Japanese Female Fashion Terms: Seiso Style

What is Seiso?

Seiso (清楚) is a more codified style but also more of a feeling. The kanji itself meaning “neat and clean” or “polished”. It’s a fashion style that also has its origins in Akamojikei magazines. It’s a style for both youth and young adults, the age range being around 16-35. Its exact history isn’t well known because “polished” has been a concept since there’s been clothing and many of the brands supporting it have been around for a long time. However the look as it is codified now started around 2006.

Seiso is for girls and women who want to look cute yet in a clean style. The style doesn’t really look at the opposite sex as a starting point (unlike Motekei or Akamojikei). Instead it’s about your own look of polish and feeling feminine. It’s a very popular style especially with young girls. The youth magazines that support it selling very well (Seventeen and Popteen).



Seiso vs. Otona Kawaii

Seiso is similar to Otona Kawaii, however it’s not Otona Kawaii. Otona Kawaii focuses on a softer look and less tailored.

fint Seiso vs. Otona Kawaii

A great example are these Fint (brand post 1 | 2 ) coordinates. A shop staff on their blog put together two coordinates featuring the same skirt. To the left is her Seiso coordinate and the right is her Otona Kawaii coordinate. With Seiso the hair is simple and the outfit is smooth to the body.


Seiso vs. Otona Kawaii

Similar length and cut hair but different styles. To the left is very Seiso hair. Smooth, girly, polished.  No curl or bottom curl is more popular than all throughout curl. Side parted bangs are very common. To the right is Otona Kawaii hair with volume and softness and a light messiness.

Makeup tends to be pretty similar between both trends with a soft natural feeling, although Seiso wearing less is better.

Breaking down Seiso

Unlike say gyaru or lolita you won’t see magazines saying “Top 10 Seiso Coordinates” instead it’s more of a feeling of “that’s really Seiso” or Seiso-kei (清楚系). Girls often won’t say they’re this style, but instead will say an outfit or hairstyle is “Seiso” or they like to dress in a polished fashion. The more common term for girls who follow this style is “Seiso Joshi” (清楚女子).

Seiso is often called “Retro Kawaii” in magazines. It’s also a term used to describe Idol-kei, especially AKB48’s rival Nogizaka46 (乃木坂46).


Nogizaka46 in very smooth “polished” hair.


Seiso themes:

A big word I like to use to describe the style is tailored. If the outfit looks girly yet tailored, than chances are its this style.

Common themes no matter the season are:

Hair – black or brown hair, bottom undercurl or straight hair with bangs,

Make-up – simple natural make-up

Colors – neutral tones especially browns, whites and beiges, use of one pastel, pinks, preppy colors such as red, navy and green. In the coordinates you’ll see there’s not a lot of black, instead navy or grey is a more common color.

Coordinate themes – a trad jacket over a onepiece, a cardigan or knit set, flared not tight skirt, blouses instead of t-shirts, tailored instead of casual.

Seiso-style magazines :

Seiso magazines are varied because it’s a youth and adult fashion look: Seventeen and Popteen are youth fashion magazines. More and Mina are both older magazines. All magazines listed above do not just feature Seiso style. I chronicled Popteen’s move to SeisoGyaru previously here.

Seiso-style brands:

Rope, Earth Music Ecology, Nice Claup, Fint, Allamanda by INGNI, Lowry’s Farm, Mystic, Axes Femmes, Mysty Woman, Apuweiser-Riche, Minirdees, Amavel. Sweet gyaru brands such as Ank Rouge and Ingni can also be worn more Seiso.

Shop Staff Coordinates in Seiso Style

All of the coordinates shown are by shop staff who titled their looks Seiso.


Fint shop staff in the same onepiece.


MystyWoman (left) and Earth Music Ecology (right) shop staff


EHyphen World Gallery (left) and Lodispotto (right) wearing neat-and-clean items


Two Nice Claup shop staff


Classic Seiso hair: straight with a curl


Ank Rouge Director Okarie posted her summer Seiso coordinate.

Style points to note: simple beiges and whites, hair half up, straight hair with side fringe

Although all the coordinates feature shorter skirts or ones right above the knee with the maxi and flare skirt trends of this season expect to see longer skirt coordinates. However they will probably be paired with a tailored blouse and the same simple hair.

Seiso Coordinates

Thanks to Coordisnap there’s over 1,000 posts of Seiso coordinates by everyday girls.

everyday everyday

This is all from summer so you can see there’s more of a summer silhouette, but the look remains similar. You can see most of the girls have smooth, straight semi-long dark hair. That’s the default Seiso-style hair for everyday girls who aren’t shop staff, but highschool or college age.

With Larme-kei emerging a lot of the youth brands of Seiso are starting to cater towards it. However most of the outfits in Larme magazine aren’t Seiso even if some of the seis0-like brands are in Larme, it’s all about styling and color choices. Again the keys for this look are simple, tailored with smooth hair which isn’t Larme style.

More resources?

Hair – A link of Seiso hairstyles tagged by hairstylists on Kirei Style

Adult Seiso – Here’s a good Naver of adult Seiso coordinates: http://matome.naver.jp/odai/2139096041313775401

An amusing article about a girl who won the Love SunShine Gyaru model competition last year who turned Seiso

This was a Japanese Fashion University post. Want to learn more in depth about Japanese fashion? Click here.

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  1. naminecchi
    August 30, 2014 / 4:27 pm

    Cute! the photoshopping on the staff member of Lodispotto, though….

    • Mitsu
      September 3, 2014 / 8:27 pm

      hehehe it was all them, not me XD

  2. August 30, 2014 / 4:35 pm

    I’m definitely in love with seisokei but I just don’t think it looks all that good on me! It is such a nice style though and I saw so many girls wearing it last autumn when I was in Japan.

    • Mitsu
      September 3, 2014 / 8:27 pm

      I think I prefer a little fancier version. I have clothing many of these brands and while I never think of myself as Seiso I guess it has rubbed off on me. But I don’t think the pure tailored version suits me either, at least not my figure as much.

  3. August 30, 2014 / 7:30 pm

    Thanks for this post! I see a lot of this style in Japan and always admire it, and have a few outfits in this style. I’m glad to know a name for it now so that I can look up pictures and stuff. It’s probably my favorite style right now. :)

    • Mitsu
      September 3, 2014 / 8:26 pm

      It is super popular now, I think it’s not very Western right now but it’s interesting with the look to the West trends many brands are doing that this exists.

  4. August 31, 2014 / 6:25 am

    I think this is the style that suits me the most! I just love cute clothes but I don’t want to look too young and prefer to look more polished. So this is perfect ^^ Although I tend to wear a little bit more color than this ~

    • Mitsu
      September 3, 2014 / 8:25 pm

      That’s really cool to hear! I do think the palette is a bit limiting but I guess that’s because it’s traditional :)

  5. Zing
    August 31, 2014 / 7:18 am

    Wow, I really like the style! I find it quite cool how the Chinese meaning of 清楚 is somewhat similar to the Japanese, meaning ‘clear’. With it’s clean cut tailored lines, haha one’s figure would be somewhat clearer to see than say sweet and girly?

    • Mitsu
      September 3, 2014 / 8:24 pm

      Clear is a nice way of saying it but makes it seem a bit sexyish IMHO? I like polished as the best translation. Neat and clean seems a bit… weird as does tidy.

  6. KC
    August 31, 2014 / 7:11 pm

    ok, the pics with the beige lace dress and purple cardigan, what shop is that? cuz i want the shoes!! they’re cute! XD and low enough that i’d be able to walk in them! lol. ok, nevermind i’m retarded and now i see you wrote it under… i’ve never heard of “Fint” before though… do you know where they have shops?

    thanks again for a very interesting post!! Seiso seems kinda boring to me, but it’s true that the majority of j-girls really dress like that…

    • Mitsu
      August 31, 2014 / 7:43 pm

      I linked previous posts I did in the first part of the article. It’s fint or fi.n.t. The easiest one to go to is in Shinjuku Mi Lord :)

  7. September 19, 2014 / 2:24 pm

    I’ve never heard about this style before, but it looks really nice *o*

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