Welcome to part 2 of my otona kawaii guide. Here’s part 1 if you missed it, and is a good starting point if you have no idea what I’m talking about (or even if you just haven’t read it yet!). In this part, I’ll be highlighting shops both in Japan and outside of it where you can shop this popular Japanese fashion subgenre.
Note that all shop images are taken from at this point in time (mid-October). Obviously, trends within a fashion subgenre change season to season. I’ll try to make biannual posts as trends change from cold weather to warm weather.
Not everything in every shop will qualify as otona kawaii. When shopping, what to look for are items that strike a happy balance between youthful but mature. If it feels too much like it leans in either direction, it probably doesn’t quite fit. Another thing to consider is matching. While a basic black skirt is not particularly youthful or mature on its own, the role it plays in the entire outfit is what makes it worth buying. My personal rule? If you can’t make at least 3 awesome outfits using the item, don’t buy it.
Shops in Japan
To first get an idea of what the style looks like, it might be best to look at actual shops in Japan and emulating. It can be difficult to find the same aesthetic outside of Japan, but I’ll help you out with some shops in the next section. For now, here’s some of my favorite otona kawaii shops to help you get a feel for the style.
Fifth – gorgeous clothes at great prices! Fifth really nails the subtle tones with interesting details to keep the outfit playful and cute. Check out their coordinates page for a bunch of great outfit inspiration!
Natural Beauty Basic – this store is consistently voted one of the top otona kawaii clothing shops and it’s not hard to see why. Virtually everything in the store works for otona kawaii.
Shops not in Japan
Now that you’ve been enlightened, it’s time to shop at stores you can actually go to. Replicating the style with Western shops is the hardest part, but I have faith in both of us that we can cinch a killer closet.
Uniqlo – for nailing down the otona kawaii uniform, you won’t get closer than Uniqlo. They have great skirts and sweaters, all you have to do is add a pair of cute tights and a nice handbag and you’ve nailed it! My go-to page: skirts
ModCloth – completely hit or miss depending on the season, but if you look more towards their “word-appropriate” gear, you can find some great gems. Stay away from anything heavily patterned – ModCloth loves their florals and 70s influence – but these aren’t good options for obtaining a cohesive otona kawaii closet. My go-to page: work dresses
Aritzia – if I had a bigger clothing budget, this is where all my money would go. Aritzia has beautiful clothing, and I’m heartbroken that I usually can’t afford it. But maybe you have deeper pockets than I do. My go-to page: sweaters
Madewell – Madewell’s laid-back simplicity makes it a perfect otona kawaii candidate even if they are pretty heavy on their (rightfully amazing) denim. Stick with anything not-denim or patterned and you have some pretty strong contenders. The same goes for Madewell’s parent company, J.Crew. My go-to page: tops, coats
Chicwish – this one is a little order-at-your-own-risk, since it ships from China and I have no idea what the sizing is like, but it has really adorable clothes that probably suit otona kawaii better than most in this list. Someone order and tell me how it goes?
My go-to page: long-sleeved sweaters and blouses
Your Local Boutiques – boring answer, but this is actually where you’ll find the best stuff. Women’s clothing boutiques will often carry ultra-feminine styles, getting close to the ribbons and ruffles you see often on Japanese clothing. Don’t discount your local resources! You may be surprised what unique pieces you can find just around the corner.
Next Part: Attitude!
On a parting note, it’s important to remember that style, and what otona kawaii means to you, is majorly subjective. Nearly anything can be made to fit with the right styling of the whole ensemble, so don’t get too hung up on what is or isn’t. Buy clothing that fits well and makes you feel good, you’ll be 99% of the way there.
In part 3, I will be going beyond just clothing and appearance and closing in on what it means to me to have an otona kawaii state of mind. To me, this is the most fun part. Stay tuned!