How To Dress Nice In Japan

Need to know how to dress nice in Japan? Japan is not a culture of slovenly trailer trash in sweaty wife-beaters and skid-marked underwear like we are, so if you ever find yourself en route to the land of the rising sun, you should probably know how to dress nice while you're there. And "nice" can refer to several different things: business nice, trendy nice, casual nice, traditional nice or even raver and Lolita nice (the Harajuku district is pretty much crazy colorful and goth fashion central), so it’s good to know how to clothe yourself, whether you’re meeting with business partners or looking for a party. You can check out the steps below to learn how to dress nice in Japan in all settings.

  1. The key to an impressive professional outfit in Japan is modesty, particularly if it’s your first time meeting an employer or client. While casual—business or otherwise—might be allowed, it’s best to stay away from it at first. The finest choice for business apparel is a plain, dark business suit. Nothing flashy—no blinding-turquoise ties, no Hot Topic belts—just an average, everyday suit in dark grey, dark blue or black. As business relations grow and you become better acquainted with the client, you can probably get away with more casual attire, but be sure to ask first.
  2. It’s pretty easy to casually dress nice in Japan, especially since there are no set fashion rules among the Japanese as far as “play clothes.” On the whole, just mix and match whatever, and odds are you’ll look just fine. A word of advice, though: don’t just toss on a crappy university sweatshirt and wind pants. The Japanese put a lot of effort into making themselves look presentable, even if it’s just in everyday clothing, and sweatshirts are a big, lazy cop-out. That will just make you look like a stereotypical American, so as long as you actually try to piece together an outfit using halfway decent judgment, your clothes will still appear nice.
  3. You may not see a bunch of people in traditional garb walking around in Japan now, but you never know when you might have to pull on a kimono. While these things aren’t worn nearly as much as in the past, you may wish to wear one should you attend a traditional Japanese wedding or festival. That’s really about it; there aren’t exactly loads of places or events to wear these robes to, so you probably don’t need to include one in your day-to-day Japanese travels.
  4. If you didn’t already guess, you don’t need to dress the same to go to a rave or a club as you do to conduct a business meeting. Honestly, to dress nice in Japan at a rave, you just have to try to craft the most colorful, crazy and vivid outfit you can think of. The Japanese love to overdress and just go totally hog-wild as far as clothing, and this extends even to their entertainment venues. Put on some cat ears, wear anything rainbow-colored and glue a Pokemon plushie to your head; you’ll then be pretty much guaranteed to fit right in with the ravers. And don’t worry about standing out—if you’re at a rave in Japan, you’d stand out a lot more if you showed up in a suit than if you walked in with industrial goth-goggles and a pink petticoat.

And the preeminent piece of advice that can be offered and that applies to everything discussed is this: overdress. Everyone in Japan will seem overdressed, even if they’re in informal jeans-and-T-shirt mode, but it’s far better to be dressed to excess than to just toss on some shorts and a worn-out tank top. Seriously, if you’re going to visit this magnificent country, the least you can do is help to not perpetuate the useless, lazy American label. Layer yourself thicker with clothes than a mall clearance rack, and everything will be just splendid. And keep your hands off the schoolgirls, too.


University of Delaware

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