Dochugi vs Haori: Comparison

The major difference between the Dochugi and Haori is that a Haori is a jacket and it has no overlapping front panels.

In Japanese culture and fashion these clothes look almost similar and from afar a Dochugi looks the same as a Haori. In this article, you will learn the difference between the two types of cloth.

You will learn that one is even a type of Kimono and the other reminds you of when you wear a western shirt with a tie and put a jacket on it.

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One of the peculiar things about these two Japanese clothes is how they can be spacious and roomy depending on the body size of the wearer.

Dochugi: A short history

The dress called a Dochugi is a Kimono shortened to hip length. The dress that is known as a Kimono came to Japan a long way from fashion infiltrations from China as far back as the Yamato period (300 – 710 CE).

It was a Chinese style of dress worn by envoys who met with Japanese high society people.

The culture swap continued until a time in 794 CE when Japan stopped sending envoys to China. This resulted in a cultural decision to have a national dress code.

The styles that were already learned formed the foundation for what the kimono looked like now.

The Dochugi dress can be described as an offshoot of the continuing evolution of a cultural dress.

Dochugi vs Haori
A Dochugi kimono

Haori: the hovering history

With Japanese clothes, there was no independent growth. They all grew out of the necessity of the times. The Haori first appeared in history during the Edo period between 1603 and 1867.

At the time the middle-class merchants enjoyed so much prosperity. Not having much to do with surplus income they spent their money on extra clothes.

Edicts on dress by the ruling class caused the people to resort to wearing the Haori with plain external designs and lavishly decorated linings. While it was necessary for some, it was also a statement of class.

It showed that an individual could afford more, but since there were edicts on what you wore, a simple top was enough.

In the beginning, only men wore Haori. By the 1800s geisha in Tokyo began wearing Haori over their kimonos.

The geisha of those days were known for their unusual styles. Women copied them. Today, Haori is worn by men and women.

Dochugi vs Haori
A Haori for men

Why compare these two garments?

You have to admit that you have mistaken a Dochugi for a Haori or other variants of the Kimono. Most people make this mistake.

And there are several garments that all share their roots in the kimono. In fact, some see no distinction between them.

This comparison will show the difference between the Dochugi and Haori so you don’t buy the wrong one for a special occasion.

For example, the Dochugi is usually worn by women, while men mostly wear Haoris.

If you need to attend a special occasion in Japan or among the Japanese, wearing a Dochugi as a man will certainly draw curious attention to your appearance.

Detailed comparison between the Dochugi and Haori

At first glance, the Dochugi and Haori look the same. It is much like looking at a heap of blue jeans and all look like pairs of Straus Levis.

The following things differentiate the dresses:

  • Function
  • Closure and construction
  • Length

Function

One difference between the two dresses is the function they are made for. Haori is worn over a Kimono for formal occasions. And they are mostly worn by men over their Kimonos.

The Dochugi itself is a Kimono, not an accessory to wear over a Kimono like the Haori. This means you can wear a Dochugi and a Haori over it, if you want.

In Japan people wear just the Dochugi which is shorter than the traditional Kimono. Women mostly wear the Dochugi.

Closure and construction

Haori can be hip or thigh length and it usually features no overlapping front panels called the Okumi, like the Kimono.

The collar is usually thinner and tied at the front with two short cords called the Haori himo. When worn over a Kimono many just leave the front open without tying the rope.

The Dochugi features the same elements in the full-length kimono; the crossover closure in the front, tapered sleeves and some have pockets.

They are usually not as colorful with most made with darker fabric. And you can adjust the Dochugi with the tie closure based on your body frame.

Length

The last and perhaps the most distinguishing difference between the Haori and Dochugi is their length. The Haori can reach the thigh in length or stop at the hip. The Dochugi is usually hip length.

Similarities between the Dochugi and Haori

A quick check on the internet will show you just how similar people perceive these two dresses.

For many people, the Dochugi and Haori are types of Kimonos, and they aren’t entirely wrong. Below are the similarities they share:

  • Construction
  • Fabric
  • Acceptance
  • They are both roomy
  • Easy styling

Construction

Though they share differences in this area, they are also similar in their structure. Hung up, the two share the same kind of sleeves, the closure looks similar if the Dochugi is left open at the front.

For this reason it is possible to end up buying a Dochugi when all you want is a Haori to wear over your Kimono.

Both have the ropes too.

A Dochugi has a rope in the midsection that’s not as wide as the ones in Kimonos. A Haori has a thin rope inside it that you can tie them with over the kimono.

Fabric

Both dresses are manufactured using the same fabrics basically. Makers use cotton, silk, and a mix of those with polyester in some fabric. Fabrics of all sorts are being used outside Japan where the sanctity of the culture is upheld.

You can find Dochugi and Haori made outside Japan featuring highly decorative prints as in the example below.

Dochugi vs Haori

Acceptance

Although Dochugi is mostly worn by men, the fashion is embraced by both genders. Haori is worn mostly by men but as is the case with fashion, women also wear it but with the sash tied mostly.

Both Dochugi and Haori enjoy a general acceptance and the appeal transcends cultures and race. If you are in Japan, you are welcome to wear any of the two dresses, doing so with respect and dignity for the impressive history behind these dresses.

Furthermore, when Haori is worn by women there is a slight difference in the style. Women’s Haori usually features longer sleeves than men’s and with a wider width too.

They are both roomy clothes

You’ll love this about the Japanese: they make roomy dresses. The fabrics are tough when it’s silk, making them ideal for roomy designs with soft linings inside. Some Haoris or Dochugis are designed to provide warmth in winter.

The roomy design pairs perfectly with the front cover closure. No matter how big your frame is, you will find a garment in the collection of Dochugi and Haori to fit you.

Easy styling

Both are easy to style even with non-Japanese clothes. For example, you can style a Haori with jeans. The easy styling comes from the type of fabric, the colors and the length of the Haori.

You can wear a Dochugi that’s thigh length with a pair of pants too.

Fun facts: the Dochugi and Haori

  • Dochugi and Haori are actually types of Kimonos worn in Japan by women mostly.
  • Haori jackets can be worn by men and women with some variations in style for either gender
  • Haori was originally worn by warriors around the 16 century during the sengoku period
  • The kimono, any type, was traditionally twelve layers which were why it was called juni-hitoe, “Juni” means 12 in Japanese.
  • Dochugis and other Kimono variants were traditionally made of hemp, linen, silk, silk brocade, silk crepes and satin weaves.
  • In Japan, you can rent a Dochugi or Kimonos for a day. The rental price usually includes accessories, the outfit and the time span you are renting for. They let you leave your own clothes at the shop and pick it up when you return the garment.
  • Like the Dochugi or Kimonos, Haoris are made from hand-decorated fabrics.
  • Vintage Haori is made from silk and cotton fabrics.
  • Vintage Haori jackets are made to last so long that they can be passed down for generations until they wear out.
  • When a Haori wears out it can be reused to make pieces of accessories.

Final thoughts

Japanese fashion is among the oldest on earth. They are also among the most colorful. Each item has a name, a meaning, and a reason that necessitates its evolution.

Fabric items are carefully curated and hand-made to make sure users enjoy the quality.

You can find Dochugis and Haoris outside Japan that feature less traditional fabric. Still, these garments never really miss the spirit of their foundation garment, the kimono.

If you are planning to visit Japan, don’t forget to add wearing a Dochugi or Haori to your list of things to do. And you can wear them in your country too.

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