Tokyo Street Style

IMG_3407

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!

L-O-V-E Day

“The best kind of love is the kind that awakens the soul and makes us reach for more, that plants a fire in our hearts and brings peace to our minds.” – Noah Calhoun, The Notebook

IMG_7666

Sappy romance movies really aren’t my thing and is probably my least favorite movie genre right next to romantic comedies. When I first watched The Notebook, I rolled my eyes at how the cheesy and predictable love story unfolded. Yet over time, I have grown fond of it mostly because, well, it stars Ryan Gosling as the hopeless romantic Noah Calhoun – what’s not to love? Oh how I’d like to take a ride on Noah’s ark.

Rachel McAdams plays Allie Hamilton, who is Noah’s love interest. It was painful to watch her torture herself and Noah as their summer love crashed and burned, but watching her outfit change in each scene was certainly a delight. Although women’s fashion in the 1940s is often characterized as utilitarian and austere, reflecting the nation’s somber mood during the war, there was also a softer and glamorous side, as epitomized by Allie’s perfect curls, red lipstick, and feminine dresses. Hats, floral and geographic prints, emphasis on sleeve details, shirt dresses, and shoulder pads became very popular during this time.

vintage jacket (similar) / vintage dress (similar) / vintage pumps (similar) / fishnets (similar) / Forever 21 pillbox (similar)

IMG_7667

You must remember this, a kiss is still a kiss.

I may not have a heart when it comes to romance movies, but I can empathize with the pain and uncertainty of wartime love. Imagine kissing your love for the last time, never knowing when or if they will return. You cling onto a photograph of him, waiting everyday at the mercy of a telegram or handwritten letter to know that he is still alive and well. The men and women in these photographs didn’t really know when they would see each other again because another day was not guaranteed. So on this Valentine’s Day – and any other day for that matter – enjoy the present with the apple of your eye and be thankful that you have someone who wants to be attached to you at the hip, and who is happy to call you their better half. If you are single, then bask in the love of your family and friends and believe that your soulmate is out there somewhere – or at least right at your fingertips on Tinder.

IMG_7691

IMG_7676

I experienced wartime love when I laid my eyes on this gorgeous pair of 1940s peep-toe pumps. In pristine condition, I can only imagine they sat in a shoebox in some stylish lady’s closet and forgotten, as she probably had more pressing matters to be concerned with. Valentine’s Day wouldn’t be complete without a lady in red, because you know how the saying goes: red dress at night, sailor’s delight. This thrifted 80s silk beauty almost fits the bill for a 40s style dress. None of the hats in my collection could ever rival the amazing head pieces in that era, but I tried my best by adding a veil to my favorite pillbox hat. I felt a bit like a widow, but the 1940s were somber times after all. Fishnet stockings were hardly a thing in that decade, but I felt this outfit deserved some pizzaz and sheer nylons just weren’t going to do it. I could be waiting a while for my sailor, so better stay warm and glam in my fur collar jacket.

Although I never want to be in the situation of such uncertainty, one thing I am certain of: when my sailor sees me this Valentine’s Day in my 1940s inspired getup, he’ll want to dip me and kiss me like it’s V-J Day in Times Square.

Happy Valentine’s Day loves!

IMG_7684

Puttin’ in Pleats

I’m a good sport about putting balls into holes. Any stroke will do it, right?

From the conservative dress of the 1800s, to the short hemlines of the 1960s, women’s fashion in sports reflected societal norms of dress of the time. As more women participated in sports, there grew a demand for practicality and functionality for they needed the same ease of movement as men. Restrictive forms of clothing gave way to the sportier and shorter silhouettes seen today.

I recently had the opportunity to try my hand at golf for the very first time. Interestingly, golf began as a social club for young men and women to meet each other. Thus, it was important for women to be dressed to impress should they encounter a suitor. For them, golfing was more about the fashion than the sport itself – they were dressed to a (golf) tee.

Nowadays, golfing is purely focused on the sport, but that did not deter me from looking my best on the fairway. Excited to get my Tiger Woods on (in the pro-golf sense), I seized this opportunity as an excuse to wear my tennis dress.

Daiso hat (similar hat) / vintage tennis dress (similar dress) / thrifted shoes (similar shoes)

Yes, I said tennis dress. But the sport is golf, no? While the sports are different, they do share some commonalities in their fashion evolution whether it be long sleeved blouses, rising hemlines, or sweater cardigans. I feel this dress could probably work in the game of golf. The little drop waist pleats must’ve been made for this game as one has to stick their butt out quite a bit just to putt the ball. Pass me the wood please!

Unfortunately, I didn’t meet any potential suitors on the fairway and failed to make a hole in one. Where’s a caddy when you need one? I guess I need to step up my game or just stick to driving the golf cart. Fore!