Change It Up To Show Personality! Japan's School Uniform Trend

Ever since Japan’s adoption of the school uniform in the 1870s, it has gone through various evolutions before the modern style of school uniforms was established. The spread of Japanese anime culture throughout the world has put a spotlight on school uniforms, making it more popular. How do Japanese students with their different school uniforms enjoy their school life today?

In Japan, students from kindergarten (3 years old) to high school (18 years old) generally wear the school uniforms specified by their school when attending. Some people may think, "There's no freedom if they decide what you wear!!" However, school uniforms have become an important factor of school life for many Japanese students, leading to some students choosing which school to attend according to their preference of school uniforms.

In particular, teenage students are most sensitive to popular trends and fashion. The fact that there are a significant number of students who choose schools that they attend according to how fashionable the school uniforms is reflected by the phenomenon of schools actively asking famous designers to design their school uniforms. It may seem conflicting that they are sensitive to fashion and yet want to wear “uniforms”, but Japanese people are able to “enjoy freedom while being constrained under certain rules”.

This is substantiated by the fact that students do not just wear their uniforms as they are, but also add elements of trendy fashion items to spice things up.

For example, the recent trend among students are 1) wearing neckties or ribbons that are slightly longer with a loose fit, 2) wearing sweaters, cardigans, and parkas that are one size larger than normal to show off the body silhouette (has the effect of making you look slimmer), 3) Wearing shirts with sleeves that are slightly longer, and fold it up when it is hot, 4) wearing high socks but slightly lowered, 5) turning the hems of trousers up, and many other styles.

As Japan continues the Reiwa era, the trends of school uniform are also changing. It is moving towards “genderless uniforms”. Some can now choose between skirts or slacks, and “unisex jackets” that allow students to choose which side the buttons are placed. For example, some girls who may not want to wear skirts or can’t stand the cold can choose what’s best for them. Watching this change in trends among the students on the streets may be another way to enjoy your time in Japan.


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