Nanchatte Seifuku Buyer's Guide
Translating Japanese web sites
You can use the Translate Web Pages add-on for Firefox. It can be set to automatically translate as you click onto pages in Japanese. But you can also right click and revert to the original if you need to.
When shopping online for uniforms you will find sizing both in centimeters (shoes and skirts) and in numeric sizes similar to the US. A women's size 4/small in America is size 9 in Japan.
To find your waist size, include the letter W followed by your size in centimeters, for example: "W68"
Most sellers list the maximum waist size that a skirt can accomodate. If your waist is slightly smaller than the maximum size, check that the skirt has a waist adjuster.
Sometimes a seller will provide two measurements: the size listed on the tag as well as a measurement that they took themselves. In this case "実寸" means "actual/real size" and is typically taken while the item is lying flat. "サイズ表記" means "size on label".
Authentic uniform skirts are usually some blend of polyester and wool, and come in different weights for summer and winter.
Blouses are usually a cotton-poly blend. The polyester fibers help the blouse keep its shape and reduce the need for ironing. This is especially important for the appearance of the collar, as pure cotton collars tend to become crumpled and limp without starching. However, because polyester is uncomfortable in hot weather, it is a good idea to reserve a few 100% cotton short-sleeved blouses to wear in the summer time.
No matter what season it is, stay away from 100% polyester blouses if you don't want to be sweaty and miserable!
Authentic or cosplay?
Many authentic, school-worn uniform pieces are listed as cosplay by the sellers. An authentic school uniform skirt will often have a name tag sewn inside. Other items can be judged as authentic by the brand.