I’ve had to buy myself a new wardrobe before my trip to Japan. I’ll be working at an eikaiwa where the dress code is meant to be highly professional. This will also be my first job where I’ll be wearing business dress on a daily basis. So, three hundred dollars later, I have a cheap but adequate wardrobe. But I had to research it first because a few rules apply. Most gaijin travelling to work in Japan may also have to consider buying a new wardrobe too, so they can impress their Japanese bosses and collegues.
Firstly: conservative is the rule of thumb. Women should not wear excessive jewellery, and in fact no jewellery is preffered. If you feel the need to bling though, it shouldn’t be more than a simple silver or pearl necklace and a simple ring. Nail polish is a no-no. Outrageous hair even more so. For preference, it should be tied back and never dyed to unnatural colours. No perfume either! Oh and try to keep it lean when it comes to make up. I’m sure that a ganguro would wear enough for the both of you anyway.
Overall it is best for a woman not to look too feminine in a business environment. Which seems odd, as a suit jacket with matching skirt is the preferred outfit over suit jacket with matching trousers. Don’t look too much like a woman, but also remember your place, it seems. The shirt you wear with your suit should have a high collar and be cream or white. Pinstripes or a blouse with conservative patterns are also accepted. No high heel or strappy shoes and plain pantyhose only.
Men can dress much the same way as they would in the West. Suit jacket, trousers and tie. Don’t wear shorts. No outrageous hair or jewellery (except a wedding ring) or visible tattoos.
Finally, DO NOT WEAR BLACK. This was a problem in my wardrobe since anything I owned that was vaguely office-like was black. But in Japan this is associated with funerals and death. Men should wear dark colours in a business environment but never black. Women can wear grey, navy, green, dark purple or brown, but again, no black.