Japanese street fashion tips

Besides being known for the minimalist MUJI look, the Japanese are also known for streetwear brands and street fashion looks that turn heads, especially during Fashion Week.

While there isn’t really a one-size-fits-all way of rocking Japanese street fashion, here are 10 Japanese street fashion tips to help you try a new style of clothing.

1. Sport fancy hair colours and hairstyles

japanese street fashion - colourful hair
Image credit: @tabesugita

Along the streets of Harajuku and Akihabara, it’s common to see people with vibrant hair colours such as pink, purple, or blue. You’ll also see different types of hairstyles including braids, pigtails, and space buns. 

japanese street fashion - blue hair
Image credit: @rikarin0526

If you have a warmer skin tone, opt for warm hair colours such as red, pink or blonde. On the flip side, if you have a cooler skin tone, you can go for cool tone colours such as blue and purple. You can also select a hair colour that is complementary to your outfit. With the many temporary hair dye options available, it’s easy to change up your hair colour anytime.

2. Dress in eye-catching bold colours

japanese street fashion - pink green one-piece
Image credit: @ayaxxamiaya

When it comes to outfits, the Japanese are daring and adventurous in terms of the colours that they wear. Be it striking colours such as pink or turquoise, or primary colours such as red and royal blue, the Japanese seem to know exactly how to rock them.

japanese street fashion - neon clothes
Image credit: @cheripp__

Pairing 2 bright and bold colours together isn’t a no-no in Japan. In fact, clashing colours are totally a look. One way to hold the look together is to stick to bright but complementary colours.

japanese street fashion - red coat
Image credit: @nananee_fashion

Sometimes, you’ll find people sporting monochromatic looks. This is particularly popular during Fashion Week. The key to nailing these single-coloured outfits is to only have 1 or 2 items in other colours. This includes your shoes, socks, bags, and even your hair.

3. Wear asymmetrical clothing 

japanese street fashion - asymmetric clothing
Image credit: @akimoto_kozue

Asymmetrical clothing pieces add character to your outfit and help you stand out from the crowd. Instead of going for a regular A-line skirt, opt for an asymmetrical draped skirt or a maxi skirt with a high slit up the side. 

japanese street fashion - asymmetric clothing
Image credit: @meguharajuku

2-piece asymmetry
Image credit: @rikarin0526

Asymmetrical clothing is all about being out of the box and unconventional. If you’re into DIY clothing, snip off one side of your jeans and turn it into an asymmetrical piece. The result is a one-of-a-kind edgy yet subtly sexy look.

4. Don plaid prints

japanese street fashion - red checkered
Image credit: @yuria_juria

Plaids are a wardrobe staple in Japan, especially during the autumn. You can pair a plaid co-ord with a plain or printed innerwear. Alternatively, pick out a bright-coloured plaid skirt and pair with a toned-down top so the highlight of your outfit is your skirt. 

japanese street fashion - 2-piece plaid set
Image credit: @bun._._.bun

A 2-piece plaid set also looks good on men when paired with the right items. Pair your plaid set with a solid-coloured innerwear, throw on a beret, and a pair of boots.

5. Retro or vintage-style clothing

japanese street fashion - Retro or vintage-style clothing
Image credit: @haru____pika

japanese street fashion - pink outfit
Image credit: @tsumire1224

Retro-style clothing is a staple of Japanese street fashion style because of its eye-catching prints, silhouettes, and colours. Slip into a bright-coloured printed dress with a sweetheart neckline and pair it with a pair of colourful cat-eye sunnies and boots. This will help you achieve a retro look.

Alternatively, you can incorporate other distinctively retro or vintage elements such as princess sleeves, bell bottoms, A-line dresses, polka dots, and shoulder pads.

japanese street fashion - denim
Image credit: @ashley__0625

japanese street fashion -pink hair
Image credit: @ayaxxamiaya

70s and 80s-inspired co-ords have been trending in the past few years. Choose sets in slightly muted or washed-out colours to make them look extra vintage and worn. Pair it with thick-framed cat-eye sunnies.

6. Prints on prints

japanese street fashion - prints on prints
Image credit: @akimoto_kozue

Adventurous and fashionable Japanese folks don’t shy away from clashing prints. The easiest way to make sure your outfit works is to have a common colour throughout your outfit. Theoretically, a plaid with 2 or 3 kinds of plaids will be messy. But if you make sure that all 3 pieces are of a similar hue, you can create cohesion in your look.

japanese street fashion - plaid skirt
Image adapted from: @maimai081107

7. Put on additional layers

japanese street fashion - layer
Image credit: @rikarin0526

Layering is a necessary skill when it comes to Japanese fashion. Even people who exclusively dress like a walking MUJI store adhere to this rule, incorporating interesting textures and elements to add visual interest to their outfit. 

neon skirt
Image credit: @rikarin0526

Layer a neon slip dress over a black t-shirt and printed skirt to make the entire outfit stand out and pop. It looks more unconventional yet well-thought-out.

japanese street fashion - polka top
Image credit: @i_am_niina_217

overlay tops
Image credit: @ayaxxamiaya

Adding a layer underneath can also give your outfit added dimension. Whether it is a sheer inner piece, or a baggy t-shirt, putting on additional layers adds texture to your look and can double as insulation during the colder months.

8. Accessorise, accessorise, accessorise

japanese street fashion - accessories
Image credit: @ayaxxamiaya

Important things have to be said more than once: accessories are essential to completing a good Japanese street fashion look. Without accessories, your look will seem flat or like it’s lacking some oomph.

hair accessories
Image credit: @sasa_itookashi_

Hair accessories such headbands, hats, berets, and hair clips are a good place to start when choosing accessories. Especially if your hair colour isn’t particularly eye-catching or done up in a special hairstyle, hair accessories are a good way to spruce up your mane. 

For an edgy look, choose berets in special materials such as leather or corduroy instead of classic wool.

colourful clips
Image credit: @asachill

If your outfit is more young and cute, add some pastel-coloured clips to your hair or put on a pink headband.

japanese street fashion - glasses
Image credit: @nennen1124

Glasses are another way you can accessorise and add the cherry on top of your outfit. If you have a rounder face shape, you can pull off rectangular or squarish shades. But if you have a squarish face, try round or oval glasses.

japanese street fashion - necklaces
Image credit: @rikarin0526

Needless to say, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings are a must in your outfit. If you’re dressed in punk or boyish style, you can opt for statement pieces such as a metal chain necklace or a thick choker.

9. Carry a unique and striking bag

japanese street fashion - neon bag
Image credit: @asachill

japanese street fashion - bag
Image credit: @saki_404notfound

A unique and striking bag can help your outfit stand out, especially if you’re dressed in a pared-down outfit like an all-black or monochromatic outfit. Holographic bags are a good option that can complement both street fashion and high fashion looks. Whether it’s a fanny pack or a dainty handbag, the rainbow iridescent material will turn heads when it catches and reflects the light.

retro telephone bag
Image credit: @harajuku_acrylbones

Unique looking bags, like this handbag in the shape of a retro telephone, are also eye-catching options that will be a talking point.

10. Wear platform boots or sneakers

platform boots
Image credit: @asachill

The shoes that you pair with your outfit are as important as the clothing that you choose. To nail the Japanese street fashion look, pair your outfits with platform boots or sneakers.

The trend of platform shoes started back in the 1980s-1990s, when Lolita style first became popular. A typical Lolita style outfit consists of a puffy, lacy dress supported by a petticoat, cute accessories such as clips and headbands, and platform shoes.

japanese street fashion - boots
Image credit: @_tokyo_bopper_

Although the Lolita style is no longer as popular as it was before, platform shoes remain popular and have been adapted to fit current Japanese street fashion outfits. 

This chunky footwear might seem intimidating to those who haven’t tried them before, but they’re easy to wear. You can pair them with a leather mini skirt, a loose-fitting drape skirt, and even wide-legged trousers. And compared to wearing heels, platform footwear can give you height without putting too much strain on your feet.

knee-high boots
Image adapted from: @lynntatsuiwa

If you want to go all out, knee-high boots are a statement piece that can be paired with shorts, mini skirts, or dresses.

chunky soles
Image credit: @i_am_niina_217

For more casual outfits, opt for sneakers with chunky soles instead. These sneakers are also a subtle way to add a few inches to your height and make your legs look longer and slimmer.

Tips to nail the Japanese street fashion look

Japanese street fashion may seem intimidating at first, but these tips will help ease your way into it. For a start, you can slowly incorporate a few subtle street fashion elements through the use of small accessories before experimenting with bigger pieces. Most importantly, Japanese street fashion is all about being confident and rocking whatever outfit you’re in.

Check out these articles for more:

Cover image adapted from (from left to right): @ayaxxamiaya, @tabesugita, and @akimoto_kozue

Drop us your email so you won't miss the latest news.