It seems like a good idea to start posting some useful articles. Starting at the beginning about the general information and some tips for beginners on how to start out.
Sweet, Classic and Gothic style.
What is Lolita fashion ?
Lolita fashion is a fashion style that originated from Japan in the ’80/’90. It is inspired by Victorian, Rococo and Edwardian fashion and clothing and is a cute and elegant style. The main look consists of a poofy skirt or dress (with non-showing petticoat), a blouse, over-the-knee socks or tights and matching shoes and accessories.
There are several styles, the most well known styles are ‘sweet’ (cute girly look with pastels and sweet prints), ‘classic’ (as the name says: more focused on the Victorian look, more toned-down colors like ivory, beige, wine and brown and prints/patterns with roses and dainty designs and ‘gothic’ (dark colors).
The subculture is originally from Japan. It started out with people/fans of punk/rock bands who wanted to look different or the same as their beloved musicians/idols. Later it became more of a street fashion: people wear it out for a special day or for events.
Since the nineties, lolita fashion became also know internationally and nowadays there are a lot of international communities as well, though the clothes still usually come from Japan.
The reason why it’s called ‘Lolita’ is not really clear, but definitely has nothing to do with the well-known book. In contrast: Lolita is a ‘modest’ fashion: there is usually not a lot of bare skin and it is not focused on sexyness at all, but rather about a cute and fairytale look that girls wear for themselves. The Japanese probably thought Lolita sounded cute and that’s why it was used. People wearing the fashion are also called ‘Lolita’s’.
Fashion or Costume?
Lolita is a fashion: a style of clothing and NOT a costume. Some people might think it is a costume because of the shape and colors that you don’t see often in daily life. However, there are lots of lolita’s who just wear it casually and daily, because they feel good in the clothes and like it. A whole outfit is also know as a coordination, or co-ord.
The yearly lolita picnic
Lolita in the Netherlands
In the Netherlands, where Risu Rose is based, there are quite a lot of lolita’s for such a small country. Some lolita’s that started out in the ’90/’00’s are still wearing it and every year there are new people joining our community.
There is an online group on Facebook and meetings are being held everywhere in the country, such as tea-parties, fashion shows and swap-meets. There are also several designers who sell their own lolita clothing.
Still, you won’t see a lot of lolita’s in daily life. Because it is such an outstanding and ‘different’ fashion, not everyone wears it daily. Next to that, it just isn’t always practical either.
How to start wearing it
Most lolita’s start out with a basic look: a dress or skirt, petticoat, blouse, socks/tights, shoes and accessories. Within the fashion, it looks great if you match the colors and styles.
Dresses and skirts:
There are all sorts of dresses, however the main differences is the shape. There is the jumperskirt: a dress without sleeves. The One-piece, with sleeves. And of course the skirt. Because skirts are usually cheaper, they are great to start out with. But jumperskirts are being worn the most.
A bell-shaped petticoat
A petticoat is a ‘must’ for the lolita look. It gives the dress its poofy look. Most dresses are bell-shaped, so a bell-shaped petticoat works best under it. However there are also A-line dresses, which would need an A-line petticoat.
Under a (jumper)skirt you would need a blouse. There are different blouses, for example one with a round, peter-pan collar and more classic blouses with standing collars. There are also shirts: cutsews, for a more casual look.
Socks & Tights:
Under a dress, you would normally wear socks or tights. Most socks are over the knee (OTK). They come on all kinds of colors and patterns, you it is beautiful if you look for a pair that matches with your dress, blouse and shoes. However, for starters it might be
Examples of sweet and classic shoes
wise to buy a plain pair, so you can match it with multiple future outfits.
A collection of OTK’s: over the knee socks
Even the shoes can be matching with the style, there are shoes with bows, lace-patterns, platforms and more. For sweet, a mary-jane style shoe is often worn (sometimes with multiple crossed straps). For classic oxford-like shoes with heels work well, but of course you can also wear boots. The socks are also worn in the more open shoes though.
The finishing touches are in the details, so accessories make every outfit complete.
You will see a lot of lolita’s wearing something on their head or in their hair. Because of the poofy skirt, something on top of your head balances out the outfit. There are bows, bonnets, hats and headdresses, so you can choose what looks best.
Next to that you have things like cute bags, wrist cuffs and matching jewelry. Everything to complete the lolita look.
Wrist cuffs and a bonnet
Some lolita’s wear a wig. You will see a lot of them with a straight fringe. Not every natural hair style can be cut with a fringe, so a wig is an easy option to still have that in the look. Also: with a wig you can choose your preferred color and style. A note though: be cautious with wearing clashing or weird colors in a wig. Things like neon colors are not really seen in lolita style and are associated with a costume instead of normal clothing.
Where to buy?
Because Lolita fashion is from Japan, a lot of the clothes from the big brands are being imported. Some, like Angelic Pretty, Baby The Stars Shine Bright and Innocent World or the cheaper Bodyline do have online stores. but they aren’t always accessible for foreighers. You can ask a shopping service to help out with that, such as Tenshishop. But even then, the clothes come in limited quantities and thus aren’t that easy to buy. Brands will reveal what they will sell in magazines and during fashion shows. If you missed a release, there is still an option to buy something second hand on an auction website as Mbok and Yahoo.
An Angelic Pretty store in Tokyo
There are shops outside of Japan who sell brand clothes. For example:Innocent World is available via the Dutch Summer Tales Boutique, there is a Baby The Stars Shine Bright store in Paris and the Swedish Lolita Butiken also sells brand pieces. Next to that, there are a lot of indie designers from all over the world.
A warning: there are also (illegal) replica’s being sold, online and at conventions. It might be cheaper, but the quality isn’t as good usually.
For beginners , the easiest way might be to buy second hand from an online sales community. Or if you live in the Netherlands, buy from local designers such as Risu Rose, Summer Tales Boutique or Christeline Lolita Fashion.
My first original outfit/print.
What does it cost?
Prices can differ, but to give you an estimate: A new brand-dress might cost about 25000 yen. Added to that are the import/customs costs, the shipping costs and the service costs. So in total one could pay 250-300 euro for (only) a dress. That is why for beginners it’s a good idea to not start out with a brand new dress, but to buy something second-hand or from indie designers. Even though even indie designers ask a fair price. But it’s not strange, seeing as sewing frills and bows and all the cute details is a lot of work, they don’t appear magically out of nowhere of course.
When you finally saved up and collected a whole outfit and wear it for the first time, you will be surprised how it looks and feels. Lolita fashion is a unique and special fashion style that is definitely worth trying out!