Dress for (Kindergarten Mum) Success

Here's me (and my two beautiful friends and partners in crime) all dolled up this morning. I had to use a pile of concealer for the bags under my eyes since I had to wake up really early to clean the house before my mother-in-law arrived.

My tips for mothers in Japan - get the black formal suit so you are prepared for funerals, new entrance ceremonies, graduations and even weddings in a pinch. I've been to two of these occasions in the past month, in the same suit.

For the graduation actually most of the mums had suits in separates with a frilly blouse underneath. Pant suits are OK, as are boots. Still I didn't look out of place at all (always a relief).

Buy assorted corsages when they are on sale. The cheapest ones I found were at least 1000 yen and not very nice. All the ones I liked were about 4000 yen. I have always thought that corsages are so old fashioned (very mother-of-the-bride) but here in Japan they seem to be required. I bought mine from Etsy of course, from Lana de Flor. I also got some little clips for my hair, that's why it's up. Debora was so helpful, sending my parcel speedy post so it arrived in plenty of time.

Next on the list of purchases would be some pearls. I wasn't sure if pearls were too funeral-esque so I left mine at home. But it seems for events like this you can't go wrong with the classic, pearls and tons of them is fine. One of the teachers had several strands of pearls, all different. Fake is the norm too!

As long as you are shopping, make sure you have shoes, a nice clutch or small handbag, a pretty hanky and also stock up on pantyhose. I wore black but I think for this a skin color may have been better. We have always needed to bring slippers as well for inside the school so I carried those in a Mee a Bee drawstring pouch.

A lot of the mums were complaining that since they had kids none of their old suits fit them. It was hardly in evidence but I guess I believe them. Once you have kids in kindergarten or school it pays to keep your wardrobe in order as there are a lot of events that require a little dressing up - teacher's visit, 7-5-3 ceremony, and if it's Catholic like ours there are several religious events throughout the year too.

You might also find you need a yukata summer kimono and of course the kimono is worn for new entrance and graduation (about half the mothers will wear a kimono my friends said).

My last observation is about mothers who are pregnant or have just given birth. This is not an excuse to arrive in fleece, yoga pants or trackpants. They all still manage to look amazing. Twins? Four children under the age of six? I've seen it all. I think the key is the hair, thick luxurious tresses go a long way to helping you look great.

If you're at all like me then you care deeply about what other people think and want to fit in. :)
Or not!


  1. You look great, congratulations to Biggie. Excelent advice for Mums in Japan too, though disappointing that there are no excuses for fleeces and yoga pants. I am only 8 years postpartum, wish they'd cut me some slack. I have my daughter's graduation today, hope something fits ;) Didn't sleep well though, stressing about pencils;)
    2B or not 2B, that IS the question.

  2. You can find those corsages at the 100 yen store too sometimes. Of course, they are cheap and tacky looking, but so are most of the expensive ones too IMO.

  3. Oh Muriel, sorry, yes, 8 years postpartum I think you could maybe get away with no lipstick once or twice. LOL

    The pencils! will I have to post a separate entry about that? The overseas readers may get a kick out of that. I will photocopy the list and fax it to you so you can check for yourself, 6B! but an unspecified amount so that's frightening.

    Sherry!! are you implying that I look tacky??? with my corsage??? LOL. I tried the 100 yen shop but they were REALLLLLLLY bad. I couldn't do it.

  4. No, no, yours is absolutely fabulous cause it is from Etsy and a "foreigner" too, right. I am just not a corsage kind of gal, even if it is required I refuse to wear one. If I did I wouldn't mind a 100 yen shop one though because the trend for me is that the more ugly I think something is the more fabulous the Japanese moms think it is.

    A hint for pregnant ladies is that they usually rent the formal wear for the specific occasion from companies like Hoxon if anyone should find themselves in that kind of situation. Who wants to spend hundreds on a fancy maternity outfit to wear maybe one time. Of course, the rental stuff is typical Japanese size so may not work for those of with more to love.

    Did you have to wear a yukata for the tanabata stuff? Of course, the kids all did, but not a single parent wore one at our festival. I refuse to wear yukata/kimono so I was worried I would be the only one not in one.

    Your yochien has religious events? Ours is Catholic too, but they don't really have anything religious. Just the Christmas party.

  5. you look fabulous.

    shh.... I have survived 3 kindergarten graduations and 3 first grade entrance ceremonies without a suit. no corsage either!!!

    but this year I ordered a trouser and jacket set (ordered the pants too big so I have to belt them up snug).

    you have offered some excellent advice here. what's going on with the pencils???? 2B?? 6B??? and some teachers won't allow characters!!!!

    sherry, you seem like a funny person, I sure would like to meet you in person.....

    in lieu of a corsage, perhaps I should pull out a big old button from my high school days.....

    like "DON'T DREAM IT, BE IT". from rocky horror picture show. Or I could just pin on a fish!!!!

  6. Thanks, Jan.

    I would sure like to see this list of supplies you are talking about. I am just having a hard time believing that a Japanese teacher/school would be fussy and picky about things. LOL!

    I'm having a crisis about the opening ceremony in April I have to go to. (not the entrance ceremony-that was last year. We are nenchu now.) Half the moms I have asked said formal dress and the other half have said it is no big deal, anything is fine, jeans and a tshirt is fine. SIGH! Maybe formal on top and casual on bottom?

  7. It all sounds very interesting,and even appealing to me! I `m so lazy, I don`t wear any fancy things unless I want to, but I`d love to try to live in Japan. Just for an exercise :)
    reading "corsage" I thought about corset actually. Then I realized you were talking about that little flower brooch:)) We say "brooch" to everything here :)
    So many questions too! - Why do you need hanky for shopping?
    How do dad`s dress? Are there any requirements for children apparel attending ceremonies (outside kindergarten)? And what`s going on with pencils??
    I`d love to know some words in Japanese... Kindergarten? School?
    Oh, and you looked lovely! Especially with your hair up - it shows you gave it extra effort :)

  8. Blooming you were blooming! I can't remember the last time I saw you with your hair up!

    You looked absolutely in place including every hair!! It is scary thinking you will stand out for more than just being foreign.

    I have to confess that just as we were leaving for DS graduation on Wednesday I ripped the back seam of my skirt stepping down from our genkan!! Major panic and thanks to the powers that be that I bought another skirt to go with that jacket!

    Corsages were hard to find the only ones I could find that I liked were in the 9000yen range!! I finally found one made from beads that I quite like and it was 1500yen.

    I was also in a panic over the school entrance ceremony. I had no idea what to wear with people who would all be branded!:)

    The juku mothers are all going in kimono so I am too. At least I know the clothes won't be out of place even if I am out of place in the clothes!

    Pencils for our school are provided just to make sure we get it right;)

    It all seems too hard some days doesn't it?;9

  9. I love reading your posts! You look great and congratulations to Biggie!

  10. Wow, what lovely comments, thank you everyone. It seems a shame this whole dialog is hidden here in the comments section. I hope people take the time to read it.

    Eva, I think all the mums were also wearing corsets!!! What a laugh I had over that one.

  11. Well, of course they were wearing corsets. Japan would sink into the Pacific Ocean if all the pencil thin women (again with the pencils) didn't wear 7 layers of foundation underwear! To hold in and control I have no idea what, but nothing is going to stick out or wiggle, that's for darn sure. LOL!

  12. yes but there should be a certain amount of discretion involved in bending over.... those low cut jeans just aren't very sexy when you can see the under girdle thingy and the underwear and also the undershirt hanging down from the cropped top.

    I mean.... hello......

  13. Who would've thought this would be such a popular topic!

  14. Hi, happen to chance on your blog :) Very interesting to read about life in Japan. I'd visited Japan twice and wow...everyone is all dolled up, be it in business suit or in casual shopping clothes. Lots of efforts seems to have been put in! Amazing...and a feast for the eyes ;)! Would you like to try handmade corsages from this shop? http:www.past-present.jp

  15. Congrats on the graduation!! You look amazing and I think your hair looks great up!!!

  16. Thanks! I may start wearing my hair up, I normally do in summer anyway since it's so hot.


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