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Style on the Street: Closet Case

League of her own

Yuka Okajima, 35, on Fenway flash, pajama day, and how her husband, Hideki, shops.

By Christopher Muther
March 27, 2011

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You’ve been in Boston for five years now, what are the big differences you see between Tokyo and Boston style?

The biggest difference is that in Boston, people respect others’ choices. In Japan, it’s more like “I have to wear that” or “This look is not good for that age.” When my kids are having pajama days at school, some kids don’t wear pajamas and it’s OK. That’s the way here. But in Japan, if it’s pajama day, you have to wear pajamas. There’s more originality here, and you don’t have to worry about what people will think about what you’re wearing. It’s funny, once you get off the plane at the airport in Japan, you see all the girls wearing the same clothes. Same hairstyle.

When you go back, do you suddenly feel like you’re wearing the wrong clothes?

Yes, I really do. Especially short skirts. Here, even when you’re in your 50s and 60s, you can wear a short skirt or a short dress, and nobody would say anything. If you look good, you’ll get compliments. But back in Japan, I don’t think I would do that. The colors, the design of the textile, you really have a lot more difference here. There’s a lot more freedom.

Are there particular Japanese stores that you miss?

What I miss from Japan are all the little details and accessories. Here, the color of clothes is very vivid, and if there is a design on it, it’s big flowers or big lines. But the Japanese way is very tiny details on things. Especially for earrings, necklaces, and hair accessories. I just miss it so much. It’s so detailed. There’s little color and a very fragile look. That’s the thing I really miss. Every year when I go back to Japan, I always get those kinds of things. I always get all those little earrings back in Japan, but I never wear them here. Nobody would see them.

Are you a label follower? Do you have designers that you always wear?

No, not really. I prefer department stores. I like to go to the mall and walk around. I don’t just stop at one particular store. If I see something I like, I just pick it. I’ll wear a very expensive sweater with a very cheap skirt. If that looks OK, I don’t really care. I’ll just wear it that way. It’s funny, my husband doesn’t have confidence in his taste. He’s been saying that once he finds a store he likes, he just asks the person at the store to coordinate everything, from the shirts to the necktie to the jacket. As long as he remembers that combination, he can wear those clothes. Once he forgets, that’s it; he can never wear any of them. Even now, every morning, he’ll ask, “Does this shirt go with this pant?” “Are these shoes OK with these pants?”

What advice would you give a new Red Sox wife, especially one from Japan?

Take advantage of wearing jeans. In Japan, jeans are really for casual time only. Here, you can wear them more. You can wear them to pretty much anything. Even my husband wears jeans now. He’ll ask whether he should wear something other than jeans if he’s in Japan, and I say, “Yes, no jeans.” But here, if you’re going to a meeting, you could still wear jeans.

Is there any competition among baseball wives when it comes to dressing up?

It would depend on what team you’re on; some teams might be more competitive. With the Red Sox, nobody’s like that. It’s more fun to put on something I like and then go to Fenway. I see other wives, and we can talk about what we’re wearing and share ideas.

Do you ever wear a baseball hat?

I do have some, but I don’t usually wear them. That’s something that we wear when we make it to the playoffs. All the wives get together, and then we design a T-shirt. One year we did a hat. We put crystals on it to make it a little cuter, and everybody asked where we got them.

Sounds like you have another career on the horizon as a fashion designer.

I’m not that good. I like to see what’s out there, but I’ll leave the creating part to someone else.

(Ion Sokhos)