Fashion and Beauty in Autumn
This article originally appeared in the October 2023 issue of Connect.
Holly Walder (Gunma)
The word autumn may conjure thoughts of cosy blankets, warm drinks, and woolly hats, but this is not the case in Japan. Japan is a long country and experiences a wide range of temperatures all year round. Nevertheless, for the majority of Japan, the kotatsu doesn’t need to come out until the end of the season, if at all. In fact, autumn is one of the most temperate times of year in Japan, and most of the time you will be perfectly comfortable in a long-sleeved shirt and jeans. However, like all seasons in Japan, autumn presents its own challenges, namely dealing with dryness and changeable temperatures.
Dealing with the drop in temperature
Japan stretches over 3000 km from North to South, so you can expect a wide range of temperatures depending on where you are. On top of this, some areas may experience a significant drop in temperature from one month to the next. In my case, September averaged around 20 degrees Celsius and dropped 10 degrees Celsius by November; while in Sapporo, temperatures fluctuate from around 16 degrees Celsius to 2 degrees Celsius in autumn. (1) So, if you are planning to travel in autumn, be sure to check the forecasted temperatures in your destination before you leave.
I live in a small apartment with limited storage space (as I’m sure many of you do. Leopalace, anyone?), so I like to rotate my wardrobe, keeping my seasonal wear tucked away in my suitcase when it is not in use. As a very transitional season, autumn allows me to gradually swap out shorts and AIRism tops with light cardigans and HEATTECH leggings. The big winter coat and bobble hat don’t make an appearance until the end of the season for me, but it will be different depending on where you are. If you prefer to keep all your things in one place, you may want to consider gradually moving your warmer wear to a more accessible place in your wardrobe.
You may also start to experience days with a sharp change in temperature as the day progresses, so it is also a good idea to incorporate layers into your outfits. As it gets colder, it may be tempting to leave the house in a t-shirt and a big jumper. However, with the changeable weather, you may end up too hot in a thick layer and too cold without it. It’s a good idea to carry jackets and thinner cardigans at the start of the season and invest in some HEATTECH clothing to put underneath your outfits as the cold creeps in. Hooded jackets in particular are great in autumn—first for the rain in September, and then to keep your head from getting cold in November.
Dealing with dryness
Japan dries up with the end of the typhoon season in September. And when I say dries up, I mean dries up. This time last year, I happened to be embarking on training for a half-marathon, so I spent a lot of my time running and experienced a new phenomenon: my sweat dried very quickly, leaving an odd layer of salty “crust.” The air was so devoid of moisture that it induced my first nosebleed.
To combat this, consider adding moisturisers to your skincare routine. Even if you were using them before, you may need to swap the light moisturiser that worked in the summer with something that provides deeper care. This doesn’t just apply to your face. Particularly for those who are prone to dry skin like myself, it is a good idea to try hand cream and lip balm. The novel coronavirus restrictions may have been lifted, but you may notice masks coming back around this time, as many people wear masks in autumn for several reasons, including protecting the face from dry air and wind.
You may notice supermarkets stocking up on humidifiers in autumn as well. Humidifiers are great for relieving dryness, so consider buying one and putting it on when you are at home to keep your skin healthy while you are at home.
What to wear
There is no hard-and-fast rule when it comes to dressing for the season in Japan, as it really depends on where you are! What you choose will depend a lot on your individual plans, but if you need help, this usually does the trick.
September: In the afternoon, a t-shirt is fine; but the mornings and evenings are cooler, so it is better to wear a vest underneath a thin long-sleeved layer and carry a thin jacket or cardigan with you. There is still a risk of typhoons in some areas, so hold onto your waterproofs and umbrellas.
October: As it gets colder, you will transition to long-sleeved shirts with hoodies, thicker jackets, or light coats. If you plan on wearing a dress, you may need to wear some HEATTECH leggings with it or a thick pair of tights. Carry a scarf with you, and maybe some light gloves. If you haven’t got them already, it’s recommended to get some lip balm, mini hand cream, and moisturiser for the dryer days. And, of course, you can’t forget your Halloween costume!
November: In the run up to winter, put some HEATTECH vests and leggings underneath long-sleeve tops and jumpers. It’s now time to bring out the boots and woolly socks to keep your toes nice and toasty. You may not need them all day, but bring knitted hats, gloves, scarves, and a coat with you when you go out.
Autumn is a pleasant and beautiful season. The lush green landscape is transformed into blankets of brilliant red acers and yellow ginkgos. It is the perfect time to get your instagram-worthy shots among the autumn leaves. It is all the more reason to dress for the season, and ensure that you’re ready to enjoy everything that autumn has to offer!
Holly is a second-year ALT in Gunma and the current Fashion Section Editor for [CONNECT]. She has a seasonal addiction to baked sweet potatoes.