It might sound strange to begin a segment on Japanese fashion with eyelashes, but this is where I'll begin. These are just my keen observations based on walking the streets of Tokyo & riding on the subways. You can learn a lot about a culture by studying the way women dress. Here are some observations I made:
1)Japanese women LOVE long lashes. I can't tell you how many women were walking around with fake lashes. I know this for a fact: Asian women don't have long lashes.....So sad but true. Japanese women really have a thing for playing up the eyes. "Western Eyes" is the way to go. To have the big doe-eyed look is really in. As I've notice in Anime/Manga, the girls always have big expressive eyes.
2)based on my non-scientific observations about 80% of the women in Tokyo color their hair-- mostly a light reddish brown. It's quite amazing actually. Many times from afar & while you're walking behind someone you'd actually think the person ahead of you was actually a westerner, but lo and behold! they're really Japanese!
3) Women (and most teenagers) love long hair and they usually have soft spiral curls that are strategically placed all over their heads. It's very interesting. I imagine most of these girls really spend a good hour on their hair & makeup alone.
3)Among teens, they LOVE knee high school-girl socks & thigh high socks paired with tall boots. This was a very popular look
4) Paired with the appropriate mentioned shoes/socks, are the short short skirts. I hesitate to even call them skirts because they are so short...They border on being just a small hankie.
5)While teens & younger women love these short short skirts, they are actually quite modest in the top department. You will never see a Japanese woman/teen with a low cut top on. The two instances I saw cleavage were on (most probably) American tourists. I told my mom about this when I returned home and she said some very interesting things. She says that Japanese women are much more modest about showing any cleavage, while Korean women are way more modest about showing any leg. I find this pretty accurate (from my knowledge of traveling in Korea) because Korean women are usually pretty modest about wearing skirts that hit the knees.
6)No one every leaves the house looking like a bum. While not everyone is on par with the current fashion, all do spend time on how presentable they are. No one leaves the house in sweats. I seriously doubt any Japanese would even own sweats. I would think it would go against the rule that everything should be aesthetically pleasing. Hygiene is quite important
7)I mentioned earlier that they are a people of contradictions and I mostly thought of how women are portrayed in their culture as being demure & submissive....but street fashion goes against this "logic" and from what I gather older adults don't take much offense to it. I imagine it's something of rite of passage to dress as outrageously as possible while teenagers, but once they hit adulthood and careers they move on to a more conservative phase in their fashion lives. Most middle aged women were very well dressed---the standard pearls, long eyelashes, perfect hair, appropriate dresses & skirts. What I had read of the Harajuku girls were all true.... They are truly outrageous, never vulgar, and always displays a mix of kawaii (cuteness) & punk.
8)Most women/teens seem to prefer skirts/dresses to pants/jeans. While I noticed more men wearing jeans than women, I just don't think pants are all that popular among women.
So these are just some of the observations I made while walking around....I just found the women fascinating....Their style is very unique to their culture & it's definitely all their own!