Tokyo Fashion: A Comic Book

That subtitle is a little misleading, as this is more of a scrapbook with comic strips included.

Tokyo Fashion by Nodoka has 44 suggestions on “how to look stylish when you’ve got zero time to think about it!” (Plus, four for men, although they’re weirdly specific.) Each tip is accompanied by a couple of outfit drawings and a short (3-4 panel) comic strip in which the protagonist takes advice from her cat.

Of course, the usefulness of any style advice depends on how much you trust the giver, and I’m not sure a manga cartoonist would be the person I’d turn to for fashion suggestions. But Nodoka is a social media fashion blogger who graduated from design school, according to the flap copy. (There’s also the question of how quickly trends change, as this was first published in 2018, but since many of us didn’t leave the house for a year and a half, I imagine things haven’t changed that much.)

Tokyo Fashion: A Comic Book

Some ideas are more relevant than others. The first tip is that wearing a watch will help you “look amazing” because “the subtle gesture of a woman checking her watch is incredibly cool.” This was not a promising beginning, as it put appearance over functionality and comfort, and it treated the reader as the observed, the object of someone else’s viewpoint, not someone making her own decisions.

The second tip is “make your tops simple and your bottoms flashy.” Which isn’t a bad idea, but it doesn’t apply to every body type. Neither does the author’s love of loose, oversized tops. Of course, the women in this book are all of the same slender shape. (I also found myself confused by the use of the word “khaki” to refer to olive twill, instead of tan or beige clothes.)

However, some of the tips were classically good ideas, such as keeping logos small and using a scarf for accent. Some are thought-provoking, like the idea you only need three pairs of shoes (oh, and plus sandals and boots). Some are obvious, like how it’s better to buy tops you don’t have to iron or that people want to wear white in the summer. Some are oddly specific, like the one about how navy-striped shirts are better than white ones, or that floral patterns should be large, or how socks should only be white or gray, or the few that deal with appropriate colors for outerwear.

Her insistence that it’s better to buy cheap clothes and donate or discard them every three years instead of investing in a truly stylish look probably comes from her time working for “a large fast-fashion retailer”. Which I should have known before reading this, as it didn’t match my perspective on buying clothes, and it ignores the politics and impact of that approach to purchasing. I didn’t mind flipping through Tokyo Fashion, and it’s usually a good idea to think more explicitly about what’s in my closet and what kind of impression it gives, but it’s certainly not a book I’ll reread or need to own.

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