March 5th, 2009
Q: I am traveling around Japan for 3 weeks beginning in late March. What do you suggest packing? I plan on dressing casually and packing as lightly as possible. We will be doing a lot of sightseeing and walking around. What shoes would be comfortable and would go with everything (I only want to pack one pair)?
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by Colleen Geary, fashion stylist and image consultant
A: How lovely—March is the most popular time of year to travel to Japan. It’s the beginning of their Spring season, which means that their famous cherry blossoms will begin to bloom.
Fashion wise, Japan is a fascinating country. Fashion forward young people are so creative in dress—influences range from Harajuku (which encompasses a variety of styles, from gothic Lolita to cosplay) to Hime (a new princess craze). But these edgy styles aside, Japan is a very conservative country when it comes to fashion. You can get away with casual dress when you’re out seeing the sights, but remember that Japan is a place where attention to appearance is paramount (especially in business situations). Japanese women have a penchant for meticulously tailored garments—and often wear heels even with casualwear.
For sightseeing in Japan in late March, here’s what you need to bring:
Tops: Bring an assortment of nice, relatively conservative shirts and blouses, both knits and wovens. Sleeveless styles are OK, but nothing that shows cleavage, nothing tight or clingy. For late March, long sleeved blouses and knits are going to be your best bet; it may be Spring, but the weather is still going to be a bit chilly.
Sweaters: Pack a couple of versatile sweaters to layer over your tops; this will allow you to dress in layers to adjust to the heat and cold.
Bottoms: Your bottoms wardrobe is going to center around long pants. Pack a couple of pairs of casual pants, and one pair of dressier pants. You can also bring jeans—tourists do wear jeans; however, they’re somewhat less common amongst the more formal Japanese women. Skip the shorts, but cropped pants are do-able if they work with your figure.
Dresses: If you’re going to be attending any more formal events, you can also pack a dress (knee-length or longer) for the occasion.
Outerwear: For late March, a light jacket should suffice to keep you warm (especially if you’re layering with sweaters).
Shoes: If you’re planning on bringing only one pair of shoes, you will want a comfortable yet stylish flat that will work for sightseeing and dressier occasions. I recommend a pair of Cole Haan flats with Nike Air technology or a pair of Softspots with a tempurpedic footbed.
Last thoughts? Get a pedicure before your trip, and make sure to bring lots of pairs of socks. As you sightsee, you’ll often be asked to remove your shoes when you visit temples and other buildings.
Have a great tip about what to wear in Japan? Share it with us in the comments!