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A Refreshing Breath of Chic After a Casual Spell (October 5, 2006)

Miniskirts and boots are cool. (Color & Design Research Room of Kyoritsu Women's Junior College)
As fall deepens, young women's fashions are turning black and white. The key is a touch of chic: for instance, a white shirt coordinated with a black vest, a black pleated skirt, and black and white half boots. Popular among Harajuku girls, meanwhile, are avant garde gosurori (Gothic Lolita) and punk styles, and their street hangouts seem almost dyed through in blackish hues. Female office workers and career women in Ginza are likewise dressing in elegant combinations like white blouses and black cardigans with pants. One notable characteristic of the trend is that mature fashions are being favored by a broad range of people, with young men and middle-aged women going for monotone looks as well.

Monotone As a Resetter
Monotone refers to expressions using different shades and tones of a single color. In terms of fashion it often denotes styles coordinated only in achromatic colors: black, white, and shades of gray. Widely used in formal wear and uniforms, this type of color combination gives a solemn, restrained, and refined impression. Perhaps for this reason, monotone styles have frequently filled the streets when the trend shifts toward the mature and elegant. Likewise, it appears that monotones are the choice for fall 2006 as a way of resetting the fashion climate, which has tended toward the casual for some time.

Black knee-high socks are popular. (Color & Design Research Room of Kyoritsu Women's Junior College)

A 10-Year Cycle
There is a cycle to the monotone trend. The 1980s saw an outbreak of monotone styles with the "DC boom," a craze for designer-brand and character-brand clothes, where character brands refer to lines of clothes in which the manufacturer develops a specific brand image. Sporty styles consisting of logo T-shirts and black pants were in vogue in the 1990s. Conservative monotone looks were favored in the early 2000s, and now monotone is back again. In this way, monotones have come in and out of style roughly every 10 years.

Typically, a monotone wave follows a few years on the heels of a fad for layered, decorative, or colorful styles, such as the layered fashions with denims in the late 1970s, the colorful bodikon (body-conscious) dresses of the 1980s, the vivid colors donned by teenagers in the mid-1990s, and the fluorescents that emerged around 2003. This fall the teenage girls filling the streets of Shibuya, who until recently worshipped colorful fashions, are all fading to blacks, whites, and grays. Along with monotones, a trend for mature, sparsely ornamented, conservative styles looks ready to set in.

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Copyright (c) 2006 Web Japan. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.

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