Once You Go Cool Biz, You Can’t Go Back

Last summer, shortly before the debut of this blog, I headed back to the States to spend some time with some old college chums who live near our alma mater. In the North East, it’s hot – confoundedly hot and humid, similar to those sultry summers we have here. The solution back in the States is to crank the air conditioning as high as the dial will allow and toss back a shot of some potable on the rocks (well, this might not be true unilaterally in the States, but it was a good stand-by in college). This was very much our solution during one muggy day as we met up at an old haunt of ours with fine air conditioning and a well-stocked wine cellar, but I also had a new trick to counter the summer heat that seemed to perplex my friends: Cool Biz.

They, in their ties and tightly-buttoned shirts with ever-increasingly obvious perspiration stains, were surprised when I rolled up in a nicely cut dress shirt, collar unbuttoned and neck bereft of the shackles of a tie. There was some doubt in their eyes as to whether or not old Sergio, once the bulwark of keen fashion, had forgotten what “business dress” meant – but as a few approving glances from the more attractive ladies in the bar validated my proposal that I had learned to dress ever better during my time in Japan.

It goes unsaid that Japan’s summers are brutal, and I say this even having spent some time in the humid continental of the States. My first summer here was pre-Cool Biz, and I cannot recall a time where my collared shirts and ties felt more like strait jackets. Add to this a business jacket and I might have very well been able to broil some bruschetta underneath all my layers. How Japan survived without Koizumi to liberate us from the necktie and introduce Cool Biz, I’ll never know. The only complainer to the concept was the necktie industry, and even they seem to be “warming” up to the idea by designing new fashions to keep both us cool and the air conditioner turned down low.

Of course, this summer with the recent loss of the Fukushima power plant, has been the era of “Super Cool Biz.” I must admit, I’m quite a fan of this trend. It never made much sense to me to wear clothing that proved stifling and, consequently, sweaty and disgusting – and prior to Jun-chan, business dress in Japan was like taking a parka to a sauna. Cool Biz and its most recent incarnation, Super Cool Biz, does an excellent job of keeping those of us who need dress well cool as well as dapper. Now if only the rest of the world would catch on.

– Sergio

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~ by Japan Blog Review on August 22, 2011.

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