Thursday, August 15, 2013

Styles to Seek: Dolly Kei

Oh, dolly kei. I love dolly kei. It's creepy and cute and weird and if you haven't heard of it then I'd like to introduce you to it.

Dolly kei (or dolly style/fashion) is a Japanese street fashion inspired by vintage, used clothes to create a design inspired by vintage and antique dolls, vintage and antique clothing, Grimm's fairy tales, the Victorian era, gypsies, romanticism, goth, and very old clothing styles from eastern Europe. The look overall is kind of creepy, cute, and usually fairly striking.

One thing that differentiates dolly kei from many other Japanese styles is the lack of distinct brands. In Japan, the store at the fore-front is obviously Grimore, a store that is the brain-child of Hitomi Nomura, but due to the use of vintage clothing there aren't really BRANDS. Yes, there are certainly brands that fit into the style, especially Grimoire and Grimoire Almadel's house brands (Dolly, Rathiel du Dolly, and Verum), but there isn't the same focus on the brand vision.

Another thing that I find fascinating about dolly kei is that it's not about rules; it's about vibe. It's about the feeling of stumbling out of the dark side of a fairy tale. As such, there are a lot of common elements but no rule that any of these elements have to be present. A few common elements of dolly kei are:
  • paisley
  • tapestry
  • embroidery
  • tights, boots, and platform sandals
  • layering
  • mixing patterns and colors
  • ethnic-looking pieces
  • vintage clothing
  • fur accessories
  • tassels and shawls with fringe
  • florals
  • defined waist
Dolly kei is also a bit difficult to define in words. It's much easier to show you. I'm using street snaps and a lot of pictures from the Grimoire blog and the blogs of the staff.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

You see what I mean? It's folkloric and slightly creepy and fabulous. While I am unlikely to go full-tilt dolly kei anytime soon, I definitely am working on incorporating it into my wardrobe.


  1. I quite adore Dolly Kei. I always thought of it in terms of looking like you clawed your way out of the black forest and the decided you preferred to stay there instead.