Originally, there was a custom that the long sleeves of the Furisode were shortened after marriage, thereby creating Tomesode. This was because the long swinging sleeves would be impractical when the married woman worked in the kitchen. The word "Tomesode" itself consists of two kanji meaning "to fasten" (留) and "sleeve" (袖）.
Tomesode distinguishes itself from other kimono by only having patterns under the waistline. It has five or sometimes three family crests, or kamon, which indicates the formality of the kimono.
Kuro-Tomesode (black Tomesode) are often worn for wedding ceremonies by married female relatives of the bride or groom. The eri, obijime and obiage are always white, and the obi matches the colourful pattern of the kimono to signify a happy occasion. It is believed that the black colour is to match the clean white colour of the bride, as this kimono is rarely used at other occasions than weddings of near family members (sisters or daughters). A friend of the bride or groom would not wear Kuro-Tomesode, but Homongi or Iro-tomesode.
Iro-Tomesode (coloured Tomesode) is similar to Kuro-Tomesode except that the basic colour is not black and is now worn by both married and unmarried women. It is a semi formal kimono with the only exception; Iro-Tomesode with five crests will be considered as formal, thus, unmarried women who are not willing to wear Homongi or Furisode to a wedding of their family members or relatives can also wear this.
In the events held at the Imperial palace, it is strictly forbidden to wear Kuro-Tomesode as black is considered to be a colour of mourning.
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