Dangerous Looks from THE BOOK OF HUMAN INSECTS

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes 30 seconds

Beautiful, Deadly… and Stylish

We may not know any femme fatales in real life (do you?), but this persona has long been part of the public imagination – think scarlet lips, a slinky dress and sky-high heels. Of course, in different contexts she might dress differently, such as substituting a bold lip for a nude one, or a tight-fitting pencil skirt for a cocktail dress. But one thing remains certain: she counts on her fatal sex appeal to achieve her goals. The femme fatale isn’t someone you want to cross paths with. You’ll die doing so.

For a typical femme fatale persona, look to Toshiko Tomura from The Book of Human Insects, a seinen manga written by revered Japanese master Osamu Tezuka. The manga was first published almost half a century ago, and was turned into the Japanese TV drama Ningen Konchuki in 2011. More lethal than Harley Quinn, Catwoman and Amy from Gone Girl combined, the sweetly drawn Toshiko lives through life by leeching the talents of those around her, leaping from one art form to the next, and discarding those in love or lust with her in the process. She does so while impeccably and often daringly dressed (or undressed) in ways that her legions of admirers and victims find irresistible.

Toshiko’s Femme Fatale Style

Toshiko’s signature style could be described as a cross between foxy and deceptively prim. She often appears in alluringly cut minis and heels (the story is set in the 70s after all), but she’s also adept at covering up her femme fatale traits with demure dresses, trench coats and even snazzy takes on the pantsuit. Her most iconic looks often involve figure-hugging mock-neck sleeveless mini dresses, a demurely sexy silhouette that characterizes her split personality. The raised hemline and skinny cut scream seduction (especially with bared arms), but the modest neckline is a practical resignation to the social norms of the time.

Images taken from The Book of Human Insects by Osamu Tezuka

How to Make Her Style Your Own

1. Fit for Seduction

Above: Images taken from The Book of Human Insects by Osamu Tezuka

This high-octane outfit hints boldly at the femme fatale’s true colors. I’ve provided a sexier update on Toshiko’s mock-neck sleeveless tops and dresses – a figure-hugging, strappy knit cami in carnation pink, paired with a black button-up corduroy mini that comes with an asymmetrical hemline. While both items exude sex appeal, their comfy, durable fabrics also reflect the femme fatale’s deeply practical nature. No ribbons or ruffles for these killer dames! A pair of pointy high-heel pumps with studded almond straps completes the ensemble. Imbued with dominatrix glamor and a little outré, these eye-catching heels add an instant kick of drama. Of course, the femme fatale wouldn’t be so successful if she couldn’t feign vulnerability in front of her victims. This delicate pink crystal necklace nods to the “gentler” side of her persona. Simple, subtle and delicate, it suggests the innocence that she does not possess.

2.Off-Duty Femme Fatale

Above: Images taken from The Book of Human Insects by Osamu Tezuka

When the femme fatale isn’t actively seducing people or hatching plans to bump off ex-lovers, she might try to pass for a regular gal. Make no mistake – she’s still up to no good! There are always traces of her true personality seeping through her wardrobe, despite her attempt to put on a sweet, harmless persona.

This vintage-style red button-up polka dot dress, with its modest neckline and flared skirt, is a nod to the conventional side of Toshiko’s wardrobe. Its innocuous cut is lifted by the vampy color, which suggests ever-present danger. Meanwhile, the gold-tone choker partially constructed of spiky triangles is elegantly cruel. For an extra dose of mystery, slip into luxurious velvet block-heel pumps. Finally, throw on a classic double-breasted trench coat along with Toshiko’s signature beret to camouflage your dark side with some lady-like chic!

Dressed to Kill

Cold, manipulative and lethal, the femme fatale personality is probably not something you should emulate, but her bold, fashion-forward aesthetic is worth stealing! Put aside sensible cardis and staple hoodies, and try dressing up like a femme fatale at least once in a while. You may find a new, different side of yourself.