School uniforms bring back memories of our bitter-sweet childhood days. In Japan, however, they aren’t just clothes, they’re symbols of “seishun” (youth) and a big part of the country’s culture. Girls in Japan love their school uniforms, and there are fans of Japanese school uniforms all over the world.

We know you love these cute school uniforms too, but do you really know everything about them? Here’s everything you need to know to be an expert on Japanese school uniforms.

History of Uniforms

Japan has had school uniforms for around 150 years. They were first used to show which community a student belonged to, but today they have become one of the biggest symbols of Japanese kawaii culture. The sailor suit-style uniform came to Japan in 1920, followed in the 1980s by the arrival of school blazers.

Types of Uniforms

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You probably imagine Japan’s school uniforms to be either a sailor suit-style or include a blazer. Those are the most standard types you’ll see, but they aren’t the only school uniform out there…

Sailor Uniform

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Blazer Uniform

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Bolero Uniform

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Eton Jacket Uniform

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Jumper Skirt Uniform

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Overalls Skirt Uniform

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Suspender Skirt Uniform

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One-piece Uniform

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Public and Private Schools

In Japan, we have as many private schools as we have public schools. Most people start to wear uniforms from junior high school (except if you go to a private elementary school). The uniforms in public schools tend to be more simple compared to those worn by private school students. However there are also many schools that don’t have a uniform regardless of whether public or private. In this case, there are some that wear their regular clothes to school, but most girls wear a fake uniform, or ‘nanchatte’ uniform as we call it. They get to choose everything from scratch so they usually have several kinds of skirts and ribbons and ties at home. Here are some popular brands that sell uniform clothing.

Eastboy

Eastboy is the most basic brand to buy uniform clothing.

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Surprisingly, the Playboy brand also has a uniform range in Japan. Most girls probably don’t know what the brand really is…

Sweaters and Vests

Except for during the warmer seasons, girls usually wear sweaters or vests. Unless they have a school sweater or vest that they have to wear, they usually choose one of their own. The basic colors would be white, black, gray, and beige.

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The most popular brand for sweaters were Uniqlo. After they released a very colorful collection in these series, many high school girls wore them, and gradually wearing colorful sweaters with uniforms became the most fashionable style.

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Along with the recent trends, wearing a hoodie on uniforms has also become popular.

Socks

Socks for school uniforms have changed a lot over the years. They aren’t just socks, they change the whole image of your outfit. There are two main colors, navy/black and white. The most standard length is long socks that come up to just below the knee.

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Gradually socks that come only two-thirds of the way up the calf became the most popular length.

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The newest trend, however, is to wear the really short ones. This is thought to be from the short socks popularity in regular clothing.

And of course, how can you forget these beauties? A very important necessary item for gyaru: loose, bunching socks.

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Shoes

Of course high school girls care about their shoes as well. The majority wear loafers, either black or brown.

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In recent collections, there are loafers that have heels so the girls would have a better style.

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Another new trend is for the girls to wear sneakers with their uniforms.

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Ribbons and Ties

Ribbons and ties are another way to show off your personal taste. There are many different types of patterns and designs and it’s always fun to find your favorite one!

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School Bags

Some schools have their own school bags that students are required to use, others don’t. The standard types are made out of nylon and leather.

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Some girls who do sports may have enamel bags.

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Backpacks are also popular recently.

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There was also a very popular brand called World Pegasus. They have many colorful nylon school bags in their collection.

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School bags are also a way to show what you like. This is where you see the individuality.

Skirt Length

It’s generally agreed that the “best” skirt length is 15cm above the knee; not too long, not too short, but just the right length. But some schools have school rules dictating that a skirt has to be long. In such cases, girls use special belts or just fold their skirts two or three times after leaving the school grounds to make it a cuter length.

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Wrapping up…

That brings us to the end of our Japanese school uniform tour! There are many ways to wear them, but no matter what they’re cute! Maybe try creating your own perfect school uniform outfit and enjoy the sensation of being a Japanese school girl!

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