Sunday, December 7, 2014

Emiii's guide: Himekaji style basics

I was asked to create a basic himekaji guide for beginners! At first, I felt slightly uncomfortable with this because I don't consider myself an authority on the subject. Himekaji is a style in which I often dress, but I haven't purposefully studied it extensively. However, I did want to help others who don't really know where to start, so I decided to create this post which will focus on my opinion (without meaning for it be himekaji law or anything obviously) with a few basics. I'm going to be focusing on the fashion aspect. I don't really want to go into the make-up side because I pretty much know nothing about it, and I just don't think advice from me would be very useful. & Just briefly for hair - you'll often see big, soft curls in light to dark browns. Large, puffy-ish french braids are also fairly common!

Himekaji (it's basically pronounced how it's spelled! hee-meh-ka-gee) translates to princess (姫) casual (カジュアル). I think of it as the toned down version of himegyaru. Like, what a princess would wear when she's "off duty" & doesn't have to worry about royal responsibilities - just casually having tea or hanging out. It's girly and cute and very feminine. You'll likely see a lot of floral, neutral colors, lace and bows, but it's not as OTT as himegyaru.

But let's back up just a little. Himekaji is a substyle of the overall Japanese fashion genre "gyaru". There are many substyles of gyaru and a lot of them are quite different, but some staple ideas (concerning the fashion aspect) that you'll tend to see throughout them are:
  • Clothes that flatter your body,
  • Tendency to be outside the "norm" of everyday fashion,
  • & Typically heels/shoes with a boost to help elongate your legs.
Tbh, I think it's a little hard to nail down a lot of factors that tie down the fashion aspects of all gyaru substyles because they're so varied! Just to be clear, it doesn't have to be minimal clothing, but whatever you're wearing should make you feel amazing. Look good, feel good! This is why I don't think only people with a certain kind of body type necessarily suits any particular style more than another body type. It's really all about making the clothes work for you. If your body proportions are different, you have to style differently and carefully choose flattering cuts, patterns, etc. (For example, taller gals might wear lace undershorts under shorter dresses and skirts to give them a little more length and coverage.) It's not impossible, but certainly it can be more difficult at times. Heels are not mandatory, but I think for me personally, I feel best in them because I look less stumpy and frumpy overall no matter what I'm wearing.

When you want to start going into himekaji specifically, keep the principles of general gyaru style coordinates in mind and then additionally:
Think "sweet"!
Typical features more specific to himekaji -
(photos all from Liz Lisa AW14 listings at Tokyo Kawaii Life)
  • Light colored florals, usually with roses, in medium scale (not too small, not too huge)
  • Neutral colors, pastels: dusty/light pink, beige, brown, baby blue, white
  • Check/plaid/argyle patterns
  • Lace, frill, ribbon/bow, flower, ruffle details
  • Jumper skirts/suspender skirts
  • Sailor collars
  • Set ups (matching top and bottom)
  • Pom poms details/(faux) fur details
  • Ribbon tie backs/emphasis on flattering the waist area
  • "Corset"/lace up detailing
  • Cardigans and knits
  • Gold accents/accessories
But don't feel limited by these! Those are just a few things that came to my mind when I was thinking of the quintessential image of himekaji (that are more specific to this style) and might be just a few guidelines to help you when you're first get started because this is what's the most "mainstream" for himekaji imo. Once you get more familiar with the style, you can more easily recognize things that aren't necessarily on this list but would still work, if that makes sense. For example, the color navy isn't something that's "typical" himekaji but a number of himekaji-style pieces in navy work well for coordinates. Or shorts and pants. Pants are not on this list because pants obviously are not specific to himekaji. Pants can certainly be used in himekaji outfits, but I probably wouldn't advise a beginner to start with that since they tend to be a little harder to coordinate in an easily recognizable way versus a floral skirt.
Generally, I wouldn't do too much black though. Himegyaru can definitely incorporate black but personally I find himekaji not to include black clothes or detailing too much.

Typical himekaji brands (just to give you a general idea of what the clothes might look like) are Liz Lisa, Tralala's Penderie, DreamV (particularly DearMyLove) and Ank Rouge. Most of their clothes are mainstream himekaji and you'll likely have an easy time creating himekaji coordinates with items from these brands.
You don't HAVE to buy brand in order to be have gyaru-style coordinates. It's generally like 250% easier if you're buying from a gyaru brand to create gyaru coordinates, but it's not an absolute must imo. That being said, just because clothes are brand does not mean that coordinate is automatically considered gyaru. And coordinates made of all brand items are not necessarily better or worse than any off brand coordinates and vice versa. & Of course, items from the aforementioned brands can be incorporated into coordinates for many different styles as well such as lolita or himegyaru and that's why a certain brand does not automatically = XXXXX coordinates. Besides that, items from other Japanese brands that were not mentioned (because they're not "typical himekaji") can easily be incorporated into himekaji as well. It's really how you choose the pieces and in what way you personally coordinate them that make it a certain style - not the brand itself
Most of my personal himekaji outfit examples are created with brand (majority Liz Lisa) but that's just the clothes I have to work with and clothes that I enjoy wearing. I don't consider it a waste of money or time, especially because I mostly purchase during sales of 40% off or more. If you can find similar pieces elsewhere, that's great!

Where can I find himekaji clothes outside of Japan?/Where can I buy off brand clothes that will fit into the style?
As far as I know, there isn't a non-Japanese one-stop-shop that you can go to that will just have all the items you need for himekaji if you're not purchasing (Japanese) brand without even trying. Like I said earlier, it's generally easier to create coordinates if you're buying from a specifically themed store/brand because they do function as a one-stop-shop. It's not super easy to find items that are similar to brand items but not brand items internationally, and it's going to take a bit more effort on your part to browse and shop with a keen eye. I think the best advice I can give is to have a really good idea of what you're looking for (is it a certain kind of floral? is it a particular color scheme? a top with a certain cut? a lace detail?) when you're shopping and focus on that. It can be hard because these stores will often style for the American (or whatever country you're in) customer who likely coordinate quite differently than you might for himekaji. Places like Forever 21 and Charlotte Russe have cheap clothes that could certainly possibly work for himekaji if you pick and coordinate them carefully.
(These are not the best examples, but I think they're passable, especially the Forever21 lace skirt. The items don't stand well on their own, so you really need to help them with the rest of the pieces in your coordinate! I was trying to find workable items in December which is a bit harder imo. You'll likely have the best luck in the spring/summer seasons.)
Local boutiques and thrift stores are apparently other good places to look. The items are never going to be exactly the same, and especially for dresses, not very close for prints and colors to what you'd get with brand, but you're also not paying brand pricing, so you're getting what you pay for. I don't personally spend a lot of time going to places like that myself (since I do buy brand fairly often), but it's really up to YOU to take the initiative. You probably won't find something that works every single time you go, but that's part of the challenge of trying to find Japanese style clothes outside of Japan. On the other hand, shoes (and socks) that work well with himekaji coordinates can often be found from a number of different places and brands. They might not have the super girly details that many brand shoes tend to have, but, for example, a neutral mary jane pump can be found almost anywhere.
Another side option for customers outside of Japan that want brand items but don't want to deal with forwarding is to shop through Tokyo Otaku Mode (TOM). They have a multitude of options from Japanese fashion brands and will deliver authentic product directly to international addresses. Here are my recommended items from TOM, many of which would be suitable for himekaji coordinates!

Basics to consider starting with:
There isn't one perfect way to start building a wardrobe! Of course it's not wrong if you don't start with these things or this (light colored) color scheme. It's just important that you have items that will easily match with multiple pieces in the genre when you first start. Personally, I started by simply just purchasing pieces that I liked and when I needed something to match, purchased that as well lol.
White/neutral color button down shirt with collar and lace/frill/bow/floral details
A-line skirt (print optional but try to stay within the general himekaji theme with the details)
Floral print OP
Jumper skirt or suspender skirt
Light colored cardigan with lace/frill detail or general cover-up knit
Set up (matching top and bottom)
Close-toed pump in a neutral color/light pink
Open toed sandal in a neutral color/light pink (for warmer weather, typically summer coordinates)
Ankle socks and OTK socks in white/neutral color (sorry socks do not photograph attractively)
Light/neutral color/pink purse(3-way bags tend to be popular)
The above are all personal photos of pieces that I have in my own wardrobe. I have provided these photos as examples of what I was referring to, but obviously there is a wide variety of pieces that would be acceptable from a variety of brands. When I could find a non-Liz Lisa item that fit into the category, I tried to include it.

Personal himekaji outfit examples/breakdown - I'll start with 3 of my favorites and then do some other general examples.
This is my most favorite himekaji style outfit to date. This trip to the east coast in November 2013 allowed me to layer and put together outfits that would be utterly ridiculous in Hawaii. Since I don't usually have to think about dressing for warmth, it was a bit of a challenge to figure out how to dress cute without being cold, but I think mission accomplished :O.
Forever21 faux leather cropped jacket, Charlotte Russe string pom pom cropped hoodie knit, Liz Lisa long sleeve bib front stop, Liz Lisa floral overalls style OP, off brand OTK socks, Liz Lisa OTK boots with Liz Lisa patent leather quilted flower purse

Easily my second favorite. This was on the same trip so that's why I'm wearing a lot of the same things lol. I had some of my best fashion moments there, and I think it's because I was forced to think about layering (so when I pulled off a layer, the outfit still made sense) ahead of time and just pulled some of the best pieces to take with me. Makes me wish I lived in a place where I could have coordinates like this all the time!
Liz Lisa long sleeve bib front top, Tralala suspender skirt, off brand OTK socks and Liz Lisa OTK boots with Liz Lisa patent leather quilted flower purse. I also had the Charlotte string pom pom cropped hoodie knit with this outfit for when I was outdoors for added warmth.

Third favorite based on everything matching so well including my phone case lol. Glad an outfit I created in Hawaii could actually make my top 3 lol. I'm also glad my hair was working with me that day for a casual shopping outfit. (Floral) jumper skirt with a (flower lace detail) collared top is an easy himekaji coordinate. Plus my nails matched :)
Liz Lisa puff sleeve button down top, Liz Lisa floral jumper skirt, Liz Lisa knot wedge sandals with Liz Lisa patent leather quilted flower purse and Liz Lisa 14th anniversary watch.
This is where owning pieces from all the same brand makes creating coordinates easier. Most Liz Lisa pinks match with each other. So the pink wedges easily match with the pink details in the floral of the jumper skirt and the purse.

Separates (but not set ups). Similarly to the casual shopping outfit above, just pair a cute statement print skirt with a collared shirt (or a shirt with a frill/lace detail) and voila, outfit. White tops tend to work with almost everything, but I like to take a secondary or tertiary color in the print and pick the top based on that! I like the skirt to be the focal point so although the top should have a small, special detail, the skirt is often the star of the show.
Left: Liz Lisa 3D flower beret, Liz Lisa vertical lace detail button down, Liz Lisa floral suspender skirt and Tralala 2-tone bow wedges
Middle: Tralala flower applique button down, Liz Lisa key motif skirt, off brand lace ankle socks and Liz Lisa 2-strap lace up back pumps
Right: Ank Rouge button down with removable bow, Ank Rouge mermaid print skirt and Liz Lisa clear pearl sandals with Liz Lisa seashell pouch

OP coordinates. These also tend to be pretty easy since the dress is already an outfit on its own.
Top Left: Liz Lisa bow off shoulder docking OP and Liz Lisa 2-strap ribbon pumps. When I put this dress on, I feel like it's the epitome of himekaji without being floral. I really feel like a princess on a casual day. There's the girly pink color with the flattering off shoulder and small waist silhouette with the full skirt with lace detailing. The bows on the "straps" are something you'd likely find from only Japanese brands (or more specifically a company like Liz Lisa) which makes it more special to me (and why I don't mind purchasing brand).
Top Right: Liz Lisa off shoulder floral OP with ribbon tie and Flag J ankle strap pumps
Bottom Left: Liz Lisa x My Melody 5th collab OP and Liz Lisa 2-strap lace up back pumps. This one I would probably improve with an ankle sock. I personally tend to be lazy with sock accessorizing because it just feel weird in Hawaii. But since this is a long sleeve dress, the overall coordinate would probably work better with a pair of ankle socks. Liz Lisa x My Melody collab dresses tend to be pretty great representations of himekaji at its finest with the cute prints and attention to detail.
Bottom Right: Liz Lisa floral shirring off shoulder OP and Liz Lisa knot wedge sandals (with floral headband). This is one of my favorite OPs I have ever purchased from Liz Lisa. I love the colors and how they work with the print and also the general fit and length of the dress.

I don't have many real ootd pictures with outer/cardigan pieces due to the warm weather here. Please considering checking out my summer --> autumn transition outfits post for ideas about how to make warm weather himekaji clothes work for you when the temperature drops utilizing cardigans and knits. (Click the link above to quickly look at the gifs if you don't want to watch the full video.)

Set ups are basically instant outfits and great for beginners. You know they're going to match and that they look good together. Just pick a shoe and there you go! What's also great about them is that you can also use the top or bottom separately if you want to as well to create even more outfits.
Left: Liz Lisa cropped halter fruits top and matching fruits skirt and Liz Lisa knot wedge sandals
Middle: Liz Lisa faux sheer overlay top and matching sukapan and Liz Lisa floral lace-up back wedge sandals
Right: Liz Lisa button down floral top and matching sukapan and Dream V heart heel mules

Incorporating OTK socks (when they aren't hidden under OTK boots). I thought I had better examples than this, but if I do, apparently I didn't take any pictures lol. I don't wear socks like this very often in Hawaii because it's just too hot, and it's not worth it. These are outfits with pieces from my Liz Lisa 2013 Royal Rose tote fukubukuro when I had a lot less brand pieces to help coordinate lol. Tbh, these are a bit weak for himekaji, but technically still work imo, and it's the best I have right now. (If I take better pictures/create better coordinates later, I'll change these out!)
Left: Liz Lisa coat, off brand OTK socks and Liz Lisa 2-strap ribbon pumps
Middle: Forever 21 ruffle button down top, Liz Lisa check ribbon tie back skirt, off brand OTK socks and Liz Lisa 2-strap ribbon pumps
Right: Liz Lisa sheer sleeve dot top, off brand floral sukapan, off brand OTK socks and Liz Lisa 2-strap ribbon pumps

I also think most of the outfits that I created with my 2014 Liz Lisa x My Melody collab trunk carry fukubukuro can be considered himekaji as well! (Click the link above to quickly look at the gifs if you don't want to watch the full video.) There are a few coordinates utilizing ankle socks and OTK boots in there.
Socks are definitely an important aspect of gyaru/himekaji fashion which can easily set it apart from American/western street fashion with how they are used. If your coordinate is "borderline" gyaru, I would say that socks would make a large determining factor imo. I personally don't focus on them a lot (do as I say, not as I do), but if you're just starting out, I'd say try them as much as possible! It might take awhile to figure out how they work best on you with your coordinates and your legs, but it just takes a little experimentation. 

These are probably not what you would typically think of when you imagine himekaji, but despite the darker (navy) color, imo they still are! You still have the collar, button down details, check pattern with ruffle and ribbon tie (on left) and lots of lace detail (on right) and overall the looks are quite sweet. Plus, the other pieces are light colored (collar and shoes / top and shoes) as well.
Left: Ralph Lauren (girls) check romper, Liz Lisa T-strap wedges
Right: Liz Lisa puff sleeve blouse, Liz Lisa flower lace detail flare skirt and Liz Lisa two-strap lace up back pumps

EDIT: Since creating this post, I have created an Instagram account (@_emiii_chan) and have been posting a lot of OOTDs there as well that you might find useful :). I've also been trying to do a (monthly) OOTD post here on my blog as well if you don't have an IG account. And, of course, I also post OOTDs/coordinates on Tumblr! Not every single one of my OOTDs will fall under the himekaji umbrella, but I think it will be fairly easy to discern the ones that do and the ones that don't lol.

For outfit inspiration, I tend to look towards LL Gals and Liz Lisa shop staff (since I wear a lot of Liz Lisa pieces). I go to the staff snaps at and the various shop staff blogs (which tend to update about once a day or so). Even if you don't wear a lot of Liz Lisa, I feel like these are still good places to look for outfit inspo because they update regularly, and there are so many of them with gals of different body sizes and heights! Ank Rouge also has shop staff blogs as well. If you order online from any brand stores, they also typically have an outfit example in the stock photo that you might consider using for inspiration even if you don't get the other pieces from the brand.


I think the hard part of writing this post is that the things I like to wear just happen to be called himekaji. It's not like I decided I liked himekaji, and then I bought particular things and coordinated a certain way to fit the label. That's why I found it hard to put certain ideas into words. I just buy what I like and coordinate them how I think looks best and that happens to be, for the most part, himekaji! So a lot of what I wrote about and what you saw above is just how my personal style and preferences happen to fit into this genre, but not so much how himekaji defines how I dress and shop, if that makes sense. I didn't start by wardrobe with basics and trying to encompass the genre - I just bought some things that I thought were cute.
I created this post to attempt to nail down some basics if you're not sure where to start, but I think the best advice I can give is don't think too hard about getting labeled as a himekaji gal. If you like something, wear it. Please don't let it bother you that it doesn't fit into a particular "popular" style genre. I personally prefer to think of most of my outfits as "himekaji inspired" since I don't want to worry about conforming to other people's standards (in or out of the gyaru community). If it falls into the himekaji category, fine. If not, I'm still wearing clothes I look and feel awesome in, and I enjoy it. And that's why I continue to do it.
Sure, sometimes wearing clothes like this will garner a few more stares (from strangers), but that's part of wearing gyaru fashion - standing out and being different and looking fab while you're doing it. I wouldn't suggest this style for you if you are in the witness protection program or something and need to blend into the crowd and not attract any special attention to yourself. If you like what you're wearing and people are looking at you for a few extra seconds, keep your head held high, and don't let them get to you. Half the time, I'm sure they're probably not thinking anything negative anyway so there's no need to feel so insecure. It's generally easier to wear gyaru fashion if you've already got a bit of confidence, but what will help is taking a solid look at yourself in the mirror from all angles before you leave the house and giving yourself a nod of approval and knowing that you look great that day :)
There are so many different ways to just start making style changes, and you'll know what's best for you! Good luck!

Hope this post is at least a little helpful. Leave me some suggestions if you think I should add anything!
Please also check out my Himekaji style with shoes (sneakers and flat boots) blog post!


  1. This is perfect! Thanks for posting this! Have you ever thought about sharing this on pinterest? I think would help a lot of people.

    1. I actually really dislike places like pinterest and weheartit where people will repost my images without sourcing me and then others will take advantage of it and sometimes use them for profit while I, in turn, get nothing. I wrote a short blog post about my feelings about that in the past here []
      It might be different if I was posting there myself (and I was the source) but those people have really turned me off of those sites and I don't want to be a part of that community. Feel free to direct anyone here with a link but please do not take my personal photos to be shared without my permission and especially without explicitly sourcing me!
      Thank you :)

  2. Himekaji is my favourite style too~ ^ - ^
    Seeing photos of your outfits always inspires me! ^ w ^

  3. Oooh, I like the way you tackled this post!! really well done IMO.
    I think you forgot one aspect of Himekaji - and it's Trends! I think trends really make a big impact of Himekaji sometimes one season (ie. a trending colour) and sometimes longer (ie. longer length skirts,) and I think it's important weather you follow them completely or not that you're aware of them at least because they do influence what's sold currently.
    And I think accessories are really important too but I guess that's another post for another day.

    1. I think trends are an essential part of gyaru but perhaps not an integral part of (specifically) "basics" which tend to be timeless and practically untouched by seasonal/yearly trends (although they can touch on them but typically not change them?). I guess I intended this post to be something that could withstand a few years or so and also apply to past years as well whereas a post identifying trends would only be applicable for a certain amount of time and would need to be constantly updated? Definitely another post for another time perhaps.
      I'm definitely not the person do hit on accessories (just as I'm not the right person to talk about make up), but I know you are! I think it would be great if you came up with your own version of this (so I could link it!).
      Your ideas are always stellar Berri!

  4. Thank you for the post! I really like how you put so much effort into this. This really helped me learn more about himekaji style. :)
    I love himekaji style, and I barely just started feeling comfortable wearing more and more of my Liz Lisa clothes out this year. When I want to make my outfits causal, I love pairing my LL printed skirt/dress, with an over size cardigan and flats.

    1. A few days ago I realized that I missed out on one important coordinate option which is basically the one you just brought up now! I love the loose knit + sukapan (or over a dress) combo for himekaji but I just don't wear it much myself because I don't own the right items (because I just don't invest in a lot of pullover knits due to most of them actually being quite warm which is intentional but bad for Hawaii lol). I definitely want to make an edit to this post with that coordinate in mind when I collect the right images!

  5. Wow every dresses and bag look so beautiful.
    I really love it.
    Your outfits really inspires me. Thanks for sharing.Would you like to follow each other?
    Let me know if you followed me. I will follow you back too. Thanks ^~^

  6. GREAT JOB ON A GREAT POST! I am a hime kaji beginner, so this helped alot!

  7. I love the first outfit so much <3 This is really helpful thanks ^^

    ❤ Sann

  8. Where did you get your pink and brown wallet/bag?:)

    1. I believe the bag you're talking about is from Tralala.

  9. Wonderful collection of lace dress. those are really very nice.
    african french lace | nigerian lace fabrics | African Lace Fabrics

  10. That post is inspiring. I strongly go along with you. I like your post and everything you could share with us today and also informative, I would choose to bookmark the page well, i can come back in this article. Thanks.

  11. I got SO MUCH inspo from his post! Being an American size 14-16, I don't it in any LizLisa pieces and was resigning myself to just admiring Himekaji-style from afar. Now I understand a bit better how to coordinate some "offbrand" or regular clothes that are more my size and easier to purchase. I am currently planning my first coord now (made easier since Spring has come and pastels/floral clothes are easier to find in the local stores. \(^u^)/

    1. Good luck! Now is definitely the time to start searching for off brand equivalents :)

  12. Hi Emiii, awesome post as always, really, it's a lot of data!
    I'm actually wondering what do you thing about himekaji makeup, taking into account that himekaji's origins come from gyaru style (and thus, gal makeup).
    I really wanna hear your opinions on this :)

  13. Thank you!! It was SO helpful!! <3

  14. I really love this aesthetic so much but sadly all these brands that you speak of are always better for thinner and more petite girls. While me being 5'8 and not so slim, it makes it hard for me to find anything that fits my frame, be it bust, shoulders or the fact that most of the skirts are just an inch too short and show more than I would like. Thank you for sharing your notes however, they are great for anyone trying to get into this style!

    1. Hey there. I haven't updated this post in a while, but I just wanted to say that Liz Lisa is offering a "tall size" option now which may be right for you. Freesize is a bit tricky, but it really comes down to knowing your measurements and sometimes being a little creative with layering. I know that's not the best case scenario but hopefully you can find something that works for you, even if it's not a Japanese brand.

    2. Hi there, Unk!
      I'm going to be going through the process of making my own plus size himekaji and cute things on my blog Maybe you'd like to check it out as I am 5'8 and not so slim as well!

  15. Hi there! I have a question, are tea party shoes (yeah, the ones used in Lolita fashion) more-or-less acceptable in himekaji? I'm trying to think about shoe alternatives since, sadly, I can't wear pumps due to ankle issues. Thank you for your insightful and detailed post!

    1. They're not typically seen, but if you have something limiting what you can easily wear, then you should definitely wear something you're comfortable in.
      If heels aren't for you, consider checking out a few different alternatives for flats from brands like DreamV though. The details on tea parties make them appear a bit wide? so I think maybe a narrower flat would be more appropriate for himekaji with a cute ankle sock.

  16. "I wouldn't suggest this style for you if you are in the witness protection program or something and need to blend into the crowd and not attract any special attention to yourself."

    Amazing. 😂😂😂

    Thank you for this post, it's definitely helpful as a newbie to himekaji and has helped me put some of what I've been seeing into words. I also appreciate that you mention you don't have to force yourself to wear certain things to fit into a style if it's not something you enjoy. :3

    1. Thank you! This post is now a bit dated, but I'm happy you took the time to read it. Good luck on your fashion journey!