All posts by Tea, Sugar, Salt

About Tea, Sugar, Salt

I believe that deep down, everyone really is good, and that someday we will all come together in light and love and harmony.

Otome: a Maiden’s Restraint

Nice to meet you. I’m Cure Ocha, and while I’ve commented in the past, this is my very first post here. Please be gentle, and I hope you enjoy it!

Lolita is a Japanese fashion we all know, and we approve of how beautiful and feminine it is. However, for many of us, wearing lolita would be impractical or, since it is usually constrained to one very distinctive silhouette, even unflattering. What has me really excited is another Japanese fashion that still keeps to the principles of femininity, elegance, and cuteness, but allows for a little more variation in silhouette and ease of wear. That fashion is otome kei, less known in the West than lolita but quickly increasing in popularity.

Otome literally means maiden, and it is meant to make one look like a real maiden – lovely and innocent. Some of it looks rather close to lolita, and in fact the line between the two can get a little blurry.


The main difference that can be easily quantified is the lack of a bell-shaped petticoat. However, otome kei can actually look very different from lolita.


Can you stand the little gloves? I can’t.

The really exciting thing to me is that otome is so elegant and so lovely and yet it tends to be soft and easy to wear – it seems like a natural philosophical outgrowth of the fashion of the 1950s rather than a radical departure. In fact, these two girls wouldn’t be at all out of place standing next to each other.



For those of you who would like a little history, otome started, as far as we can tell, in the 1970s. In fact, a number of the brands that are currently famous for lolita, such as Angelic Pretty, started by selling otome clothing. Lolita didn’t start really being lolita until the late 1990s. That’s why the line between the two fashions gets blurry. In the old Gothic and Lolita Bibles, you can see plenty of street snapshots where lolis were just wearing whatever nice clothes they had that happened to be pinkest.

When I look at lolita I see a whole world to itself made of intricate loveliness. When I look at otome I say, “Well, that’s what the West should have done next!”

What do you think?