Tokyo Is Rewriting the Rules of Street Style

This season marked photographer Matthew Sperzel’s fifth time covering Tokyo Fashion Week, which he describes as “my favorite market to cover — the best street style in my opinion.” He shot the below 105 photos in the Shibuya area of Tokyo over six days, where most of fashion week takes place. “Aside from shooting arrivals/let-outs at runway shows, I like to wander the side streets and back alleys of Harajuku, scoping out even more street style between shows,” he told me.

As I clicked through his photos, I immediately understood why he loves it: Tokyo street style offers a departure from New York and Paris street style that feels more than geographical. I was struck by the bevy of trends that were sometimes pieced together in a single outfit. I saw a sort of home-spun maximalism that felt surprisingly authentic next to the often hyper-branded offerings of “mainstream” fashion weeks. The rules felt all but rewritten, and I walked away with a slew of outfit ideas to lift me out of my current slump. Scroll down to see some of my takeaways, then click through the slideshow below and tell me yours.

1. A good trench coat can be a full outfit

I’ve been looking for an oversize khaki trench like this for months (it needs some HEFT) and this look sold me on the idea even more. I love how she dressed like a stagehand underneath; really gives the coat the spotlight.

2. Pajamas aren’t pajamas when you add sunglasses.

I’ve been dragging my feet on the pajamas-as-clothes trend, but I think I’m ready now, especially when I see them worn with sunglasses. Seems kind of like a win-win: you either look surprisingly cool or overwhelmingly casual.

3. Stripes make great undershirts.

I love the idea of wearing a classic striped shirt and trench as a prim underlayer to an irridescent cheetah coat. It creates the illusion of a scarf, and reminds me of my grandmother in a good way.

4. All plaid patterns technically match each other.

I usually gravitate toward clashing colors over patterns, but clashing plaids and checks is a satisfying compromise.

5. Half-tucks don’t have to look sloppy.

The half-tucked button-down has a reputation for embodying the kind of care-free casualness of J.Crew models and dads on boats, but when done carefully with a crisp shirt under a blazer, it looks more intentionally asymmetrical and dressed up.

6. Converse sneakers make a plain maxi dress look less “I’m on vacation.”

I’m not a huge maxi-dress fan (they remind me too much of college beachwear), but I love how this one’s styled, with high-tops and a black coat. Would go to dinner in this.

7. T-shirt + silk scarf + blazer + jeans = always classic.

Simple math. Also, I love twin outfits as a rule.

8. Crossbody bags can (should?) be worn at belly-button height.

Almost every bag and fanny pack in this batch of street style is worn extra-high, around the waist or chest. Why are the rest of us wearing bags around our hips? I’m forever changed.

9. Roomy suits make nice weekend-wear.

I spotted so many dressed-down dress-up clothes, per above, not so much in how they were styled but in how they fit: loosely, casually, unseriously. It made me look at my blazers, trousers and button-downs in a new way. Like for Saturdays, for instance.

Photos by Matthew Sperzel; follow him on Instagram @sperzphoto.

Haley Nahman

Haley Nahman

Haley Nahman is the Features Director at Man Repeller.

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