Here are five key tips for buying Western-sized clothing in Japan. Make sure you also check out the size converter below for when you’re out shopping in Tokyo!
Tip 1: Always try things on
Unless you have found an XL or an L that you are pretty confident will fit you, try things on. This can be difficult because some small boutiques in Tokyo don’t have dressing rooms. What may look like it will fit can often turn out to be a disaster. I tried on a large T-shirt once and felt like the hulk.
Tip 2: Know your size in cm
This can help with shopping for clothes and especially with shoes. A lot of cheap shoe stores go by S, M, L, and LL. If you have average-sized feet you’re probably an L or LL, but again, only trying them on is definitive. Other shoe stores sort footwear by centimeters which can help you narrow down your selection and find a better fitting shoe. Other clothing items are also sometimes labeled by cm. If you’re unsure about Japanese sizes there are conversion charts online that can help.
Note: If you’re having trouble finding shoes that fit, Shinjuku’s 0101 actually carries sizes above 25cm!
Tip 3: When in doubt, go for brand name or chain stores
They are more likely to have the size charts as well as larger sizes. The tiny shops in the arcade strip malls are great for buying cheap but tend to be “one size fits all” (also known as “one size fits small”). This is especially true for underwear stores. The cheap stores only carry medium panties, which in reality are XS, but the brand name stores have a variety of sizes.
Tip 4: Foreign stores tend to carry Western sizes
Basically, look at H&M, Forever 21, Gap, Old Navy, etc. The Diver City Tokyo Plaza in Odaiba is a great place to stop since it’s got all of these shops in one spot (plus you can stop by the nearby Eggs ‘n Things for an American-style breakfast). You can find sizes for many different regions right on the tag and they tend to be what Western expats think of as normal. The one problem is that since the brands are selling in Asia they tend to have a surplus of S-size products. However, if you need clothes at decent prices, these are the places to go.
Last tip: You can shop at Japanese stores
Uniqlo carries stylish budget-friendly clothing in a wide variety of sizes that fit larger frames comfortably. Plus Uniqlo is everywhere, unlike many of the imported brands. For clothing that’s a bit more high-end, the 0101 department store in East Shinjuku carries a thorough selection of clothing up through plus sizes. Finally, Tutuanna is a great place to shop when you’re looking for lingerie or legwear in larger sizes.
Below is the conversions for Japanese sizes, which may come in handy when shopping! And while you’re out shopping, you may as well check out the Top 10 Japanese Clothing Brands.