Tokyo Trippin

“The overriding sense of that it is a city devoted to the new, sped up in a subtle but profound way: a postmodern science-fiction story set ten minutes in the future.”

― David RakoffFraud: Essays

I knew very little about Japan or Tokyo, except high school boyfriend. He’s Japanese American, although he may identify differently now. His beautiful mother made head splitting hot Japanese cuisine, worked and raised three amazing children. He said I held chop sticks like a farmer and introduced me to his Japanese altered lifestyle in America. His Mother was the epitome of foreign grace and beauty and I loved looking at her.

Fast-forward 33 years later-  I am with my husband and good friends in Tokyo.  Prior to embarking on our trip, I received enthusiastic help from my high school friend (he has been in Japan and abroad since graduating college). While his tips were helpful, and right on the mark for the experience I was looking for, it couldn’t have prepared me for the metropolis of over 13 million people. Thirteen million is just the immediate city. Tokyo, with all prefectures included, is closer to 35 million. It’s a place with where thirty five million people move in continuous and effortless motion.

Because I am a life stylist specializing in wardrobe and home, I have to share my take on the multi-faceted street styles and fashion I experienced on my little taste of Tokyo trip.

 Fashion First!

Tokyo girls and younger women have a fascination with the “school girl or Kogal”.  Sporting a short plaid skirt, blouse and baggy leg warmers or knee socks. Harajuku is a well-known area where you can shop, look and experience these outrageous style makers such as “Gyaru” and a newer expression “ Lolita." 

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I am a novice in exactly what’s current for early 20’s and under, but there are over 15 styles of dress that identify by name. Here I’ve only scratched the surface of these sub cultures. These trends are fanciful, exploding with color, flash and fun.


The Japanese professional women have a gift for making a white cotton blouse buttoned up to the neck, cardigan and slim skirt or a solid slim sheath dress, look beautiful, crisp, clean and sophisticated, and to mention comfortable. Low-key jewelry, flats or low-heeled pumps are the main stay and never looked boring to me.  I help my clients dress appropriately for a professional setting, which I enjoy and respect. Does the safe and predictable excite me? Not always, but I have to say, I loved it and have a renewed appreciation for conservative attire.

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The third genre, in my words, are the “Creatives”. Maybe they are artists of some discipline; architects, designers or musicians. This is where I completely lost my mind in the fashion realm.  I can only describe it as urban, military, sophisticated, simple, clean lines, clear colors and COOL.  Maybe Yoko Ono brought this out or maybe this way of dressing has been around forever, I have no idea. It feels timeless yet modern, Japanese with Western influence, all at once. Many women dressed in variations of this style, in the city, urban neighborhoods, major shopping areas and out and about.

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Side note regarding Kimonos- Tourist visiting from China, America and Korea wore Kimonos. I did see authentic Kimonos on some stunning “Mother of the Bride” and four beautiful Geisha we had the honor and fun to be entertained by one evening.


Geisha Ichiemi, Hisamomo and Ichiteru

I chose to share the three biggest areas of fashion that caught my eye, stood out and made an impression. I’ve been home one day in Solana Beach and the 20 something could have already moved onto the next trend.

This is my experience and I hope you enjoyed.

Arigato and Sayonara


Catherine Shipman