Four months have passed since I came to America. In the Collegeville area, it’s mostly sunny, but sometimes it’s cloudy, rainy, and snowy. It also has seasons, for example in April the cherry blossoms bloom and it gets warm like in Japan. The climate itself is similar to Japan, but I noticed that people wear clothes differently. Some people’s fashions are completely different from my country. For instance, if you only wear leggings on your bottom, every Japanese will look at you and stare at you. Simply, Japanese would not wear like that. On the other hand, my friend told me that I dress differently from Americans, and it is easy to guess that I am from Japan. I was surprised by that and considered how Japanese college students dress. Then I became interested in it. It goes without saying that all Japanese people do not dress the same, but I realized that there are some specific types.
Before I started analyzing the pictures, I would like to explain how Japanese college students are aware of fashion. In Japan, most of the junior and high school students have a school uniform, meaning that they cannot wear what they want to school. Many people think it’s less troublesome, but others find it stressful. After graduating high school and entering college, people have to choose what to wear every day. It is true that during their life as a student, it’s the second time that they are able to wear their own clothes, because in elementary school, we have six years, and most of the public schools do not require a school uniform. However, it is too young for them to choose their clothes and buy whatever they want. In most of houses, parents decide what they will wear for that day. Therefore, for many people it’s their first chance to decide what they want to wear.
I think the Japanese are really aware of what they wear. When I go to college, go shopping, go to libraries, and go travelling, I feel like many people are keeping up with the latest fashion. In bookstores, there are more than thirty monthly fashion magazines targeting readers in their early twenties. People can buy those magazines at about 550 yen (about 6 dollars), and some people stand and read in the bookstore. Others go on the Internet and just browse it or find a clothing shop they like and look at their latest styling.
According to the survey in Hiroshima City University, to the question “Why do you keep up with the latest fashion?” people answered “Many people are aware of the fashion”, “There are a lot of trendy clothes in the shops”, and “I don’t want to look weird and out of fashion by my friends”. By this survey, it became clear that Japanese students look at their friends, classmates, and fashion magazines and search for what kind of fashion they will fit the best. I thought this expresses well the Japanese characteristics of caring what others think of you and making the effort not to look out of place.
Before going too far, I will start with this picture. She has her hair dyed to a shade lighter than her skin. She is wearing a pleather jacket and damaged shorts. Her black boots are cool, and the heel is high, which makes her legs look long and slender. It is hard to say from this picture, but her make-up is heavy. This fashion gives me a more aggressive impression because many people try to hide their legs, but the Gyaru won’t. The damaged designed shorts give a cool and a grown up image. Many Gyaru believe that a tanned skin color looks healthy, thin, smart, and cool.
Gyaru also wear special makeup. This woman’s
name is Tubasa and she is one of the famous Gyaru models. Many girls follow her fashion and her
makeup. As you can see in the picture,
Gyaru makeup is very thick, especially on the eyes. When I first saw this image, I thought she
looked like a doll. There are no particular
rules for the Gyaru makeup, but many people say make it heavy. Gyaru makeup can make everyone like a doll
even if you have tiny eyes. In this
picture, Tubasa is wearing false eyelashes, thick eye liner, and shiny eye
shadow. She also has double eyelids. Her
skin is covered with foundation and it looks very smooth. Her lipstick is a
very light, shiny shade of pink. It looks
like most of the effort is focused on her eyes.
It is natural for the Gyaru to spend more than an hour for the makeup.
The next category is girly (kawaii) and casual fashion. In some ways these two are similar. I will start with this picture. She is wearing a typical girly fashion. She has her hair colored, which matches her clothes perfectly. Her hair accessory is big and makes her face look small. On top, she is wearing a white knit sweater, and underneath she is wearing a patterned shirt. Wearing such a shirt gives her a fashionable image. Layering clothes allows for her to show off a greater variety of styles. Although wearing many shirts is hot in summer, many Japanese college students tend to dress in layers. The girly fashion often has flower patterns. In this picture, she is also wearing a flower patterned skirt. This skirt has the most impact upon her fashion. Also, wearing a belt makes her legs look long and skinny. Her gray knee socks give both a sexy and a cute impression. Pink pumps fit her fashion well and remind me that she is a girl. Her pose makes me feel like she is a princess. Therefore, like this picture presents, girly fashion is fluffy, cute, and soft. Many times, these girls tend to wear white, pink, and other pastel colors. They rarely wear dark colors. In addition, they like their clothes to have ribbon and lace.
This picture to the left is a typical casual fashion. She is dressed in blue jeans, which seem comfortable and easy to move in compared to skirts. Her blue striped shirt is simple, and her hair is worn down and unstyled. She is wearing sandals, which are perfect when you want to walk around. To me, it seems that she has only what she needs and has made no extreme effort to make herself look good. Analyzing this picture, I think the definition of the casual style is natural, relaxed, and comfortable.
Recently, a new fashion trend is becoming popular in Japan. It is called “mori girl”. Mori means forest in Japanese. This style concept is “a girl who looks like she is living in the forest”. The word “mori girl” has its origins in Japan’s enormous social networking site called “Mixi”. When taking about forests, they are not referring to traditional forests in Japan. They are talking about old European fairy-tales that have trees, little houses, rabbits, and bears.
According to some magazine publishers, these mori girls might be a new subculture in Japan. Many magazines started paying attention to these fashions and developing the mori girl as a new trend. However, the mori girl is different from the Ganguro subculture, and it is still unknown what it’s going to become.
When I was analyzing and looking for pictures for all of these styles, I noticed that many of the Japanese girls dye their hair. On magazines, TV, and the Internet, most of the girls’ hair were brown. It is said this started in 1997. Amuro Namie was popular among the young generation in Japan, and many girls started to follow her. Therefore, girls started to dye their hair. However, at this time, many adults thought people with brown hair were Furyou (juvenile delinquents). Today, the demand for dyed hair is increasing, and people can dye their hair easily. Additionally, in the fashion world people think that dark black hair does not match the western clothes that Japanese people wear every day. Although brown colored hair is popular in Japan, most of the elementary, junior high, and high schools do not allow students to dye their hair. Thus when they graduate high school, some people immediately dye their hair. According to the company called Hoyu, more than 60 percent of college students color their hair. However, in the junior year everyone who has job hunting returns their hair to its original black. Compared to a few decades ago, people are generous about dying hair, and they think it is part of the fashion.
All in all, when people wear clothes they consider how they want the world to see them. If they are dressing in Gyaru style, they give off an aggressive, sometimes scary, or optimistic impression. If they are dressing in a girly style, they want to be seen as cute rather than cool. Casual style is often natural, so they do not want to bedizen their selves. Often times, it is hard to say that this person’s fashion style is that and this, but most of the times it’s a mixture of different styles. When they decide upon their fashion, most of the times they look at their friends, family, and mass media to choose what to wear. Also they really consider how it looks on them and how the others will see them, because fashion style contributes to a first impression.
In this blog, I did not include what American people wear and what the differences are between the two, but I believe fashion really reflects a person’s culture. From my impression, I think Americans do not mind showing off their bodies compared to the Japanese. This topic might be interesting to do research on next time. However, looking at my country’s fashion and its different personalities was a good chance for me to explore Japanese characteristics.