New generation shows new tastes in subtly personalizing school uniforms, according to survey.

Fashion trends change quickly in Japan, and that’s especially true for teens. Japanese high school only lasts three years, meaning that any particular look has only a short window of time before being associated with the last class of students and thus losing its luster.

Even though Japanese high schoolers wear a uniform five days of the week, they still find ways of personalizing their ensembles. So how has Japanese schoolgirl fashion changed over the last few years?

1. Knee-length skirts

Contrary to what anime depicts, most schools have dress codes that prohibit scandalously short skirts. However, during the late 1990s and early 2000s it became increasingly common for schoolgirls to roll their skirts up at the waist when on their way to or from campus, or socializing with friends out in town after class.

A recent poll of 154 high school girls, though, showed a change in attitudes. 37.7 percent said they wore a knee-length skirt, compared to only 21.4 percent who said their skirts were more than five centimeters (2 inches) above the knee.

2. Short socks

Another trend of the late ‘90s was the “loose socks” look, in which schoolgirls would wear baggy socks that almost looked like leg warmers. Some loose socks were so loose that wearers had to apply adhesive, called “sock touch,” to their calves to keep them from falling all the way down to their ankles. The logic behind the trend was that having thick, bunched up socks made the wearer’s legs look thinner by comparison.

That’s not such a problem today, as in the same poll mentioned above only 0.6 percent of respondents said they wear loose socks. And while knee-high socks, or socks that come up to the bottom of the knee, had become quite common over the last few years, they weren’t the most popular choice either, accounting for just 15.6 percent.

Instead, the most popular sock choice was a snugly fitting short sock that comes only part-way up the calf, chosen by 44.2 percent of respondents. The rationale is similar to the previous one for loose socks: wearing shorter socks makes the wearer’s legs appear longer.

Youth trends being what they are, though, it’s probably only a matter of time until what’s popular changes all over again.

Sources: Naver Matome, Woman Insight, Wotopi
Top image: Pakutaso