Picking up the last winter bargains

by Andrew W on March 27 2011 · 4 comments

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Looking round some of Tokyo’s shops last weekend I was surprised to find that there are still quite a few winter bargains to be had. It’s a great time for the savvy shopper to pick up items for next winter, but there’s no point buying them if they’re going to be hopelessly out of style. Here’s my (entirely subjective) guide to what you should – and shouldn’t – pick up in the last-gasp winter sales.

Cashmere ties

I’ll not have a bad word said against cashmere ties. They’re wonderfully soft and add extra texture to any plain-looking outfit. They are more delicate than silk ties, but unless you plan on using them for some hastily prepared bondage sessions you won’t have any trouble keeping them in top condition (storage tip: always roll, never hang).

Norwegian-patterned jumpers and cardigans

This might be a more Japan-specific thing, but I saw an unbelievable amount of Norwegian-patterned clothing this winter. It quickly developed from a quirky, little-seen item to a full-blown Scandinavian invasion. For two months Tokyo resembled a ski-chalet fondue party circa 1976, only without wife-swapping and Nordic sauciness.

Thankfully, this particular trend seems to have died a death. Help kick its bloody corpse into the river of history by leaving Norwegian-patterned cardies on retailers’ shelves.

Heavy-duty work boots

Who would’ve thought that the kind of workwear normally reserved for flannel-shirted, outdoorsy bearded types would become the preserve of pigeon-chested fashion obsessives? Red Wing, Danner and Chippewa probably didn’t – they must be as happy as pigs in poo at the moment.

I’ve got nothing against work boots: they can be a godsend on slushy winter days. They don’t go well with suits, obviously, but look a damn sight better than galoshes. Just keep a pair of work shoes at work and you’ll be set. An even better idea, however, is to buy a pair of Chelsea boots with Dainite soles.

For weekend wear I think they’re pretty much timeless provided you don’t go for over-the-top, uber-backwoodsman models, and I wouldn’t recommend tucking your jeans or trousers into them unless you plan on doing some lumberjack-inspired pole climbing. The best thing about them is that they’re as tough as… err… old boots?

Gilets (aka down vests)

Down vests haven’t been this popular since Michael J. Fox did his walking-backwards-and-confused routine in Back to the Future. They’re usefulness in a casual setting is not in question: they’re good for keeping warm while gardening, doing work about the shop/warehouse or random tinkering in the garage. However, the trend of wearing them over suits and sports jackets is another kettle of fish. It might not be at the event horizon just yet, but soon will be, so if you’re thinking about buying one for this purpose then you won’t get much wear out of it.

Tweed jackets

Another piece of workwear that’s been appropriated by fashionistas, the tweed jacket is likely to not be as popular as it was this winter, as more technical fabrics (think Gore-Tex and space-age polyestery stuff) get a look in. However, it remains a good long-term investment, if only for cycling about London in drizzle during the Tweed Run. Who doesn’t love the smell of wet sheep on a Saturday morning, I ask you?


Ryan March 28, 2011 at 8:47 pm

Reader in Osaka here. Where did you pick up a cashmere tie for sale?

By the way you seem to be much better at finding sales than I do. Maybe it’s more of a thing in Tokyo, or maybe I don’t go looking inside for sales racks enough (which often enough don’t exist)

AW March 28, 2011 at 9:48 pm

Hi Ryan,

I’ve picked up cashmere ties from Beams and United Arrows stores in the Marunouchi area of Tokyo. They were about 50% off. I’ve also picked up one or two online at Zozotown. Now is probably a bit too late for sales, though (I wrote that post a while ago!).

Ryan March 28, 2011 at 9:55 pm

That’s great! I should keep a sharper eye out the next sale season (June, I think?).

By the way, I like it when you write about Japan in your blog. Maybe it’s not so “useful” for every reader but it’s interesting!

AW April 1, 2011 at 8:22 am

I think June is about right. Only a couple of months to go!

I’d like to write more about Japan on here. Places to go, things to see, etc, but I’m quite simply too lazy for that kind of thing at the moment. Need to get myself sorted out!


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