If you follow fashion at all, you'll notice that many of the styles that are most popular are coming from Japan. It just seems like their unique aesthetic has captured the imagination of many designers and shoppers, spreading the unique Japanese take on clothing worldwide. This fall, check out some of the coolest trends from our Japanese friends.
Cat-themed fashion has become popular among young Japanese women in their teens and twenties. Cats are very popular pets in Japan because animal lovers adore how they move and their independent nature. Cat fashion has become popular because cat lovers want to express their love for cute cats through their clothing and accessories. The most obvious examples are cat-themed clothes and shoes. You also see young women doing their hair and even their makeup in styles influenced by cats.
Cat-themed fashion items include clothes, shoes, jewelry and other accessories. Popular items include blouses made from cat-print materials, T-shirts printed with big cat faces, and even cat ear headbands. Lots of girls have fun matching cat-face shoes with cute socks or cat-print tights. Also popular are socks and stockings with cat paw-prints on the soles of the feet.
As well as cat-themed clothing, you also see many cat-loving women doing their hair and makeup in the style of a cat. Cat hair involves styling one’s hair to look like pointy cat ears. Its as simple as creating two buns on top of your head and pinning them in place! And as far as makeup goes, it's as simple as executing a clean cat eye- no need to draw on whiskers.
There is always nail art for cat-lovers to express themselves. Nail salons will paint cat designs of your choice and also sell cat-themed artificial nails including nails with cat faces or paw-prints. Since nail art is so popular these days, this means that showing your love for cats doesn't just depend on your clothing-it can be right at your fingertips.
Mini and Maxi Skirts
This winter, more and more girls are incorporating maxi skirts as an essential part of their wardrobe. Maxi is a shortening of maximum, and just as the name implies, these skirts are long enough to cover your ankles. The legs are completely hidden, but the vertical lines created by the skirt make legs look longer and present a slender and stylish look. The most popular style is a design incorporating slim pleats with a soft, light, chiffon material that has a flowing feel. This lightweight fabric prevents the long length of the skirt from looking heavy and frumpy, and instead, the skirt flows gently as the body moves, emphasizing the feminine aspects.
This fall and winter season, together with the maxi, the miniskirt and shorts have also been hugely popular. This is reminiscent of the worldwide craze for miniskirts from the 1960s to the 1970s. At that time, the maxi was born as a style completely opposite to the miniskirt. Girls who didn't want to wear miniskirts began to wear maxis instead, and these skirts quickly became popular in their own right.
It may seem unusual that miniskirts and shorts would be popular as the weather gets colder, but Japanese fashion has women layering them with warm leggings and cute stockings, giving these classically summertime staples a new life in the chillier months. This also allows for a lot of variation, so play around with mixing patterns and colors! Don't be afraid to really break the rules- that's when the fun starts.
New Ways to Layer
The classic layering of tossing on a simple sweater over a dress is now out of style. Layering has moved to the next level. More layers=more fashion is the motto this season for stylish young Japanese women.
Layers are a great way to protect against the cold during the autumn and winter months, and young women in their own distinctive layers brighten up the streets of Japan. This sophisticated style of layering is seen, for example, in a white blouse worn over a long-sleeved black t-shirt and topped off with a grey fur vest. Or skinny jeans worn under a white shirtdress, and a knit vest and scarf in autumn colors. Or the height of layered fashion—a denim dress worn over a striped t-shirt and lace undershirt, paired with a knit parka, white tights, and patterned socks.
Japan has four distinct seasons, and the key to dressing here has always been light clothing to stay cool in the hot summer and multiple layers to keep warm in the cold autumn and winter. Around the end of the 1980's, though, the routine formula of layering an undershirt, shirt, jacket, and coat lost its appeal. The new cool was to deconstruct these rules, and a new fashion idea took root among young people in Japan. The popular musicians of the time brought in a new trend with a short-sleeved t-shirt layered over a long-sleeved t-shirt, waking young people up to the fun of layering.
This trend was followed by the unusual fashion of wearing pants under skirts, which has been particularly popular among those women who may want to cover up more, since they are able to wear skirts but cover their legs at the same time. Shops today are stocked with items made specifically for easy layering. Tops are designed with sleeves of various lengths and necklines of various widths, and skirts are made of fabric that is easy to pair with jeans or leggings.
Although layering is accomplished with every type of fashion, it is particularly striking among those who go for a natural style. This is created with relatively loose-fitting blouses and dresses made from cotton, wool, and other natural fabrics in combinations of white, unbleached off-white, brown and indigo. When the layers are well balanced, without being overly bulky, this style offers the advantage of warmth while still avoiding the pitfall of looking completely overwhelmed by your clothes.
Part of the appeal of layering is having fun by playing with varying lengths and hemlines of each item. Wear a petticoat under a skirt, leaving a band of lace peeking out from beneath the skirt hem. Or pair two flowy dresses, one over the other, the outer layer unbuttoned down the front and worn coat style. Outfits that emphasize small, carefully calculated differences in length between each individual item achieve an airy lightness despite their many layers.
The outdoor style is another fashion type where layering is emphasized in putting together an outfit. In Japan, outdoor activities like hiking in the mountains are increasingly popular among young women, and outdoor wear is trendy at the moment. Looks that add a sense of style to the practicalities of warmth, water resistance, and ease of movement needed for hiking clothes have now become urban fashion and a prominent part of the layering trend, one that is strikingly colorful. Artfully combining items like shorts or leggings in jacquard patterns with down vests, nylon bags, stoles, and leg warmers creates vibrant, dynamic fashions.
One could say that fashion starts from the ground up, and most people will probably think of shoes. But in the context of Japan’s new fashion, this now refers to socks. Socks may have played a backseat role in fashion so far, but they have been promoted to the starring role in coordinated fashion.
Until recently, summers meant bare feet in sandals—this was the coolest style. But wearing shoes with bare feet during Japan's hot, humid summers is not very comfortable. Perhaps in response to such comfort issues, this year many fashion magazines in particular featured outfits pairing sandals with socks. This combination of socks and sandals used to be seen as dowdy and unrefined, but now followers of this trend are on the leading edge of fashion. This summer, white lace ankle socks worn with sandals was in style, but now that the season has turned to fall, more people are pairing socks with heels and boots.
For example, women are coordinating thigh high socks with mini-skirts and high heels—a grown-up look that still manages to be fun, playful- and warm! Others are playing around with incongruous pairings like cute, frilly socks together with lace-up combat boots. People who like a more natural style look relaxed wearing soft, slouchy socks that cover the ankles loosely, paired with comfortable shoes that are good for the feet. Japanese women are incorporating socks into all of their favorite fashions and playing around with different combinations.
There was a tendency to think that wearing socks makes legs unattractive, but young girls on the cutting edge of fashion employ a surprising tactic. Many assert that wearing socks actually draws attention away from the shape of their legs, so they often feel better about the way their legs look.
Indeed, their ability to conceal legs was one reason behind the dramatic popularity of the loose socks similar to leg warmers among high school girls in the 1990's. In this unique style, baggy socks made of thick cotton were paired with short school uniform skirts. This boom has ended, but it is not surprising that the girls who went through this unprecedented craze for pairing school uniforms with socks would still feel an affinity for socks and continue to see their fashion potential.
Men's Scarves and Wraps
Scarves have become a firm fashion favorite with young Japanese men. The neck garments are available in a wide variety of materials—from versatile, year-round cotton to wool for the colder months and silk and cashmere for formal occasions. One of the attractions is the ease with which scarves can bring sophistication to even the simplest jeans-and-T-shirt outfit. Available just about anywhere for reasonable prices, scarves are highly popular as affordable accessory items.
The fashions for men’s scarves in Japan started around 2001 as part of the layered look popular among Japanese young people at the time. Initially, the trend was for subdued patterns in black or white. This changed when popular fashion designer Miyashita Takahiro began producing scarves influenced by a punk rock attitude, featuring musical notes and block check patterns. The trend hit the mainstream after several celebrities and male models were seen sporting the new styles.
One of the defining features of Japanese men’s scarves this season is the wide range of different colors, patterns, and styles. Popular designs have moved beyond checks and stripes to incorporate animal prints, including zebra and leopard patterns formerly worn mostly by women. These scarves can be worn in lots of different ways- longer scarves can be wrapped loosely around the neck, worn around the waist, or draped over the shoulders like a shawl. Some Japanese young men create an even more striking effect by combining two scarves with different colors or patternsand this versatility is a large part of their appeal.