Pea coats are a good choice for upcoming winter fashion (Photo by photoboothparty)
by Brandon Nehrkorn
It’s that time of the year again; throwing our thin and breezy, pit-stained summertime essentials into the recesses of our closets to be forgotten until the sun demands their inevitable return. Despite the transition of the seasons, I implore you to take a minute and think about what it is you are doing. Before you upset the dust smothering your vast coffers of university-labeled hoodies and sweaters, take a quick look at yourself in the mirror and ask “Where do I see myself in 5 years?” If the answer is “In my parent’s basement” then go right ahead and whip out the moth-eaten university hoodie and rock the alumni spirit. For the rest of us, however, there is no place better than Japan to take advantage of the lack of Western society’s notion that being a fashionable man is unacceptable. If nothing else, you can always chalk up your Facebook pictures to your friends back home as “I was in Japan and very, very confused about everything I was doing.” The foreigner card works both ways; it’s just that good.
You’ve made it to Japan and ended up in the fantastic prefecture of Hiroshima for one of two reasons: You are both ambitious and worldly, or are escaping criminal charges. Assuming (and hoping) that criminal charges is not the reason, being the young ambitious individual that you are, why not dress the part with all that Japan has to offer? With that being said and your inner desire to explore your own fashion potential safely under the guise of foreigner confusion, here are a few essentials (all found in abundance in Japan) that you should keep in mind this fall and winter season.
Japan has an endless array of both fantastic and tragic outerwear. In the chilly season to come you should keep an eye out for a killer coat. Nothing screams successful young ambitious professional like a proper pea coat. Be careful, though, and know that the buttons are where it’s at. Cheap buttons are a sure sign of a cheap trickster out to deceive the public out of their ability to purchase properly. If pea coats are really outside your realm, go for something black and simple and avoid shiny, glossy windbreaker material; it just won’t work.
Grandpa pants and oversized jackets are a sure way to add 20 years to both your look and personality in the workplace. Shop long and hard for a new, fitted suit before the upcoming Mid-Year JET Conference. The last thing anyone wants to see is a high-waisted work pant with enough fabric to reupholster a few couches. No one says you need to have skintight pants with your crotch bulging out, but don’t buy work pants on a whim. Try them on and make sure they work for your individual body structure.
The second trend you might think you can pull off, but sadly you cannot, is wearing any given jacket with any given pant. Simply put: don’t be cheap. Buy a matching suit. Suit stores line the streets of the shopping districts in Hiroshima. Custom tailoring to fit your own style and needs are overly abundant. Take advantage of the price and convenience; save us from your saggy pant, grandpa diaper disaster; and look like the young, successful, ambitious foreigner you should.
Belts, Shoes, and Scarves
Just like our female counterparts, the male version of accessories makes or breaks our look. If you feel too feminine to be analyzing your belts, shoes, and scarves with a critical eye, then by all means continue to look hideous and burn everyone eyes. I’m joking…sort of.
It takes quite a strong look and personality to pull off the brown and black combo, so if you are unsure for the winter season, stick with just one. As a foreigner here for a prolonged amount of time, you may feel the pull toward mixing designs and patterns like so many natives of this great land, but it’s best to keep it simple when it comes to your accessory items. The last thing you want to be importing into your wardrobe is the glitzy, sparkly, shiny-shoed host guy look. Keep it simple, clean, and in tune.
A clean and simple casual shoe to keep your look polished (Photo by bies)
Most importantly, you are your shoes. It’s critical that you keep a pair of nice black shoes. You are fooling yourself if you think your work shoes will make the cut. Just like the suit shops, shoe stores line the streets of Hiroshima in every direction. Do something within your own style and comfort, but avoid the lure of the wacky Japanese shoe that will set you on your way to the male host look.
Jeans, Jeans, Jeans
I’ll keep it simple with jeans. This is where you can really pull that foreigner card with your friends back home. Get wacky and try a few new things. Try the skinny jean you were always too scared to try; or not, it’s up to you. Whatever you do, keep two things in mind. First, make sure it works with the rest of your clothes (proportion, style, etc). Secondly, stray from the boot cut. If you aren’t wearing boots, your boot cut jeans look terrible. They make your feet look like strange duck feet separated from the rest of your body, and everyone judges you – especially me. As far as the rest of the denim is concerned, there is a rising trend in Japan for men’s overalls; simply don’t do it. It may look sweet and badass, but unless you have all the jazz of a Japanese stylist you will most likely look like a lost farm boy stranded abroad.
Keeping some of these ideas in mind, try to form that strong, young professional, night-out-on-the-town look you have waiting to burst out from within. Throw out your old college wardrobe and start fresh with all of the fantastic shopping options that Japan has to offer, but keep a critical eye. Most importantly, do what is best for you and your own style, but always remember that everyone is judging you….very harshly.