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How To Dress in Japanese Street Fashion: [Starter Guide]

Tokyo district Harajuku is a leading place for Japanese street fashion.

The area is like an amusement park for young Japanese girls with an abundance of boutiques and shops for every taste.

Harajuku fashion is creative, so it may seem eccentric to the older generations, but incorporating one’s own style is exactly the spirit of street fashion

There are many types of Harajuku fashion including the Victorian Gothic style, the unique Lolita style with emphasis on coquettish beauty and girly cuteness, and the ballerina-inspired style that combines colorful tops with tutu skirts.

However, there are basically no rules for the Harajuku fashion. The point of kawaii style is not about looking cute from the male perspective, but about being true to what you believe is kawaii and putting greater emphasis on what is cute from a girl’s perspective.

Having your own sense of style and not caring about others’ judgment, while wearing bold colors, is what makes it possible for the Harajuku girls to continually evolve their style. 

Japanese street fashion is not your usual fashion but is all about the freedom of expression, and about being able to wear what you want. Now you might be wondering how you can dress in a true Japanese street fashion.

Source: The Best Street Style From Tokyo Fashion Week Spring 2020 | Vogue

The Best Street Style From Tokyo Fashion Week Spring 2020 | Vogue[1]


Before giving you some beginner tips on how to dress in Japanese fashion, you need to remember that it’s all about being yourself and having fun. Harajuku isn't a style per se, but a popular meeting place in Japan for many different street styles.

Also note that with Japanese street fashion, you are not bound by one particular style. It’s all about creating your own style. So if you haven't really found your substyle in the existing ones, don't worry. The fact that you are willing to create your own style makes you a part of street fashion.

In order to dress in Japanese street fashion, you need to start from the basics - the outfit, the crazy shoes, lots and lots of accessories, and of course, colorful hair and dramatic makeup. Keep reading to find out every single detail of your perfect Harajuku-inspired outfit!


How To Dress in Japanese Street Fashion: The Outfit

1. Find Your Style

There are many different substyles of Japanese street fashion to choose from. Here are the most important ones.


  • Lolita

Look into Lolita style if you love Rococo- and Victorian-inspired fashion. The lolita style includes feminine elements such as full skirts, lace corsets, headdresses, petticoats, and knee-length stockings. 


  • Gyaru

Dress in the Gyaru style if you like a California girl look. The style is characterized by platinum hair and deep fake tans as well as face jewels and white highlighter. Gyaru is a mix of Valley Girl style and beachwear, and it can include tank tops, lots of floral prints, and bright colors.


  • Decora

Dress in the Kawaii or Decora styles if you like bright colors. Decora includes lots of plastic accessories and toys, cartoon characters' motifs, vivid colors, and clashing patterns. The Kawaii style is even more playful and childlike.


  • Visual Kei

Choose the Visual Kei style if you like a more punk-rock look. It is an androgynous look, inspired by the goth, glam rock, and punk movements. Some main elements of this style are extreme hairstyles, dark makeup, and black clothing.


  • Create your own street style

Japanese street style is anything that goes against mainstream fashion, which means the possibilities are endless. If you don't really like any particular substyle, make up your own and combine whatever you want. 

Source: H.Naoto, Sex Pot Revenge, Angelic Pretty, To Alice, Teddy Monster, Demonia, Killstar & Swimmer Tote – Tokyo Fashion[3]


 2. Combine trends and styles

Street style often means mixing other trends such as goth, punk, designer clothing, and school uniform.


Japanese fashion also focuses on combining traditional Japanese attire, such as geta sandals and kimonos, and Western clothing. Harajuku is the place where modern and traditional clothes clash. Since Japanese fashionistas love adding a twist to everything, traditional attire is no exception. 


3. Layer clothes.

Layering allows you to mix and match various street styles. For example, try layering Tees and tank tops, vests and shirts, or leggings and skirts. Ruffled dresses are also popular in Harajuku fashion.


In mainstream fashion, it can be hard to mix different colors or patterns in one outfit. But in Japan, the possibilities are endless. Wear a polka dot shirt with striped pants or two different colored socks! You can even wear different colored shoes. 


4. Combine color. 

Try dressing in all neon, mixing clashing colors, or wearing all shades of the same color. You can also always choose to wear all black. For example, you could wear a Decora-style mix of clashing bright colors by mixing neon items and colorful patterns.


For a monochromatic Lolita look, you can wear a ruffled dress, with a cardigan and stockings, all in shades of one pastel color. 

Source: pinksugarrr[2]


How To Dress in Japanese Street Fashion: The Shoes

Don't forget to add eye-catching shoes to your outfit. Harajuku-style shoes can range from heels and platforms to sneakers.

Wear shoes according to your chosen substyle - casual sneakers with a high platform, feminine Mary Janes with bows, or edgy goth black boots.

Your shoes can come from the store or you can customize them to your heart’s desire. You can buy different kinds of patches and trinkets and decorate your shoes to match your outfit of the day.


How To Dress in Japanese Street Fashion: The Accessories

When it comes to accessories, go all out! Choose colorful and loud accessories, as you want to stand out in a crowd.

Try to find unique bright pieces such as a neon necklace, or a furry purse with a cartoon character. Wear a big neon hat, multiple plastic necklaces, and beaded bracelets, a colorful ribbon on your pigtails, and many dramatic hair clips. 

Your accessories don't have to match your clothes, and it is even encouraged that they don't in the Harajuku fashion.


Related Questions


How to style your hair?

Buy some colorful wigs if you don’t want to damage the quality of your hair. You can do a lot more with wigs than with your real hair, so Harajuku fashion followers usually have a big collection of different kinds of wigs of various lengths and colors.

You might find this a bit odd but it is a trend in Harajuku fashion to fill your hair with different decorated hair clips. 

You want to be creative with your hairstyle. To get the look you want, you could also spray-dye your hair or add hair extensions. Do your hair in an unusual style, such as a pair of high side buns or a spiky cut. For an even cuter look, make some cute pigtails with full bangs and hair accessories.


How to do your makeup?

Other than your shoes and clothes, one of the factors that complete the whole look is your face makeup. Just like all the other factors in Harajuku fashion, there are no specific rules of what you should do with your make-up. There is one so-called rule, though: you should make it dramatic. 

Theatrical and overly caked-on make-up is common in Japanese street fashion. In mainstream fashion, you might look odd if your eyeshadow or blush is excessively done, but not in the world of Japanese fashion. 

Whether dark or kawaii, your makeup has to be as eye-catching as your whole outfit. Your makeup may be different depending on your favorite substyle, but generally, remember to avoid natural makeup and go for a dramatic look.

Cutesy substyles like Decora and Kawaii usually favor round eyes, pink cheeks, and pink lips.

Edgier substyles like Gothic Lolita or Visual Kei usually go for dramatic eyeshadow, dark lipsticks, and extremely thick lashes.

In the mainstream fashion world of celebrities and Instagram, you might feel a little pressured to fit in. If you did join in the global trend and have only been doing it to feel accepted, you may be repressing your real self and your real fashion sense.

That is why people love Harajuku fashion. They are fascinated that in the world of celebrities and mainstream media, there exists a culture and place where everyone is free to wear what they want and to be unique.

Article| 18/05/2021 | Fashion


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