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Japanese fashion visionary tells women to forget society, just be yourself


“Japanese society tells women that they have to work hard at the office, that they have to be good mothers and that they have to do it while looking good. They have to shine. It’s impossible. We don’t “We don’t have to do it all. We already have so much on our plates.”

These are the words of Okusa Naoko, popular stylist and writer. Her ideas on women’s fashion drew a large audience among middle-aged women. On her website and in articles for other publications, she deplores the unrealistic standards that Japanese society sets for women. Instead of following the latest trends, she urges everyone to be fair to themselves.

“Women are forced to give up fashion at certain stages in their lives,” says Okusa. “For example, when my children were really small, I couldn’t focus on beauty. And soon, it will be the same when I take care of my parents. I think fashion is not something that you always need It is something to enjoy from time to time, something that helps you relieve stress. Fashion should be to create the conditions for women to love and take care of themselves – and that involves wearing something you like and feel comfortable with. “

Okusa previously worked for the famous Japanese fashion magazine Vingtaine. She has written articles on the latest trends, showcasing luxury clothing worn by perfectly sculpted models. But she always doubted the practicality of such a fashion. She felt that most ordinary women had neither the money to pay for the items nor the figures of the models who wore them.

Okusa also believes that most people do not have the innate sense of style to take off the looks presented in publications like Vintaigne. She says she didn’t have it either, which contributed to an inferiority complex that she struggled with during her stay at the magazine. Nor had she studied at a design school.

Still, she felt she was on something. She gradually came to believe that instead of dwelling on areas where she and other women fell short of traditional senses, they should create their own fashion based on their strengths. She realized that fashion had to be comfortable and express itself.

She left Vintaigne and became a freelance writer. She started to publish her ideas on a blog and in articles for various magazines. His work turned out to be popular and was eventually compiled into a book, his first after 15 years of working in the industry.

Okusa’s unique style ideas have seen her gain importance in the Japanese fashion world. She currently has more than 250,000 followers on Instagram.

The book explains how to choose the perfect denim cut, how to select the right length of skirt or pants, how to mix and match colors. It is both a manual, offering lessons on Okusa’s fashion theory, and a look book, with tips that anyone can follow.

The book worked well, with more than 110,000 copies sold. For Okusa, his success was proof that his convictions were right. She says the sales have helped her gain confidence in her styling skills.

Okusa has written more than ten books in the decade since her first one was published in 2009. She says it makes her happy to know that her ideas have made fashion less stressful for many women.

Okusa has since attracted a clientele among women his age, a group who had to work while raising children. Unlike members of the previous generation, who left their jobs once married, these women were counted on at home and in the office. Many have struggled to find the time or the money for fashion.

She says she remembers feeling the same as a young mother and that she often wore jeans because she didn’t have time for ironing or shopping.

Now many women who are raising young children come to him for advice. She tells them to consider fashion as a way to feel good about themselves, as something that will help them feel more relaxed. In 2019, Okusa launched a website to offer advice based on its principles.

One of the fundamental tenets of Okusa’s beliefs is the commitment to be yourself. With this in mind, she says that she will get into surfing this year, which has always been one of her dreams.

Fujita Yuko, cultural anthropologist at Meiji University, says there are deep sociological reasons why Okusa’s ideas resonated with women his age. She says that women of this generation entered adulthood in the late 1980s, when the country was experiencing a bubble economy and faced unyielding pressure to look good. Then, when they started raising children, they found that they no longer had the money or the time to respond to this demand. This was exacerbated by other factors, such as the decline in the economy and in wages.

“Women who have experienced this are relieved when Okusa tells them that they don’t have to try so hard,” said Fujita. “They feel like someone finally understands what they have been through.”

For Okusa, his website is just the beginning. She says she will continue to spread her commitment to individuality and give women the courage to be themselves.

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