Well, this is my first attempt at posting so if I go wrong I hope someone will set me straight.
Coming to aikido from a judo and karate background where we wore no hakama, it has always interested me. It generates so much energy on so many peoples' part, discussing this, arguing about that, fretting about this and that, that I sometimes wonder if the hakama problem isn't put upon us just to help us tackle our ego problems.
In the Canadian Aikido Federation (Aikikai) women generally wear hakama from 3rd kyu and men from shodan, although individual dojo instructors can make changes. I was allowed to wear one at 3rd kyu (I guess I should say here that I am male!) because I was assisting a yudansha in teaching the kids' class. And it was no big deal, in fact I tired of folding it and tripping over it, etc within a week. Now I don't think about it much. The interesting thing is that five of my students just earned shodan and they say that the heaviness of the knot at their center is making a big difference to their aikido! So is there something in the fact that at 3rd kyu I found it no big deal but at shodan my students find it immensely helpful? Not a very broad study, I'll admit but it just might be that it makes a serious reinforcement just when it is needed - at shodan.