an informal event. Our lifestyles have become so casual nowadays, it is hard to know what is appropriate.  Even the women's lacrosse team wore flip-flops to a Whitehouse reception.  If you are wearing something that you normally wear around the house, or to run to the store, take it up a notch for okeiko and two notches for chakai. It is good training to recognize what is appropriate to the occasion and dress accordingly. 

If you are dressing in kimono, that is another post.

Questions, comments?  I'll answer them in the comments.


  1. This is always a good reminder for anyone who study tea. Sensei, as you are well aware of I do love my kimono and I will wear kimono if I do have the time, and "always" to chakai. Sadly for class, I have found it difficult for having enough time for dressing into kimono. I remember in the past you have spoken of what is appropriate in the tea room. Even if it is just class, I do try to abide by the rules that you mentioned for yufuku. A long skirt or dress, and if there are no sleeves, I add a shrug style top to cover my arms. It is a strange way of putting it, but if I have nothing on my arms, I feel very "naked" in the tea room. Too exposed. But given I have enought time, I will always wear kimono to chakai or demonstrations.

    Michelle K.

    1. Michelle,
      Thank you for your comment. I know that you love to wear kimono. It is always good to see you in kimono and not just for tea class. With practice, you can become quicker at dressing yourself. What you wear to okeiko is just fine.

  2. I do have a kimono, but do not remember how to put it on properly. I need to get it out again --- and see if I can figure it out. I would love to wear my kimono with tea. It was a gift from my friend, Mitsuko.

    1. La Tea Dah,
      Too bad you cannot come for a kimono dressing class. We sometimes practice and the students in my class are getting better at dressing themselves.