Uniforms – The Japanese Fashion Everyone Loves 制服 ― 日本人に愛されるファッション

Most middle and high school students in Japan wear “uniforms” their schools have chosen.      

Some exceptions to that rule include private middle and high schools that allow street wear, and elementary schools that also prefer uniforms.

The most common colors for school uniforms are black or navy, with summer uniforms costing between 20,000 to 30,000 yen, and winter uniforms between40,000 to 50,000 yen.
制服に多く使われる色は黒と紺で、値段は一式、夏服が2 3 万円、冬服が4 5 万円です。

Additionally, Japanese school uniforms are considered formal attire, so students can wear them to attend funerals and other similar formal events.

School uniforms were first introduced in Japan during the late 19th century.

This was because a more comfortable western alternative was needed to replace Japan’s more formal attire, kimono.

Thus the uniforms took on a military design, with hard collared shirts for boys and sailor-style uniforms for girls.

Additionally, since there was also a wide economic gap between the rich and poor back then, uniforms helped everyone seem equal to one another.

In the 60’s, students demonstrated their opposition to obligatory uniforms declaring that “uniforms were mere tools to control the students.”
1960 年代には「制服は生徒を管理する道具だ」と、生徒たちが着用反対の運動を起こしました。

As a result of this movement, some schools decided to abolish them.

But after a while, the students’ crusade faded as more fashionable uniforms, including suits and jackets, became popular.

Today, even some private schools that initially permitted students to wear street clothes have reintroduced the uniform, while other schools have enticed prospective students just because of their attractive clothing.                

However, sometimes students get a bad reputation for the way they wear their uniform, such as when girls “wear their skirt hems too short.”

There are even schools that impose strict guidelines on such “dressing down” alterations.                    

Some teachers may measure with a ruler the length of a skirt while others stand watch outside school grounds.

 “The interpretation of the school uniform differs from school to school,” says Kentaro Nishi, the editor of “Koukousei Shimbun (High School Newspaper).”

 “There are some schools that strictly police such actions while others give freedom to uniforms that resemble street clothes.

Schools in Tokyo compared to schools in other cities, and public schools rather than private schools, tend to have more freedom.”

 “Uniforms have the power to control the overall atmosphere of a school,” says Nishi in analyzing their effects.

 “When schools become rowdy, teachers police hairstyles, uniforms and tardiness, which really calms students down.

That is why I understand when some schools get strict on such matters.”

 “I was told to wear my school uniform when I went to town,” says student Takeda Shiori from Oita prefecture.  

 “That is why everyone stayed out of trouble.            

Because of the knowledge that people would immediately recognize which school you went to, it was a good break from temptation.”

When Takeda was attending school, the “in” thing was to tie the uniform ribbons very short.     田さんの学校では、当時、首の周りに結ぶリボンを短くするのがはやりました。

 “There is at least one student in each class who is the trend setter.

With time, everyone dresses like that person.               

I think the short ribbon became popular because it made everyone look taller,” she explains.

But Takeda herself was not influenced by this trend.

 “I am tall so I felt longer ribbons looked better on me.

Since everyone wears the same uniform, I became more interested in expressing my individuality.                 

I looked at how I could wear the uniform to better suit me.

Sometimes I looked at other girls and thought ‘I should be careful not to dress like her.                   

It looks sloppy,’ and thanks to that I was able to look at myself objectively,” she says.        

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