We are thrilled to bring you Patsy’s first fashion blog for Smart. Casual. Classic. For her inaugural roving style report, Patsy is in fun and funky Tokyo. We love Pats’ take on the local fashions, she has such an eye for trends! We also enjoy those much-needed details of her travel tips and are amazed by how she survived two weeks having only packed carry-on luggage. Hint, Cadarra! Take it away, Pats!…
My first SCC roving report comes to you from Tokyo.
My first observation re Tokyo Fashion in this amazing city is ‘anything goes’:
Colours need not match or blend, stripes spots checks and stripes can be worn with florals. I don’t mean in a trendy way either, more just in a whatever takes your fancy kind of way.
If there is a trend it is towards oversized shirts worn with full skirts whether the gathered or electric pleated variety or A lined and calf-length or high waisted with the occasional inverted pleat revealing a contrasting coloured or printed fabric insert.
Fashion stores promote fashion for the under 40’s. The more mature are somewhat left behind in the fashion stakes unless of course, you are wealthy enough to shop at the high-end designer market stockists.
In fact, during our time we saw very few 50 plus women out and about. I tried to discreetly snap as many random fashionistas as I could, given that our time was spent going from station to station en route to activities befitting my grandchildren for whom this trip was planned.
If I was to describe what I would instantly recognise as Japanese fashion it would be tailored trousers or jeans worn under long tunics. Full tunics with deep cut armholes often tied at the shoulders with string straps worn with fitted sweaters underneath and teamed with an oversized shirt or long lightweight (often georgette) coat. The overall message is modesty and neatness. No cleavage, short skirts or shorts and very few sleeveless tops or tanks.
The one day that I saw a divine 60-something on the train, dressed in layers of linen and silk, was the one day that my phone’s battery was flat. I’ll do my best to describe her taupe black and cream creation.
Black linen palazzo style pants and tee worn with black chunky low heels. Topped with a long cream silk tunic over which she wore a taupe knee-length sleeveless vest. To finish off she wore a long geometrically printed neck scarf which was in muted shades of taupe black and cream. She wore a burnt orange headband over her short spiked grey hair. To complete the outfit she had oversized black-rimmed glasses and her tote was in shades of orange and black! She looked stunning. Her elderly partner was impeccably dressed in a white shirt over dark grey trousers and a mid-grey jacket. His tie was in a subtle pattern of shades of blue. His brogues were charcoal grey. Very much Italian influenced. That said maybe he is just influenced by his on-trend lady.
I’ve been searching for this haute couture couple since sitting opposite them during a 20minute train journey but alas I haven’t come across them since.
Our last day (Saturday) was spent strolling along Chuo-Dori and Harumi-Dori Avenues and the cross streets of Ginzasuzuran etc in the high-end fashion district of Ginza. The area has been likened to NYC’s 5th Avenue and Oxford Street London. With the designer labels showcased in amazing shops with fabulous visual displays, Ginza certainly had similarities to its Western retail counterparts. The difference, the streets were devoid of traffic (a weekend thing) and, like everywhere in Japan, there was not a cigarette butt or any rubbish whatsoever in the streets, making the whole area a pleasant pedestrian walkway.
It is a no-no to eat in the street. Waste receptacles are discretely positioned throughout or people take their rubbish home to dispose of. Vending machines for drinks and snacks are everywhere and the most favoured fast food is pre-prepared and packaged food of all varieties at the 7 Eleven, Family Markets and Lawsons. If required the sales staff will microwave for you. We had many breakfasts on the run at our local Omori Family Market. These outlets also provide ATMs. Be aware that credit cards are not readily used except in department stores- there a very few ATMs available at weekends.
Sorry I digress ……The lack of Japanese designer stores in Ginza was disappointing. I have since found that there is an area in Harajuku not far from Takeshita Street renowned for showcasing Japanese design… a must for our next trip?
The sales personnel in Ginza were, as to be expected, impeccably dressed. Understandably I was not permitted to take pics of the shop’s interiors or the staff. The Ginza area caters for Japan’s local elite and wealthy tourists wanting to experience the uniqueness of a Japanese shopping experience.
What makes the Japanese shopping experience unique, from my observation, is the gentile courtesy and attention to detail offered by the sales personnel. It is second to done. Not at all pushy or disingenuous in their attention. Just wish I was in a position to play Pretty Woman and revel in the attention.
As mentioned previously, the overriding fashion statement from Japanese women is modesty. It was refreshing not to see tattoos, full-figured girls poured into micro mini-skirts or form-fitting mid-drift tops.
Refreshingly I saw no activewear worn outside the gym.
Call me old fashioned but I found the unwritten dress code very pleasing. It reflects the atmosphere and general tasteful demeanour of the community. Well-groomed is another way to describe the Japanese woman. Even at the theme parks, there was attention to detail with what was worn.
I wrote this report after walking up littered William Street Woolloomooloo, to the Chinese Visa office (for my next trip). I have to say as I looked around I couldn’t help but compare the dress code with that of Japan.
There was no one walking the streets or in the café, where I prepared this report, presenting a well-groomed modestly fashionable look. I guess it is what it is and we as Australians are known for our very relaxed attitude to most things including our attire. Respecting each other’s differences is what is important, attempting to change ourselves to conform with others defeats the purpose of being who we are. I trust the fashion images I was able to snap gives an insight into Japanese fashion which in turn reflects the country’s conservative modest lifestyle.
Overall the Japan which we experienced was amazing. Bearing in mind we had 3 teenagers in tow. We saw so much and were so impressed with what we saw in our 12 days that it left us wanting more. We will return to experience the beauty of Kyoto, Osaka and Mt Fuji and beyond.
One extra thing I must mention is the cleanliness of the public amenities. In the Ladies toilets of the major railway stations, there are devoted areas for make-up preparation. Individual beauty booths equipped with dressing tables, stools and oval wall mirrors. They looked like a setting for a Barbie Doll House photo shoot. During peak hour these areas are full of gorgeous young things preparing themselves for the day right down to applying their false eyelashes in spotless surroundings befitting a beauty salon.
Lastly, my best tip is, unless you want to stay in the noisy tourist areas of Asakusa or Shinjuku look at staying a few train stops away. We chose the MyStay Premium Hotel in Omori. Requiring 2 bedrooms this was a moderately priced 3.5-star hotel with reasonably sized spotless bedrooms complete with fresh white pique Kung foo styled PJs every day. (a real hit for the kids).
Omori (pronounce oh more ee) was 18 minutes by fast train from Tokyo. Our hotel was an easy 6 minutes flat walk from the station. It is 30 minutes by train from Haneda Airport. (50 minutes by cab)
The best advice I can give for those planning to visit Japan is to purchase a Pasmo train pass on arrival at the airport and top it up as needed at any railway station. The rail system runs like clockwork and is very easy to negotiate.
Bye for now, next country Mainland China…a solo business trip this time.
Take care and Safe (Fashionable) Travels….Patsy