The school uniform is something that everyone has probably seen at least once in Japanese school anime. Did you know that there are trends in how school uniforms are worn just like fashion trends?

Magazines for junior and senior high school students often feature topics such as "7 tips to wear your school uniform fashionably without breaking school rules" and "Top 5 ways to wear your school uniform to be popular in the new school year.” These topics are always on the minds of students, regardless of generation, but what is considered fashionable differs greatly.

Viral tweet about Japanese school uniforms

A manga artist, Toyobayashi Sakane豊林サカネ posted the illustration below on Twitter comparing styles that were popular in the 2010s versus the styles that are popular now in 2021.

The tweet went viral, garnering over 45,000 likes and 11,000 retweets at the time of writing!

The one on the left is from 2021, and the one on the right is from the 2010s.

Reproduced with permission from 豊林サカネ Sakane Toyobayashi (@toyo_saka)

"School uniform fashion from ten years ago and in recent times. People gave me a lot of information so I made a selection and tried to organize it (like this)! Thanks for your cooperation, everyone!"

At first glance, they look like completely different uniforms. However, if you look carefully, the shirt, ribbon, and skirt are totally the same! Did you notice that?

Changing the bags and socks, and not wearing a cardigan conveys a very different impression!

Comparing the two looks

Let’s compare the characteristics of the two styles.

Trends in the 2010s included:

  • Wearing the bow in a lower position
  • Putting earrings on the ribbon to decorate it
  • Oversize cardigan
  • Skirt length varies by region
  • Black or white knee-length socks
  • Socks fastened with glue
  • Shoulder bag-style school bag
  • Use a large keyring mascot or large hair clip as an accessory for the bag
  • Loafers

On the other hand, in 2021 what’s considered trendy includes...

  • wearing the bow at a higher position
  • Wearing a vest in summer or a casual sweater or hoodie for colder seasons
  • Wearing black or white socks above the ankle
  • Backpacks are the most common kind of bag, but square backpacks are also popular.
  • Sneakers, as well as loafers

The style of 2021 is considered generally sporty, while the style of 10 years ago is relaxed.

Reactions on Twitter

Many people responded to the pictures which summarized the differences and trends in a very clear and cute way:

"The 2010s style of dressing is nostalgic! Sock Touch (ソックタッチ)* was a necessity.”

*Sock Touch, manufactured by Hakugen Earth Co., Ltd., is a kind of glue that makes socks stick to your skin. Sock Touch is the small glue stick in the lower right corner of the picture. It is very useful to keep your knee-high socks from sliding down.

“So much has changed! I was surprised. Recently, students are picking tighter fits for their clothes."

Some people seem to have been surprised. Actually, I’m one of them because my friends and I had the style on the right. I was personally shocked to see the big changes in the position of ribbons and the length of socks.

Some people who are familiar with fashion even further from the past said, "Mini-skirts were popular in my schooldays,” and "I'm a woman from the era of loose socks!”*

*Loose socks (rūzu sokkusu / ルーズソックス) are white baggy socks worn by Japanese high school girls in 1990s.

For those who went to a Japanese school, this illustration is a great way for them to revisit their past experiences. It’s also noteworthy for those who are interested in Japanese school culture!

By - Mochijapa (Ayano Irizuki).