If you, like me, are coming
straight out of university to the wonderful world
that is Japan, then I imagine you are wondering what you're supposed to wear.
if you aren't wondering, then you should be. This is important. You can't
wear your pajamas to class anymore. At least not in the first month.
Before I came here last
summer, my wardrobe consisted of about seven
mix and match items. Including the pajamas I wore to class. So I went
on quite a shopping
spree, eliciting the advice of friends and family on what
exactly one should wear to a real
job. I also raided my mother's closet,
looking for suitably modest clothes. The result was a closet full of clothes
that didn't get much use. They blow this whole 'professional' thing
out of proportion.
If you are fortunate enough,
however, to have a real job in the states, then
you probably already have clothes. But I'll give you a rundown on what you'll
First of all, Japan has four
seasons. (Get used to hearing it, they are quite
proud of that, despite the fact that most of the world has four seasons.)
But if you are
coming from either a northern or southern climate, its important
to take note.
from St. Louis, and I'd say the climate is about the same.
The only problem is that your
apartment and school will probably not have
any climate controls. You'll spend the summer
bathed in sweat and the winter
caked in ice. hehe. So I recommend you not come without
a coat, and don't
plan on wearing black long sleeves when you arrive. In the summer, its
to see men with short sleeve dress shirts and ties. And women can go
only in the summer. Summer ends in September. It doesn't matter if its still 200
everyone dresses like its fall. You'll notice a definite shift in dress styles
around this time.
be mentally prepared at least. If you show up to work in
October in anything less than long sleeves, everyone will ask you 'aren't you cold?'.
You also might want to consider
that large clothes are not easily found here,
especially if you won't be close to a major city. And by large, I mean like
American size 12. Sweaters actually aren't so hard to find, but again,
they don't come in XL.
Button down shirts and pants, if you can find your
size, are cut for Japanese proportions.
(i.e., no bum, hips or chest). Most
all men sizes are pretty easy to come by.
couple months, you'll be
dying to go to Tokyo and spend 80$ on a pair of jeans from
GAP. You can
probably forget about shoes. I wear a 25.5 cm, or a size 7 1/2 American.
easily find tennis shoes cheap, but dress shoes in women's sizes only
seem to go up to a 24.5
cm. I don't know about men's sizes. If you have small
feet, woohoo for you! Japan is the
land of cool and funky shoes. There are more
shoe stores than convenience stores.
for underwear, all bras here come
padded. 90% of them also come covered in flowery lacy patterns
and foofoo colors.
They don't come bigger than a B cup. And that's a really small B
Oddly enough, you can easily find nylons and socks in tall sizes. I
what they think you are wearing over the top of them, though.
O.K., so moving on to
styles. You'll need one nice dress outfit at least. A nice
suit in a dark color. Think funeral. That's the sort of thing
people wear to formal occasions, weddings, funerals, graduations. There is one
dinner at the Tokyo orientation, but it will be 90% foreigners, so you
don't have to wear the
funeral clothes then. You'll also probably want a less
formal suit with a jacket,
for all your initial introductions to people and your
first day at school. Unless you
don't care if you make a good impression.
Other than that, you won't be
wearing suits to work everyday. In fact, around
November, you'll be wondering if you can't get away with jeans. You probably
could. Unless you're going to be a CIR, which seems to be a real office job.
But in that
case, you probably already have a real job and real job clothes.
There will be certain
days at school when you should dress nice. Unfortunately,
you won't be warned ahead of time,
but when you show up, everyone else will
have suits and ties, and it will be too late for you.
My everyday work clothes consist
of khakis and sweaters or relatively casual
button down shirts. They're usually wrinkled, too, though they usually do
on any given day. Come winter, you'll be wearing your coat all day.
You'll also have separate
shoes for inside. No one makes any effort to match
these inside shoes to their clothes, so just
use tennis shoes, or slip-on sandals.
Since I just take my shoes off anyway, I almost
always wear tennis shoes, even
with my nice clothes. If you don't think you'll be able to buy
shoes here, bring
a cheap new pair with you for inside. Otherwise you'll have to borrow the
school slippers, which come in lovely shades of un-disinfected green.
A lot of teachers do club
activities, so you'll see them changed into sweats half
way through the day. You probably shouldn't do that, but if you did, no one
would say anything to you, so use your own discretion.
So its pretty simple,
really. You can dress nice everyday if you want, but you'll really
only need a couple nice outfits. Depending on how far from a city you'll
be, you might
find yourself needing to plan for not buying clothes until Christmas
you're about a size seven or smaller, then you're in luck. Japan is the land of
and funky clothes. They're just tiny.