The Japanese value appearances as much as any other East Asian does. When in Tokyo, it might be best to dress as the Tokyoites do. After all, it’s easier to approach a local, and ask for directions, when you feel irredeemably lost, if you feel confident that you look decent enough to be received well.
Tokyoites always present themselves well, maybe as well as the Milanese do, but somehow with the nonchalance of the Parisians.
A sense of individuality permeates the overarching sense of style. Minimalism may be painted all over Stockholm; pragmatism may reign supreme in Amsterdam’s streets; and classy may spell Parisian. But, Tokyo’s scene is difficult to typify. In the city, fashion can be polarizing. And no, honey, Lolita is not the universal fare, even in Harajuku or Akihabara.
Popular trends see through different reinterpretations in Tokyoites’ hands. If you want to experiment with style combinations, but cannot do so at home, Tokyo may be the best place to do a trial run. Trying not to commit fashion faux pas is not something Tokyoites are too preoccupied with. Some would go as far as to say that hipsters have already gone mainstream in Japan, before the world thought about keeping up.
Style Foundation : The Clothes
If you expect to do some shopping or stay anywhere indoors while out and about, dress in layers that would be easy to peel off. The Japanese seem to be fond of keeping the temperature indoors awfully high. You’ll notice how they keep heaters at full blast, while shopping in Hankyu or Mitsukoshi dead in the middle of winter.
For occasions when you want to look prim and proper – a business meeting, perhaps – go for fail-safe black or grey. Customarily, black is the most formal color. A lot of people associate it with work garb, though. Navy and dark brown suits on men look less intimidating. Khaki tones, on the other hand, might be a bit too casual for business settings, but welcome for intimate dinners and similar social functions.
Style Foundation : The Bag
For the ladies
No need to forget that Chanel Boy at home. The Japanese do not seem offended by, nor do they gawk at luxury. Birkins, fox fur, and supple leather pants (on men!) sometimes make cameos in train platforms on quieter hours.
On another note, it seems safe to use tote bags (yes, the Neverfull types), unlike in Barcelona or in Phnom Penh.
For the Gentlemen
On weekdays, men are fond of leather satchels. On weekends, they seem to prefer canvas totes. Whether they be dressed in business formal or in date casual, Porter seems to be the brand of choice.
If you plan to take the train on a rush hour, do not ever bring a huge backpack. Not only will you leave the train with a squished bag, but you’ll also inconvenience fellow commuters who most probably are on their way to work. If need be, put the huge backpack in front of you.
Style Foundation : The Shoes
Although walkways do not come cobblestoned, it would be best to wear comfortable shoes – flats and almond-toe boots for the ladies, or sneakers and loafers for the gentlemen, perhaps? It might be best to leave cigarette heels and toe-pinching wingtips behind.
Feel free to share photos of your When in Tokyo outfit with us! We’d be delighted to find out how you do it. Tag us on Instagram or drop us an e-mail. Hear from you soon!