East Meets West: Japanese Formal Wear

Posted on August 7, 2014


(Japanese Bridal Party by JadeKat-Cosplay)

I’m currently editing a new page on Japanese formal wear for the next edition of The Black Tie Guide.  Their sartorial customs are a fascinating blend of old Eastern traditions and newer Western ones.  In fact, Japan is second only to Britain in preserving the custom of morning dress.  One prestigious formalwear maker from that country prescribes either the morning coat or stroller (known as a director’s suit in Japan due to its early association with Boards of Directors) for everything from weddings to graduations to coming-of-age ceremonies.

The wedding photo above is a perfect illustration of the blending of cultures with the groom in the women in native Japanese formal attire and the fathers of the bride and groom in morning coats.  The groom’s father also demonstrates a subtle contrast between English and Japanese morning dress customs: the former typically carry a top hat in hand while the latter prefer to hold a pair of white gloves.



The only major variation on the Western system of formal wear is the existence of the black suit (often called, somewhat confusingly, a “formal suit”) as a kind of simple formal dress for occasions where a dark suit would be too businesslike but formal wear is not specified by the hosts. In this context, it is worn with a white or silver four-in-hand tie (black for mourning), and occasionally French cuffs and cufflinks

Posted in: Miscellanea