Visual Kei is a broad term describing those who wear fashion inspired by various Visual Kei J-bands, or Japanese rock and metal bands.


The name Visual Kei (ヴィジュアル系) most likely came from X JAPAN, a visual kei band, who used the term "visual shock" to describe their style. The term is said to have shortened over time to become visual kei. [1]

Style History Edit

Before the term visual kei was created, the style was being formed in the early 1980s with early visual kei bands. The term was first used in 1992, and came to describe the styles of individual artists who wear elaborate makeup, elaborate hairstyles and costumes, and androgynous aesthetics. [2]

Style BasicsEdit

Because visual kei style is based on what a large number of bands have worn over the years, the style can be very broad with no true rules or even brands. The most popular visual kei look is an androgynous look, similar to some looks worn by David Bowie (often referred to as Kote Kote Kei), but other looks have been popular over the years. [3]

Color Schemes Edit

Generally, visual kei features darker color schemes, such as blacks, greys, and dark reds, blue, and purples. However, some looks, especially more feminine looks, can have lighter color schemes as well. Neons and loud colors and patterns are also used, but more monochrome is what the style is most known for.

Clothing Edit

Because there are many different versions of visual kei, there are many different types of clothing that can be worn in the style.

In more gothic versions of the style, things like dark lace, cobweb fabrics, skulls, crowns, crosses, and other spooky looks and fabrics will be used. More elegant, French rococco inspired looks, may include elaborate ball gowns. Punk looks may include plaid skirts or plaid patches on tops, striped tops, or ripped jeans with belts and buckles. There is even a toned-down version of visual kei that focuses on graphic t-shirts and jeans, with perhaps a sweater or vest or frock coat.

The thing that unites all styles of visual kei is the final polished but distressed look. Although visual kei may feature many "misplaced" or "ripped" items, the final look still feels purposeful and clean, not messy.

Accessories Edit

Accessories in visual kei are just as varied as the style. Some popular accessories are biker chains, arm warmers, cuffs, and studded bracelets. Piercings of various kinds are also popular with those who wear the style.

Shoes Edit

Shoes are once again varied. Common looks are a classic creeper shoe, platform boots, Doc Martens, winklepickers, and engineer boots

Hairstyles Edit

One thing visual kei is known for across style types is its focus on large hairstyles. Teased hair on the top of the head, straightened by an iron, and heavily layered is the classic look, and almost all visual kei coordinates include some variation of this hairstyle. The most well-known looks are those with bright synthetic colors, but simpler colors such as silver, ash blond, dark brown and black are all seen just as often.

Makeup Edit

Intense makeup looks are popular in visual kei, but makeup is not meant to be overwhelming. Generally, light makeup is used across the face, such as foundation, with dark makeup focused around the eyes. Men and women both wear makeup in visual kei, and a look is rarely complete without it. Some substyles take makeup to more extremes and wear white shironuri-like makeup, but this is not required or consistent across styles.

Brands & ShopsEdit

Although visual kei has no official brands associated with the style, there are some brands that have become known heavily as visual kei brands, or those that sell primarily clothing that fits the aesthetic. [4]

  • Sex Pot Revenge
  • h.Naoto
  • Algonquins
  • Hot Topic

Substyles Edit

Visual Kei has many substyles, and some are even full-fledged styles themselves. [5]


External LinksEdit

  1. Visual Kei Encyclopedia
  2. Cont.
  3. How To Be Visual Kei, All The Tropes Wiki - Visual Kei, TimeOut - The story of visual kei, Wikipedia - Visual Kei, MookyChick - How to wear Visual Kei, How to dress Visual Kei, and Complex - A Guide to the Fashion Subcultures of Japan
  4. Complex Cont.
  5. All The Tropes Cont.
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