So I like my anime and my manga. Following the massive amount of time spent reading and then watching both Naruto and Bleach, I ventured out in search of more indie or alternative anime. I’m not going to go into a list of favourites here, that’s a (long) post for another day. I will say that I have yet to find an anime series I can’t watch. Sure, there are plenty that are badly animated, badly translated, with terrible plots and annoying or poorly constructed characters, but sometimes it becomes part of the charm.
I really do enjoy slice of life and high school themes, for some reason. On one hand, it makes it relatable, but at the same time Japanese youth and school is so far removed from my Western childhood experiences that it’s fascinating and completely different as well. I suppose I tend to seek out slice of life anime for something comfortable and less action-packed too.
The best part about this style of anime is that it’s often very easy to cosplay. Hooray, more dress-up fun! I must admit that my hair colour (not to mention my physique, sigh) make it hard to find characters that I can easily cosplay without the need for extensive wigs and corsetry. If I was platinum blonde, or white-blonde, it would be a different story, but how many interesting female characters do you know with dull blonde hair and chubby cheeks?
My anime schoolgirl costume in South Africa
Because of this, I decided that for a casual costume party there’s no need to be a specific character; if I have a generic outfit, I can be anyone. Which led to the design and construction of my Generic Anime School Girl Shirt.
Typical of Japanese school uniform (according to pop culture anyway – surely not all modern Japanese schools still do this??), the shirt has a sailor collar in a bright colour. I chose purple for my trial version. The neckline is a lot more open than you would find on a schoolgirl, since I don’t want to actually feel like I’m in restrictive schoolwear. I had to wear a uniform for twelve years, urgh. The collar also has a stripe of white along its border, an iconic design for both sailors and anime schoolgirls. Traditionally, this school shirt is worn with a wide bow that hides under the collar, much like a floppy bowtie. I used a ribbon for this costume.
This style, when worn as Japanese streetwear and not in an actual school, is called Kogal. The word “kogal” is a contraction of kōkōsei gyaru, or “high school gal”. It originated, from all places, as a code used by disco bouncers to distinguish adults from minors. Girls who wear this style call themselves gyaru, a Japanese pronunciation of the English “gal”. This iconic shirt is usually paired with a pleated, shortened school skirt, often in the same colour as the collar. Add a school blazer, oversized loose socks, a scarf and a bold hair colour, and you’ve got yourself a typical anime school girl.
The Making-Of Story
To make this shirt I confess to taking a lazy shortcut. I found an old school shirt of mine that miraculously survived my teenage years with nary an ink stain or missing button. Snip snip! Off went the collar, to be replaced by the purple sailor collar. I also re-hemmed the sleeves to shorten them by a few centimetres. I decided the shirt, being a cheap-o mass produced item, was a bit too frumpy and shapeless. So I added a bit of style with the bottom hem. I cut away at the sides so that there was a curve over the hips and a longer tail and front (like many shirts are already). This shortened the shirt to a more fitting length and added some elegance.
I’ve worn this shirt to a number of parties, and it really is a versatile item. It’s light enough so that you don’t overheat, it’s comfy, and it goes with anything. I’ve worn it with little pleated skirts and thigh highs for a sexy school girl look, or with longer skirts and piggy tails for innocence. Even with jeans when I was simply too lazy to whip up something more inventive. This awesome little skirt I found in a thrift shop for R30!
Since I decided that I need one in every colour for my own costume party adventures, I thought it should be added to the store too. As such, a more tailored version will be popping up in the Studio Brinnjal shop any day day now! From kawaii to killer queen, this top is a must-have addition to any cosplayer wardrobe.
A big shoutout and thank you to Lauren for modelling this shirt for me!!
Browse the Studio Brinnjal Shop for the anime schoolgirl costume in South Africa.