HR Strange But True!
August 03, 2011

As a result of the earthquake and tsunami and to save electricity because of the closed nuclear generating plants, Japanese companies have loosened up on dress codes. And the results are downright quirky, especially in this conservative workplace culture.

With thermostats set higher and lighting lowered to save 20 percent of electricity, Tokyo employers have shelved dress codes to adopt “no suits, no ties” policies for the summer. Unfortunately, these good intentions have created some bad fads—“aloha shirts” and “cool” inventions.

Yes, those colorful and flower-laden shirts are now all the rage, some say, because they perk up people’s spirits as they sit in their hot, darkened offices. NPR says it’s a venerable “sartorial revolution,” with the most elite stores on the Ginza selling the Hawaiian-inspired apparel. And this “button-down culture” is even allowing the previously unthinkable—polo shirts!

Another fad inspired by the “setsuden,” or energy-saving, is the development of “cool biz” clothing. The Wall Street Journal reports that “cool-off scarves,” containing chemicals like xylitol that keep workers cool for up to 3 hours, have replaced neckties. And animal prints and flamboyant colors are top sellers.

More surprising is that the chemically treated material is also being made into socks—and women’s leggings!

The Japanese have set a line over which they will not cross—no flip-flops at work. Of course, HRSBT readers have consistently named flip-flops one of the biggest warm weather workplace fashion faux pas.



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