If you're going to a Japanese themed costume party or want to get closer to the culture of Japan, there are a lot of choices when it comes to designing a costume. Japan is an old country rich in history. You can draw upon centuries of history for various styles of dress that make interesting costume ideas for men, women and children.
The Kimono is a traditional style of dress that can be worn by men, women and children. The pattern and color of a kimono depends on the age and gender of a person and can comprise several different layers, making it one of the most versatile ideas for a costume. The top of a kimono is usually a shirt with long, loose sleeves while the bottom is usually loose pant legs for men or a long skirt for women. Kimonos are commonly worn with a sash, known as the obi. The obi acts very much like a belt and holds the top and bottom parts of the kimono in place.
While school uniforms are worn all over the world, Japan seems to be synonymous with that type of dress. The most common version for girls is the sailor, which was modeled after the British navy uniform from the early twentieth century. The sailor outfit is typically made up of a blouse with a sailor modeled collar and a pleated skirt. The design and color can be varied, but traditionally the skirt and the blouse are navy blue.
Similary, school unfiorms for boys take on a miliatristic aspect. Known as the gakuran, the top is a buttoned up long sleave shirt with a standing collar while the bottom is a pair of like colored straight legged pants.
While these are typical Japanese school uniforms, they are far from being the only ones.
Putting a spin on the kimono idea for females is dressing up like a geisha. Geishas, traditionally, are female entertainers who are trained in various arts including dance, music and singing. In addition to wearing a kimono, geishas traditionally wear heavy white makeup that covers their whole face and red lipstick. They also have their hair tied up into a bun, in some instances, geishas wear ornate headdresses.
Similarly to the geisha idea, dressing up like a samurai also puts a spin on the kimono for men. However, you can't add a sword to any kimono and call it a day. The design of a samurai's kimono is less flashy than the ones typically worn by regular people. The colors are more subtle and the patterns less complicated. The color of a kimono depended on the age of the person. As samurai age, their colors tended to be in shades of brown or gray to signify their high position.
However, in addition to wearing kimonos, samurais also wore suits of armor. These suits of armor are generally made up of plate armor protecting vital parts of the body, a helmet and a mask meant to instill fear in a samurai's enemy.