The basic item of clothing for a samurai would have been the kimono, which for men was generally two layers thick. Every year during the first week of May, the heavy winter kimono would be exchanged for a lighter, summer kimono, usually made of silk. Below the kimono was a loincloth called a "fundoshi". One type was basically a wrap that resembled a diaper. A second kind usually worn under armor, consisted of a loop slung around the neck to hold the top, and cords holding it around the abdomen.

From the 12th through the 17th centuries “hitare” was a popular style. It was a two-piece item of clothing that essentially looked like the kimono. More comfortable for use under armor, it was usually worn in an official capacity, and generally bore a family or clan crest. The hitare trend was eventually replaced by the “kamishimono.” This was a two-piece suit worn over the kimono. The upper piece known as the “kataginu” was a sleeveless vest with exaggerated shoulders. A long sleeved coat called “haori” could also be worn, especially when traveling or during bad weather. The lower piece was called “hakama” which means “wide flowing trousers.” All parts of the kamishimono were made of the same material, which generally reflected the status of the wearer. It was normally worn outside the house, or when expecting company.

Footwear consisted of straw or hemp sandals called “waraji”, and wooden clogs known as “geta,” which were generally associated with the lower classes. Socks called “tabi” could also be worn, and had a space to separate the big toe from the others so sandals could still be worn. Up until the 16th century it was not uncommon for samurai to choose to wear bearskin boots with their armor instead of sandals.

The sword carried by the samurai was generally thrust through an "obi" (belt) worn around the waist, and tied in front. The belt could also hold a folding fan, or tissues as well. The sword was always placed on the left side, originally to facilitate the drawing of the sword, but the convenience was continued as a tradition. When he was indoors, a samurai could remove his sword, but always remained armed.

When not in armor, powerful samurai would often wear “eboshi,” a cap of black silk gauze stiffened with a black lacquered paper lining. The eboshi would be held in place by a white cord, or was pinned onto the topknot. The size and shape of the cap depended upon the rank of the samurai who was wearing it. By the 16th century the eboshi was considered ultra-formal, and was generally not worn for everyday occasions.

The traditional hairstyle among the samurai was the topknot, which could either be worn forward or backward. Samurai also often shaved the front part of the head, supposedly to make a helmet more comfortable to wear. Facial hair was also common, and was generally considered a sign of manliness. Moustaches were especially popular among generals who often grew large distinctive ones. Samurai would often grow thin beards as well to make helmet cords more comfortable to wear.

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