As someone who loves to express my personal style with clothing, preparing for Tokyo orientation was a bit tricky. I wanted to look like myself but also make sure I was presentable and professional. I had lots of ideas about how I wanted to look but with my body shape and budget, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to execute my business women/model off duty vision. Before JET, I had never had to wear business attire for a job so I had to go out and buy a bunch of new things. In my spare time (which I had a lot of because I was unemployed for 6 weeks before moving) I trawled Reddit, blogs and Youtube videos for ideas and suggestions.
What I Wore
- Dressy black chinos from Uniqlo
- Black and White Lightweight button-up shirts from Uniqlo
- Black blazer from Target
- Black leather creepers from TUK
- Gorman Socks
I spent about $300-$350 AUD all up on bits and pieces to wear to orientation but you could definitely save some money and buy second hand or used pieces. I was happy with my final business look but spotted a handful of people at orientation who looked so cool and chic and I was definitely thinking “OMG Culottes! Why didn’t I think of that!”.
You are expected to wear attire appropriate for business meetings during the Post-Arrival Orientation (business suit with tie for men, and a business suit with a jacket for women)”General Information Handbook 2019
Ok, so the handbook is pretty vague but leaves a lot up to interpretation.
I think it should be more like:
You are expected to wear attire appropriate for business meetings in JAPAN. For women, a business suit with a jacket in muted colours like black, grey or navy.ME
Orientation is now a distant memory but with a new year means a whole bunch of new JETs looking for help. So, I thought I’d share my suggestions and interpretations on the guidelines so that you can dress appropriately while still feeling like yourself. I didn’t snap many photos at orientation so to help I have made a PINTEREST BOARD to show you what I think would work.
These are all my own personal thoughts, opinions and suggestions.
To be absolutely safe, you should wear :
- A black blazer
- Black suit pants or on/below the knee pencil skirt
- A white or black shirt/blouse
- Black leather or leather like closed toed shoes
The most important piece of your orientation look is the blazer. You will be expected to wear it for the majority of orientation and at school will probably have to wear it for ceremonies too. The colour of the blazer is very much discussed online and is pretty important. I actually saw one person being turned away in a fire engine red blazer and asked to change and I have read countless other stories about similar situations. So don’t be silly just keep it simple and minimal.
The three safest colours are black, grey or navy. If you want to branch out a little more, deep or muted shades of green, red, blue, brown or a nice tan should be ok. Block colours are ideal but I did see a couple of lovely plaid blazers and a cute black and white houndstooth blazer being worn. If you are going to go for something like that, it might be safe to bring a plain black blazer too just in case. Below are some colour swatches to give you an idea of what I would classify as appropriate. Personally, I think if you stick with black you have nothing to worry about. Avoid bright colours (i.e. PINK), metallics (i.e. SILVER), spots, stripes, and bold prints (i.e. FLORAL).
You don’t need to go out and buy a super expensive blazer. I found a great classic black blazer at Target for only $15 and then a really cool boxy over sized one at an op shop/thrift store in Australia for only $2! You might only wear your blazer a few times a year so make sure it is a classic cut that pairs well with other pieces in your work wear wardrobe.
Under the Blazer
You can choose to wear a top and bottoms or a dress under your blazer. My advice is to try and find pieces you can dress down and wear casually to get the most out of them all year round. You can also jazz up your look with some fun printed socks or if you are into pins, stick one to your blazer lapel.
Ideally, go for button-up shirts or blouses in white, grey or black. Alternatively, tops in neutral colours or with small prints should be ok too. You could totally wear a turtleneck top underneath your blazer too. Super chic! The neckline of your top should be high enough to cover cleavage and not gape if you bend forward. A good measure would be to place your hand on your chest so that your thumb is touching your collar bones at the base of your neck. Where the edge of your pinky finger is hitting should be the lowest your neckline goes. Refer to the Pinterest Board for tops with appropriate necklines.
If you go for a dress under your blazer, make sure it hits on or below the knee, covers up your chest and isn’t too clingy. The same colour and fit suggestions apply as tops.
Whether you choose to wear pants or a skirt is totally up to you but this is where you can stray from the classic pencil skirt or suit pants. You should keep the colour simple like the colour of your blazer but the style can be a little bit different. You could wear culottes or wide leg trousers or ankle-cropped chinos instead of regular suit pants. If you do choose to wear a skirt it should sit on or below the knee and you should wear stockings. Pants should not be shorter than a cropped ankle length. The fit of your bottoms should not be too skin tight. No body-con here people! As long as it compliments your blazer in terms of colour it should be ok. Again, I think its best to avoid prints when it comes to your bottoms but a fabric with a subtle texture should be ok. Ideal bottom colours would be black, grey or navy because they pair well with most colours.
The shoes you choose to wear should be:
- A plain dark colour like black, navy, brown etc
- Leather or a leather-like material
- Close-toed – I saw someone trying to walk in with SANDALS. Yes it is summer when you arrive and it is hot BUT you will be inside a very well air-conditioned hotel and there is just no need to be flashing your feet.
- Flat or with a small business appropriate heal
- Worn in – You will be wearing these for a bunch of days straight so, make sure that they won’t give you blisters.
- Clean and in good condition
Generally, you can wear your hair however you would like as long as it is clean, neat and out of your face. I wouldn’t suggest going and giving yourself Victoria Secret beachy waves or putting it in a high Ariana Grande style pony but definitely make sure it looks professional. I wore my hair in a slick low pony parted down the middle. A friend of mine wore her hair out in a neat bob and another person had a beautifully shaved head. It is really dependent on your hair style but just make it look smart. I didn’t see any unnaturally coloured hair at orientation so I think its best to get your hair to a natural colour. Check the Pinterest Board for examples.
If you choose to wear makeup it should look minimal and be like no makeup makeup. This means no coloured or sparkly shadows, no bright lips and no contouring for the gods! Keep it really basic with a light weight base, a little bit of blush and contour, mascara and a brow gel or pencil.
Orientation is not the time to show off your fabulous jewelry collection. If you want to wear something, keep is simple with a SMALL silver or gold chain necklace and/or a pair of SMALL stud/sleeper/hoop earrings. If you are engaged, married or have a very sentimental ring that you wear that is fine.
Nail Polish & Perfume
You don’t need to wear nail polish but if you do, keep colours natural and neutral like a shade a little lighter or darker than your skin tone. Nothing or a clear polish is best. Don’t wear perfume but definitely wear DEODERANT!
OK! I hope all of this helps you figure out what to wear to orientation.
If you do plan to wear something a little more out there in terms of colour and/or print (plaid/houndstooth), I would make sure you are so well groomed (hair, makeup, accessories) in all other aspects so that you look super smart and professional. If you have any questions, feedback or if there is anything you think I’ve missed please let me know!
Good Luck 🙂