Leggings have become increasingly popular over recent years with younger populations. They are also a popular choice during colder months to help keep warm. However, leggings in Japan are worn in a specific way to adhere to Japan’s strict dress codes and modest fashion.
Leggings are a great addition to an outfit, but they are never worn on their own in Japan. Leggings are still considered either athletic wear or stockings in Japan and are not considered appropriate clothes for everyday wear.
So can you wear leggings in Japan? You can, but only if worn in a specific way and with other specific clothes to create a modest, conservative look.
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All though there are no official rules surrounding clothes, most people in Japan wear conservative clothes that do not show off their form and are not revealing or provocative.
How strict these rules are depend on where you are in Japan. Rural areas are generally more conservative compared to large cities. In both, leggings are considered to be form-fitting, provocative, and not appropriate as pants.
Leggings are most commonly worn in gyms, and even there, many people often layer them under a pair of shorts or other workout pants for modesty.
Japan is a nation that values modesty in its life and its fashion. Showing off your bare shoulders, your cleavage, or your waist is considered very disrespectful and is highly chastised.
Most people in Japan wear loose-fitting clothes that hide their figures and cover the majority of their bodies. They also wear dark, neutral colors to avoid standing out among others.
Learn more tips on how to wear loose-fitting clothes well.
What To Do
It is all right to wear leggings in Japan, but they should be worn under something else such as a long skirt, or shorts.
Choose leggings that are darker, neutral colors that will blend in with the rest of the outfits of others around you.
If you are in Japan during colder months, opt for leggings with a fleece lining to help keep your legs warm.
Why not try out an organic cotton pair of leggings?
What Not to Do
Do not wear leggings with bright colors or bold patterns as they will make you stick out and you will most likely attract unwanted attention and judgment. Do not wear leggings on their own or with tops that do not cover your stomach or shoulders.
Check out these leggings.
In addition to conservative, modest clothing, clean and neat clothing is important to Japan's dress code. Regardless of what leggings you wear and what you choose to pair them with, make sure they are clean, wrinkle-free, and fit you well enough that they are not dragging on the floor or falling off of you.
Not only will you blend in, but you will look polished, and well-dressed.
Try out these laundry tips.
Certain religious events and formal events such as weddings require formal wear and traditional Japanese wear. If you are attending such an event, ditch the leggings and choose something more formal.
Always make sure to wear socks with your leggings regardless of what shoes you are wearing. Socks are worn with flats, heels, and even sandals. In Japan, it is common to take your shoes off before entering someone’s home, restaurant, and other places.
Socks will help keep your feet clean and free from sweat and outside debris, allowing you to respectfully enter the building.
Check out these organic socks.
Always research ahead of time before going to different places in Japan to know what the expected dress code is. Formal events or religious events generally do not allow leggings or more casual wear.
Bring and wear layers to ensure you are properly dressed for the areas and events you are going to. Wearing clothes that are not considered appropriate can lead to judgment and even denial of entry into certain establishments.
Learn more about travel tips for Japan.
Regardless of what your plans are in Japan, you will most likely be doing a lot of walking. Make sure to wear comfortable, breathable clothes that won’t overheat you.
Choose practical walking shoes that you can walk in all day without being uncomfortable. Flats, sneakers, and boots are common footwear in Japan.
Find more boot options here.
Find more sneaker options here.
A trench coat is a great layer that will add coverage over your leggings and tops, while also protecting you from the elements and rain.
Find more trench coats here.
Long Pleated Skirt
Long pleated skirts are in style in Japan now. They are a comfortable, stylish option that can be dressed up or worn casually depending on the occasion.
Check out these skirts.
A long oversized sweater will not only keep you warm but can be worn over your leggings to add coverage and create a modest look.
Discover these sweaters.
For the hotter months, try an oversized shirt, it will work just as well as a sweater while keeping you cool. Many Japanese women can be found wearing an oversized shirt or dress shirt over their pants or trousers.
Find dress shirts here.
A loose-fitting dress is an easy layer to wear over your legging. Make sure it is not form-fitting and covers your shoulders, cleavage and reaches at least to your knees. Style it with a jacket or a pair of dark boots.
Check out these dresses.
Shorts or Trousers
Leggings are often worn under loose-fitting shorts or wide-legged trousers. Like with your leggings, make sure to choose dark or neutral-colored shorts and trousers such as black and grey.
Find more shorts here.
Find more trousers here.
Choose practical accessories like a waterproof backpack and a hat for your time in Japan. If you choose to wear jewelry, opt for more modest, smaller pieces. Large statement pieces are not common in Japan as most people wear minimal jewelry or smaller pieces that don’t stand out.
Find more backpacks here.
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