Aesthetics Wiki

Girly (ガーリー), also known as Girly Kei in order to avoid confusion with the adjective, is a Japanese aesthetic and fashion which emphasizes cute, frilly looks. As opposed to the definition in English, Girly does not refer to everything feminine; Girly Kei tends to focus on lace, ribbons, ruffles, and patterns such as flowers and hearts. There are many substyles and the popular image can vary depending on the current trends.


Gal girly

A Popteen article on Girly Kei in Gyaru from 2016.

Girly Kei fashion began becoming popularized in the 80s and 90s with magazines like Olive and CUTiE. The first brand solely dedicated to it opened its doors in 1999 in the form of Liz Lisa. Around 2010, Girly Kei highly spread in popularity among Gyaru, influenced by singer Kana Nishino and former Popteen model Kumicky (Kumiko Funayama) who wore the style, and as a result, many stores in Shibuya109 started catering to the boom. While Gyaru slowly faded into irrelevance over the years, many of the brands who opened during the boom still produce Girly Kei fashion up to this day.[1]

LARME is a magazine originally focused on Japanese Nymphet fashion that eventually branched out to incorporate Girly Kei substyles. Its sheer popularity in the west during the 2010s has made the aesthetic almost synonymous with Girly Kei fashion, however it would be incorrect to label Larme Kei as a substyle of Girly Kei as it not only encompasses the style as whole but also other fashions depending on current trends.[2]

Additionally to Larme Kei, the term "Ryousangata" (lit. "mass-produced", meaning mainstream) was sometimes used interchangably with Girly Kei during the late 2010s to early 2020s. It's a common slang term that refers to those who follow popular trends and therefore look indistinguishable from each other as if they were mass-produced in a factory. The reason for the association of the fashion with said slang are female wota (idol otaku) who wear in seemingly similar over-the-top Girly Kei outfits to live events. As popular trends are constantly changing, so is the general public image of "Ryousangata" as well as the styles and looks associated with it, and the association with Girly Kei has diluted over the years in favor of fast fashion.[3]


In general, Girly Kei fashion incorporates feminine imagery that gains specificity depending on the substyle. Most aesthetic imagery features lace, ribbons, and bow decorations, kawaii imagery (often including Sanrio characters like My Melody or Kuromi), cosmetics and perfume, and other things deemed girlish. Most color palettes are in pastels (mainly pink) with white and black, though this is not a solid rule. On social media, Girly Kei scenery is often connected with cutesy cafes, with many of photos pairing the clothes with elaborately-decorated tray displays of tea, sweets and pastries.


The Anatomy of Girly Kei

Japanese Girly Kei fashion takes some cues from general kawaii and lolita fashion, with some preferring it as a somewhat more casual or minimal alternative to more extreme lolita outfits. The goal is to appear cutesy and feminine, but in a preppy manner. Many of the current trends within the style are derived from Ryousangata girly trends that originated on social media (such as TikTok), and Japanese Idol culture has pushed Girly Kei's evolution into a more hyper-feminine and innocent direction.

Blouses are the most common top in Girly Kei fashion. Usually these tops are high-neck, peter-pan collared embellished with ruffles, lace, and ribbon embellishments. Sometimes pom-pom capes are added. In the wintertime, sweaters can be adorned with decorative stitching, ribbons and typical girlish embellishments. Bottoms are most commonly skirts, usually high waisted with decorated hems. Sometimes petticoats are added underneath to increase volume. Rarely, frilly shorts and skorts are worn. Bottoms can be swapped with dresses or coat-dresses of any length. Girly Kei mostly incorporates multi-strap Mary-Janes or sometimes loafers, both platformed. These are paired with lace or frilled socks or stockings.

Girly Kei makeup follows more mainstream Jfashion trends emphasizing a "natural" youthful look with soft blush, low contour and lipstick with faded edges. However, it is not uncommon for the eyes to be largened and exxagerated to give a more doe-like, teary-eyed appearance. This follows the "pien" makeup trend on Japanese tiktok, and occasionally even the more sickly red-eyed byojaku trend. Hairstyles are also variable, and it's seen as trendy to to curl the ends. Naturally, Girly Kei fashion makes use of jewelry, but may restrain them to traditional necklaces, bracelets and earrings with hair accesories.

Similar to Lolita, the broad nature of Girly Kei as a fashion has allowed it to develop multiple substyles, including but not limited to French Girly, Dark Girly, Casual Girly, Otona (mature) Girly, Natural Girly, Sweet (kawaii) Girly, etc. Because of its adjacency with the Dark Girly substyle, Jirai Kei's fashion part is often considered a substyle of both Dark Girly and Yami Kawaii, and similar to it, there is also many other styles such as Melodycore that have been influenced by Girly fashion.


TV Shows[]

  • Girly Air Force



External links to help get a better understanding of this aesthetic.