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

Name[edit | edit source]

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 | edit source]

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. [1]

Style Basics[edit | edit source]

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. [2][3][4][5][6]

Color Schemes[edit | edit source]

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 | edit source]

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 | edit source]

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 | edit source]

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

Hairstyles[edit | edit source]

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 | edit source]

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 & Shops[edit | edit source]

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. [2]

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

Substyles[edit | edit source]

Visual Kei has many substyles, and some are even full-fledged styles themselves. [6]

Gallery[edit | edit source]

External Links[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Visual Kei." Visual Kei Encyclopaedia. December 29, 2018. Retrieved August 26, 2020 from
  2. 2.0 2.1 Teofilo Killip. "Visual kei." Complex. February 15, 2013. Retrieved August 26, 2020 from
  3. "How To Wear Visual Kei Clothing." Mookychick. September 3, 2014. Retrieved August 26, 2020 from
  4. "Visual kei." Wikipedia. July 20, 2020. Retrieved August 26, 2020 from
  5. "The story of visual kei." Time Out. June 11, 2015. Retrieved August 26, 2020 from
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Visual Kei." All The Tropes Wiki. February 26, 2020. Retrieved August 26, 2020 from
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