Sunday, November 27, 2011

How to: Decora for Beginners

In all my years of studying decora, I've never once come across a really great article on how to start out being a decora or anything of the like. The only one I can think of it from a long time ago on Wikihow, and even then I didn't find it too helpful.

I like to consider myself an experienced Decora girl. We're a dying breed. I don't see many recent pictures and from what I hear Decora isn't that big in Japan anymore. Fairy-Kei, Lolita, and Mori-Girl are more popular, based on what I've heard. Regardless, there are still some of us who love decora and some of us who still want to start with the fashion, maybe bring it back to life. So here's a complete guide on how to begin a decora wardrobe, "lifestyle" and overall achieve decora.

1. Research
There is no such thing as getting a fashion style right upon first try, or even getting a fashion syle right without tons of research. The most simple thing to do would be to simply look up "decora' on Google, however, much doesn't come up as you may notice. It's all about cabinets /: So, if you're using Google to research Decora, you might want to click the images button. Look around and click on each color classification. Pink is the most popular kind of decora, although rainbow decora is seen around sometimes. Honestly, you can choose any color of decora you want. I've done blue decora and rainbow, and my friend Ashley has done yellow-orange-and-black decora for our school spirit day. Decora is about creativity.

Things You Should Know About Decora 
-This is not FRUiTS! FRUiTS is a magazine that has street shots of decora girls. 
-One of decora's main points is to look like a little kid playing dress up. It should not look mature or sexy. 
-Decora is not s "thrown together" style. It has to be revised and edited many times and it take practice to get it right. 
-Although decora is a lenient fashion style there are some main points you must have in order to be "decora" or "not decora". However, that does not mean that there are lots of restrictions. Be creative!

Okay, let's get the basics of decora down. I'll take a picture I found on Google as an example. There are Four different sections of a decora outfit (this idea came from

The worst thing for a beginner in decora to think about is the outfit as one whole piece. There is sometimes so much going on in the outfit that it can become overwhelming and it can cloud the brain. So it is a very good idea to think of the outfit in parts; The head, the torso, the bottoms, and the legs. The first focus is the head.

In the picture above, the head area is highlighted. One thing decora is known for is it's abundance of hair clips. In my decora experience, I would say this is one of the key points of decora. There are hardly ever decoras out there with just a few things on their head or nothing at all. This first part of decora is a very key point, so if you want to become a decora girl, you might want to look around for some cute hair clips and barrettes.

The second section is the torso. This part is important only in the fact that it is the first part someone will see when they look at your outfit. I should not have too many things going on and it should be fairly simple. Layers are key here to get the desired effect. 

The third section, the bottoms, are a lot like the torso. They should be kept simple and not too much should be going on down there. One thing that is very very popular with the decora style is skirts. This isn't a limitation- you can wear pants. But it is very much recommended that you wear a skirt, as it will help with the overall flow of the style and the kid themed look.

The fourth part, the legs, are a very crucial point in decora. They never leave their legs bare. They don't wear heels, as they want to have a childish feel. Overlapping socks and having mismatching shoes is something that is very popular. 

Once you know these four parts of the outfit, it is much easier to begin getting a wardrobe. I'd say the most important thing to do at this point is decide on a color of decora that you absolutely love or want to try out before building up your wardrobe. The color I usually tend to go for is pink, because that's very traditional, however you can do whatever color you want. Once you've decided a color, the next step is to start building. 

2. Building a Decora Wardrobe 
When I first started decora, I had the impression that it would be very easy to just find stuff and put it together. However, this didn't turn out so well. I spent all of my time focusing on the little details- barrettes and hair clips and even surgical masks- that I forgot all out the base of the outfit. The whole outfit is supported by what you're wearing on your torso and bottom. This is what hold the outfit together and creates a great base to work off of, almost like a canvas. My suggestion is to go looking around for plain colored shirts. I gathered a bunch of pink tank tops (once I realized I was doing it wrong).

Don't fret- you don't need to spend tons of money buying Japanese clothes or ordering offline. It's just as simple as looking in the right places. In this way, decora can be very cost-efficient as opposed to styles like lolita. Places like Wal-Mart have super cheap t-shirts all the time, and it's fairly easy to find some pink or white ones, if you want a sweeter look. It's especially easy if you want to go for more of a dark look, you can buy black and white t-shirts for like, nine dollars. it's awesome. Also, it's fine to be a little creative. A while back I was at Kohls and bought this Marilyn Monroe t-shirt for ten dollars; although it had a big design on the front and was decorated with some red, I put a pink tank top over it. The black polka dotted pattern with the pink looked so cute and super decora. That was my favorite of my decora coordinates.

          Ideas for Decora Shirts
               ♥ Kohls V-Neck Tee
               ♥ Kohls Button Accented Top
               ♥ Kohls Striped V-Neck Tee
               ♥ Kohls Scoopneck Camisole
               ♥ Target White Tank 
               ♥ Target Hello Kitty Graphic Tee

Once you've got some tops, it's time to get to the bottom of things (oh I'm so punny). This part I find a little hard. It's not everywhere where you can find a tiered and polka-dotted pink and white shirt. However, that doesn't stop us! The skirt I always use for my decora I found a Hot Topic for five dollars. It's tiered and hot pink. Good places to look for cutesy-looking skirts are thrift stores, or even in children's sections at stores like Wal-Mart or Target. Keeping an open eye and an open mind is a good idea when looking for decora-esque things. Also, keep in mind that you can add things to the outfit! I have a couple pink bows at my house that I just safety pin onto the skirt to make it a bit more cute. As stated previously, a darker decora look would be easier because black skirts are everywhere C: Also, petticoats, unlike in lolita, are acceptable to wear on the outside in decora. If you have a petticoat or little tutu laying around, it's okay to wear it on the outside.

          Ideas for Decora Skirts:
                ♥ Hot Topic Pink Petticoat
                ♥ Hot Topic Ruffley Petticoat 
                ♥ Hot Topic Tiered Tutu
                ♥ Kohls Pink Skirt
                ♥ Target White Knee-Length Skirt
                ♥ Wal-Mart Tiered Skirt

You can also wear dresses with decora, as well as pants. pants aren't common though, but be creative and fit your color scheme, and it'll be perfect ;D

Once you've got these two main parts out of the way, you not only have everyday wearable clothes, but you have cute decora clothes too. Now for the accessories. This is the part where hoarding becomes a big part of being a decora girl. I keep things obsessively, so it has been easy for my to gather enough stuff to do decora. One thing you must keep an eye out is for cute hair barrettes and clips. Maybe find some of the clips your parents put in your hair from when you were a little kid. Pick out the ones with your desired color. Places like Wal-Mart and drugstores always have place where you can get little barrette packages. They come in bows, plastic animals or candy, just anything cute. It's good to acquire a lot of these so you have a lot to choose from and a lot to choose fro, size and shape wise, so they can fit in your hair and look good. You don't want to have all of the barrettes in your hair be homogeneous. This looks weird (not that it's not already weird XD) and it's kinda boring. XD You can also look at Etsy shops and get cute handmade things, or places like KawaiiGoods sell cute kawaii type Japanese items specifically for decora and lolita styles.
One word of advice, look in the kids section for some good ones.

          Ideas for Decora Hair Accessories
               ♥ KawaiiGoods Cute Popsicle Hair Clip
               ♥ Hot Topic Cute Bunny Clips
               ♥ Hot Topic Pink Bows
               ♥ KawaiiGoods Cute Kitty Clip
               ♥ Kohls Satin Bows
               ♥ Target Pink Flower Clips

The next thing to look for are socks and shoes. Many shoes that are popular in decora are converse styled shoes with Hello Kitty on them or just flats in general. I always wear big fuzzy pink slippers with my decora outfits. Also another key point is layering socks or just having stuff on your legs. My usual decora outfit has a very short skirt, however I pair some cute socks and leg warmers with it and the length of the skirt doesn't look as risque. In this day and age, it is relatively easy to find socks for decora. Stripes are good, just get a bunch that pair well, or get some white or pink legwarmers.

          Ideas for Decora Leg Accessories
               ♥ Hot Topic Hello Kitty Slippers 
               ♥ Claire's White Legwarmers
               ♥ Claire's Polka Dotted Over the Knee Socks 
               ♥ Target Patterned Tights
               ♥ Target Hello Kitty Socks 

Other miscellaneous things you can use are stickers and toys that you can fine anywhere. Add purses and stuffed animals and really just anything.

          Ideas for Misc. Decora Items
               ♥ Claire's Over the Shoulder Hello Kitty Bag 
               ♥ Claire's Hello Kitty Necklace
               ♥ Claire's Super Cute Strawberry Studs
               ♥ Claire's Wand :D
               ♥ Target My Little Pony Toy
               ♥ Target Hello Kitty Stickers

3. Putting It All Together!

Let me emphasize again that this style is not just "thrown together". It takes time and practice to achieve the desires look! 

So now that we have everything, what do we do with it? Remember back to the research you did. Maybe look up a couple inspiration pictures. The first thing to always start with is putting together the baseline, aka the torso and bottoms. This part can be tricky because you just don't know if it will look good with the outfit yet, but it's up to you to decide what looks good on you. It's often a good idea to layer clothes. (If your color is pink, for instance, start with a white t-shit and a pink tank top on top. This will give you a more innocent and sweet looking look. If you want a darker feel, put a black t-shirt with pink. The base part doesn't need to be overly detailed. let me give an example...

In this picture, both of the girls are wearing just a plain ol' t-shit. The girl on the left just left it as such, however the girl on the right added a pale yellow-and-pink jacket. The next part to focus on are the bottoms, which also are usually just skirts. I use a tiered hot pink skirt, and I later add some bows to it with safety pins.

Photo found on
Now, in the above picture, the girl layers two petticoats over another and adds a bow. This is totally appropriate and very popular for decora.

Another popular thing now in decora is to wear a lolita dress as a base, but this is also known as "deco-lolita". However, this can be counted as decora as well as lolita. Another popular thing is to wear kigurumis as a base. Examples below :DD

Deco-loli more on the deco side 
The girl second to last on the right is in a kigurumi 
Next you add accessories. There is no correct way to do this. You put on what you think looks good! layers are always good. Make sure your bows look good and not just clumsily added on.

Above is a really great and one of my favorite examples of how to out in hair clips. Notice how they're not crazy all over the place, although she has a lot. She also has very cute stickers and a face mask. even her eyelashes are decked out! Don't be afraid to be creative! C: 

So, before you put on all of the fun barrettes and hair clips, it is a good idea to put on your necklaces. This decreases the risk of your hair getting messed up, or the hair underneath the barrette or clip to be come uneven and messy. Remember not to put on too many necklaces; this can impair your breathing! Once you have all the necklaces on, you can move on to hair.

Notice how in the pictures, most of the girls pile the barrettes on their front bangs. This is a key part of decora and is what most people do. If you don't have a bangs, you can fake it using a piece of long hair from one side and draping it over your forehead to the other side and clipping it there. Once you start adding hair accessories, make sure it is all even in the hair. You don't want your hair to "fold" underneath the clips, as this looks tacky, lazy, and your hair looks weird once everything is out.

Next are the bracelets, shoes, and socks. Bracelets are relatively simple to put on, and you can even use arm warmers. Don't wear too many, however, you might be mistaken for the Kandies style. Socks can be overlapped, the feet don't need to be matching. Add bows or little toys at random places around your waist. Have fun! One thing I do frequently is use slippers for decora shoes. I find this to add to the childish look.

Once your decora outfit is carefully put together, it's time to show it off! Don't get discouraged if your first try doesn't look like you walked straight out of Harajuku, I assure you this will not happen. It takes time, practice, and patience.

4. The Decora Lifestyle

By lifestyle, I do not mean you have to act a certain way to dress decora. I more mean things you can do to inspire further deco-ness. If you're anything like me, you'll go through phases, sometimes forgetting that you want to be a decora girl. This means that you'll forget to buy cute things every so often. Good reminders can be to decorate your phone so you have the reminder there of decora.

Overall, just try to always be looking for things you can incorporate into your outfit. This is indeed essential to becoming a successful decora girl. (or boy, I keep forgetting to say boy!)

My friend Natalie is on the left, I am on the right C: 
Thank you for reading my post! This took about two weeks to write up C:
Yours truly, Jamie

Other Helpful Sources: 
  ♥How to be Decora
  ♥Kawaii and Decora
  ♥Decora Fashion
  ♥Dress Harajuku Style


  1. I thought this was very informative... but i am still a bit hesitant to wear decora... even though i want to so badly. im afraid that ill mess it up and will basically be making fun of the japanese fashion and those who enjoy it.

    1. Just try it! If people get offended, so what? You tried your best, and that's what counts! I'm a decora and I only recently tried it. I broke some of the rules, added my own style, and when I went to my local Harajuku fashion walk, everyone loved it! It was my first time wearing it out in public, too. I just did my best and it paid off. If you do your best, you'll be fine, but as a bit of wisdom, I "drafted" my outfit before the walk to make sure it looked great. I even asked my family for their opinion, which prevented me from wearing clashing leggings instead of cute socks. There are also online communities that can give you feedback on your outfit so check them out! They'll understand that no one is going to get it perfect. I didn't, but it was still fun to try! XD