Asian street fashion has a magnetism and attitude all its own. It tends to borrow from larger global and regional trends and events, but is also local and organically grown, spontaneous and open to interpretation. The outfits are for everyday living. This is the first of a series of articles that takes note of what has been happening in Asian fashion lately and identifies probable trailblazers and influencers. We’ll also look at ways you can experiment with these looks and make them your own. The first trend we'll explore is the Varsity / College Prep look.

Trend #1. Varsity / College Prep

What could have inspired this trend? Readers may already have an idea. In October 2013 the Korean drama Heirs began its broadcast. The story takes place among high society in modern day Seoul. Current and future heirs of this or that family fortune were expected to wear their appropriate uniforms, wherever they happened to be - in class, at the office, at an elegant restaurant or hotel.

Photo Credit: Drama Fever

Signature preppy wardrobe staples were in almost every scene, from blazers, crew neck sweaters, white or pin-striped button down shirts, khaki slacks, loafers, and mary janes, to cable knit sweaters worn over the shoulder or around the waist. This was a drama where what they wore received nearly as many comments as what they said and did!

Photo Credit: Drama Fever

The college prep, or “preppy” look is not new; it’s been around for decades. It is one of those classic looks that never really goes out of style. To dress this way is to present yourself as neat, presentable, well coordinated. Once something or someone triggers new interest in sporting this look, you’ll begin to see it everywhere. Choi Sooyoung, a member of Girls' Generation and star of Dating Agency: Cyrano, was spotted at an airport wearing this look, made a little more up to date with the addition of a navy blue skater skirt and bright yellow bag.

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The Bangtan Boys / BTS posed for a group shot to promote their new single and MV “Just One Day.” All are outfitted with college prep “school” uniforms.

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A recent campaign for the Spring/Summer lines for SPAO apparel called upon such Kpop idols as Sungmin of Super Junior and Sulli of f(x) (also star of To the Beautiful You) to model classic looks for more casual occasions. Here prerequisite cardigans and sweaters are coordinated with cotton stripes and patterns that are easy going and wearable.

Photo credit: SPAO

Sulli strikes a pose wearing Spring colors with a white sweater draped over her button down blouse and skinny belted tapered slacks.

Photo credit:SPAO

How can the guy and gal on the street sport any of these varsity fashions and not be mistaken for a truant school student who escaped from the classroom? Here are some ideas. Make the look new and different from the way it used to be. Years ago a young lady wore one strand of pearls with her outfit; now, instead of one prim and proper necklace, group several together and make them stand out against a navy blue sweater. Instead of a sweater, wrap a gingham shirt at the waist. To nicely compliment a blouse and V-neck sweater, add a hair accessory. A larger sized bow or ribbon keeps in line with the classic college prep style.

Photo credits: Left: Classy (April 2014) Right: Vivi (April 2014)

Here is another way to modernize a classic V-neck cable sweater. Choose a pendant that has a sapphire colored gemstone, then paint fingernails to match. Simple, stylish and eye-catching.

Photo credit: Etsy

The preppy look can be tucked in and proper, or it can be shirt tail out and relaxed. Ease up on the rules of appropriateness - in other words, be a rebel! – by layering a white scoop neck sweater over a pastel colored blouse with collar details, and your favorite necklace. Pull it all together with pencil jeans, platform sandals and sunglasses with some attitude.

Photo credit: Rebecca Elizey

My final fashion tip is inspired by a couple who is taking part in the annual ritual “o hanami,” or cherry blossom viewing. Right now and during most of April, it is your prime opportunity to enjoy a walk in the park among blooming cherry blossom trees. What to wear? In downtown Tokyo the dress code is business casual. For men, a shirt, crew neck sweater, jacket, casual slacks and suede lace up loafers will work. For the ladies, a blouse and fitted jacket, lightweight skirt and bag, leggings and boots makes for a well put together outfit. Gals, you can win extra points for a) wearing something pink and/or 2) color-coordinating with your partner!

Photo credit: Asian Street Style & Fashion

Next trend to follow shortly!

LilySuzuki is an American who lived in Japan for 6 years, and considers Tokyo a second home. She also worked in Bali, Indonesia for 2 years. A blogger on Asian cultures and trends, she’s an avid fan of Kpop, Jpop, anime and Korean dramas.

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