GAL Guide Gyaru vision

Someone asked for a getting into GAL guide and here’s my take on one.

Okay I know this is going to have many arguable points, and some may dismiss this post. Feel free to, I hope you enjoy the rest of the Doll if so. My intent is not ruffle feathers, but direct this at those who are new to gal looks and need a push.

My vision of gal follows five simple points

1. Gal is a fashion movement. End of story. Yes there are many activities that are gal related, but it is first and foremost a fashion movement.

2. Gal is constantly evolving. The look you followed last year might look terribly dated on the Tokyo streets. Yes some trends continue on, but a big trend tends to date itself. Mamba are dead, hold a funeral, move onto the now.

3. Gal must be constantly improved. Your look is an kinetic being, meaning you must be constantly changing to strive to find the best look within the fashion.

4. Gal is broad. BROAD! Even if you exclude the two extremes of b-kei gal (hiphop gal) and hime gal (princess gal) you are dealing with a broad spectrum of style preferences.

5. Gal is NOT cosplay. It’s not a costume, it’s a way of fashion life for many women. Women who work extremely hard to get the effect they want. Women who have often made life-changing choices to work in retail instead of college, or be nailist, do hair etc… Unlike the US where it is easy to go back to college, it is just not the case in Japan. These women have chosen a lifetime of possibly minimum wage jobs because they changed their fashion. To play it as a costume is just downright rude.

Second of all, ANYONE can enjoy gal fashion and pull off a gal look.

It is my hobby and obsession to people watch. As a self-confessed shopaholic, I am constantly shopping off of people’s looks this especially stands true to gals. Break down the barriers you have about only Asians can “do gal” or blond is the only gal, or larger sized women can’t do gal. BULLSHIT!

Sorry for the language, but this is just absolutely untrue. I have seen some of the bigger sized girls in Tokyo pull off spectacular looks and in my experience these also do amazing hair. I have seen tiny girls fail like they tumbled out of their closet. I have seen many foreign gals do great looks. And no I am not the be-all-end-all of taste, but neither are you.

Yes the gals in the magazines are tiny, the average BMI of a Japanese model is 16. 2 pips below a healthy weight, which means one big flu and their body organs could give out. Not to mention the heart problems later on in life. Yes many gals have blonde or light hair, but the damage is obscene to your hair and many pull off black better.

How to get into Gal

Step one: buy or find online a ton of current gal magazines

Or find the ways via the glorious internet to read them. It’s best to pick a small selection of magazines you like. These will become your bible. Without proper access to 109 and shops putting website items often later than in stores, these are the most current pieces you have without stepping into a store.

Nuts, Egg, Blenda, Jelly, S Cawaii, Popteen, Ranzuki, Ageha and others all provide their style direction in different looks.

Personally I currently enjoy: Ageha, Nuts and Jelly as my main reads. Since Ageha lends itself to Agejo, Nuts to more of a Celeb-rock look and Jelly to a casual Adult style each can combine to form a look.

Devour the looks in these magazines, judge for yourself what is editorial (aka something made to look cool for the magazine) and something designed for everyday. An example of this would be ex-Popteen model Tsubasa Matsuwaka’s bow from last year.

An example from the Tokyo Girls Collection
Yet thankfully no one took the giant bow look to the streets. Instead smaller bows were used to provide the doll effect.

Seperate types of gal

Yes there are more types of gal, but…

Oneegyaru – Brand – Cecil McBee, Egoist, Duras, Rienda, Lip Service
Rock-kei – Brand – Glad News, Gilfy, TutuHA, Heaven and Earth
Oraora-kei – Brand – Heaven and Earth, Natural Nine, Slangy
Doll or Sweet-kei – Brand  – Honey Bunch, Liz Lisa, Miel Chrisnaut, One*Spo, Rojita
Hime – Brand – Jesus Diamante
B-gyaru – Brand – LB-03, Baby Shoop, Dance by LB-03, Cheer
Agejo – Brand – Mar*s, Lip Service, Golds Infinity
Pop – Brand – Cocolulu, Shake Shake, w♥c, JSG, Galaxxxy

These are the main ones I see day-to-day. If it’s not on the list it’s possibly dying. (yes there are kogals but they are schoolgirls in Japan, I am doubting who is reading this is either.)

Start an “I love this board” or list

Through Polyvore or just a simple cork board at home, cut out your inspirational looks and study from them. Judge what could craft an outfit best. If you’re less the collage type, a list can help although not as visual. Also you can use booknote Post-its to refer back in your magazines of what you like.

This should be your time to narrow your style. Often the more you solidify the kei you enjoy and style direction you choose, you can be more effective inside of that genre.

Be a fashion editor to your closet

Which current items do you see in  your closet that can be used for gal? I am betting you will find some. A chunky winter scarf, some skinny jeans, a loose tee, some leggings. Scrounge together what you feel echos the current trends.

 

Gals identify each other through aesthetics

This may be a little too sociological, but it’s more do your nails, eyebrows, eyelashes, general make and hair echo a gal mentality.

Nails:

Magazines put out a nail guide and some are quite intricate, however if you stick to getting acrylic fakes with color and some stones you will find yourself doing it right. Or learn a skill and do them yourself.<

Hair:

Gals have a set color range. Yes it changes seasonally, but there’s a range of browns, blondes, reds (orenji as they call it) and such that are acceptable. Consider which of these colors looks good on your skintone (ask for beauty advice from pros) and go for it! I do not think moving into gal exists without a hair change.<

Tanning:

While for some its not popular such as Hime or Agejo, judging by the chocolate and caramel legs I am seeing this winter still tanning is very in. As an extremely pale person I’ve noticed that when I tan ungal Japanese often put my in the gal category even when my hair might be simple or such.

Make-up:

Please please go back and read Gal Mori and then we’ll talk. Eyelashes are such a boom lately. It’s hard not to see girls in 109 that do not have extensions (my shopstaff Kie does them) or fake ones (Mai, Yuuna and other shopstaff I know prefer this). MAC is beloved by gals and gals often work there. Head to MAC and get yourself some of their quality foundations and eyeliner.

Please please DO NOT follow the make-up guides step by step in Japanese magazines if you’re not-Asian. Why? Your face has different contour and depth. Japanese gal magazines proclaimed 2007 as the year of looking like a gaijin (I kid you not). 2009 is now apparently by SCawaii the year of the haafu (half-Japanese half-gaijin).  Those of us not Asian, we are already contoured in such ways. Overusing contour make-up can lead to horrid results. Yes white and black and hispanic and arabic and etc… benifit from shading and highlighting, but in different areas.

Get yourself style icons: Pic the model you love from your magazine and study her look. Pic a few and mix to your liking.

Accessorize: I have often seen many western girls fall flat because of their lack of accessories. No I do not mean to get all creepy decora on me. Although a necklace, a belt, a hair accessory can often be the maker to a bold look.

Spend time

Make YOU your BOOM. Gals do not just wake up with eye make put on and clothes perfectly arranged. It is work, WORK!!! Lazy isn’t a word you have in your vocab. I recently was talking to a very sweet DIA shopstaff girl with amazing hair. I asked her how long it took and she said around 5 hours. That was just on her hair. So she possibly woke up at 4:00 in the morning or earlier to start her routine.

Kaji (meaning casual) of any sort is NOT LAZY! It is often tons of time spent to LOOK casual. Do not associate kaji and yuru (loose styles) with laziness. This is simply not the case. Effective kaji is extremely thoughtful and you might find these girls took the same time on their look as high-maintence Agejos.

Also you cannot do gal halfway. Especially as a gaijin, from my experiences we have to try harder to get past perceptions that Japanese people have of foriegners and also show we can enjoy gal fashion just as well.  Even if you are living back in your home country. Go hard or go home, simple as that.

Be humble and improve yourself.

We ALL can improve within how we want to portray ourselves.  We also all started out from 0, so remember yourself at the beginning and then consider others. My mother always said if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all. Sometimes this should be the code of gals. My experiences with Japanese gals, this is mostly the case. Instead highlight the positives of yourself and others.

26 Comments

  1. Karyu-sama マニア
    November 21, 2009 / 2:58 pm

    Thank you for posting this.

    My best friend is into gal and she looks fabulous. I have been considering of going into gal but hesitate thinking I could NEVER pull it of because I’m not a size 5 XD Gal is a wonderful style for everyday wear too. I feel a little confident going into gal after reading this. ^O^

    26 more days till Japan ^__^

  2. yuriyurichan
    November 21, 2009 / 3:04 pm

    may i say i looove your blog :3 !!!

  3. nuku
    November 21, 2009 / 3:48 pm

    hey,

    thanks a lot for posting this! I got into gal a while ago and I'm trying to live the style as my life, and not as a hobby..and I think just as you said it demands a lot of time, and it's true that one shouldn't complain/be lazy..it's just what goes along chosing this style, either you choose to BE gal, or to be lazy and not to be a gal. The example of the shopstaff girl proved me that.

    I love to follow your blog as there is so much to learn about..I just wanted to say thank you for that <3 you helped me with so many questions I had in mind, and I bet there are other people thinking that as well :3 so please continue your great work <3

  4. さらまり
    November 21, 2009 / 4:46 pm

    Oh this is a great guideline, your writing is very effective and concise. ^^ The information you provide can be useful to people coming at gal from any level, great work^^

    I personally do not dress gal but I do love it as fashion, and I'm glad you took the time to define it. I thought it was really interesting your point about gals and how they have to give up better paying jobs because of the fashion they choose to wear.

    Thank you for another great entry, I love reading your blog so much^^

  5. pinksugarichigo
    November 21, 2009 / 5:37 pm

    this is such a great post! i love coming here and reading the latest <3 thanks for your blog!

  6. bloomzy
    November 21, 2009 / 7:14 pm

    1. I love that you made this point. It annoys me so much that people think doing parapara makes you Gal etc.

    2. THANK YOU!! I hate how tons of people are stuck in the past. Manba is over with. Get over it.

    I also stick to Jelly, Ageha and NUTS. They're my favourite magazines and offer some great inspiration.
    Just out of curiousity do you have any examples of 'Oraorakei' I like tutuHA and haven't heard of this style before now.

    I'm glad you wrote this. It's informative and real. I'm tired of people who don't put the effort in or don't pay attention to current trends etc. D:

    Do you think maybe you might write a piece on how Japanese Gal's look at/interact with Gaijin Gals sometime?

  7. Markie
    November 21, 2009 / 8:49 pm

    ooh, this is lovely. Especially the lifestyle choice, I had never thought of it from that perspective. Even though it seems ridiculous, I think it's kind of nice to see them living in the "now" and doing what they want to do instead of doing what is socially "correct" or whatever. You know? It's kind of inspiring.

    As much as I love clothes, fashion and gal style, I know I can never be a full-fledged gal because I am lazy. I'm a big fan of sleep and can't be bothered to get up early just to do my hair&make every day before class. XD Maybe that'll change when I go to Japan.
    But at least for now, I'll never claim to be a gal, 'cause I know my limitations. I'll just be a fan, casual observer and occasional practicer.

    Unrelated, but, do you think we'll ever see a guide on how to do Western gal make? I mean from your opinion? I like how I do my eyes but I am always wondering if there's a little something more I can do to improve on it and make it more gal. :D

  8. Violet LeBeaux
    November 21, 2009 / 10:46 pm

    I <3 this post. Very very well written and well set out. I hope lots of gals see this and get inspiration!

  9. Neko_chik
    November 21, 2009 / 11:48 pm

    Thank you :)

  10. malignita
    November 22, 2009 / 12:31 am

    In response, I can only say:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JtWkNxn3duA

    Seriously, though, this is a great post. I think it covers a lot of the things many girls overlook when they first get into gyaru fashion.

    So I don't go off on a tangent too much, I'll just add this: one thing that has always bothered me about Western gals is that they seem to think gyaru fashion has no rules or guidelines and you can just do whatever you want, regardless of whether it's still trendy or not.

    Of course gyaru has rules, and thank goodness, too. How would gyaru magazines even exist if there was nothing cohesive and consistent holding gyaru fashion together?!

    P.S. And thanks a bunch for the link back to Kogal Panel! A little publicity for the community always appreciated. :333

  11. Chii
    November 22, 2009 / 12:35 pm

    yay this was a great guide and really inspiring ^^

    also, what is oraora-kei really? i know its got something to do with a tough-girl image but beyond that… no idea ^^;

  12. Irebun
    November 22, 2009 / 5:12 pm

    Great guide~!! :33
    Really helpful tips and insight~!
    Thanks. :3

  13. Anonymous
    November 22, 2009 / 11:12 pm

    Hi, Im not a gal but i loove make up magazines and checked out the Mori Gal and was GREAT! Lots of inspiration and advice, loved the one with using some eyeshadow i think if you have thin hair around ur forehead to give it a fuller illusion : D Ive been complaining about mine for years XD

  14. Lindsay
    November 23, 2009 / 6:38 am

    I agree with a lot of the points you made, especially pertaining to trying hard. So many gaijin who try Japanese looks just fall flat BECAUSE of this fact! I'm not just talking about gal, but gaijin girls who try lolita, gothloli, and yes, mamba (I'll get to that later), look half-assed because they either haven't worked hard enough on it or just don't understand the very fundamentals of the style.

    As for dismissing past big trends like mamba completely, I have to disagree a little here. I think it's alright to still be yamamba if that's what your taste is, *BUT* you just can't be half-assed about it like I said. Some people don't want to let go, so I say alright, they can be a small, hard-core minority. I'm just saying that some sub-cultures don't have to have the kibosh put on them indefinitely is all. By no means am I into mamba or any other extreme fashion, but I just thought I'd put my two cents in.

  15. Mitsu
    November 23, 2009 / 7:20 am

    Lindsay: Personally when I began living in Japan in 2007, I always thought it was cute how the 4-5 mamba girls would make dates to meet and bring their suitcases to change into their AlbaRosa hibicus coats and hang around centaagai especially First Kitchen, with their elaborate make-up. However these were not original mamba, these were the last-gens or mainly cosplayers. The ones who bought their AlbaRosa coats off of yahoo!japan because they were obviously much too young to have been around when mamba actually HAD a fashion outlet, they looked highschool at most. (Japanese TV back in 2007 used to have some highlights of poor Mamba buying used coats and trying to hang onto the style). 2005 is when the brand closed. http://www.howardwfrench.com/archives/2005/08/22/alba_rosa_no_more_end_of_an_era_in_shibuya_style/

    In the past year I have been here, since the fake police have taken over centaagai in 2008. I have seen 3 (!!!) mamba. 3!! And one was a Sentaagai, walking through Shinjuku. Followed by Japanese people wanting to take a picture of him. Honestly he looked beaten down and weathered and more like George Clinton than a Sentaagai.

    No I am not saying I have eyes everywhere, but I live in Shibuya, I play in Shinjuku often. I head to Ikebukuro sometimes (which was once said to be where they left to after the centaagai fake police harrassed them).

    3, with 2 obviously younger than the fashion's peak does not make a current style. Or even really a hardcore minority.

    I am not dismissing a big trend, I never said it wasn't a trend. It was ONCE a booming trend. It's just a long long long dead trend.

    I liked the mamba, but it's over now.

  16. Lindsay
    November 23, 2009 / 7:52 am

    Mitsu: Fair enough. I understand where you're coming from. I just personally think that the young kids who weren't first, second, or even third wave mamba still should be able to pursue the style even if it isn't cool anymore. I respect that. Some people don't want to be in the now, which is completely un-gal, but if they want to put in the time and the effort into the style, more power to them.

    Also, I didn't realize that we were already friends on Poupeegirl! I go by Mink on there.

    Anyway, I think this is a really great blog. I'll be reading it on the regular :)

  17. bloomzy
    November 23, 2009 / 12:28 pm

    Lindsay I can understand what both you and Mitsu are saying, and I don't think she means that they can't do the style and still have fun.

    I think what she means, or how I see it, is that these people can do the style but need to stop thinking it is still in fashion and that it makes the Gal, because this isn't the case.

  18. Lanna
    November 23, 2009 / 9:03 pm

    Wonderful guide!!Very informative(as always) and inspirational:D
    The bmi things freaks me out,I find it even more worrying how a lot of western girls think that's a healthy aspiration!!:S

    Just out of interest.How do you find the fit of Gilfy clothing to be?Since your tall like myself:)

  19. Kat Reaganomics
    November 24, 2009 / 12:25 am

    Waaaah!! This article was a good read for me. I've been wanting to get in to gal for so long but I keep feeling as if I'm not sexy/thin/etc. enough to pull it off. After reading this article I remembered to keep telling myself that with enough work I can make it. c: I've decided that I'm going to go for a more Rock-kei sort of look and the suggestions for which magazines to look through has really helped out. I'm so going to book mark this and check back as it updates.

  20. Miki
    December 5, 2009 / 11:33 am

    I have a question in regards with trends:

    Because I live in the southern Hemisphere our seasons are the opposite of the Northern which means that we are 6 months behind in Fashion. Would you suggest that, for example during our winter I should use trends from the winter which has already passed in the North??

    It gets a little confusing with seasonal changes. There are small things which I can keep up to date with such as make up or hair but something with certain clothes, colours or prints, it just doesn't work.

  21. Pauline
    January 31, 2010 / 3:35 pm

    Mitsu! What is it with gals and changing their names? does it just have to do with their alternate gal-persona, or is there more?

  22. June 13, 2011 / 10:30 am

    Really awesome blog you have here! Great advice for foreigner interested in asian style. I’ll definitely be a regular on your blog now that i’ve found it ^^
    Jen from BKK, Thailand

  23. Vivienne Grey
    September 30, 2011 / 3:12 pm

    Truly the best gal guide post I’ve seen. So many of these ideas apply to ANY fashion style you try to pursue. What really sticks with me is the way you outline the necessity for commitment, which is true is all styles. By replacing the names of magazines, and certain gal-specific items within this post, you definitely outline the way that people should go about their fashion in general.

    I really like that you included your own strong opinions clearly, but also stated that there are many way to go about gal and that while you have an opinion, you in no way consider it to be the end-all, be-all of gal fashion. I love the organization of the the post and the excellent form you use to include all gals everywhere.

    Amazing post!

  24. April 11, 2012 / 10:14 pm

    This is such a beautiful guide! Thank you!

    • Mitsu
      April 15, 2012 / 9:58 am

      Thank you enjoying it!

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