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Recently, our Next Level Wardrobe founder Cassandra Sethi took a trip to Tokyo. Aside from mouth-watering food and incredible sights, she went on a major spring style journey visiting as many stores as she could (over 100,000 steps to be exact).
Many think Japanese trends lean towards more daring, fashion-forward styles you wouldn’t usually see off a runway in the US. Tokyo residents often dress in more muted, conservative silhouettes with avant-garde layering and whimsical accessories.
(Don’t worry, we have a second post coming soon about our style observations on the island.)
But that doesn’t mean we didn’t find countless ways to incorporate elements of Tokyo spring style into NLW’s style system. Keep reading for our Japan-inspired style recommendations and brands.
Top 3 Tokyo Spring Trends to Add to Your Wardrobe
Many westerners hear the words “Japanese fashion” and think of the striking styles of the Shibuya district. Aka, the home of Harajuku, Lolita fashion, and Visual Kei aesthetics.
What they don’t realize, however, is how minimalistic so much of Tokyo’s fashion scene is. There are undeniably free-wilding touches. (Think oversized silhouettes aplenty, asymmetrical hems and details, and maximalist layering.)
But for professionals, and anyone else climbing up the corporate ladder, the dress code is much more minimalistic. Here the dominant color palette is dark, black, and muted. Clothing runs conservative with covered shoulders and long hemlines.
After days exploring of boutiques, and drinking in street styles, we came away with three essential 2023 Tokyo spring trends:
One thing that struck us about women’s Tokyo spring style is the emphasis on dresses and skirts.
We often hear from our American female clients that they prefer pants over skirts or even dresses. To them, it feels more practical and comfortable. For others, it fits better into their overall work environment of men in trousers and suits.
But in Tokyo, long, flowy skirts reign supreme. Workers find ways to weave femininity into their style with midi-length frocks and vintage a-line silhouettes.
American office workers (including our clients) often think pencil skirts are the only dress code-appropriate option. But pencil skirts have a tight, restrictive fit.
The a-line options in Japan, however, offer way more comfort and freedom. This trend inspired us to think of how we could incorporate skirts into more of our client’s wardrobes.
Two examples of long, a-line skirts Cassandra spotted while visiting the Christian Dior Exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo.
To add a skirt to your corporate casual attire or any other dress code aim for the following:
– Core colors. Black, white, grey, and navy go with everything and always look put-together. If your office leans formal, stick with darker shades. But in an open-dress code environment, try shades of cream, tan, and heather.
– Length. Even in west coast offices with no dress codes, knee length or longer hemlines are the norm. Give your style a Tokyo twist by keeping it past the knees. No matter your height, you’ll look as polished and professional as you would in pants.
– Fabric. Avoid static-clingy polyesters and synthetics. Especially if you’re commuting on the subway in NYC. Instead, opt for high-quality fabrics like cotton, linen, or wool for cool climates.
2. Wide-leg Silhouettes
If you’re new here, you might not know about NLW’s serious love affair with wide-leg pants.
Turns out, Tokyo locals love this look as well.
They’re perfect for defining your waist while giving you plenty of legroom and comfort. (Who needs sweatpants when you can wear something this airy and flexible?)
The key to nailing this trend all comes down to fit and fabrication. For CEO style, we recommend wide-legs that:
– Hit at or within an inch of the ankle. Leave floor-dragging hems for the runway models who don’t have to take on stairs and city sidewalks.
– Fit at the waist. So many people shy away from this silhouette because they think it’ll swallow them up or make them appear larger. Compliment any body shape with a pair that fits your waist and hangs straight down or slightly flares. Don’t be afraid to take your pants to a tailor for outfit-perfecting alterations. (Most people need them!)
– If you want a more traditional wide-leg look, opt for a fitted top (t-shirt or blouse). If you want to try a more fashion-forward look, then opt for a looser fit up top. (See the first image above for inspo.)
3. Matching Sets
You’ve likely seen “Co-ords” or matching sets for a couple of years now in the fashion industry. But, they always seem to have a resurgence in the spring.
Many US retailers and shoppers relegate two pieces to three categories:
– Overly trendy night-out apparel and athleisure
– Suit sets
– PJ sets
Don’t get us wrong; suit sets are versatile wardrobe staples you can dress up or down.
However, we love Tokyo’s modern approach to matching sets.
We saw sets that had familiar matching color, fabric, and style elements, but with visually interesting and innovative details.
Like this navy ensemble pictured above by the Japanese brand Seeall. Wearing these two pieces together makes for a modern, fashion-forward outfit. But you can still break up the separates for endless outfit combinations.
Our Favorite Tokyo Fashion Brands to Shop Now
Tokyo fashion wouldn’t be what it is without its unique, home-grown fashion brands.
We’ve scoped out the designers who make wearable, chic, and versatile pieces for professionals. Read on for NLW’s 5 must-have Tokyo fashion brands.
Best Brands for Wearable Tokyo Spring Fashion: Deuxieme Classe
If you look at Deuxieme Classe’s Instagram or other social pages, you’d see haute couture designs. A mix of gender-fluid suit separates, holey sweaters and shruggy silhouettes slightly left of ready-to-wear.
But one trip to their online shop or brick-and-mortar stores and you’d find power casual style go-tos.
We love Deuxieme Classe’s savvy combination of soft, neutral knits with authentic denim and trousers.
You’ll still find signature Tokyo twists like vests, layers, and unique sleeve details. But Deuxieme grounds each item in quality fabrics, neutral color palettes, and easy-to-style shapes.
We particularly recommend checking out their jean and sweater collection for easy business formal or business casual separates.
For the lover of “french girl” fashion, Mila Owen is the way to go.
This eastern retailer offers an array of timeless, almost preppy styles perfect for spring.
You’ll find staple core-color basics like button-downs, jeans, and knit tops, sure.
But browse their stock for pops of seasonal colors, simple trousers, and hero layering pieces as well.
If you’re thinking about adding a sleeveless trenchcoat for spring, Mila Owen has you covered.
Best Brands for Quality Tokyo Spring Fashion: Chaos
Chaos is one of NLW’s favorites Tokyo spring style brands.
This retailer is all things elevated casual wear. If you’re looking for a trend-aware approach to business wear (and want to skip jeans), this is the palace.
For one, they’ve found the ideal balance of Japanese conservative silhouettes and practical day-to-day wear. Secondly, their color stories are versatile.
Rest easy in muted color palettes of true neutrals like black and white to tonal shades of olive and taupe.
Finally, they put fabrication first. We loved how they made so many pieces out of natural fibers like light linen, cotton, and wool.
At Next Level Wardrobe, we think about styling our clients from head to toe. So naturally, when we saw Tabio’s technicolor sock shop, we couldn’t resist.
Occasionally, we meet clients that think they can’t fit into the NLW style system because they have too much:
– Pattern or Print
We’re setting the record straight.
Having a functional, professional, capsule wardrobe includes your personality. You don’t have to resign yourself to a lifeless closet of black clothes.
Actually, some of our favorite best-dressed women CEOs embrace color head-on.
It’s all about learning how to use color, pattern, and clothes to show off your personal brand.
If you’re looking to show your true colors with a popping accessory, check out Tabio’s candy-coated range of socks. These are the perfect way to subtly integrate statement pieces into your wardrobe.
Best Brands for Bold Tokyo Spring Fashion: Sacai
Last but not least on our spring style Tokyo brand rundown: Sacai. This was another favorite designer from Cassandra’s Japan trip.
We recommend this shop for fashion-forward women. Sacai specializes in bold outerwear looks complete with oversized silhouettes, dramatic sleeves, and monochromatic ensembles.
Looking for an office-ready way to work this brand into your wardrobe? Then check out how they style women’s blazers and layers.
You’ll see inspiration for how to balance your figure, define your shape, and use masculine silhouettes to your advantage.
At Next Level Wardrobe, our team approaches fashion from every angle. We don’t just think about dressing you to “get by” at work. We want to find out how clothing ties into your personal and professional goals.
To work with our professional crew of stylists, apply for NLW’s executive image and personal styling services. We’re ready to transform not only your closet but the way you shop.
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Cassandra Sethi is a NYC Personal Stylist and Image Consultant. After working over 15 years in the Fashion Industry, most recently as a Senior Buyer for Equinox, she created her business, Next Level Wardrobe – a luxury personal shopping service for successful professionals.
Next Level Wardrobe has been featured in Wall Street Journal, Today and CNN. See here.