+44 2033717716


Close this search box.

Kimono vs Yukata vs Happi: What’s The Difference?

Table of Contents

I bet you’d be Happi to Kimo-know  the difference!

At Tom Dick & Harry we specialise in quality – importing our range of Kimono directly from Kyoto to ensure the finest fabrics at the best price. To do justice to the craft, we use the Japanese terms where possible to differentiate types of Kimono; Yukata and Happi in our case.


Happi are a shorter, calf length Kimono – similar to a western dressing gown. Yukata are a longer ankle length variation, more closely related to traditional Kimono (yet still dressing gown-esque).

So what is a Kimono?

The use of the word ‘Kimono’ is twofold. Traditionally, Kimono refers to a formal garment with strict expectations, usually lined, worn with layers and embelishements. Before the 20th century, few types of Kimono existed and therefore material, decoration and Obi Belts would differentiate social status, age and gender. 

In modern times, many types of Kimono exist with different cuts and shapes. Post war, these styles of Kimono started to depict social standing, rather than the traditional Kimono and it’s embellishments. With the advent of these subcategories, ‘Kimono’ has come to be a general descriptor for gowns that follow the Kimono construction or form. Today, Kimono have less to do with age and social standing and are worn for fun, fashion, and all sorts of occasions.

Of course, the traditions and origins of Kimono are still in practice, but are less common due to their complicated nature. Traditional  Kimono are challenging and time consuming to wear correctly – and pray you never have to wash one! Traditional Kimono are designed to be completely unstitched into their components and then washed by hand before re-stitching by hand in a process known as arai-hari. A very time consuming process which is seldom used nowadays!

Luckily, it’s much easier to wear a modern Kimono.  Most designs are closer to lightweight dressing gowns and are specifically made for washing, making them a breeze to wear and care for (meaning you can skip the arai-hari!). Most washable Kimono you’ll find today are made from synthetic polyester, but we stock fine high quality cotton (and occasionally silk) in a dazzling array of colours and patterns for a balance of comfort, easy of care and luxury.

What about Happi?

Happi, or Happi Coats (as commonly translated), are traditional tube sleeved Kimono originating from the Edo period. They are short Kimono, typically calf length, and are commonly found at festivals – although their uses have included outerwear over kimono, uniform for house servants and uniform for firefighters – the common denominator being emblems and kanji on the back relating to the event or group associated.

Our unlined cotton Happi are akin to western dressing gowns, with a simple tie belt in matching fabric. They are easy to put on and comfortable to wear, with plenty of mobility and commonly a single pocket on one side. They’re a fun alternative to a standard light dressing gown and make you plenty presentable for opening the door to the postman, or sitting down for breakfast with friends.

And Yukata?

Our Yukata are a type of long, unlined cotton Kimono. Ankle length, they are the most informal type of Kimono and commonly worn during summer. Casual yet modest robes, without the fuss and splendour of traditional kimono. 

Endlessly versatile, Yukata were originally worn as bathrobes to and from bathhouses (Yukata literally translates to ‘bathing cloth’), and are a common at parties, festivals and firework displays thanks to bright colours and fun designs.

Like Happi, our Yukata are designed for easy wearing and washing. Lightweight, comfortable and quick to dry when used as a bathrobe. Traditionally a wide Obi belt would be worn with a Yukata to complete the look – which we also stock in navy, black and red.