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