Japanese fashion: A guide to decora style
by Julia Shaw
The japanese style cult of decora is so sharply childlike and cute it's like biting into bubblegum and razor-flavoured ice cream that's been kept on the icy moon of Europa for a month. If you're not afraid to wear 16 bows in your hair and three pairs of socks at once, decora may be the style for you.
Tokyo. An over-crowded city, but full of lights and wonder: a clashing, vibrant mix of old and new. In its midst lies the infamous Harajuku shopping district, a Mecca for all things Japanese and a shopaholic's utopia. And in this tempestuous sea sail the Harajuku girls on ships of pure style chaos.
Gwen Stefani sang about their 'wicked style' there lies a certain air about these girls. Why do they choose to gather there? While most might reply with a simple "all my friends are here" or a typical "it's fun", Harajuku seems to be an informal catwalk for teens to showcase their style in their free time. Out of all the different styles Harajuku has to offer, from Gothic Lolita to Punk, Cosplay to Kawaii there is one style that could do with a heads-up: Decora.
The word 'decora' is simply a shortened version of 'decoration' and is mostly worn by young Japanese teens. It can often be mistaken as FRUiTS-Fashion to those outside Japan, but it's more about creating an aura of childlike playfulness or cuteness with layers, bright colors and kilos of jewelry. Popular items in Decora include Hello Kitty and Pokemon merchandise, bright plastic jewelry, coloured hair clips and bobbles and fuzzy boots. It's not about just throwing things together: A close look at some of the girls shows the huge degree of thought that's been put into their loud attire.
How to wear Decora
1. Layer. Layering is one of the most important elements in decora. Layering is everything. Don't be afraid to layer socks over tights or 3-4 different shirts together.
2. Don't look like a walking brand name. Decora is a childlike fashion and yes, Hello Kitty and Pokemon are adored, but try to add your own personal 'thing' to the clothes. Better yet, make your own.
3. Don't just suddenly decide you want to start wearing nothing but decora. Ease into it gradually.
4. Don't go out wearing decora if you don't have enough accessories or layers to suit your taste or else it'll look messy and incomplete.
5. Hair plays a huge role in decora. The most popular hairstyle is simple, cute pigtails. Accessorize with a few headbands and a truckload of hair clips. Bows are very popular in the decora world.
6. Don't hesitate to decorate yourself with plastic toys. This adds dimension to your decora outfit.
7. Cute body jewels and glitter are also good. Stick a few stars or a smiley face sticker under your eyes.
8. Don't wear a lot of makeup. This style is all about childlike playfulness and you can hardly expect to get that look with a tonne of makeup on.
9. Socks make up a huge part of the outfit. Feel free to embellish the tops with frills, ribbons, chains, charms... basically, whatever tickles your fancy.
10. Decora isn't all about wearing sky-scraping stilettos. Far from it! In every decora girl's wardrobe lie a few pairs of bright and cute sneakers and/or flats.
11. Pink is everything. It makes up most of a decora girl's chosen colour for the outfit. That doesn't mean you can't wear black, but if you do, then wear a lot of pink to compensate.
12. Virtual Pets are golden. Any respecting decora girl isn't complete without a virtual pet (think of a Nintendog or if you're on a tight budget, a Tamagotchi.)
13. And finally, be confident. Most people outside of Japan are unaware of your cool fashion sense and may mock you or want to take pictures! So smile and chiizu (say 'cheese')!
Now go forth, my young decora apprentice - spread your bright pink wings and share with the world your wicked style.