Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Dressing the part



Again, ‘Manner Secrets” has exhaustive advice about what to wear. Of course you should be your wonderful self, and you should be able to flaunt that Wookie-like beard or your retro tattoo art or green nail polish, but to paraphrase that chick in The Hunger Games: in this situation, “I just can’t afford to think like that.” Wait till after the wedding and go crazy.

For men (and again this is not my personal opinion, but that of a million Japanese mothers-in-law):
Neat hair, not too long, not too spiky. Shave; if you must have a beard, keep it neat, or shave it off and consider growing it back later when they’ve already accepted you and it’s ‘too late’ to disapprove. Wear a suit (doesn’t have to be dark), shirt and necktie – and iron that shirt! Shoes should be shiny and as you will take them off, socks must be clean, no holes and matching!

They think they want to meet this guy...

Not this guy


Of course, these are the rules for young Japanese men – it’s like preparing for a job interview. And if your family-in-law to be is very conservative, you may prefer to follow this advice. However, you are not Japanese and won’t be expected to follow ‘the rules’, so I would say dress neat – smart casual – maybe chinos or neat jeans, shirt, sweater…a bit preppy goes over well. Cover any tattoos at least for the first meeting. But do wear nice socks. They will be noticed!



For women:
“Manner secrets” says a young woman should look a bit demure and reliable for the first meeting. A suit or dress in a lighter colour or a top and smart pants are best. They counsel against tight skirts, and I would agree – you will probably have to sit on the floor, so a tight pencil skirt is not the best. Hair and makeup should be simple and demure – leave the Kyary Pamyu Pamyu eyelashes for the next time! 

Yes to simple hair and makeup...
Maybe not for the first meeting.


The book also says no to opaque tights, as sheer beige is generally preferred, and bare legs are a no-no. Finally, even if your shoes won’t be worn in the house, they will be noticed when your future MIL turns them around in the genkan. So make sure they’re clean and not smelly!

I met my future family in the middle of summer, so wearing pantyhose felt a bit yuck, but I did it. A neat T-shirt and a flippy skirt, plus a light cardigan to ward off the chilly aircon did the trick. Of course, the family were all wearing casual pants, T-shirts and socks, but whatever. They appreciated the effort.

Finally, don’t worry too much – the first meeting likely won’t go for too long. I think we stayed for a little over an hour; long enough for a cup of tea and a snack, before my boyfriend said “well, we’d better get going, she’s not used to sitting on the floor”.  We went to have a relaxing lunch alone. I really appreciated that he knew I might feel a bit stressed and he kept the meeting brief.

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