A Haori (羽 織) is a traditional Japanese jacket that is generally worn over the kimono. It has a "T" shape identical to that of the kimono, but its length is shorter.
The origin of haori is not entirely certain, but it is believed that it originated in the Sengoku period (around the 16th century), it was worn by samurai to protect themselves from the cold. So originally it was only used by men, women started wearing it during the Meiji period (1868-1912) and it became common in the Taisho period (1912-1926). This shift from a male-only samurai garment to clothing for everyone means that the haori has a long legacy in Japanese culture.
Men's haori, generally used in formal situations, are plain dark colored (such as black or blue), and often feature a richly decorated inner lining with beautiful hand-painted artwork, known as gakuura (額 裏) . The rich Japanese hid the beautiful paintings inside their haori because during the Edo period, ostentatious displays of wealth were frowned upon and considered disrespectful.
Women's haori, on the other hand, are worn in different situations. So there is a large choice of colors, patterns and designs available. Like kimonos, haori are made from various types of hand-decorated fabrics. In the past the most common was silk, but can also be found in cotton or synthetic fabrics such as polyester and rayon. Whatever the fabric, haori captures the elegance of Japanese design and culture.
In recent years, the fashion has spread to wear haori even over Western clothes, they are perfect for adding a touch of glamor or color to an everyday outfit. They are very versatile and can be worn open like a jacket or overcoat or closed with a high waist belt and can be combined with both casual and elegant garments, such as jeans, leggings, trousers and skirts.