Founder of the Sōdō Kimono Acadamy, Norio Yamanaka, wrote what I think is the definitive paragraph to fully appreciate the art of wearing kimonos: "Since it is what is inside that gives the kimono its true form, it is meaningless for the wearer to merely imitate another person's outer or physical presence. Those who would make the beauty of the kimono their own must first make their own spirit and character a thing of beauty. This is the wisdom of beauty for those devoted to the kimono... the kimono reveals, rather than disguises, the wearer's inner qualities. There is no other garment which does so uncompromisingly."
I had the opportunity to try out a kimono when my Japanese language class organized a tea ceremony and hired professional kimono outfitters to come dress us up. I watched myself transform with each layer and tied knot. While it's possible to put on a kimono by oneself or with the help of one person, the best and fastest way is to have two people help keep the balance and the symmetry of the garment.
Cotton padding is used to suppress the contours of the body and fill out the hollow areas, unlike in Western clothing where the same might be used to accentuate a women's curves. The result makes the wearer's body more cylindrical which makes the kimono fit snugly and flow more smoothly.
I learned why Japanese women look so graceful in a kimono. In a properly fitted kimono, the most comfortable position is upright. One is forced to take slower and smaller steps and move carefully so as not to expose one's legs, rumple the folds, or drag the sleeves.
The best way to understand this is to experience a kimono fitting yourself.