Fashion Forward
Umo (left) and Kanpei (right) stop for a quick fashion snap on Harajuku on December 03, 2017 in Toky...

7 Kawaii Outfit Ideas That Are As Cute As Can Be

Hello Kitty couldn’t do it better herself.

Onnie A Koski/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Break out your childhood Hello Kitty accessories, because Kawaii fashion is trending once more in the States. Kawaii aesthetics have long been a staple in differing iterations within Japanese culture, where the notoriously cutesy style first emerged as a handwriting style (particularly in girls), and then later went on to serve in part as a symbol of shifting social, economic, and political conditions in Japan for both young men and young women.

Following student rebellions in the ‘60s and ‘70s, young women, increasingly frustrated by their lack of post-school options, turned to the cute culture as a means of subverting cultural expectations. “One of the reasons women choose to stay in the interim period of shōjo [females in the period between puberty and marriage] is the limited range of alternative paths available for women who aspire to pursue a career after completing education,” Kumiko Sato wrote in her essay “A Postwar Cultural History of Cuteness in Japan” published in Education About Asia in 2009, which aimed to make sense of the kawaii culture’s influence on young people, namely, young women. “Women thus embrace the harmlessness and innocence of shōjo by enthusiastically consuming cute merchandise, while delaying their roles as wives and mothers.”

Kawaii culture is classified by sweet, almost childlike fashion with maximalist touches. It’s almost as if a cupcake with a mountain of frosting was turned into an inspired clothing trend. As Sato discussed in her essay, late ‘80s literary and media depictions of kawaii showed female characters “struggle to achieve family bonds and youth freedom,” which helped mark a shift in understanding of what women could be and become. (It later went on to become “dark kawaii,” which made sense of even more shifting cultural norms.)

If you’ve ever felt like not growing up or, at least, escaping from the adult world, kawaii likely speaks to you. Marked by a love of stuffed animals, pastels, ruffles, and pretty much anything soft and adorable, it’s borderline impossible not to love and obsess over sweet kawaii fashion.

Now, the only thing you need is a credit card on hand and some creativity to buy into the trend.

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Kawaii Aesthetic Outfit: The School Girl Uniform

Honey Bunny Fashion’s Sailor Uniform ($34, Honey Bunny Fashion) hits all the high points right off the bat. It comes in a soft pink and boasts a Sailor Moon style of uniform that’s practically synonymous with kawaii style.

Kawaii Aesthetic Outfit: Bring On The Bows

As far as darling fashion goes, you can’t go wrong loading up on bows. In fact, the more bows, the merrier, which is why Kawaii Babe’s Tennis Skirt ($55, Kawaii Babe) will be a great staple for your new kawaii wardrobe. The simple, pleated design will go with your existing closet while the details make it undeniably cute.

Kawaii Aesthetic Outfit: Animal Crossing Fashion

You don’t have to give up comfort just to get in on this Japanese aesthetic. An oversized hoodie can keep you feeling as sweet as a pea while also super cozy. Weeb Stuff’s Frog Face Hoodie ($40, Weeb Stuff) is a great option with its loose fit and frog eyes.

Kawaii Aesthetic Outfit: Maid Look

Shorts are not out of the running just because you’re rocking kawaii fashion. Instead of plain denim, Ichigo Black’s Candy Pink Bloomers ($40, Etsy) come in a pastel pink with so many ruffles to keep up your cute aesthetic. And, they run in sizes XXS to 8X with your choice in lace color.

Kawaii Aesthetic Outfit: Dark Academia

Unlike many other subcultures, you can style kawaii fashions into other aesthetics. By dressing in more neutral shades, adding a sensible collar, and wearing something like SpreePicky’s Vintage Dress ($46, SpreePicky), you can also master dark academia's aesthetic. Two birds? Meet the one stone.

Kawaii Aesthetic Outfit: A Gothic Twist

The notoriously adorable fashion can also be turned goth, which at first may sound almost impossible but once you lay eyes on Devil Inspired’s Black Lolita Dress ($90, Devil Inspired) with its laces, frills, ruffles, and black shades, you’ll absolutely understand. It even has hearts and bows to somehow perfectly balance both goth and kawaii styles.

Kawaii Aesthetic Outfit: Hello Kitty Is A Must

When it comes to kawaii icons, Hello Kitty jumps to mind. The cartoon was first designed in 1974 and soon became a symbol of the kawaii movement. For a causal kawaii outfit, you can start your look with the Hello Kitty Lollipop Shirt ($29, Hot Topic).

Now that you have your kawaii fashion down pat, all you have to do is get started on your collection of manga.