Clothes shopping in Japan

Every so often, I look in my wardrobe and my spirits sink. Ragged collars and faded knees inform me that it is time for that most depressing of tasks – clothes shopping in Japan.

As a tall fellow, this is never a pleasant experience. It is depressing to try on a jacket marked as 4L or some other such sign of vastness and discover that it is still too small. T-shirts stretch most unattractively over my mid-life man-breasts and are often short enough that if I raise my arms by even the smallest amount, I reveal some body flesh. That’s attractive in the case a slender lady, but not so much when the skin on show is the belly-sag or back-fat of a man long past his prime.

Shirts are worse. Trying on any kind of long-sleeved shirt sends me home with a paranoia that I have extensive simian arms. I look at Japanese people and they don’t seem to have arms that are way too short for their bodies, so why must the sleeves on even the largest of shirts stop somewhere between my elbows and my wrists? Surely I’m not that freaky. I don’t even attempt to buy shoes and all of my socks acquire stretch-borne holes within a couple of weeks.

Many men’s journey into middle-age sees them shopping at Gap and Uniqlo, if only because they are not sure what looks okay anymore. At stores like those you get a fairly risk-free option; you won’t look too square or too much of an ojisan but are not going to be laughed at for trying to be too hip either. Nice safe shopping for the sartorially insecure. My journey into middle-age, however, has seen me shopping anywhere that has something that fits. That’s pretty much all I require these days, and yet it is still no easy matter. I walk into shops, seek out the biggest clothes available and, more often than not, find myself staring in a fitting-room mirror wondering who that fat chap in a cycling top is.

For some reason, I can buy trousers without too much trouble. Clothes designers here seem to cater for long legs and thick waists, but not the chests and neck sizes that comfortably accompany such shapes. I have Gap slacks in all the safe colours a middle-aged man could want. Unfortunately, though, I often have to pair them with garish shirts that would languish eternally in rooms for unsold stock were it not for the fact that, to a long-armed chap in Japan, style considerations in a shirt are very much secondary. Size is king.

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8 Responses to Clothes shopping in Japan

  1. AstroNerdBoy says:

    That’s what Internet shopping is for, though importing from the States (or wherever) seriously adds to the cost. ^_^;;;;;

  2. The burb I live in only gives me Wal-Mart or Target as choices, so I shop on line. I could drive 40 minutes to larger city or 1 1/2 hours to “big” city, but I never have that kind of time. Plus, I can sit in ragged clothes when I order, no need to dress up. XD

  3. Beth K says:

    Thanks for sharing your shopping woes.

  4. kamo says:

    I’m afraid I only read the first paragraph. I had to stop due to overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and despair the words ‘clothes shopping in Japan’ set off. So I’m afraid I can’t comment on the rest your post, just offer you assurance that you’re not alone.

    We should form support group or club of some sort. We could get t-shirts!

    But that would mean actually having to get t-shirts. And now I’m depressed again.

  5. I can relate. I wear a medium anywhere else in the world, but somehow I triple in size in Japan. While vacationing in Tokyo a few years back, I decided I had to have a few cute outfits that all the Japanese girls were wearing. I was practically in tears when I left the store with only a scarf and an extra-large sweater. I hope it helps to know you’re not alone.

  6. Just one more reason to move back to the land of people who are MUCH bigger than you! Middle-age? I thought that happened around 40-45. You’re still a youngster and in your prime, baby!

  7. Pingback: East Asia Blog Round-Up : 26/9/2012 | Eye on East Asia

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