As the colder months start to roll in it's time to roll out our old wardrobe and stock up on fuzzy sweaters and scarfs. With Japan being home to one of the fashion capitals it's interesting to see what they come up with to stay both warm and fashionable.
Both men and women in major Japanese cities try their best to shake it up each season with new winter accessories and fashions. While you may not be looking to buy anything while visiting Japan it's still OK to window shop...and maybe buy a couple small things. This article is intended to get you familiar on what's in style during the Japanese winter that may become useful when you go back home.
This is something that is commonly worn inside, or in the Japanese countryside. Hanten were first word in the 18th century and can be worn by either gender for maximum warmth inside and outside. Hanten are insulated jackets that feature wide sleeves and commonly display family crests (though, they're not required). They come in a variety of styles providing both fashion and comfort even if you're just staying inside cozening up underneath your kotatsu. Though, similar to kimono and yukata, hanten are shorter and a lot easier to get on and off.
This may not be the most fashionable item of clothing you can wear in Japan, but it's definitely comfy. Who knows, maybe you can make hanten the new fashion trend in your country. If that fails, you can still wear it around the house and drink some hot coco. http://rsc2.saatscommerce.com/img583d238110734_l.jpg
Haramaki Belly Warmer
The haramaki used to be an important piece of samurai armor back in medieval times, now it's symbol for fashion and health! This versatile piece of clothing serves to relieve menstrual cramps, improve digestion, circulation and much more! Haramaki come in a variety of colors to blend into your outfit and is safe enough to be worn by pregnant women and infants.
Fuwa Fuwa Socks
You'll feel like your walking on clouds with these socks on. Made of polyester yarn these socks will wrap around your feet to provide nice fuzzy warmth on the coldest Japanese day. The cute characters on these socks will make it almost impossible for you not to buy these, so it's pointless to resist.
Lace is usually reserved for the warmer months of Spring and Summer, but Japanese women also wear it during the coldest months. You'll find many women wearing lace skirts over wool, leggings and even satin skirts.
Lace has the power to give a feminine touch to almost anything, so it is commonly paired with wool sweaters, cardigans, tights, boots, or even a tough leather jacket. Interestingly, you'll even find some men in Harajuku wearing lacy shirts and scarfs. To offset the feminine lace men will wear a leather jacket.
Don't Be Afraid of Colors!
In the West we tend to wear dark colors during the winter such as browns, blacks, and grays, but Japan tends to mix a up a bit with brighter clothes and accessories. Even if Japanese women wear something thats a bit on the gloomy side they tend to add something like a brightly colored scarf, legging or boot to break it up.
Fur and fluff is a hit or miss in America, but it's a big hit every winter in Japan. Fluffy boas, boots and vests are popular ways to look stylish and warm during the winter. If you're worried about cold ears, or the heat escaping from your head the Japanese got you covered with fabulous furry ear muffs and hats.
No animals are harmed when making these products. All "fur" products are made from either artificial fibers, fake fur, or fake sheepskin. Making products from these materials also tends to make them more affordable.
A Closer Look At Earmuffs
I rarely see earmuffs where I live in America, but they seem to be all over the place in Japan. There seems to be more variety in style with designs ranging from big and fluffy to cute animal patterns. You'll also see people wearing earmuffs that are shaped to look like animals, or even wear extra accessories to make the earmuff look more feminine. http://tokyofashion.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/TK-2011-12-09-016-003-Harajuku.jpg
These patterns may not be as popular as it was during 2010-2011, but you'll still see it around. Nordic patterns remind us of the holidays and give us that feeling that winter is finally here. Clothes will often feature snowflakes and reindeer's on vests, leggings, sweaters, and cardigans. In Japan you'll also see these designs on dresses where they're printed onto the fabric rather than being woven into knitted fabric.
Cute Winter Boots
As you venture into Harajuku and Tokyo you'll start to see more variety in winter footwear, particularly boots. Boots generally go to, or above the knee and are lined with faux fur. Long legs are a huge trend in Japan and everyone wants to stay warm, so if women can find a product that'll do both they'll snatch it up!
Warm colors like dark brown, black, greens and grays are often seen in many department stores but you'll also see pastel colors and nudes as you venture into Harajuku.
Styles also range from a clean and sleek feel
to a more girly look complete with bright colors, pom poms, bows and laces. Fur overlapping the boot is also a popular fashion trend. https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/d0/cb/da/d0cbda2dc34ec0b6245f49cc94360246.jpg
Leg Warmers and Stockings
Leg warmers are common accessories with boots. These are perfect if the pair of boots you're wearing don't have a warm interior, or if you want to add a little something to your outfit. Patterns include typical Nordic patterns like snowflakes and reindeer, solid colors, and stripes. You can also find knitted and fuzzy leg warmers that add a little bit of extra warmth.
There are also "leg warmers" for booties, but they don't provide much warmth. These socks are usually girly and provide something interesting to ordinary booties.
Stockings are also popular for keeping your legs a little bit more protected from the elements. The winters in Japan tend to get very dry, so it's important to keep your skin protected from the harsh wind and cold temperatures. Of course, stockings in Japan aren't always black or skin toned but fun and wacky. Many stockings feature cute animal patterns, or even patterns that make it look like you have tattoos on your legs.
Comfy Hats Galore!
From fuzzy hats to knitted hats, Japan has got you covered with stylish head wear. Hats with fuzzy pom poms seem to be a little bit more prominent here than in the west, there also seems to be a big demand for beret caps during the winter. Women also like to wear knitted caps with cat ears, but that may be a bit childish for some people.
It seems that everything starts to change when winter comes around, even people's nails! Women don't only change nail color, but they even add different 3-D accessories that really add something special. Popular add-ons include a small amount of fur, gemstones or jewels.
There are also glue-on nails that feature 3-D textures, a common one is a bumpy quilt glue on nail. Other popular designs include animal prints and tartans.
Many of these designs (especially the 3D ones) can be ordered online, or simply painted on by your local nail artist.
What About Men's Accessories?
Of course, men can also be stylish. There aren't that many unique Japanese male accessories that, but I was able to find one with a little bit of a backstory.
This can be thought of as a very versatile scarf worn by many Japanese men. Stoles can be made from a wide variety of fabrics: cotton for the hotter months, wool for the winter and even silk or cashmere for more formal events.
These are popular with young men because they can easily dress up an outfit while also providing warmth and comfort. Designs have gradually moved away from blank stripes and solid colors to animal prints.
Something Everyone Does - Layering!
Both genders layer up to look fashionable and to keep warm. Layering allows for endless outfit possibilities and creates more of a dynamic outfit. Layering a skirt on top of a fun stocking, or wrapping a colorful scarf over a plain sweater adds more dimension and style that makes you stand out from the crowd.
Where Can I Purchase These If I'm Not In Japan?
While some of these items can be purchased in your home country there are a couple things that can be more easily purchased in Japan. Popular retailers such as YesStyle and Rakuten Global Market sell these items at a reasonable price.
Winter can be a very hard season to dress for, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try. You don't have to wear only grays and blacks, spice it up with a pop of color, or a fluffy scarf. Don't be afraid to look different and enjoy the winter wonderland!