“Nanchatte Seifuku” - Unique Aspect of Japanese School Uniform
Japanese students are known to wear school uniforms. While some schools require students to wear a set of uniform designated by the school, other schools have skirts/pants and a school pin only. Several schools even don’t have their school uniforms.
Still, school uniform is a symbol of school age to many Japanese schoolers, especially to high school girls. So, even if their schools don’t have school uniforms, they buy fake uniforms to enjoy their school age.
Today, let’s have a look at this culture of fake uniform, known as “Nanchatte Seifuku.”
For the basic information about Japanese school uniforms, including types, history, and necessary items, please check out this page!
All Types of Japanese School Uniforms: Unique History and Design
What is the Meaning of Nanchatte Seifuku?
Nanchatte seifuku is a fake school uniform, with the word “nanchatte” meaning “fake,” and “seifuku” meaning “school uniform.” Nanchatte seifuku is often referred as a form of daily outfit resembling a school uniform: buying all the items needed to look standard Japanese school uniforms, and wearing it on non-school days are the features of nanchatte seifuku. So, it doesn’t include a school uniform designated by schools.
Nanchatte seifuku is usually worn by high school girls whose schools don’t have school uniforms, but those who have designated uniforms also wear nanchatte seifuku when hanging out with friends. They either exchange uniforms with friends attending in different schools or buy items in shops specializing in nanchatte seifuku like East Boy and CONOMi.
Nanchatte seifuku is now recognized as a form of fashion that represents Japanese culture and catching attention from other countries. Fashion shows specialized in nanchatte seifuku are held in some countries including Italy, France, Russia, Korea, China, and Brazil. Japanese school uniform is not accepted as “school uniform,” but as “seifuku.”
What You Need for Nanchatte Seifuku
To wear nanchatte seifuku, you need to buy items from tops to bottoms, and additional accessories. Here are what you need for nanchatte seifuku. Remember that nanchatte seifuku should resemble normal school uniforms. Even though you can wear what you want, make sure to it remains a form of school uniform.
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The skirt is the most important part of nanchatte seifuku because it is what makes the appearance of school uniforms in Japan. Pleated skirts with tartan/plaid patterns are popular, adding a cute appearance to the whole nanchatte seifuku outfit. They come in various colors and patterns, and popular colors include red, dark green, and blue. But those who crave for unique variations opt for bright colors such as pink, yellow, or sky blue. Simple pleated skirts with the dark blue or grey colors also work very well on nanchatte seifuku. They go well with sailor style tops.
The length of the skirt can vary depending on your preference, but shorter length is considered to be cute and fashionable among girls. Extremely short length creates a Gyaru look.
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A common choice for the top is the blouse. A white, long-sleeve blouse is a standard, but some girls choose colored ones such as pink or blue. While the white blouse goes well with any types of accessories, the pink blouse makes the outfit even cuter, and the blue blouse makes the cool appearance.
The sailor blouse, also known as sailor fuku is another popular choice for the top. Sailor blouses resemble a uniform worn by the Navy, featured by a uniquely shaped big collar. They normally come in two colors of navy and white and are worn with a simple pleated skirt. You may have seen colored sailor fuku in anime, but they are never worn at school. Colored sailor fuku looks like cosplay, so if you want to look formal or real Japanese school girl, choose navy or white one.
Other variations of tops can be worn for nanchatte seifuku, such as T-shirts and hoodies. Short-sleeve T-shirts are worn in the summertime, especially when they go to Disneyland. They wear T-shirts sold in Disneyland on the top, and for the rest part of the outfit, they choose school uniform items. But they are never worn with the blazer.
Hoodies are worn not only when girls hang out, but also to school. While blouses feel tight and uncomfortable for some people, hoodies can be worn comfortably and casually. But if they are worn with school uniform items, they still look like a school uniform. Hoodies can be worn with the blazer in the wintertime. When girls hang out, they buy the same hoodie to make “Futago co-de,” which is “twins outfit.”
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One basic outer is cardigans. They come in different colors, with popular selections being camel, grey, pink, white, and navy. Rather than choosing the right size, girls tend to buy one size bigger because bigger cardigans make them look cute. Cardigans are worn by itself at times but usually worn with the blazer. The standard color of blazers is navy, but some opt for camel or brown. Camel/brown blazers look like school uniforms appeared in anime or drama.
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Other types of outer include zip-ups and knitted vests. Zip-ups are comfy and casual, sometimes worn with the blazer. Knitted vests create the appearance of formal school uniform. If you want a preppy schoolgirl look, a knitted vest with lines on along the edge of sleeves and neck is a good choice.
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Now we move on to accessories. Accessories put around the neck are what girls show their uniquenesses because these accessories come in so many varieties with different colors and patterns. Remember that ribbons and neckties are worn only with the blouse, not with hoodies and T-shirts!
A popular choice is ribbons. Tens of colors and patterns are displayed in the shop, and popular designs include red or blue color with stripes. You can choose one as you like, but for the entire outfit to look organized, you want to choose the color that matches the skirt or just simple design. Normal ribbons for school uniforms are already ribbon-shaped, but other variations include a string-type ribbon, which you put around your neck and make a ribbon shape.
Neckties are a familiar accessory, too. Like ribbons, red and blue colors with stripe patterns are often chosen. Neckties make the nanchatte outfit look more formal than ribbons.
In case of the sailor blouse, scarves are worn instead of ribbons and neckties.
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Even socks are an important part of nanchatte seifuku. They come in thousands of designs with different colors, lengths, and patterns. The trend of socks changes by the year, and what’s on now is the one that comes to the middle of the calf with the navy color. But other types of socks are totally fine. If you want a formal look, you can choose navy or black socks that come to just under your knees. If you want a sporty or casual look, white socks with colored lines match your need. If you want a gyaru look, you can try loose socks. Other than these kinds of socks, you can wear tights or socks that come to above your knees (called knee-high socks).
Socks for school uniforms can be bought anywhere besides school uniform shops, and often have a small brand logo on the side. The logo sometimes can be other patterns like anime characters, flowers, and so on.
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The standard choice for nanchatte seifuku is loafers because they represent a formal look of school girls. Some people wear loafers with a daily outfit, so there are a variety of loafers with little accents such as gold accessories, leopard patterns, or heels. But for nanchatte seifuku, stick to simple black/brown ones. Loafers for daily clothes don’t go well with school outfits and ruin the formality of uniforms.
If you want a sporty look, you can wear sneakers. Sneakers from sports brands such as Adidas or Nike add more sportiness to your nanchatte seifuku. Sneakers go well with white socks or white socks with colored lines.
High-heel shoes and sandals are a no-no for the nanchatte outfit. Choose flat, simple shoes that can be worn with socks.
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Japanese school bags are rectangular-shaped, handbag type, and big enough to carry so much stuff. They are made out of enamel, leather, or nylon, and come in the black, brown, or navy color. Japanese school girls enjoy decorating their bags with charms and keychains.
But typical Japanese school bags are heavy and bulky to carry, so you can also have backpacks. Backpacks with a sports brand logo on are popular.
Other than the items above, you can add extra accessories and do your hair and makeup as you want. There seems to be a lot to do and costly, but choosing your favorite items and creating your style of nanchatte seifuku will be a lot of fun!
The Beginning of Nanchatte Seifuku
By the way, in the first place, how did nanchatte seifuku emerge and become so popular?
The culture of nanchatte seifuku sparked in 2008, with the opening of the outlet of CONOMi in Harajuku, Tokyo, which later on becomes one of the most popular brands specializing in nanchatte seifuku.
In the 1960s, students rebelled against the school system, especially about the school uniform. They complained about the strict rules for uniforms, and demanded the abolition of them because they needed more freedom in their outfits wearing to school. Those who were against school uniforms wore uniforms with their customization. Sukeban, boomed in the 1960s, was a style with a long skirt, ankle-length socks, and sneakers. Another style was Gyaru, boomed in the 1990s to the 2000s. They wore extremely short skirts, opened two or three buttons of the blouse, and wore loose socks (baggy socks).
Given these phenomena, many schools abandoned school uniforms or allowed students to wear both uniforms and regular outfits. However, at the same time, those who went to schools which didn’t have uniforms still wanted to wear school uniforms, but in their own ways, not a set uniform.
Aiura, now the president of CONOMi, was running his mother’s clothing store in his hometown in Niigata prefecture. One day, a young girl came to his store and told Aiura that she wanted to wear a school uniform to school although her school didn’t have the uniform. Aiura thought there was still a demand for school uniforms, and if students’ themselves chose and customized uniforms, school uniforms would no longer be a form of constraint.
In 2008, Aiura opened his store, CONOMi, in Harajuku, Tokyo. Thousands of schoolgirls come to the shop, choosing what to wear to school on their preferences. He continues to have girls’ dreams of wearing pretty uniforms come true.
Where to Buy Nanchatte Seifuku
If you are living outside of Japan, you can buy nanchatte seifuku items online. But if you come to Japan, here are the places where you can get them.
The very first option is the shop specializing in nanchatte seifuku. East Boy and CONOMi are two leading brands of nanchatte seifuku, and they are catching attentions from most school girls in Japan. They have all sorts of items needed for school uniforms from the blouse to accessories with amazingly various designs! But these shops are expensive. On average, skirts cost $100, blazers cost $200~250, cardigans cost $50. Ribbons and neckties are under $30, so it may be good to buy only accessories from these shops and buy other necessities somewhere else.
Another place where you can buy nanchatte seifuku items is Don Quijote, the biggest discount store in Japan. They sell various types of nanchatte seifuku items at a low price. All the items cost less than half the price of those of East Boy and CONOMi, and you can get all things needed for nanchatte outfit within $100!
Other places for buying nanchatte seifuku items include regular apparel shops for teenagers or online. Some apparel brands such as Play Boy and Rose Fun Fun sell cardigans or skirts around the time when the school year starts. Websites that sell nanchatte seifuku items are Nissen and Cecile.
We hope you will enjoy nanchatte seifuku experience in your home country or in Japan!
We will be happy if this article helps you out.