Thursday, November 13, 2014

For Love and Justice: Fashion and Magical Girls

Roses, magic, frills, cute talking animal sidekicks, and attacks that will blow you out of the water in a torrent of glitter and explosions. A lot of Lolita fashion aficionados love magical girl shows, and I can see why.

There’s a lot to love about magical girls, and with the DVD of the first redubbed episodes of Sailor Moon recently arrived in my mailbox, it’s time to talk about them!

My First Magical Girl

Most girls who are anime fans have at the very least seen one magical girl show. As for me, I’ve seen several. In fact, my first anime was Sailor Moon (back when it was only on at 5 am in its early syndication). I found Revolutionary Girl Utena when I thought I’d grown out of the genre. Princess Tutu found me when I was in college. Madoka Magica had just enough bite to sink its teeth deep into me. And all these shows have impacted me in some way.

I love that magical girls use femininity as strength, often juxtaposed against other traits. Probably the best example of this for me is in Sailor Moon. Makoto is the most physically strong, but she’s also the girliest one of the inner senshi. I love that she’ll blind you with flower petals and then knock you out of your skin with lightning and thunder. This is a genre where girliness isn’t just separated from weakness; it’s a source of strength.

I also love that magical girls are a genre for girls. Not that boys can’t watch them, of course – I would love to see more guys going to magical girl shows with an open mind – but they are first and foremost a genre marketed toward girls. Just like Lolita is a girly fashion with a sharp focus on its audience, so too are magical girls. In a world that doesn’t cater often to girls in a positive way, that’s great.

Finally, I love how easy it is to use a magical girl narrative to deconstruct themes – it’s the English major in me. You’ll notice that the three titles I mentioned are… different in some way. Sailor Moon is legendary. Utena and Tutu take their genres and pull them apart, examining them with a critical eye and a loving heart. And Madoka is… well, Madoka. Magical girl shows, because they require a lot of suspension of disbelief, leave a lot of room to examine their tropes and the shades of femininity they work in.

How to Add Magical Girl Style to Your Look

Part of fandom, for me, is wanting to add a touch of the things I love into the outfits I wear. I usually talk about this in terms of historical fashion, but magical girls deserve their time in the spotlight, too.

However, with magical girls an outfit can end up being a touch… costumey. In light of that, the fact that I’ve done plenty of posts about making character and time period inspired coords, and the fact that The Lolita Princess already did a post using magical girl costumes as the basis for coordinates, we’re going to keep our magical girl selves incognito for this one by keeping the magical girl inspiration to little touches.

One of the easiest ways to add a touch of your favorite magical girls to your outfit is to pull in an accessory from their outfits. Often, these accessories are the ones that allow magical girls to transform in the first place. From the rings in Utena to the brooches in Sailor Moon and everything in between, most magical girl shows have merchandise that you can pull in to make a nod to the show – and most of the shows have enough magical girls that you can choose a color to suit your outfit!

Hairstyle is a popular way to make a nod to Sailor Moon in particular. Usagi’s dumpling head look is pretty ubiquitous and absolutely adorable. Other magical girl hairstyles could be just as cute (though I'd stay away from the "idiot hair" from Princess Tutu).

You can also add little touches of fan swag to your outfits for a geekier nod. Most of these shows have a fair bit of merchandise, so pulling out t-shirts for casual Lolita, bag or phone charms, and even pens are a good way to make a nod without doing a full themed outfit.

Of course, many people think Lolita makes us look like magical girls, anyway, so almost anything we wear could make us magical girls (especially if you wore this series from Meta, I think). I think that's kind of magical, too, even if it doesn't come with a transformation sequence.

More Magical Girls!

If you want more resources about magical girl fashion, check out this tumblr dedicated to the subject. This tumblr is dedicated to fashion inspired by Sailor Moon.

I would also recommend this post, which isn’t strictly about magical girls and fashion but is about the way that the clothing choices in sailor moon express the character personalities. It’s good costuming, and a reminder of the importance of tailoring fashion to suit your personality (and you have no idea how hard it is not to pull a “Sailor Moon Says…” with that point).

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