The new/old face of fashion: oji-girls

October 8th, 2010 by Sandra Barron

Old-man cute

Old-man cute

The dapper old gents of Tokyo may may want to lock up their closets till the latest fashion wave passes. Their time-worn basics are new again for young women getting into one of this fall’s fashion looks: “old-man cute.” Boxy beige jackets, baggy trousers with suspenders, tweedy vests and wingtip shoes are all key items. The trend is being called ojikawa, a combination of “uncle” or “old man” and “cute.” The women who wear it have predictably been dubbed “ojigaaru (old-man girls),” adding to the growing list of “~girl” tribes.

As you would expect, the Oji Girl focus is on muted colors and comfortable, often oversized pieces. Oji-pan (oji pants) are rolled up at the ankles and often made to be worn with wide waists gathered with a drawstring, while blazers are roomy to the point of looking droopy. Suspenders (or braces, for you there in the back snickering) come with long pants or shorts or are sold separately. The ensemble can all be topped off with a necktie and some fatherly marumegane.

PS, a magazine aimed at women in their late teens and early twenties, is calling the trend “the next big thing” after Mori Girls, though it’s yet to be seen if the look will resonate with the masses. The magazine advises adding a  “slightly girly touch” to complete the look. They show actress Airi Taira wearing a tweedy outfit that any uncle would be pleased to take his Sunday drive in – except for the long lace shawl layered under the jacket.

Japan’s Women’s Wear Daily also highlighted the outdoor-to-indoor shift in fashion inspiration with a style showdown in its pages. They pit the free-spirited Forest Girls (Mori Gaaru, 森ガール) and spiritual Witch Girls (Majo Gaaru, 魔女ガール) against the granddad-chic Oji Girls.

Shoe store Magical, selling online through Rakuten, has a collection of desert boots with soft rubber soles “recommended for oji-girls.” They come in gray, green, and camel. The popular  women’s brand Snidel has several pieces in the fall/winter lineup that fit the trend, like this button-up vest and these pants with suspenders. How will you know if the clothes you’re eyeing are old-man worthy? Elementary. (Sherlock Holmes would surely be an oji-icon.)  Just keep an eye out for the “oji” prefix. It’s getting stuck in front of anything that can be shoehorned into the trend: Oji shoes, Oji pants, and overall “Oji- style.”

Whether or not people will love the look, it is a trend with budget-friendly potential. The aspiring Annie Halls of Japan could skip the online retailers, boutiques and department stores, and assemble an ensemble from thrift store finds. And of course, there’s always Grampa’s closet.

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3 Responses

  1. Check out last weekend’s edition of the Wall Street Journal. The cover story in the “style” section was about women’s clothing borrowing heavily this Autumn from men’s styles.

  2. Thanks, Jeffrey. Love the headline on that story. Interesting that they talk about the look as empowering, and here it’s categorized as another kind of “cute.”

  3. Wow this is some strange styling I have not seen them on the streets of Tokyo yet!

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