An introduction into Oshare-kei3

// February 24, 2012

Since its birth in the ‘80s, visual-kei has been one of the most vivid inspirational styles in Japan, spreading like wildfire all around the world. Typically comprising of dark colors and elaborate hair and makeup, visual-kei has always been striking, bold, and eccentric. At the turn of the century, though, visual-kei took on a whole new element that gave us something entirely different: oshare-kei.

Oshare-kei preserves all of the artistic expression and empowering creativity that makes up its originator, but with the added twist of bright colors and flashy ensembles. It’s both fun and easy to build an oshare-kei-inspired wardrobe, because the possibilities are nearly endless. With the versatile mixes of dark and bright, cute and cool, subtle and eye-catching, you can find potential oshare-kei in just about any store – and mixing and matching and layering new outfits never gets boring. The only trick to oshare-kei is finding the perfect balance between the original dark themes of visual-kei and the much-cuter decora style.

Always keep in mind that oshare-kei is all about sending a positive message, so never forget your smile and have fun creating your own wardrobe inspired by this bright and optimistic fashion!

The Clothing

You have tons of options when selecting the main articles of clothing for oshare-kei outfits. You can never go wrong with neon pink and purple – these two colors in particular are a signature staple for the oshare-kei fashion. But make sure you pay attention to the rest of the cheery color wheel, too: bright yellows and blues are especially great. Now, the fun part is to mix all the fun colors with splashes of black and white. This is where the layering comes in.

Lolita23q often darkens the line between visual and oshare-kei. Remember: you always have artistic freedom.

For instance, one might wear a bright pink T-shirt with a phrase in blue printed across it. Over this, wear a stark white vest with a large collar and black stitching. Complete with a pair of the always-universal grey or black skinny jeans or harem pants and some shin-high colored combat boots. Voila! Your basic oshare-kei outfit.

One of the reasons oshare-kei is so manageable is that it very much fits the phrase “street fashion.” You can literally find it everywhere.

Also, keep in mind that oshare-kei puts to good use all those crazy prints and patterns that never seem to get enough credit. Plaid is probably one of oshare-kei’s best friends, and stripes, polka dots, animal print, and checkers don’t fall far behind. As long as you have a happy friendship between neutral and neon, you’re definitely in oshare-kei territory.

The Makeup

Shin from ViViD, a perfect example of the natural look with dramatic, intense eyes.

Trust me when I say oshare-kei aims for a natural look. Use your best foundation and/or concealer to achieve the best one-tone look you can for your face. Contour naturally and subtly. You probably won’t need any blush. What you can exaggerate, however, are the eyes. Enhance them with some fake eyelashes, and of course, whichever eyeliner you love best. The most common oshare-kei look for the eyes is to use a solid black gel or liquid liner to frame the eye lightly. It should only be heavy at the outer tips of the eye to give the eyes a pretty and dramatic tapered shape. Feel free to add a pair of interesting contacts or a bit of colorful eyeshadow every now and then, too. As long as the emphasis is on the eyes, you’re good to go.

The Hair

Like the makeup, oshare-kei does not have the same elaborate hairstyles that we see in the original visual-kei. Rather, oshare-kei hair, simply put, is kempt while looking messy. All you need are a few basic hair-styling tools, and you’ll be good to go: first, you’ll need a hair straightener. Not all oshare-kei hairstyles are jet-straight, but it’s definitely a safe place to start. For some people (myself included) mastering the art of straightening hair to absolute straightness can take what feels like a lifetime. So start with practicing this. After your hair is flattened as much as physically possible, start playing with some different hair-styling products. If you have short hair, Gatsby or other hair waxes are a great way to go after some practice. For longer hair, however, a comb and some hairspray might be needed to get the gently teased, fluffy look oshare-kei has.

Your typical oshare-kei hairstyle. Layered, straightened, with just a touch of adorable messiness. This kind of hairstyle is very popular in Japan nowadays, so tutorials are abundant online if you’re having trouble styling your hair this way.

Bou, An Café’s former guitarist, showing an oshare-kei style for long hair and the ever-popular pretty white locks.

Oshare-kei can be either dramatic or simple. Most styles are layered and simply teased, but you can go for anything from the spiked-in-the-back to the classic side-bangs-over-one-eye. I would look for inspiration before getting an impromptu haircut; find the one that you think best suits you before doing anything you might regret later. The colors are usually natural – except for the common bleached-to-ultimate-blonde many members of oshare-kei bands sport so often. If you go down the scary-but-oh-so-tempting-almost-white route, you can also think about putting a little bit of color, too. Some streaks or tints of soft blue, pink, and purple look great against the bright blonde.


Ah, one can never have too much fun. Scarves, belts, leggings, high socks, hair bands, ties, bows, hats, necklaces, bracelets, sunglasses, arm bands, rings–the list seriously goes on forever. Just make sure that you don’t use so many at once that the oshare-kei look becomes more of a decora look. One of the exciting parts, though, is layering accessories in a controlled but unconventional manner. Wear leggings under some shorts instead of a skirt. Tie scarves around the waist and sling on a belt from shoulder to hip. Don only one glove and slide some bracelets on your other hand. Have fun with the accessories. Consider it the last bit of your outfit that will really make it pop.

Never fear the unconventional. The much-loved An Café aren’t afraid of anything.

Takeru from oshare-kei band SuG, donning his cute and edgy labret piercing.

One of the most popular growing trends in oshare-kei, however, is probably facial piercings. Typically, these piercings are just silver without any color, so they almost, somehow, cleverly seem natural. Start traditionally with the ears if the idea of a piercing concerns you – you can always work your way up your cartilage and do some funky stuff in that area. Lip and nose piercings, however, are quite popular as well and offer a confident and edgy aspect to oshare-kei.

Article contributed by Briana Johnson (AnimeCountDown)

Briana is a high school senior living deep in the south, where diversity is as foreign as chopsticks and paper lanterns. Despite a rural/suburban, close-minded environment, she discovered her innate fascination for the Japanese culture – everything from video games to food to tradition to fashion to the language – after being introduced to anime series such as Inuyasha and Naruto as a child. After being stage manager for school drama productions, she realized she loved the beauty and thrill of costuming and props. She is currently caught up in teaching herself the basics of sewing, crafting, and modelling, so that she may combine her loves and also enjoy the fine art of cosplay.


  1. Kiri says:

    This article is great ^^ I’ve featured it on my Oshare Kei Fashion Community page on facebook! 😀 I hope you don’t mind! <3

  2. Rin says:

    For me the best article on oshare kei i’ve found. Really great job! It was very usefull for me, so thank you! *hugs* \(^-^)b

  3. […] This is a short review that i found. If you want to know more you can read here: http://www.cosplaygen.com/an-introduction-into-oshare-kei/ […]

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