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April - June 1997

Baggy Socks (Schoolgirl Fashion)

For three or four years now, baggy white knee socks pushed down to the ankles have been all the rage among Japanese junior- and senior-high-school girls. In Japan, where most junior- and senior-high-school students wear school uniforms, there isn't much leeway for fashion at school. One of the few ways a schoolgirl can add a touch of style to her uniform is by wearing baggy white knee socks instead of ordinary white socks.

The fad started when a certain brand of socks manufactured by an American company became popular among Japanese schoolgirls. At first, the girls simply wore the socks folded over. But now they are wearing them very baggy and pushed down, like leg warmers.

Along with their baggy socks, schoolgirls these days are wearing their uniform skirts short. Taken as a whole, it seems that this look has two advantages: Short skirts make the legs look longer, while baggy socks conceal thick ankles. And now, "super baggy socks," measuring about two feet in length, have arrived on the scene.

Another current schoolgirl fashion is flower ornaments. Some of these ornaments are quite large, over five centimeters (about two inches) in diameter. Girls clip them into their hair or onto their school bags.

When they're not in uniform, schoolgirls like to bleach their black hair and dye it brown. It's fashionable to have a light suntan, and to show off those tans, the girls wear satin blouses with miniskirts or shorts. On their feet, they wear thick-soled mules or high boots with platform heels. This look was pioneered by one of the most popular female singers in Japan, Namie Amuro. Accordingly, it is known as "Amura Fashion." Adolescent girls who have adopted this style and made themselves into Namie Amuro look-alikes (if only in their own minds) are called "Amuras."

As for schoolboys, when they don't have to wear their uniforms they like to dress in baggy clothing inspired by American street-basketball fashion. Their footwear of choice is sport shoes from Nike and other big-name manufacturers.

Photo: Short skirts and baggy socks are the in look these days. (Kyodo)