Let’s All Dress Like Lain

If you haven’t seen Serial Experiments Lain (1998), you can skip the screenshots and paragraphs below the first photos and above the first headline and just know that the essence of dressing in the show is of an abjectly unromantic iteration of 90s fashion that gets its ethos from an existentially exhausted and cynical, but transcendent and (in a way) holy, response to cyberpunk style.

Basically, this style exemplifies the glamorous cyber-ambitions of the early 90s as they were, by ’98, mired in the depressive state of simultaneous omnipotence and impotence the Internet itself created. It looks cool but uncanny, both futuristic and passé, and is importantly very comfy and easy to style, so Lain is rich in inspiration for dressing as someone in the 2020s who is depressed and disillusioned by a) the Internet (still) b) the opulence-focused 90s/Y2K hegemony of the past few years of fashion c) just about anything else that could potentially induce existential chaos!

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The costuming in Lain embodies the series’ vibe of a cyberpunk sapped of all of its pretensions towards edginess and eroticism in the face of an existential chasm that renders aesthetics kind of beside the point. If there were ever an example of anti-fashion, this would be it. The outfits, similar to the illustration style, of Lain are simple to the point of almost parodying the look of an NPC: nonsexual, baggy cuts that feel simultaneously childish and overly mature for tweens, colors that signify no alterity or rejection of norms (the girls, including Lain, wear mostly pink, gray, and black and the boys typically wear green or blue), and hardly any graphics besides Lain’s signature teddy bear motif. Lain’s only defining character design element is the single longer lock of hair that escapes her bob on the right side of her face and is held in place by two criss-crossed bobby pins.

Other characteristic features of Lain fashion include layers, some stripes and plaid (mostly in the form of school uniforms), and lacing and cinching (more on that below).

One minor character (below) seems to be cosplaying Biscuit from Hunter X Hunter, which wouldn’t come out until 1999, a year after Lain’s release. On-brand for the eerie uncanniness of this show.

In some of the more dramatic and iconic scenes from the show, the aesthetic shifts: mostly white/off-white colors, cinched and bound sleeves and hair that seem to be drawing from sacred vestements on the bizarre character Masami Eiri…

…and the classic white slip that Lain starts out wearing to combat the heat exuded by the insane amount of PCs she hauls into her room and ends up as the backdrop to her attempt to literally hook herself up to her supercomputer via wires and clamps that form the most famous non-look of the show:

Here are some looks LOOSELY inspired by the show/fatigue with the opulence of the late 90s/early 00s style and its recent resurgence/cyberdepression/the intersection of innocence and cynicism/the desire to be comfy while I sit at my computer for countless hours of my life that I’ll never get back. Hope you enjoy!

Raving in Cyberia


This look is like a seapunk raving at Cyberia, the club that Lain’s friends force her to go to, which she concedes to, but only if she can wear her teddy bear hat. Fair enough. The netting and fringe in this look are a nod to both seapunk and the wires that eventually congeal around Lain in her room like a net catching a butterfly. The bra + skirt makes a very 00’s style club-dress-looking thing which I made more casual with the addition of my favorite comfy pants printed with dead fish and remote controls (themes!) and fisherman sandals. overall, I love this look and would wear it to the worst club ever (sorry, Cyberia does not look lit).

Proustian Regression Only 90s Kids Will Understand


  • Bandana – thrifted
  • Scarf – made by me, kind of unfinished
  • Sweater – vintage from Trop
  • Jacket – vintage
  • Skirt – via Under Support
  • Tights – vintage from keak
  • Shoes – Pineapple

I took the schooltime plaids, mary janes and chunky jackets of the more “normal” facets of Lain’s life and beefed them up with color (focusing on pink, as noted above, an essential Lain color). This look feels like something child me would have worn in the years after Lain was released.

Additional inspiration credit goes to @anitafurlong for this incredible look that inspired me to fixate on the navy/lime/hot pink/hot orange color combo so intensely that when I found this sweater at a vintage store I dreamed about it for weeks until I finally bought it:

Keyboard Commando


This look was centered around the fact that I love combining hot pink with red, it is comfy, and I like the militaristic aspects of the strapped-up nylon pants and rugged boots combined with a kind of dorky sweater. I am also very pro-paisley.

Cute Fit For Your Ascension Into The Wired


I wanted to take this look in an Eiri/Lain’s alternate selves/Lain all wired up direction in this look dripping with straps and strings and featuring billowing sleeves. It looks like what a cult leader would wear to a rave that they turn into a mass s*icide event by promising another life as bytes on the Internet.

I hope you liked these fits! Let me know on Instagram if you do and if you want more specific recs on what to buy to achieve this vibe. And if you haven’t, watch Lain. I think you should, at least.

❤ HR

Published by ESK

communist fashion-loving sicko

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