Traditional Japanese clothing, at least for women, could only be described as elegant. Japanese clothing is most often made from silk, often very fine, heavy silk. By way of design, Japanese clothing, is ornate and brightly colored. The silk can be dyed in so many variations and shades of colors and the designs are more like works of art rather than mere patterns. The word kimono means clothing in Japanese.
Though Japanese clothing is beautiful, some of it would appear cumbersome to most western women - especially kimono. Kimono are the most traditional of dress for Japanese women and though they look flowing and elegant, they can actually be work to wear.
When a woman dresses in kimono, she first puts on an under garment like a slip. In two pieces, the full slip is called juban. The slip has a collar that is visible beneath the kimono, but some women wear only the collar, or eri-sugata, to stay cool while still having the same formal appearance.
Kimono are mostly one length, and so women must use the tie worn around their waist called an obi, to help hold the kimono to the right length. The obi is a coordinating silk belt-like garment that is very long and wraps around the mid-section. There are proper ways to tie an obi, and usually the tradition is passed down from mother to child, however, the obi is such an important part of the kimono, that there are schools that teach how to tie an obi.
Men also wear kimono robes, though today, most men wear them only for festive occasions or ceremonies. For day to day, men wear pants. A man's kimono is usually less elaborate than a woman's and has more masculine designs such as dragons or koi with more conservative colors.
The footwear to complete Japanese clothing is usually the zori - a flat-soled sandal. There are different styles and types, and the tradition is of course, to remove them before entering a building.