Fashion Conversation Lesson

Japanese Street Fashion


Watch this Youtube video about girls who dress in the Decora style in Tokyo’s Harajuku neighborhood:

Intro Discussion Questions:

  • What do you think motivates these young people to dress this way?
  • Do you like their style?
  • If knew that no one would judge you, would you wear Decora style, even once?

New Words:

Custom-made (or tailor-made) (adj.)- Original, individually designed pieces of clothing fitted to your body measurements.

  • My fashionable co-worker always wears custom-made suits that fit perfectly.

Ready-to-wear (adj.) – Apparel that is mass-produced in factories according to standard sizes as opposed to being custom made.

  • Most people buy ready-to-wear clothes, but they might get something really special made individually, like a wedding dress.

Hand-me-down (n or adj.) – An item of clothing you get for free from a friend or family member.

  • Growing up, I usually wore hand-me-downs from my older sister.  This is a hand-me-down dress I got from her.

Retro (adj.) -clothes inspired from a past era of fashion.

  • I wore neon clothes in the ‘90’s, and now I’m wearing them again because it’s retro.

Vintage (adj.) – well-preserved clothes from a past era of fashion.

  • This wedding dress is vintage; my grandmother wore it in the ‘40s.  

Color Scheme (n) – The arrangement or combination of colors to make an integrated whole.

  • Example: She wore a subdued color scheme: a grey jacket over a white shirt and beige knee-length skirt.

Fashionista (n) – a devoted follower of fashion.

  • She knows who all the top designers are, and always wears the latest trends; she’s definitely a fashionista.

Passé (adj.) – out of style, outdated

  • I can’t believe he’s still wearing suspenders; that’s so passé!

Types of fabrics:

Herringbone (adj., noun)= a pattern used on cloth that consists of rows of parallel lines that slant in opposite directions to form V shapes




Jersey = a machine-made fabric consisting of interlaced loops; typically made of cotton and/or a synthetic blend, it is soft, flexible and casual, most often used to make T-shirts.




print dressPrints (n) = Fabric which has been colored in a particular pattern or design





woven fabricWoven = A fabric made of interlaced horizontal and vertical threads, made on a loom.


Fashion Victimsomeone who always ​wears very ​fashionableclotheseven if the ​clothes sometimes make them ​looksilly

  • Her clothes are in style, but she looks like a shop-window mannequin–what a fashion victim.

Dressed to Kill – to  wear something with an intention to stand out/impress people and be noticed.

  • I spent two hours designing my outfit, and showed up at the party dressed to kill.

Feather in One’s Cap – An achievement you can be proud of or brag about.

  • Another best-seller is a feather in Stephen King’s cap.

Discussion Questions:

  • What first springs to mind when you hear the word “fashion?”
  • Do you like fashion? What do you think of the fashion industry?
  • Are “fashion” and “style” different things?
  • How would you describe your personal style?  How was your style different when you were younger?
  • Where do you like to get your clothes?
  • What are your current favorite items of clothing?
  • When you went to school, did you wear a uniform? What did it look like? Do you think school uniforms help people study?
  • Do you know anyone who is really fashionable? What do they dress like?
  • Do you think gay men dress better than straight men? Does gay men’s fashion influence straight men’s fashion?
  • How does fashion in your home country differ from fashion in the US?
  • What does your mother/father dress like? Would you ever want to dress like that?
  • What does your grandmother/grandfather dress like? Would you ever want to dress like that?
  • What do you think of fashion in other countries? What countries do you think are the most fashionable?
  • What was the best decade or era for fashion?
  • What do you think of tattoos and body piercings?
  • What kinds of women’s clothes are very fashionable right now? What about for men?
  • What kinds of clothes do you think will be fashionable in a few years?
  • How do you think your sense of fashion will change as you get older?
  • Does your style change with your mood?  
  • Do you ever buy second-hand clothes?
  • What are the downsides of fashion?
  • What’s your favorite article of clothing?
  • What are some of the strangest styles you have seen?