Warning: This post may contain little talks about mental health that might be triggering to some people. Proceed with caution.
Japanese fashion can be confusing at times, some of the most popular fashion subcultures seem to look alike in many ways, specially when you know little to nothing about Japanese culture. But if you have the right knowledge and source, you would understand that all those fashion statement that seemed to be on the same category are quite different with one another. One trend that is an often item for confusion is kawaii fashion in general, but take note that there are a lot of subcultures under this category, some of them are Fairy kei, Sweet Lolita, Decora, Deco Lolita, Yami kawaii and Yume kawaii, the last mentioned is the one that you'll be reading about on this post.
Among all the styles mentioned above, Yume kawaii, Yami kawaii and Fairy kei can be mixed up if you don't know how to identify one from the other, but after reading this post you would realize and differentiate them with no problem.
About the aesthetic
Yume Kawaii first originated in 2013, it was popularized by a Japanese fashion model named AMO after she used the term when Shu Uemura collaborated with Illustrator OB. Since then, the theme has been picked up by some fashion brands like WEGO in 2015. The style has been embraced by Japanese teenage girls over the years.
The main motif of Yume kawaii is dreamy, cute, fantasy-like and fairytales. The main color scheme for the style are pastels like pink, pastel purple, sky blue, pale yellow and and the like, but there are cases where a darker color is included within the coordinates. Though the colors are very similar to Fairy kei, they are not alike when it comes to the theme, for Fairy kei is all about vintage cute motifs like 90s cartoon character, where as Yume Kawaii is all about fluffy, feathery, floaty and overall dream effect. It is also considered to be inspired by girly Japanese anime magical girls (Like nostalgic 80s anime like Creamy Mami and Sailor Moon).
Sailor Moon was one of the biggest influence for this fashion, people embracing Yume kawaii sometimes wear cute versions of seifuku or Sailor style Japanese uniform. Handmade accessories made with resin is a big thing for this style. Elements like feathers, frills, ribbons, and floaty materials that projects a dream-like state or look is really a must. Dark colored pieces can also be worn for a little bit of twist along with all the pastels, and it can be translated as "nightmare within the dream", but it makes it confusing with Yami kawaii, another Harajuku street fashion style that emerged was pioneered by a Harajuku based artist named Bisuko, and it is based on this style.
Yume Kawaii and Yami Kawaii, what is the difference?
Photos: Tokyo Fashion, Pinterest
People familiar with Yume kawaii may often confuse it to Yami kawaii because they are in the same spectrum, but if you get to know both of them a little bit more, you'll see the big difference. Since they have the same color scheme used, it can be really confusing specially from afar, but if you look closely at the details, you can see that the motifs of each style have nothing to do with each other, they are in fact, the complete opposites. While Yume kawaii emits a dream-like, fairytale magical girl cuteness, Yami kawaii is literally translated as "sick-cute" and is rather dark using hospital themed motifs and accessories like band aids, syringes and bandages. but the main theme of Yami kawaii is really about one of Japan's deepest taboos, which are issues about mental health.
Photos: Tokyo Fashion, Pinterest
The vibe is all about being soft looking, so you can wear and layer any kind of clothes as long as it fits the main color scheme which is pastel. Details like frills, feathers or any fluffy material would do, like fluffy jackets, frilly pastel skirts, lots of ribbons or some feathery hair accessories. Pastel colored T-shirts are the most common kind of top for this look, but for the bottom, you can do shorts, skirts, you name it, you can wear any of those with no problem but one thing that you'll notice with Yume kawaii is that everything they wear have frills with some lace accents, specially the skirts.
Makeup is sweet and soft looking, like a dream-like state. Some pastel colored eye shadow, some soft blush and soft colored lipstick, though they avoid putting too much blush or pink eyeshadow under the eyes, it can look "sick-cute" instead of just cute and may be mistaken as Yami kawaii. A little bit of glitter is also a great addition for the makeup look, enhancing the dream-like effect. For the hair, your regular hair would work but you can add some pastel colored highlights, but other people who want to have a bolder look, they try to dye their hair into any pastel color, or for cases, wigs.
For the accessories, the most widely used are anything that is related to anime magical girls or something else along those lines. Also, if someone who love Yume kawaii have a collection of magical girl transformation sticks, it is the best time to use them as accessories as well, magical girl brooches would also be perfect to the overall fashion statement. Typical pastel accessories would be also best for this look like kawaii hairclips, some cute pastel headbands, some hair ribbons, and cute scrunchies. Pastel colored bracelets, earrings and necklaces are also used.
You can now throw away one of your confusion towards various kawaii fashions in Japan. The important thing is you have an understanding you of what makes a fashion statement Yume kawaii and you will be able to differentiate it with Yami kawaii.
If you're up for some Yume kawaii fashion transformation, bring out that magical girl wand and shop by our kawaii pastel collection as well as our Sailor Moon collection, you may find something that would bring out the dream-like cuteness within you.