Thursday, January 3, 2013

Styles to Seek: Otome-Kei

Otome-kei is one of the next big things. A lot of Lolitas are turning to otome for their fix of frills when the rules of Lolita become too rigid. Some Lolitas are taking otome items and using them for Lolita. Some Lolitas are taking their Lolita items and using them for otome.

So, what the heck is otome?

Otome-kei is a Japanese style that focuses on dressing like a young lady, or otome, for lack of a better term. There really isn’t a clear definition for the style. Outfits are generally cute, elegant, and feminine. You could say that it is a mixture of styles, and that is technically true. You could say that it is inspired by the clothing of the 20th century, and that's often true but not necessarily so. Each outfit can be completely unique to the wearer, and the style is more about the feel you get than from the actual clothes.

That doesn't mean there aren't brands that cater to otome style, of course. The big three are MILK, Emily Temple Cute, and Shirly Temple. But even these aren't necessary; otome is pretty easily found from offbrand sources.

Now, otome can look like a lot of things. Here are just a few examples:

Pixie-late looking adorable and ladylike.

As you can see, they're all girly, but past that there isn't really much in terms of a hard line set of rules. Skirts are usually shortish, knee length or shorter, but that isn't a hard rule. Prints can vary from quirky silverware to bunnies to polka dots to old-fashioned florals. Sleeves or sleeveless work. From a-lines that flow from the shoulders to dropped-waist dresses, there isn't a defined silhouette. The style is just... ladylike.

And that's a large part of the draw. There aren't really rules. There's just a feel of girliness, of youth.

And you know? I can't say it doesn't appeal to me.

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