6 kinds of Japanese styles

Japanese style carries a huge range of clothing choices and make-up inspiration. It is often colourful, bold and theatrical, and can be adapted to suit anyone’s character. Although many styles originated in youth movements, some as early as the 1950s, more recent evolutions of these styles are worn by women and men of any age, and can be adapted to more recent trends.

Keep it fun:

Sometimes Japanese street clothing styles can seem a little extreme to a western audience. The make-up trends appear dramatic and difficult to wear in daily life. However, these styles can be used as inspiration of a more subtle look. Focus on one of two flamboyant accessories and finish off your outfit with a stagey flourish of colour. Ensure make-up is comfortable and easy to wear by prioritising simple points of drama – perhaps the eyes or lips. Lastly, have fun! Japanese fashions all have one thing in common. They express the identity of the wearer. Japanese clothing is more than a style choice, but instead, it is a lifestyle. So whether you are looking for a classic Lolita look, or a more rockabilly Bosozoku inspired style, get creative! Want to give some Japan fashion trends a try? Here are six to start experimenting with right now.

Sweet Lolita

Although the term Lolita has uneasy connotations in the west – and European beauty culture, referring to the complex novel by Vladimir Nabokov, in Japanese fashion culture, it simply refers to a particular street style. Emerging in the 1990, this particular way of dressing and doing make-up is heavily inspired by the Hello Kitty craze for ‘cute’. Typified by frilly skirts, lace and ruffling-ribbons, it draws also on Victoriana-style children’s clothing and Rococo. The wearer generally accessorises the outfit with bows, hairbands, long gloves and dramatic (if demure) make-up. It is tricky to pin down the myriad ‘Lolita’ styles, but here is a taster:

Classic Lolita:

Innocent World is a design house situated in Osaka. The founder describes the house-style as somewhere between ‘sweet Lolita’ (an early little-girl inspired form of the Lolita look) and ‘classic Lolita’ (a more pared down and simple Lolita look). Expressing an identity that many will recognise, this style of dress is a counter-culture move eschewing adult ideals and harking back to a time of purity and innocence.

Gothic or Punch Lolita:

In Japanese style, the classic cupcake silhouette of the Lolita look is not lost in the gothic and punk subcategories. Characterised by a darker and more monochrome colour palate, and in some ways more bold, the punk and gothic styles are influenced by the western punch music scene, as well as clothing brands like ‘Alice and the Pirates’. Relying heavily on stripes, bold shapes and theatrical styles, it also takes influence from the ‘Visual Kei’ style of popular Japanese rock bands.

Bosozoku Style:

Bosozoku gangs were typically motorcycle gangs made up of youths, originating in 1950s Japan. Gang membership is not a necessity though, if you want to replicate the style in your own wardrobe. It is characterised by a rocker-billy chic combined with some 1950s soldier-style accessories. Baggy trousers and long trench-style overcoats are common, sporadically worn with a sash tied around the torso. Sunglasses and leather coats are also common across all genders, with women sporting dramatic make-up. Think heavily lined eyes, dyed hair and the occasional surgical mask. If you are looking for a less extreme look though, find yourself a leather jacket, loose trousers and customise them with army-style paraphernalia. Finish off with dark and dramatic eyeliner and bold lipstick.


This category is generally populated by fashion-sensitive school-age teens, and carries with it an entire subculture complete with slang. Immaculately presented, the teens prioritise dyed hair and a healthy tan. If you are emulating this look, try pairing a simple skirt with baggy socks and minimal make-up.


If you are looking for something a little more colourful, then maybe Decora is for you. This Japanese style is noted for its use of bold and colourful printed materials and a focus on cartoon-inspired accessories. Recently it has evolved into sections of the Visual Kei style, and has increased in theatricality. Often combining an array of rainbow colours with clashing patterns, it can be time-consuming to replicate. But if you want a more pared-down version, look out for playful high-heeled shoes, and wear them with heavily patterned tights. Invest in a mischievous hat, and modify it with some popular cartoon-character references.

If you are looking for some wardrobe inspiration then look no further than fashion in Japan. The variety and choice allows you to be creative with your clothing, so take a look


Image by Free-Photos via Pixabay

Image by N-Y-C via Pixabay


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