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She Stole My Style in Japan

What to Pack for Japan & Korea

For the last month I have been very deliberate in planning what I am going to pack for Japan and Korea with the intention of being practical yet style conscious. When Ali and I went on our honeymoon exactly two years ago (we arrive in Tokyo on our second wedding anniversary) to Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan we brought a lot of things that we didn’t wear. I wore the same pair of orange Banana Republic shorts, slip-on Crocs (not fashionable at all but extremely comfortable) and two alternating white light cotton tops everyday. Ali had to buy more t-shirts while we were away because he didn’t pack enough. We were comfortable but not really stylish. And I like to stylish-ish when I travel abroad but it can be really hard. Especially when the climate is different than what you are used to at home. 

Sarah and Ali in Hong Kong

On a glass-bottomed gondola to visit a Buddhist temple in Hong Kong.

Sarah and Ali in Hong Kong

Hydrating in Taipei, Taiwan.


We will be travelling a lot, in hot/humid/rainy weather and from what I have read, lighter is better on Japanese trains and public transportation. My goal is to fit everything I need in to my carry-on suitcase. If successful, this will be the longest trip I’ve done with a carry-on. That being said, we are taking a larger suitcase with us for things like presents for people we will be seeing and any purchases we make. I am highly doubtful that we will bring anything big back with us though. Why? Because the only things I came back with from Hong Kong/Macau/Taiwan was a keychain and a piece of fabric. Not exciting at all. I am however thinking and dreaming about all the amazing Japanese and Korean beauty products I am going to be tempted by. If that extra suitcase gets used for anything, it will be for sheet masks, cleansers and makeup. 

So what am I packing in my carry-on? A mix of old favourites and new finds purposefully picked for this trip that I know I will wear now and in to the future. Here are the new purchases that are coming along:

Last year I missed out on the first version of Lululemon’s Rain for Daze Jacket. Not so this year because I have already snapped it up! It comes in black, red and a pattern that I kind find of appealing but would never actually buy. It’s light, comfortable and practically stylish. I have already worn it several times. 

I spotted this loafer last summer when we were in San Fransisco before going to Iran. I looked at them with dreamy eyes but put them down when I saw the price tag and added on the exchange rate to Canadian dollars. I didn’t follow-up after arriving home so you can image my incredible delight to find them on super clearance at the ECCO store at Deerfoot Meadows in Calgary! They had them in white, the above blue-purple and red. The white were nice but totally impractical. I may have come home with the red and blue-purple ones… Both pairs were less than the cost of one regular priced pair. 

Armani Exchange Seersucker Midi Skirt

Armani Exchange Seersucker Midi Skirt (sold out but you can shop the identical skirt in solid colours here)

I bought this skirt last night at the Armani Exchange at Chinook Mall. I had never gone in to the store because I find it slightly intimidating. When I walked in last night I felt like I was in a European dance club with the many, many TV screens, super reflective surfaces, low pulsing music and slightly unflattering light in the dressing rooms. That didn’t stop me from spotting this seersucker midi skirt with pockets! I think that it will be perfect for sightseeing even on super hot days with a t-shirt. I have Rachel of CleverNettle to thank for a chat on Japanese fashion which is what led me to buying this skirt. She takes amazing photos and adores Japan and is a lovely writer so make sure to check out her blog!

This dress was an impulse purchase this week at Gap. I had gone to return some online purchases and spotted this dress in black on a mannequin with a brown belt wrapped around the waist. The fabric is very soft, will totally stretch out and has a slightly dipped back which will be great for the hot climate. I am also taking a brown belt that came with a Michael Kors dress that I bought earlier in the summer. The belt immediately elevates the dress. PS: This dress is 40% off right now if you receive emails from Gap!

Banana Republic Roll-Sleeve Crew Tee

Banana Republic Roll-Sleeve Crew Tee (sold out in Canada in black and green but still available in a few other colours here)

T-shirts are tricky for me. It’s so hard to find nice t-shirts. You know what I mean, right? I wear t-shirts to bed and the gym but rarely out because I don’t want to look messy. This t-shirt finds the right balance between comfort and style. Unfortunately for me, a lot of other women had the same thought because there were hardly any left in the store… I ordered the black and a green in medium from online (where they were also cheaper than in store) and they have already been put in my carry-on.

Anne Cole This Buds For You Bandeau Swimsuit

Anne Cole This Buds For You Bandeau Swimsuit (I bought mine at The Bay where is now sold out but you can find it here)  

Did I need another bathing suit? No. Did I own a one-piece? No. Have I heard that Japanese hot springs don’t like tattoos? Yes. I have a small tattoo that could be covered with tape but do I really want to do that? Not really. When I saw this bathing suit for 60% off at The Bay I decided to go for it. I love the contrasting prints and the fit was perfect. If we go anywhere else hot this year or next, I will totally be bringing this with me because I really, really love it.

What to Pack for Japan and Korea

Boring things like underwear, bras (one strapless and one not) & socks

Jeans X 2 (One blue and one black)

Shorts x 1

Shirts x 8

Dresses x 3 (The one I showed you above and two old ones)

Skirts x 1

Jacket x 1 (It’s the Lululemon shown above)

Sweater x 1

Bathing suit x 1

Runners x 1

Loafers x 1

Sandals x 1 (my trusty Havaianas)

Bags x 3 (I can’t help myself! One Longchamp Le Pliage, one leather cross-body & a black Michael Kors shoulder bag)

Belt x 1

Glasses,contacts & solution

Sunglasses x1 (Ray Bans Clubmaster)

Scarf x 1

Earrings x 6 & Necklaces x 2 (All simple and very small – I keep them in a very tiny metal tea container)

Camera & battery/charger

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones & regular simple headphones

Pillow/Blanket thing for the plane (The blankets airlines give out now are so thin)

Lonely Planet Japan & Korea

Japanese SIM card, pre-loaded Tokyo subway cards and train tickets

Phone charger

Passport and Nexus (Nexus is amazing. It’s a must-have)

Makeup Bag with travel sized brushes & minimal makeup (This is going to be a future post!)

Small bottle of purple shampoo (To keep my blonde hair blonde)

Tums etc (The older I get, the more sensitive stomach I have)

Bag x 1 for dirty laundry

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