Tokyo Street Style

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Konnichi wa!

As soon as I stepped foot on the streets of Tokyo, I was met with an overwhelming amount of stimuli. Whether it was the bright neon signs at Shibuya crossing, the sounds of the Japanese language, the sheer amount of people everywhere all the time, or the endless alleyways full of culinary delights – Tokyo did not disappoint me. And of course, how can I not mention the fashion?

I was already less than half the chic woman I used to be, dressed in my drab “I’m a tourist” uniform, but walking amongst crowds of impeccably dressed Tokyoites made me drool with jealousy. I studiously examined each person’s outfit and constantly made mental notes everywhere I went. Some reoccurring style elements I noticed:

  • tulle skirts with combat boots and slouchy beanies
  • feminine and glam mixed with oversized boyish elements
  • show-off ankle socks worn with everything
  • perfect hair, makeup, heels no matter the weather conditions
  • skirts and dresses even when it’s cold
  • elements of a minimalist aesthetic
  • mix of volume, scale, and proportion
  • oversized jackets and pants
  • combination of street and sweet
  • hats, headbands, and other hair accessories

In my second attempt at street style photography, I learned that the language barrier is both a blessing and a curse. Armed with a friendly smile, there were only three words that would be useful for this occasion: sumimasen (excuse me), kawaii (cute), and arigato (thank you). Some willingly obliged, flattered that a foreigner wanted to take a photo of their cute outfit. Others were creeped out that a foreigner wanted to take a photo of their cute outfit.

So there I was, standing at the entrance of the Harajuku District, camera in hand, ready to snap photos. Fifteen minutes had passed and the sun would set soon, yet I had not one single street snap. Trying to take candid shots only resulted in blurry photos. I would need to go balls to the wall if I wanted some great pictures.

Even though I would never see these people again, it was still hard to muster up the courage to approach random strangers and ask if I could photograph them. And by ask I mean a series of charades that consisted of me pointing to their outfits, giving a thumbs up, and pointing to my camera, accompanied by the word “kawaii.”

If you ever want to attempt some street stye photography in Tokyo, here are some things I learned:

  • Women who are by themselves will most likely agree to be photographed.
  • The young ones will be too shy to have their photos taken.
  • Big groups of girls will chatter amongst each other and maybe laugh at you, then walk away giggling, leaving you high and dry.

These pictures can’t even begin to encapsulate the gamut of women’s fashion in Tokyo – there were so many cool outfits I wasn’t able to capture! Inspired by the aesthetic here, I can’t wait to return home to apply some of these learnings to my own style.

I’m a big fan of the fellas, whose fashions rival that of the women’s. Unfortunately, I was too shy to approach any of them and I ran out of time. I might just have to return to Tokyo again for street style part ni: men’s edition. Until then, sayonara!

Hella Coachella

My title doesn’t make sense, but it rhymes, yo.

Three days. Triple digit temps. Specialty food trucks. Sandstorm. Flower crowns and cutoff shorts. Over 180 music artists. Yes my friends, I’m talking about Coachella.

It was my first time at a multiple day music festival and needless to say, Coachella lived up to the hype and did not disappoint one bit.

On the music front, every single artist I came across sounded amazing live. If I wasn’t a fan before, I became one after I saw them. Coachella is proof that there can be too much of a good thing. There are so many bands that participate in the festival that there are bound to be schedule conflicts. I had to pick and choose, and I wasn’t able to catch everyone I wanted to see, but the ones I did watch put on an awesome show. From guest appearances to covers of oldies but goodies, every performance was a surprise that wowed the crowd.

I knew I would get a bit dirty, but nothing could prepare me for the sandstorm that dusted its way in the early evening and picked up with increasing wind speeds well into the night. Remember to pack a scarf or bandana to wrap around your nose and mouth, or else look like a coal miner by the end of the night like I did. I’m still finding sand in places where the sun don’t shine.

Although many celebrities were in attendance, there were no sightings on my end. With all the visual and auditory stimuli happening before me, it is no wonder I walked by Kendall and Kylie Jenner without even knowing it. Would you be able to recognize these famous faces?

The expansive green lawn was filled by throngs of music and festival lovers dressed to the nines. I was overwhelmed and inspired by everyone’s creative festival fashion: hats, boots, flower crowns, sheer kimono cardigans, fringe, body paint, and bare skin were some of the reoccurring trends. I was a sweaty mess and was dressed tame and lame in comparison. I didn’t feel my usual chic self, to say the least.


D&Y hat (similar hat) / Urban Outfitters romper (similar romper & romper)

In the midst of the hot weather, sandstorm, and pure excitement running from stage to stage, I seldom pulled out my camera. I tried to capture the essence of the festival with the few photos I managed to take – but they simply do not serve Coachella justice. You’ll just have save up the funds and go for yourself next year.

As the final weekend of Coachella starts tomorrow, I’ll be nursing my withdrawals by singing and dancing in the comfort of my living room. Couchella, if you will.

Feet on the Street

There is only one Bill Cunningham, and with good reason.

I tried my hand at capturing street fashion on my recent trip to Toronto, but it was not easy. The cold temperatures and my nervousness caused my fumbling fingers to drop my little PowerShot camera after taking only two photos. Thankfully I still had my iPhone. With each person I approached, I found it easier to introduce myself to strangers and ask for a photograph. Everyone complied – how could they not? I was paying them a compliment. The key to being a good street photographer is all about timing. If you see someone with a cool outfit, go for it! Do not hesitate, or your opportunity will literally pass you by, as it did for me many times.

The rain was not conducive to photographing street fashion. I was only able to capture the Torontonian from the surface, bundled up in a big overcoat, often with a fur-lined hood, and boots. The men are quite stylish, layering their outfits in interesting ways, and accessorized with hats, fun socks, and man-bags, though I was too shy to approach many of them. There isn’t a word to accurately describe the essence of the Torontonian style, for it is as eclectic as the fashions I see in San Francisco.

Toronto Street Style

Dreary weather aside, I spent the days walking around the city until my feet ached, getting to know the public transit system in order to find DeGrassi St., eating more than twice my weight in horse tartare, smoked sweetbreads, and dumplings, visiting some museums with amazing mixed media installations, and discovering the many beautiful murals/graffiti art that covered the empty walls and alleys of the city. I was rained on and the wind-chill was ridiculous, but that didn’t deter me from visiting a dozen or so vintage shops. Vintage furs are cheaper and more plentiful there, and I only wish my carry-on bag wasn’t busting at the seams.

The next time I visit Toronto, it will definitely need to be in warmer temperatures. Stay tuned if you want to see the drool-worthy vintage goodies I brought back!

The Sights of Toronto