Tokyo Street Style


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!

The Cool Chic

You’re hot then you’re cold.

I’m talking about the finicky weather lately. A heatwave one week, and a chance of rain the next week. Or, it can happen all in the same day: mild in the daytime, but winds pick up soon after sunset. Lightweight layering pieces are key to surviving these fast-changing temperatures.

For this weather driven style challenge, I reached for my leather jacket. I finally got my hands on one for a price that I can live with – $15 at Goodwill! A simple leather jacket is classic and timeless – you won’t have to worry about it going out of style. It’s the perfect mid-weight item for that in between weather, when it’s neither frosty nor too hot.

It’s black and it’s white. Still high off my previous outfit post, black and white seemed most appropriate for this leather jacket. Not one to be very edgy, I softened up the ensemble with feminine details: a polka dot bow, a strand of pearls, a sheer blouse, and a vintage beaded cardigan.

Between the jacket, the killer heels, and the graffiti in the background, I couldn’t help but feel too cool for school (while staying warm) in this outfit. I tried my best to give a mean mug, but to no avail. Instead of looking bad ass, I just look cool chic.

This cool chic chick needs a cigarette, a tatted up boy toy, and a motorcycle. Who da baddest chic?

thrifted Banana Republic jacket (similar pleather jacket) / vintage cardigan (similar cardigan) / Old Navy blouse (similar blouse and blouse) / Levi’s jeans (similar jeans) / Dollhouse booties (similar booties) / vintage Coach Willis handbag / thrifted headscarf (similar scarf)

Stripes on Stripes on Stripes

I attended my very first clothing swap party some months back. A clothing swap party is exactly what it sounds like – all you need is a person to host the party and a group of gals to bring in unwanted clothing/accessories/shoes/handbags. The rules will vary from party to party, but the single most important requirement is that all who participate must contribute something to the swap. What better way to empty your closet and also shop for a “new” wardrobe? Let the swapping games begin!

I almost passed on this pair of striped shorts. It is a size too big and the Bermuda style looks tomboyish on me, but I saw the potential – and it was FO’ FREE! There was no need to worry about buyer’s remorse here.

My inspiration for this outfit materialized merely by accident. I’ve gradually accumulated blue and white striped items in my closet, and one day I had a stroke of genius to wear all the stripes together. If you’ve been a reader of mine from the beginning, you know that I’ve always been a bit nautical by nature. I wore my go-to maritime rope belt with my favorite compass necklace; it will come in handy in case I get lost at sea. Not one to be too matchy matchy, I also threw in a vintage brown and goldenrod paisley scarf for good measure.

I’ve got on more stripes than I can spot.

Truly Madly Deeply striped shirt (similar here & here) / Japanese bermuda shorts (similar) / White Mountain espadrilles / Urban Outfitters rope belt (similar here & here)/compass necklace (similar) / Urban Outfitters zodiac watch (similar)

Into the Wild Summer Solstice

Soak in the sunshine because this is the longest day of the year. It’s the official start of summa summa summa time, time to sit back and unwind.

I was wild about this dress when I spied it on the racks of the thrift store safari that is Salvation Army. I swiftly pounced on it like my prey before another shopper could have the chance. Not only was this dress animal printed, but also the print was a mix of three different animals: leopard, cheetah, and tiger. To top it off, it had the animals lounging on the hem of the dress. With tiger and leopard accessories to match, I created the perfect wild look that could scare the summer solstice daylights out of someone.

Unfortunately it was feeling more like winter during my photoshoot. It was bitingly cold, and so I tried to think like an animal in the wild. What would the leopard do? The cheetah? How about the tiger? And just like that, I struck a pose in the cold wind like a beast. Am I worthy of being America’s Next Top Model? Maybe. Oh, except that I haven’t quite mastered the art of smizing. Sorry Tyra, I have failed you.

thrifted dress (similar) / cardigan (old, similar) / thrifted necklace (similar) / bangles (old, similar here + here)

Into the Wild

Goodwill Hunting: When Wooly Met Poly

Harry and Sally. Sonny and Cher. Wool coat, meet polyester blouse: one a natural fiber, the other a synthetic.

I have a nasty habit of donating to Goodwill, only to turn around and purchase something from their retail store. On a recent trip there, I ambled up and down the aisles until I found this wonderful bright blue polyester blouse in a petite size (such a rarity!). I should have stopped there, but, feeling a bit empty handed, I proceeded on to the coat racks. It must have been serendipity, for I discovered this wooly coat in excellent condition, minus the mystery wadded up tissue in the pocket.

Being a petite girl, I am not usually a fan of oversized shapes, as they overwhelm my figure. However, the cocoon-like silhouette of this jacket was an exception. The roomy shape actually allows me to pile on a chunky wool sweater underneath. No need to worry about weird bunching of layers, which often occurs when you try to cram too much under a fitted jacket with a defined waistline.

The speckles of charcoal, blue, brown, and red in the coat inspired the color palette for this outfit. The rough wooliness of the coat and the smooth sheen of the blouse combine to create a texture rich ensemble.

Talk about Goodwill hunting.

Wooly and Poly

You Can Toucan

Happy New Year! Nothing like ringing in the frosty weather by bringing in pops of color and showing a little leg in my first outfit post of 2013.

I would sum up my holiday vacation to Belize in one word: ADVENTUROUS.  The sights I saw were simply unbelizable. The weather was gorgeous, the people were friendly, the seafood was plentiful, and the mosquitos weren’t really biting. What more could I ask for? Oh yes, much, much more: snorkeled with tropical fish, turtles, manta rays, and nurse sharks in the second longest barrier reef in the world; hiked through a muddy dense jungle in the pouring rain; found out what it was like to literally be stuck between a rock and a hard place as I shimmied my way through tight spaces and waded through waist deep water in dark caves; witnessed the spectacle of glistening stalagmites and stalactites; and climbed the steep ancient stairs of the Mayan ruins. There were many Kodak moments that weren’t captured on camera, so I’ll just have to rely on the snapshots in my memory.

As for local fashion trends, there really wasn’t anything too exemplary. Even I looked a bit haggard during the trip and donned the stereotypical tourist look: hat, tank top, khaki cargo capris, and hiking shoes. Chic Vic I was not.

There was just one colorful trendsetter in Belize that was out of sight due to its fleeting nature: the toucan. The toucan is the national bird of Belize. Unless you’re an avid birdwatcher or an early bird, the sighing of this colorful beauty is rare and few to the average Joe.

The toucan is a great of example of color blocking at nature’s finest, second only to the panda bear. Color blocking is exactly what it sounds like: wearing “blocks” of color – solids only, no prints. Sorry leopard, zebra, and cheetah, you’re out of luck. I was inspired to use the colors from my souvenir toucan salt and pepper shakers to mimic a little color blocking myself. Pencil skirt, flared skirt, or skinny pants? I couldn’t decide on what black bottom to wear, when at the last moment, while digging through my dense closet, I had forgotten I owned this pair of silk shorts purchased from Express many seasons ago. And just like that, a faux romper look was created. I tied it all together with a silk scarf at my waist for a makeshift cummerbund. The blouse, silk scarf, shoes, and earrings are thrifted. Approximate cost of head to toe look including the toucans: under $50.

Unfortunately, shortly after this photo-shoot ended, both birds suffered trauma resulting from impact on concrete due to my clumsiness. Pepper survived with only minor cuts and bruises, while Salt had to undergo major reconstructive beak surgery by Dr. Superglue. Both birds are now resting and will never serve their purpose of being salt and pepper vessels.

Hey Mon, can’t wait to shake my tail feather once it gets warmer here.