Cute & Fun as Everyday Wear
As it has found fans, the uniform look has come to be affectionately known by different names, including nanchatte outfits or even jiyu fuku (free outfits). The expression nanchatte has become common among young people in Japan. They use it to let others know that they are not serious or “just kidding.”As these uniform-style outfits are not really school uniforms, they are sometimes called nanchatte outfits. Uniform fashion is also referred to as jiyu seifuku, or “free uniform” outfits because they are not required by schools but worn freely.
Girls enjoying a rougher look with school uniform-style fashion. (Photo by courtesy of CONOMi)
A girl, picking out some clothing for school, has her eye on a sailor-style outfit. (CONOMi Harajuku Branch)
Uniform-style fashion is unlike other looks in Japan, such as Lolita fashion — a style featuring frills and elaborate, puffy skirts — comparatively well known overseas. Rather, uniform fashion is a look that has found popularity as everyday fashion and a place in the day-to-day wardrobes and lifestyles of girls — so much so that some girls even go to the trouble of wearing uniform-style looks to school even when the schools don’t require a uniform.
Also looking to take advantage of this trend, major Japanese retailers are selling original formal blazers and plaid as well as flower skirts with frills for female elementary school students to wear to entrance and graduation ceremonies. There is also a wide selection of uniform-style fashion blazers and other items that can be bought online.
An embroidered heart and pink zipper make this bag irresistibly cute. (LucyPop, a uniform-fashion specialty shop)
An assortment of accessories including neckties, ribbons and hair bands to put the finishing touches on a school-uniform look. (LucyPop)
The uniform-styling trend does not end with blazers, tops and skirts. In their pursuit of kawaii, fans of this fashion have also included accessories such as bags, hair bands and other cute, small articles. In Japan, it is common for schools that require uniforms to also require students to use a specific bag for their books and study materials when commuting to school. Just as some schools have required both uniforms and bags, some girls who enjoy uniform fashion also enjoy coordinating their looks with bags that look like official schoolbags.
While genuine schoolbags are typically darker in color, such as black or navy, copycat fashion accessories often come in brighter color like pink or blue and feature accents to make them cute such as an embroidered heart. There are also various accessories to make for even more fun and complete the uniform look. Many girls turn to small items such as hair bands, bow ties and necklace-like ribbons to put the finishing touches on their uniform-style fashion.