Tips on How to Style a Trending Casual “Kawaii” Look


A dreamy young girl born in Granada, Nicaragua 1993. Studied Fashion Design in Véritas, Costa Rica with a M.A in Fashion Styling for Publicity & Audiovisuals in LCI – Barcelona. Now owner of low-fashion local brand COTÓN AZUL, and passionated about drawing, teaching and creating audiovisuals.

Hello! Today I’d like to bring you a new and curious fashion topic…One that might be familiar to you if you were born in the late ’80s or early ’90s. You might be wondering: “Is she going to talk about high waist jeans, Lisa Frank’s illustrations, Powerpuff Girls? What?”. Well, let me tell you, I’ll talk about all those topics. Why? Because they are coming back as the 2019’s most-liked Instagram hashtags, so far.

As a “Coolhunter”, one of my tasks is to be aware of any emerging style, mainly what’re people wearing on social networks or the streets. A little bit of history, since the ’60s, fashion statements weren’t longer given by elite designers, it was now established on the streets, having as result outbreaking looks (Teddy boys, Rockabilly, Punk, etc.). Nowadays this concept is still relevant, and at the end of our modern decade we’re in the “Nostalgic Era Trend”. This trend is inspired by the childhood of Millenials (born between 1981 – 1996); which, main elements are icons from the ’90s, like cartoons or videogames characters, but mainly Japanese animation known as “Anime”; from those come the name “Kawaii” (“Cute” in Japanese).

Identify the color palette

To start your outfit, you must identify basic and protagonist colors; which means, there are two color palettes to play with. The basic palette consists of “Pastels”; also known as baby colors (baby pink, baby blue, lavender, mint, etc.). You can apply them over basic garments as a skirt, pants or basic t-shirt. The next step is to apply the outstanding/protagonist colors; which are rainbow colors, and the best reference to this is Lisa Frank’s illustrations. Obviously, these colors tend to have more saturation than the pastels; this is due to the fact that you must create a strong contrast in your look, to create a feeling of “Playful Mismatch”.

The kawaii element

Now that you’ve settled the primordial configuration, go for the most important element in the outfit, the kawaii’s element. As we mentioned before, the trend is named kawaii because the most important icons are anime characters. So, search for garments with located or repetitive prints/embroidery, referring to these characters, which can be: Sailor Moon, Sakura Card-Captor, Dragon Ball, Pokemon, Hello Kitty. Other icons that are permitted are Powerpuff Girls, Animaniacs, Rugrats, SpongeBob Squarepants, among others. Lastly, videogames characters or pixel-art illustrations are included in the package because, during the ’90s, arcade videogames were in the hype of youth recreational activities. These elements might be placed on the center of a white t-shirt; these kinds of garments are easy to get in any comic-store or you can even look for them in online stores, such as HotTopic, TeePublic, Imouri, or any similar store…Even Amazon.

The style of the garment

The style of the garment is completely important to get the perfect kawaii’s look. We might have the anime’s embroidery, but if you don’t style it as it must, it’ll only be a usual fan t-shirt. A simple white t-shirt with an icon in the center is a simple garment, but to make you look kawaii, it must one size bigger than your size. Any t-shirts or sweaters must be over-size; an iconic style in the late ’80s – early ’90s. A  tip for t-shirts is to cut the inferior hem, to make it look like “handmade” or “personalized”. Crop-tops are other outstanding garments; they can perfectly be mixed with high waist jeans or high waist skirts, to get a simple and cute-grunge look. As for the “grunge” term…Well, yes, you can add grunge elements because the ’90s were the era of this musical-rebellious style. And as always, cutting the inferior hem of the crop-top will be a plus. Before continuing; a styling recommendation, in case you aren’t a big fan of crop-tops, you can take a white (or pastel) sleeveless shirt and place the crop-top on; it’ll look amazing.

Anything high-waist…Yes, remember that high-waist jeans were the “hit” during the ’90s; so whenever you pick your inferior garments, think about high-waist. This not only applies to jeans,  but also to safari shorts, skirts, sport-pants (yoga-pants), etc.


The final detail; accessories. Remember that the accessories must not be exaggerated, they must be really small and discreet; the kawaii’s look is childish and cute. One of the things, I personally recommend is to use pixel-art earrings; I’ve noticed that many local-artisanal stores sell these earrings, with simple icons, like pixel hearts, pixel cupcakes, pixel bunnies, etc. Also, those stores sell small necklaces to match earrings; so build a pixel-jewelry combo. As for the bracelets; they must be simple, neon wristbands are perfect; just five in one wrist or both to be simple and cool. Also, match your wristbands with your hairbands, make a neon-match from your wrist to your ponytail.

Finally, for the shoes, anything with laces is great; however, try to go for white shoes (Converse or full-white tennis). Even though pastel boots are difficult to find, they are the best to amplify your look; so if you ever see one, immediately get them. Also, high-platform sandals are super ’90s, and they’re making a great comeback, which makes them easy to find at stores.