Ok, first I will tell you what I wish I had done. Then I will go through pieces of clothing individually and tell you what you need and what you don’t. I'll also leave the comments open so if you have any questions ask away!
In Japan, they have these beautiful shops called recycle shops. I love them. Most sisters do. They are full of cheap clothing (if you find the right one) and it is still in excellent condition. I would get skirts for the equivalent of a dollar here. Now that isn’t every shop but you can still find pretty good deals at an average one. The other great thing about Japanese clothes is that everything is modest. Well, not everything. But I had no problem finding modest skirts and shirts and dresses even. There were three other stores I absolutely loved too; Honeys, GU and UNQLO. Honeys has a skirt that just about every sister missionary ends up with by the end of her mission. A-line, beautiful colors, twirls really nicely and depending on your height hits between mid-shin and just above the ankle. GU and UNQLO have the best shirts. I love their button downs. But, they have great sales. You can get shirts and skirts for around $5.00 American
What I wish I had done was bought clothes for DI and salvation army here for the MTC, and brought some cute things from home too, then at the end of the MTC sent home the cute clothes and brought the DI clothes I wasn’t attached to to japan. That way, you have cute clothes for picture days in the MTC and then you are completely unattached to the other clothes and can just get rid of those clothes as you buy clothes in Japan that are actually cute and modest and much cheaper than anything modest in America.
So, my suggestion is go out and buy cheap clothes from second hand shops for the mission field, and bring a few cute things too for the MTC and if you want the field too or just send them home. Then, when you get into the field go shopping! BUT, do not buy everything all at once. Make it a mission long process, otherwise you will end up with things you don’t really like and won’t have money for things you love later on.
OK, time for individual pieces..
-You only need one blazer. It is too hot for blazers most of the year. I found mine at target. They lasted my entire mission and were more of a boyfriend cut so they were comfortable too.
-G’s. I had them for summer and every other season. You want cotton or dry-lux in the summer. It is just too hot for anything else. You WILL get heat rashes. And those hurt! I had thermal bottoms too for the winter. Wore them every day. They were the best. The tops are cut a little high so It makes them hard to wear.
-Don’t bother with thermal underwear. Get thermal G’s and fleece lined tights. Fleece lined tights will be your best friend during the winter. You can get them in Japan, but if you are tall they won’t. They don’t stretch like normal tights.
-Do not bring lots and lots of shoes. It takes up space and it’s a waste of money. You will walk right through your cheap shoes. My wing-tips (oxfords) from clarks lasted my entire mission. And so did the black flats I got from lands end. BUT, they both had more of a pointed toe and so I began to develop bunions. Buy shoes with a wider toe/ rounder toe. Round toed shoes aren’t as cute but they are a lot better than bunions and misshapen feet. My feet do not look the same as they did when I left on my mission. My parents had to send me shoes half way through. They got clarks which lasted till the end and then were given to my last companion because they still had a lot of life left in them. Loafers are nice too- As long as the toes aren’t pointed. Slip on shoes are the easiest. In Japan we take our shoes off at the door.
-Winter boots. You want a pair of nice winter boots. I got timberland riding boots. They lasted through two winters of walking and the tread didn’t even begin to look worn. Those were power house boots. My shoe purchases can be seen here.
-Rain boots. Get rain boots! You can find them in Japan pretty easily unless you are a size 8 or bigger. Then it gets a little harder. I had Hunter packable tours. They cracked less than half way through my mission. But, I would buy them again. They were the most comfortable rain boots I had my entire mission. I went through three pairs.
-Bring lots and lots of peds! But try and get the ones that feel more like tights than socks. I’m convinced part of the reason my feet look so terrible is from restricting socks. You can find them at target I think. I got all of mine from old navy. They were too restrictive. And, as you wash them they get progressively smaller and more disfigured.
-Boot socks. I brought way to many pairs. You only need one or two. If you wear them over tights (which you will because it is so cold) they shouldn’t get smelly.
-Tights. Tights are your best friend. I love tights! I brought lots of colored tights too. Make sure you bring muted colors. Aqua blue or neon orange are not appropriate. I brought dark red, dark green, a muted mustard, navy and gray. I also had a few patterned ones. Don’t bring fish net styles though-that’s trashy and not professional. I also really like stockings. If you are tall, bring your own. You won’t find them in Japan.
*I really loved honeys black tights with a higher denier. I wore them all the time. They were the best and soooo comfy. I got a size LL.
-Exercise clothes. I brought enough tops to work out every day. Guess what girls, chances are you will not go out every day. I only had a few companions who wanted to do that. I would only bring two or three exercise tops plus one t-shirt. And then pring a pair of yoga pants and capris. I got mine at Wal-Mart I think they were Danskin. They are great. I’m actually wearing my capris right now!
-If you want to buy jeans go get a pair at a second hand shop. I didn’t wear my jeans once in the field. But I loved them, so I had to carry them around the entire time. Everyone wears jeans on p-day in the MTC though. It was a special treat.
-RAIN SUIT!!! You absolutely want one of these. And do not go cheap. You will regret it every day of your life during the rainy season. I got mine at L.L. Bean. It was a little on the pricey side but it lasted and stayed waterproof. I had a few companions who had water-resistant suits (that is NOT the same as water-proof) and one who’s suit decided it didn’t want to protect her from the rain by the end of her mission. Each piece at L.L. Bean is around $70 but they are guaranteed. Waterproof pants are also great in the snow. I used my pants almost all year round. DO NOT GO CHEAP ON YOUR RAIN GEAR.
-Bring a winter coat. I had one that had two layers. You could zip them together and wear them as one warm winter jacket or zip them apart and use the inside layer as a spring jacket. It wasn’t the prettiest thing but it worked great. I gave it to another missionary when I left, it was still going strong.
-Bring winter scarves; Big, warm, thick ones. And gloves. Make sure they are water-proof. And if you are prone to losing gloves you should probably bring an extra pair. And don’t forget hats, or head bands. Those are a must. Head bands work well with helmets and hats are great for streeting.
-You want sweaters. Sweaters are the greatest in the winter and the summer. Bring a few. And then get some more in Japan. They have cute sweaters. I loved sweaters for layering in the winter. And in the summer, I would bring one with me to appointments and put it on when we got to someone’s house so no one could see my sweaty pits.
-You don’t need two pairs of pajamas. One set is fine. Sweat pants and a t-shirt are fine too. Or you can use the workout clothes that probably won’t get used for anything else.
-BIKER SHORTS. These are a must. I never wore them and there were some days I wish I had brought them. It makes riding a bicycle sooo much easier. Make sure they go above your knee. Way above your knee. You look pretty goofy when you can see your shorts hanging down past your skirt.
-Bring shower sandals for the MTC and then ditch them. You won’t use them in the field.
-don’t bother stocking up on hair ties and such. You can find them pretty easily in Japan. BUT, if you have blonde hair or use blonde bobbypins, bring lots. Those are REALLY hard to find.
-Bring accessories. Belts, scarves and necklaces. But don’t go overboard. Just bring a few of each. I brought way to many scarves and could only wear them for a small season. The rest of the year was just too hot. You can wear them at the end of fall and for a few weeks at the beginning of winter. Then, once winter gets going you want nothing but big, thick, warm scarves. During spring and summer it is just too hot for scarves. You can also find really cute accessories here. I loved the necklaces here. Also, if you go to Forever21 in Japan their accessories get market down to a dollar or two. Great deal!
-Polar fleece jacket or sweatshirt. You’ll want this in the apartment at night and during the winter. It is cold!
-Make sure you have a WATCH!
-layers/ shade tops are a must. You can also buy these really nice tank tops at GU and UNIQLO that work great during the summer. They are designed to let heat out. And during the winter they have a line called Heat Tech. It keeps you warm. Both are pretty great. And they come in basics. Shirts, tanks, turtle necks…
-During the summer you will want loose fitting tops. They are more breathable, and you are less likely to get pit stains. Linen is also really great during the summer. Summers are hot, hot, hot. It is really humid.
-The rest of the year you can wear just about anything. I brought basic long sleeves that could be layered with a sweater and scarf and that was my winter wardrobe. I also loved layering with button downs. You can get the cutest button downs in Japan.
-Dresses. Dresses are wonderful in the summer. This dress was great. Lasted my entire mission and was passed onto another companion. Japan recycle shops are also full of vintage dresses. They have $7.00 dress shops that sister missionaries love. We all had vintage dresses.
-Skirts. I love pencil skirts BUT they do not work on bicycles. Nope. Even if you can do it it end up ruining them. Structured pencil skirts start tearing at the split and jersey pencil skirts will develop this odd bulge where the fabric gets stretched over the bicycle seat. But, I would bring at least one for Sundays and special occasions when you want to loot nice. A-line skirts are the easiest. A more narrow a-line skirt is best for bicycles. They don’t require being clipped up. Bicycles are dangerous! They eat skirts. Missions are NOT the place for maxi skirt. Don’t bring them, don’t wear them, don’t be that sister missionary. Skirts are really easy to find in Japan.