‘Zettai ryouiki’ is a term for a japanese fashion that translates roughly into ‘Absolute Territory’ or ‘Absolute Region’, which are catchall terms for any exposed legflesh between the tops of your socks and a skirt. Zettai ryouiki are excellent for cosplay, lolita, and just about everything. Even keeping (most) of your legs warm.
I myself only stumbled upon the term recently – I’d seen Zettai ryouiki before, but had no idea they were such serious business. That was when I decided to try it out for myself. Delving a bit deeper, I found that these have letter ‘grades,’ which are directly proportional to how little skin you’re showing. That might seem a bit counterintuitive, but it’s really quite logical – zettai ryouiki is all about leaving stuff to the imagination.
The grades are easy to follow. F is ankle socks, E are mid-calf socks, D is slightly higher on the calf, C are knee socks, B are over-knee socks, and A are thigh-highs. Many people don’t consider anything below C to be true zettai ryouiki, but it’s nice to know that as long as you’re wearing socks, you have them.
I myself have rather unsightly knees (boniness + scar tissue = oh dear), so I don’t usually wear anything below a C, but if your knees are cute, don’t be afraid to show them off. If you don’t want to look uniform-y, knee socks are quite a bit easier to find and you can find all manner of insane patterns on them. Unless you want to look uniform-y, in which case argyle and pleated skirts are lovely.
If you’re going over-knee, be prepared to adjust; socks come up to different places depending on how long your legs are. If you’re small, Grade B might look like Grade A, if you’re very tall, Grade A might come up to a more Grade B spot. Just fuss around with your skirt until you find a nice balance.
Another possible issue that comes into play with stuff above the knee is sagging. Sock glue is wonderful (and inexpensive). It’ll stop unsightly rolls right in their tracks. Alternately you could get a garter belt for a more burlesque feel. Or you can just yank them up whenever they start misbehaving. That works too.
Socks come in every imaginable pattern and colour. Since zettai ryouiki is all about contrast, you might like to take that into account. If you’re a pasty Celt girl like me, try dark colours – black, dark grey, plum, etc. If you’re on the other end of the spectrum, white, cream, lavender and pale green are beautiful.
The skirt you wear with your zettai ryouiki is just as important. Usually a solid-colour skirt that goes down to about mid-thigh is best for everyday wear – I like one with a high waist so I can adjust it as need be.
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