Called vijuaru kei (ヴィジュアル系) in Japanese, this is, more than a fashion, an artistic movement which name translates as Visual Style.
The intent of such properly-named style is to encourage the freedom of expression of the individual — a complete opposite to the traditional Japanese social standard of keeping a low profile and being part of a homogeneous mass.
As a whole artistic movement, visual kei is special in the sense that it has an intimate relationship with music. The style was originated around music bands which manifested that need of self-expression through their songs, and also through their attire — they wouldn’t have had the same impact without the outfits that showed this visually, with the adoption of an eccentric appearance; hence the name.
From the start, in the late 1980’s, visual kei was unique because it favoured the artists’ musical performance and their presence on stage in equal terms. Even now, both its music and its fashion are quite experimental due to the wide range of influences they have received over their existence.
Visual Kei as a fashion
Even in this sense, this style is quite unique as its only rule is to be noticed for your outfit, so there’s plenty of room for imagination.
Yet, this fashion is very meticulous about details, and every single bit of your attire should be calculated. It usually features intricate hairstyles — most of them dyed; striking clothing — with occasional cross-dressing, given the complete freedom of the style; and variable use of make-up. The latter is not mandatory, but it helps to stand out.
Accessories are also fundamental, as they give personality to your outfit. These include, but are not limited to: chains, arm warmers, bracelets — particularly studded; cuffs, rags, necklaces and so on. If you have doubts about what to choose, you can follow this rule of thumb: as long as they are part of an intended appearance and not too casual, they’ll be all right.