2015 Fashion Adventures

inceAt the end of 2015, I had to confront a hard truth: I’ve lost interest in dressing up.  It’s not a complete abandonment.  I still think J-fashion is really cool, and I do bust out my ensembles for special occasions.  The reality is that I won’t go out of my way to attend meet-ups or to relentlessly pursue sales on brand items.  On the flip side, I won’t stop my yearly recaps or suddenly become very mundane with my fashion.

I also will continue to take a peek at the new style tribes that are covered by Style Arena.  This year had a couple of intriguing ones.  The Shuffler caught my eye because Kareshi learned that dance form but dresses the total opposite of that group.  “Survival game fashion” is something akin to what I’ve done before although I’ve combined it with another style, like visual kei below (this was from when I was in Japan 6 years ago).  I’ve always enjoyed military chic so this is probably the one tribe from this year’s group that fits my aesthetic.

I did buy a new piece this year: a black Baby the Stars Shine Bright blouse.  It was going to be worn to my friends’ wedding in November, but I decided to debut it at a neo-Victorian meet-up at a Sherlock Holmes special exhibit.  Unfortunately I got the meeting times mixed up, and Kareshi did not get a full outfit shot like I had thought.
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I paired the blouse with my pinstripe pants, a cloak in gamekeeper’s tweed (which reminded me of Holmes’ infamous deerstalker), and a magnifying glass necklace. This not-quite-steampunk/not-quite-ouji mash-up is my favorite new outfit of 2015.

My favorite outfit overall is my steampunk ouji number that I covered in 2012.  It’s unassuming enough to be my con ensemble for when I’m working press (I think the newsboy cap helps me feel as thought it fits).  I wore it to Anime Matsuri, where I sat in on the boystyle panel with Akira and Shiva from Atelier Boz.  They stood by the door to shake hands with all of us, and Shiva said I looked really cool.  Although the outfit is one of my all-time faves, I don’t think much of it because it’s not as fancy as other steampunks or oujis.  Shiva’s comments made me feel really good since sometimes I feel like I’m just stumbling along and throwing together clothing.
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Speaking of Anime Matsuri, being at the fashion show did remind me why I was drawn to J-fashion in the first place.  Despite having covered it already, I’m gonna share some more pics because everyone looked fantastic. I also want to go on the record and say that I hope for other cons to take on J-fashion that treats their models and guests more professionally and respectfully.

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Atelier Boz and Angelic Pretty

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Putumayo and Metamophose

Ironically 2015 had me closer to lolita than ever before because I finally had a fluffy petticoat and a proper blouse to go under my Baby JSK. As a result, I wound up putting together a gothic lolita outfit for the library’s annual Edgar Allan Poe Victorian Steampunk Halloween. As a part of the volunteer group, I had brought that there are other fashion subcultures that would fit so I took it upon myself to represent the lolis.

With the poof, I could barely fit in the coffin.

With that ensemble, I attempted at byojaku make-up, a trend that caught global attention in 2015. A lot of people don’t like the fact that you look sickly, but I’ve kinda been a fan of the dead girl look a la My Chemical Romance’s “Helena” video. I went a little too light on the blush and too heavy on the eyeliner (the latter I always do). Maybe I should have watched one of RinRin Doll’s tutorials:

And here I was afraid that I wouldn’t have anything to write about. My style resolution last year was to just be myself and possibly try more ouji. The former has worked out perfectly. The latter didn’t go as expected, but I have been adopting a more androgynous style. I think this year’s resolution is to just keep doing my thing… and maybe do a better attempt at byojaku make-up.

Listening to: “PoW!” by FEMM


2014 J-fashion adventures

Resolving to allow myself to wear whatever I want, even if it meant abandoning the pursuit of different J-fashion styles, was probably the best decision I could have made.  It freed me from anything that limited my creativity and willingness to experiment.  As a result, I wound up knocking a few looks off my fashion bucket list and had several fun adventures worth sharing.

Despite this new energy, I didn’t see many new trends really catch my eyes.  My friends over at Kali’s Hourglass took to shironuri, which cropped up in 2012 but started to get more attention overseas in the past year.  While I think it’s gorgeous, it’s not something I will ever try (too much make-up and white for my tastes).
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Even the style tribes reported in Style-Arena seemed to rehash things that already existed.  I was amused at the concept of “Neo Bowling Style” since it’s something that has cropped here in the U.S. (with kids going bowling in prom dresses and burlesque dancers bowling for charity).  Also I inadvertently had a bowling lolita outfit when the shoes I rented wound up matching what I had worn to a meet-up prior to bowling.

At the Crow Collection fashion show, where Ramon and Radha did shironuri, I decided to attempt ora ora kei.  I’d been wanting to give it a shot, and there wasn’t a big gyaru contingent so I gave it shot with the clothes I had in my closet.  My make-up could probably use some work, but I enjoyed it.  I’m not sure it’s something I would wear regularly because of the make-up and accessories that are needed to properly represent the style.
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Another bucket list style was ero lolita.  Last year I pretty much gave up on lolita, but I still hang out with members of the local group and a murder mystery type of event at the art museum was too fun to pass up.  It was the middle of summer so I decided that it was the perfect time to try ero lolitaor as I called my look, burlesque ero lolita.  Again, not a style that is exactly me, but it was fun to try it out.

Something that was more up my alley was my new steampunk look.  I’d been wanting to do an Asian steampunk look that didn’t involve throwing a corset over a traditional Asian outfit.  I reused pieces from older ensembles and came up with a Rurouni Kenshin-inspired persona of a former assassin who wears to chimes so that she doesn’t frighten people with her stealth.  It’s still a work in progress, but that was definitely one of my favorites.
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From Steampunk Illumination Society

My favorite J-fashion look for 2014 was the ouji ensemble for my birthday photo safari, which was one of the highlights of the year.
The colors and make-up were inspired by Loki from The Avengers.  He’s one of my favorite characters so of course I enjoyed that bit of inspiration, and I think the androgyny is just something that is more my thing.

Thus my style resolution for 2015 is just to continue to do what works for me but don’t be afraid to explore.  I’d love to step up my ouji game and have fancier clothes, but I like being a bit rough too.  Maybe I can amp up the androgyny. We’ll see what happens.

Listening to: “9lives” by Shoko Nakagawa

2013 J-fashion adventures

2013 saw me cutting back on the J-fashion exploration.  I am still enamored with Japanese steampunk, especially after watching the video of the fashion show at Design Festa.  However, it feels too appropriative for me to attempt it so I stick to Western (as in British/American, not Wild West) and Chinese steampunk.

Unexpectedly I’ve become more interested in pin-up and rockabilly fashion.  I was excited to see Style-Arena list psychobilly as a new tribe since that fits my aesthetic more.  I haven’t had much luck finding Japanese pin-up fashion with the exception of Hime Carat in their “Body Rockabilly” PV:

I never got around to trying to do gyaru, and I’ve definitely stepped away from lolita. However, that didn’t stop me from having fun with my fellow lolis in a kodona outfit (yes, I know the shorts look way too short, but they kept riding up my thighs).

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By Stereometric (http://www.flickr.com/photos/hikikolife/)

My favorite Japanese fashion-inspired outfit of the year is probably what I called “Neo-Victorian Vampire Knight”. I knew I wanted to do something gothic and more costume-y for the Steampunk Illumination Society Halloween meeting so I combined pieces of my Zero cosplay with more aristocrat style clothing. For 2013, I really wanted to do more androgynous and masculine looks, and in that aspect, I was successful.

I don’t have any style resolutions for 2014 beyond wearing whatever makes me feel good. Even if that means moving away from J-fashion completely, I can focus on just being myself.

Listening to:

2012 J-Fashion Adventures

I don’t keep up with the latest trends in Japanese fashion anymore, but I still look out for new style tribes and hang around local J-fashion enthusiasts. Therefore, I’m changing my recap to reflect the various activities I’ve done relating to Japanese fashion (and alternative fashion in general). There will be more photos, more personal style and opinions, and a glimpse of the fashion conversation between Japan and America.

Let’s start with two style tribes that are garnering attention on both sides of the Pacific. The first is cult party kei. Named after the store Cult Party, which has now become Virgin Mary, it is a lighter version of dolly kei. Most of outfits are white or pastel (though red is alos featured), and the prints are usually limited to gingham and patchwork. The layers are often sheer, and a common motif is the American Red Cross. The style originated in 2010, but it took a couple of years for overseas audiences to take to it.
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cult party style icon, Manapyon (from kinji-collection.tumblr.com)

The second style tribe is not something new: steampunk. We’ve seen traces of it in anime and neo-Victorian styles, but 2012 is when it has become a buzzword. The cool thing is that Japanese steampunks have put their own twist (inspired by traditional Japanese clothing as well as visual kei and lolita) to outfits. I’ve also noticed that while Westerners have avoided the Victorian maid, the Japanese have embraced the look.

Japanese steampunk band, Strange Artifact

Now onto some of my favorite outfits and fashion-related events of 2012. The local lolita group decided to have a post-Valentine’s Day meet-up. It was fun hanging out with old friends and meeting new people.
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Anime Matsuri definitely takes the cake for best event. The fashion show was stunning, and Kareshi wound up buying his first brand piece from Alice and the Pirates. I had been eyeing the vest for myself, but if he can wear it with his steampunk ensemble and let me borrow it occasionally, I’m game. To top everyone off, I interviewed Tomomi Nakamura and Masumi Kano, designers for Alice and the Pirates and Baby the Stars Shine Bright respectively.
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My military punk lolita outfit remains one of my favorites. I wore most of the pieces to see American Idiot the musical and got complimented on my boots. It amused me to realize that this would probably be on the few times I’d get away with stompy boots at the opera house.

My top new look was this steampunk ouji number. I definitely want to wear it again because it’s cool and comfortable.
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For the annual cosplay/fashion show, I attempted fairy kei. That was no easy task since I tend to avoid pastels. Somehow I made it work though I’m not quite sure the audience got what I was going for. My favorite outfit in the show belonged to my friend Radha who looked like a vampire princess, having been inspired by Hizaki and Jasmine You of Versailles.
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Amidst the fun times, there was a lot of frustration. I had to abandon my attempts at steampunking a yukata because they were just not working. I’ll leave the task to the Japanese.

I got some unpleasant messages about how my outfits are “not lolita at all”. Although I’ve never been one to care about fashion rules and there will always be people who think they can police a subculture, it was discouraging. I had already been losing inspiration for dressing up in both lolita and steampunk because I kept feeling like my efforts were never enough. At some point, I realized that I wasn’t dressing for myself anymore. If I had been, there would be more ouji, more hard and edgy elements. Instead, I conformed to the feminine ideals certain people (who opinions do matter more than random internet haters) had for me. My revelation led me to cease all plans for cosplay, lolita, and steampunk and focused on dressing how I wanted, which, for the time being, was mainly casual skater/tomboy.

With a new year comes a fresh perspective. At the end of December, I had discovered that ora ora kei might be something worth trying out, especially since a couple of the examples shown in Style Arena resembled my casual style. I do want to explore the sexier side though. My friend Risa created a facebook group for local gyaru enthusiasts (and potentials) so I decided that part of my style resolution would be to try out ora ora kei. Mostly I just want to get back to creating outfits with shorts and pants since I’m actually not a skirt person at all and to dressing however the hell I want.

Listening to: “Deeper Deeper” by ONE OK ROCK

2011 in Fashion, part 2

In to continuation of my recap of 2011’s fashion trends, I’ll provide some of my thoughts on what should stick around this year. Check out the first part here.

What should stay
Androgyny – While 2010 saw more crossdressing guys, 2011 was about girls embracing their inner tomboy. I wonder if inspiration came from having three gender-bending J-dramas and Lady Gaga’s male alter-ego Jo Calderone, who debuted in the 2010 Autumn/Winter issue of Vogue Hommes Japan. Regardless of the origins, I hope the lines of gender continue to be blurred.

Berets – It has been brought to my attention that berets haven’t taken off on the Tokyo streets yet; the magazines appear to be promoting the trend. I’d like to see what becomes of it.

Ora ora kei – Although I dislike the heavy tans (skin cancer risk!), I think this is a cool subset of gyaru fashion. It seems to not be so expensive, and I like the extra bit of edge with the tattoos and tough attitudes.  Also, I think it’s really cool that the ora ora kei girls ride motorcycles.

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I wouldn’t recommend riding in the outfits they have, but check out their modded bikes (also, note that they didn’t settle for the typical 250; these girls are badass).  From Soul Sister vol. 1 via aramatheydidn’t

What needs to go
Fur – I love the feel of faux fur, but it rarely looks good. It looks especially bad with the ear hoodies and beanies that have also taken off around the world (who wants to look like stuffed animal?).

Hairbows – Okay, bows are cute, especially on lolitas. However, I feel like they’re getting ridiculous large now, and they don’t work well if you’re trying for a more mature look.

Marine – I find the marine style to be very limited. Sailor collars make a blouse more interesting, but you can only have so many versions of a sailor lolita. Also, the only person who can pull off marine stripes is Jean Paul Gaultier himself.

What remains to be determined
Denim – I hate skinny jeans with a passion, but I love wide-leg and boot-cut. Jackets are okay; dresses are hard to pull off. Designers can’t go too crazy with denim or people will start looking like bad cowboy imitations.

Red – We become saturated with a color that is “in”, and because red isn’t for everyone (I love it), I’m not sure it has staying power. It’s also easy to overdo red.
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Ayumi Hamasaki takes the red look a touch too far with her super bright lipstick and shows exactly how big hairbows can be.  From S Cawaii Feb. 2011

Retro – Traveling back in time via clothes is fun, but I want a bit more original reinvention of past trends. While some looks are classic and should be revived, we have to be careful to not to repeat the fashion mistakes of our predecessors.

Sensei’s Style in 2011
Biggest hot mess – I don’t even know what look I was going for, but I had a long maroon skirt, a black tank top, my Black Peace Now ruffled top, and Mary Jane-like shoes. That just looked like a failed attempt at Mori Girl, but I decided to throw on my vinyl jacket. It was bad.

Best outfit – J-rock Bishounen Anti-hero
2011 fashion show entry
Although the original look, which consisted mainly of a Deoart vest and Sixh pants, came from 2010, I felt like I took it to another level at the 2011 Crow Collection J-fashion show. I became inspired by the mysterious bishounen of Uraboku and decided to put add an anime element to the outfit with a wig. Just wearing the clothes made me feel cool.

Most influential style – androgyny
2011 was mostly a continuation of steampunk, but I rediscovered androgyny late in the summer. For the past couple of years, my appearance became more feminine, and it felt odd so I am really embracing the masculine look. So far I’ve incorporated it into J-rock, steampunk, and casual. I also got back into ouji.

What do you think about 2011’s fashion trends? What was your personal style of the past year?

Listening to: “Graffiti” – Gackt