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Japan has always been a source of style inspiration, with many fashion aesthetics emerging from Tokyo. The Lolita aesthetic, for instance, represents themes like cuteness, sweetness, elegance, and modesty. The popular look originated from the fashionable Harajuku district in the early 1980s, but its potential precursor is likely Kawaii fashion. The term, which is Japanese for “cute,” stems from a subculture that developed in Japan in the 1970s. It captures a form of self-expression that became widely adopted by young people in the country.
Kawaii clothes usually feature bold colors, eye-catching motifs, and intricate accents. This could include babydoll dresses, bow-embellished sweaters, or bouffant skirts (like those seen on many spring 2023 catwalks). Similar to the kidcore aesthetic, it can be a little playful and lighthearted (picture a seashell-shaped clutch or cat-ear hoodie) or slightly sporty (think a tennis skirt or striped sweater vest). The aesthetic gives an outlet to those who aren’t afraid to take sartorial risks.
A fun way to tap into Kawaii fashion is to dress up as a character. Take inspiration from Megan Thee Stallion, who recently wore a Sailor Moon-inspired corset top and skirt while touring in Japan. Some other popular costume ideas include Sakura Kinomoto or Hatsune Miku. Whether you’re curious about Harajuku fashion styles or want to experiment with elements of the Kawaii aesthetic, read on to learn how to achieve the look.
What Is the Kawaii Aesthetic?
Taken from Japanese consumer culture, the Kawaii aesthetic consists of playful, pretty-to-look-at pieces infused with a childlike sensibility. Kawaii clothes range from strawberry-print sweater vests to gingham skirts in shades of lavender, pink, and blue. However, there is also the Dark Kawaii aesthetic (also known as Yami Kawaii), which embraces navy, black, and darker colors, as the name suggests.
What Does It Mean to Be Called Kawaii?
If you have an eye for all things cute — like designs in vibrant colors, loud prints, and sweet shapes — then your wardrobe choices may be called Kawaii or Kawaii influenced. To learn how your wardrobe can channel even more Kawaii themes, keep reading for clothes and accessories that incorporate hallmarks of the aesthetic in practical ways.