Tokyo Trends: Mid-Summer 2011

I’ve now been here in Tokyo for just over two weeks, have gotten accustomed to the time-change, hit up the drugstore for numerous products to help me combat the mugginess and heat (more on that later), nabbed some of the latest fashion magazines, and been out and about to the main trendy shopping destinations. So I now have a bit of a handle on what is “on-trend” or, more importantly, what’s on the backs, feet, and arms of the young and fashionable.

Here are some themes I’ve seen so far:

1. Open-Weave Strappy Wedge Heels

Baby Pure Cross-Up Wedge Sandal, EVOL, ¥5806

Wedges are the current height of fashion, popular in wood and cork, as well as the ever-prevalent black.

2. Layered False Eyelashes + Heavy Eyeliner

Scan from PopTeen August 2011 issue

No longer content with just a single pair of falsies, Japanese girls are now layering 2 or even 3 pairs of full or cut lashes on the top lid, with 1 or 2 pairs of full lashes on the lower lid, surrounded by thick black eyeliner smudged out.  It gives the eye a very doll-like effect…especially since some girls offset the placement of the lashes at the outer corners to make the eyes look even bigger.

3. Printed Maxi-Culottes

Monotone All-in-One, DOSCH, ¥2980

I’ve seen tiny flowers and “ethnic” prints on these wide-legged chiffon pieces…I certainly couldn’t pull this look off but some are effortlessly!

4. Headbands Worn Around the Head 70’s-Style



Spotted just about everywhere: long, wavy, often ombre-d hair with black stretchy headbands or beaded leather strips worn around the forehead…Rumi clones?

5. Crochet or Open-Knit Tops

Biancheri Tutu, ¥4,095

Just to provide another light layer; in white, neutral, and black; open-weave crop tops are donned on top of maxis and tanks for a flower-child vibe.

6. Oversized Thick-Frame Glasses


I guess what could be called a “Fashion Blogger’s Staple,” these thick-framed nerd glasses have made their way to Japan.  I have to admit that Japanese girls look pretty cute with them!

7. Breezy Maxi-Dresses

Rapty, ¥5,990

Most days I feel it’s too hot for any separates, and girls here also default often to the “one-piece” maxi; this year, with shirring at the bust, skinny straps, vintage-style faded prints, and a loose fit.

8. Cropped/Batwing T-Shirts

Ribbon-print loose tee, Rapty, ¥2,300

Instead of the “body-conscious” fit that’s been popular for the last decade or so, tops now have dropped shoulders or batwing sleeves to provide a looseness on the top half – balanced out by their short length at the bottom.

9. Hats…Of All Kinds!


This year there seems to be an amazing array of popular headgear; from straw boaters, canvas Panama hats, and floppy American Apparel felt hats; to Marine-style structured pieces, newsboy caps, and crochet beanies…this year it seems that anything goes in order to keep the sun’s rays away.

10. Midi-length Pleated Chiffon Skirts

Dazzlin, ¥5,071

No longer above-the-knee or floor-length, skirts now are popular in a mid-shin length, in a pleated chiffon…favored in neutrals, drab colors, and pastels.


Many of these trends from above have been around for awhile, and even those from last summer (striped maxi-dresses, silk scarves as headwear, flat gladiator sandals, straw hats) are still going strong.

Other trends?

Snacks: Pickled-plum-flavored dried kelp sticks, fettucine gummis, collagen-infused parfaits by DHC, low-sugar sodas, “dry” Pepsi, the Jill Stuart cafe, flavored marshmallows.

Music: AK48, K-Pop groups.

Other: Tracy Anderson workout, UNIQLO t-shirts printed with Japanese drink and snack mascots, medical drama TV shows, polkadot-prints, asymmetirc hemlines, bolo-tie necklaces, mineral makeup.


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My Photos from My July Trip to Tokyo

So as many of you probably know already, I was in Tokyo for two weeks in early July to visit my in-laws.  Hub and Lil Tot went two weeks ahead of me while I stayed behind to look for our runaway cat; sadly, I didn’t find her so went to join my family for the last little bit of our vacation.

So here are some of the photos we took while there… (this is super-long, just to warn you! And totally ignore the commentary if my dry sense of humor grates on ya.)

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Current Tokyo Trends: Summer 2010 TOP 12

I’m sure you’re all just dying to know, right??!;-)

The top twelve trends that I’ve noticed out and about in Tokyo, mostly in the Shibuya and Harajuku areas:

Dot Ribbon Boater Hat, Cecil McBee, ¥2415; street style photo from
1. Boater Hats

The summer sun is fierce once the rainy season ends in mid-July, and many girls add hats to their ensembles just to ward off its rays.  The shape this year?  The cute retro-style straw boater, often worn akilter on the head.

How to Tie a Scarf into a Bow Headband from Ayumi Yasuoka’s blog; go there if you want to see the step-by-step; Rabbit Ears Wire Scarf Headband, ShopNikoNiko, ¥980
2. Scarves as Headgear

Sweet and 70’s-ish, scarves as headgear have made a major comeback.  Many scarves are also sold with flexible wire in them so you can stand the ends up like pseudo- rabbit ears, kind of a more ladylike version of that crazy Louis Vuitton-fueled trend that looks unfortunately dubious even on 16-year-olds.

Flower-Print Overalls, VIVAYOU, ¥6982
3. Flowered Maxi-Rompers

It almost sounds as if those three words strung together will cause a worldwide cataclysm, but yes, tiny flower prints (think of the good ole days of 90210 the ORIGINAL) paired with flowing, full-length jumpsuit shapes are all over the place.  There are also flowered dresses and blouses in similar patterns, and jumpsuits in more subdued hues (I have to admit I finally caved in and picked myself up one in black) to be found all over the place – it’s just these particular reincarnation of that 70’s staple seem to be everywhere.

Snoopy Basket Bag, LDS, ¥4788; street style photo from
4. Basket Bags

Going along with the neo-hippie-bohemian-flower-child-vibe is the wicker handbag, in all varieties of shapes, sizes, and sporting all sorts of accoutrements, be it silk flowers, cascading streams of pompons and lace, or chic leather and hardware.

from – tons of recent Japanese hairstyles there if you want to check it out!
5. Shoulder-Length Bob with Thick Bangs

This trend has been going strong for about a year, and it definitely lends a childlike innocence to those who wear it.  Now that summer’s here apparently the “new NEW” thing to do is create a small side part in the thick bangs.

6. Leather and Suede Gladiator-Style Sandals

But softer and more feminine than last year’s tough chic version, in brown and taupe and gray and black, with understated studding, fringe, or ankle-wraps.

7. Gel Nails

Now with acrylic nail sculpture a thing of the past, everybody whose anybody is doing gels.  And not just CALgels!  I got mine done with a state-of-the-art technique that does not use UV light to harden the gel, but instead uses LED light – and it lasts up to 4 weeks!  (I chose not to have my nails lengthened by building up the gel layers, which I was originally planning on doing.  If the gels extend beyond your natural nails they only have about a 2-3 week staying power.)  Right now lame (lah-meh) glitter powder mixed in with the gel and applied to the tips of the nails, in multiple layers, is really popular, and it looks fabulous even as your nails grow out.  The shine, glitter, and gloss of my nails is unending!

street style photo from; Logo T-Shirt and Tank, Rose Fan Fan, ¥1995
8. Cropped T-Shirts

Everything’s coming up mini here – with many girls opting to wear their shrunken-length, loose-fit tees atop maxi dresses and the aforementioned flowered jumpsuits.

Striped Tank Maxi, Moussy, ¥3591; street style photo from
9. Striped Maxi Dresses

Stripes are so big this year – and dresses in as many ways as you can fathom to make over the striped maxi dress are everywhere.

Frill Lace Gilet, Murua, ¥4462; street style photo from
10. Lace Vests

Bohemian and feminine, these vests I’ve spotted on everyone from teenagers to sophisticated 40-somethings lunching at swanky eateries in the Ebisu district.  They’re a soft and lightweight cover-up during the hottest months here.

Wide Braid Headband, Tamaya, ¥1020
11. Braided Hair Headbands

Many are soft and flexible braids of fake hair with an elastic at the back; some also on top of a rigid headband.  Adds a sweet flower child aesthetic to every ensemble.

12. Mickey Mouse T-Shirts

Following in the steps of L.A. brands Fred Segal and Joyrich, many Japanese brands have also collaborated with the animated icon to print t-shirts.  Since we were going to Disneyland, I planned to buy one there…until I was put off by the crowds and the prices and ended up buying one that was even better than those sold at Disneyland for a mere ¥1500 ($16) from UniQLO (above).

And of course, black leggings under everything from shorts to dresses to miniskirts, arm-covers to ward off the persistent UV rays, earrings with clear nylon posts for sensitive ears (a common complaint here), false eyelashes, high heels worn everywhere (even Disneyland- eek!!), and frilly bloomers under tunics on the younger crowd are all still going strong.


Leave Comment Article About Tokyo Fashion

Yup – Japanese fashion (both street style and designer lines) is one of the best-kept fashion secrets in the world – and now the New York Times is in on it. (Thanks Jenn for the tip!! Luv ya!) I’ve often lamented on this blog that very few Japanese lines are available for purchase outside of Japan (and nearby Asia, if that) – and there’s a dearth of information regarding Japanese brands as well. (In the U.S. for instance, almost every company out there knows: no website, no company. In Japan, so few companies actually have their own multi-page website – and if they do, often it’s just a landing page, poorly-made, or impossible to navigate! They’re slo-o-o-wly catching up with the times, though. So strange from a country so technologically-advanced in many other ways…and fashion/style sites in a blog format? Still on their way. There’s no Japanese FashionToast just yet.;-)
Very few established brands actually participate in the annual renamed Japan Fashion Week (I can’t believe I’ve missed going to NINE of them already!) – and very few venture out beyond the country’s borders, let alone sell online (both domestically and abroad). There is very little cohesiveness to the industry as a whole – and the Japanese government has once again royally screwed things up by appointing 3 “style ambassadors” to introduce other nations to their idea of “Japanese style.” (Said “ambassadors” are working to spread the Lolita style, the secondhand mashup style, and the “schoolgirl” style – such a tiny facet of the incredibly diverse fashion landscape that is Japan. )
But I’m sure you’re already familiar with style sites such as Dropsnap, Bijin-Tokei, Japanese Streets, Style-Arena, where you can see thousands of images of Japanese street style in all their uncategorizeable glory. (And if you have a hankering to buy Japanese-style fashions but don’t want to deal with the mess of international forwarding, try Japanese-style/Asian-trendy shopping sites that do ship internationally, like AsiaJam, TokyoStyle, and YesStyle!)

But by and large Japan’s up-and-coming brands and stylish in-the-know people keep to themselves, according to the article below.

I love that the article mentions furfur – a brand I’m in love with (and that Jane from SeaofShoes purchased some items from when she was in Tokyo in July of last year)…I just sniffed out where you can purchase items from them online: at nuan and from Rakuten – for the reader who emailed me re: where to purchase their stuff. (nuan only ships to an address in Japan but with Rakuten, depending on the seller, they may ship overseas. And there are forwarding companies that can forward parcels overseas for you to get around this little annoyance.) But Jane’s fabulous cardigan that she posted on Sea of Shoes is nowhere to be found!! Japanese fashion has a super-quick turnover. (An ambitious DIY, perhaps??)

But I was not familiar with the other brand the article above mentions: Garcia Marquez Gauche. Hmm…must investigate more.
And another update on one of my fave Japanese brands: if six was nine and L.G.B. (I wrote about them here) has collaborated for the costume design on the film Filth and Wisdom (2008), directed by Madonna. Yes, that Madonna!! I had no idea – must rent film NOW.

-Carly J. Cais
photo from
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Tokyo Trends: Summer-Autumn 2009

Well, since I’m in Tokyo right now the posts that I’m adding to my blog while typing on this annoying JIS-standard keyboard (where the apostrophe is shift-7) are going to be Japan-focused. Sorry for those of you completely bored with Japan…just bear with me a couple more weeks and it will all be over soon, promise!*-) (what a smileyface ends up as on this keyboard)

In Japan there are so many little subgroups and fashionable variations on a theme it’s somewhat difficult to round up items into a single “trend.” There’s the Fruits or Harajuku-style, which is bright, mismatched, youthful, and layered, where anything goes; Goth-style, which is often asymmetrical, black, tailored, and androgynous; cutesy kiddie-style, which included striped armwarmers, shorts, ridiculous English printed tee…etc. The trends below are what I’ve been seeing on a number of different girls who ascribe to different styles of dressing, as well as what is in the stores I’ve been visiting in Shibuya and Harajuku.

1. Tees with Suspenders/Neckties

T-shirts with real suspenders attached to the shirt itself, or sold as a set with a mini-necktie, abound. Some just have the tie or suspenders printed trompe l’oiel style on them. Some tees have extra fabric tabs on the front of back to accommodate the suspender clips, and buttoned epaulets on the shoulders to keep them in place. (Tee: Cecil McBee

2. Black Buckled Boots (wedge, stiletto, or even chunk heel)

A chunky, stacked heel I find unusual in Japan, since boots have either been flats or stilettos for ages. Engineer boots are also popular for Fall. I almost bought a pair of multi-buckled Fall ’09 Balmain boot (you know, the one where the buckled straps cover the heel??) knockoffs at Cecil McBee, but there were scratches on them, and at the stores in Japan they will not discount damaged merchandise for the customer. At all. There will be another Japanese girl who will come along in the next 20 minutes and pay full price for it anyway. (Boots: R&E

3. Vests (fur/suiting/denim)

Though the fur vest (long crimped Mongolian lamb being the forerunner for Fall) is too much for August in Tokyo just yet, there are still tons of girls layering suiting-style vests in black and gray over their tees, or opting for washed, bleached denim (often with studding) to add to their outfits. Apparently the trend for Fall is also to layer something under said vest – as in a sequined vest or a vintage-style, lacy tie-front dress so a contrasting texture peeps out at the front. (Vest: Kai Lani)

4. Stretch Front-Clasp Belt (2″ wide plus)

Worn at the natural waist or above (even right across the ribcage under the boobage – hah! silliest word ever). Here they also wear alot of mini bustier style dresses over mini tees, and then cinch the whole look with a belt, so it looks like you’re wearing a tee dress. Totally a way to get more use out of that mini you bought at Forever21. (Belt: Rose Fan Fan)

5. Leggings/Tights

Legwear abounds here, even with odd choices (garter belts and thigh-highs worn under super-short minis? Black large-scale fishnets (the usual threadlike netting made thicker, spaced with 3″ wide openings) worn over neon tights?) but black leggings dominate, year round. They come in just about every length imagineable, with stirrups, scrunched bottoms, or lace hems. (Leggings: Chocorouge)

6. Arm Covers

Sure the Japanese kids have always loved armwarmers to coordinate with a funky, punky outfit, but now I’ve been spotting them on older ladies peeking out from their t-shirt sleeves, and on women every age inbetween. Now they are no longer “warmers” but are instead UV protectant, cool-technology layers, that the savvy Tokyo-ite (and northern Japanese lady, according to my sister in law who went there earlier this month) adds to her ensemble. (Arm Covers: Niizu)

7. Mini Hats

Almost every store catering to the younger set had these, yet I saw few people wearing them. (In Harajuku, where many girls were decked out in Lolita fashions, I saw more, and Ageha Magazine was populated with them.) I was sorely tempted to buy a little black one for myself, when I realized Hub would probably hurt himself laughing if I donned one for my morning grocery shopping at the Fred Meyer back in Oregon. (Hats: FAIRYTEARY)

8. Vintage-Look Lace Dress

Big for Fall! the stores proclaim, and even if there are some who will never ascribe to the boho style of dressing, my guess is that even they will use tea-dyed and ivory lace dresses as a layer under cardigans and over leggings come cooler months. (Dress: Snidel)


9. Frilly Bloomers

I kid you not. Super-mini-shorts-style, with layers upon layers of lace, satin frills, or sequin layers, apparently you can wear these peeking out from under a tunic that’s just a wee bit short, or under a skirt that’s short enough to flash everyone when you’re going up on an escalator. I almost bought a pair and then realized even layered under a denim mini or tunic, they’re still too short for my comfort. For someone 10-15 years younger, perfect…? (Bloomers: C. C. Cross)

10. Popp

Japan has always had an infatuation with cutesy characters, and Barbie, Marie from the Aristocats, Hello Kitty, and Snoopy have been on t-shirts and cell phone lariats for decades. Last year to my pleasure I saw My Little Pony had made a comeback on t-shirts and bag charms (but the new G3 series models from this decade, blecccch…which don’t even hold a candle to the G1’s from the 80’s IMHO) but now it’s all about Popples. When I saw Puffball and Party Time plush dolls in a store, I almost went ballistic!! But then again maybe they’re back at the Toys R Us in the U.S…I just haven’t checked. T-shirts and cellphone lariats definitely crowd the stores here. And though 6 months ago everyone was mad for stuffed bear bag charms all decked out with rhinestones and chains now it’s characters dripping from bags, including the aforementioned Popples.

Other trends: Harem pants, in sweatshirt, jersey, or cotton woven fabrics (they call them sarrouel here, which I assume is from the French…?), striped nautical tees, straw panama hats, oversized black sunglasses, super-sparkly nails in a rainbow of colors, heat-set studs on tees creating a pattern or spelling out words, strange English phrases on shirts, destroyed denim, boyfriend blazers with contrasting sleeve linings, jumpsuits, suspender pants, and baggy harem pant overalls.

Jewelry does not seem very interesting or unique this time around…I’m seeing piles of gold and silver bangles and definitely some neon plastic accessories here and there, but for the most part, everything seems about the elastic belt and the studded shoes lately.

*-) from Tokyo

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