Friday, December 11, 2015

Taobao Mini Haul + Review of Fox's Feathers Death Angel JSK

Hello everyone! It's been quiet around these parts for a bit, but hopefully I can get back into the swing of things on this blog again. Today I bring a mini haul and review of some recent Taobao purchases I made! For those of you who don;t know what Taobao is, it's a shopping site sort of like Amazon where you can buy a multitude of items from sellers all over China. Things however can tend to be hit or miss, so it's important to buy with caution and look out for scammers, knock-offs, and bad quality items. Just as you would be cautious on sites like eBay and the like, the same applies here.

To shop on Taobao, if you are from the West, you would need to use a shopping service. My service of choice is Their site is very streamlined and easy to use, and their customer service is impeccable! I highly recommend using their service. They charge a 10% service fee for every purchase as well as paypal fees. In the long run, it's very cheap and even cheaper when you buy as a group, just keep in mind that the cost of shipping to you will increase the heavier the items are, so shoes and bags really drive up the costs by the end.

Anyway, I will assume most of you reading this are familiar with Taobao at least remotely, and are familiar with the many Lolita Fashion brands that are over there. Some of my favorites to list a few are Infanta, Krad Lanrete, Little Dipper, Boguta, Surface Spell, and Pumpkin Cat. If you are interested, here is a link to a comprehensive list of fairly trusted lolita brands on Taobao. Just keep in mind that some shops no longer update or can take very long to ship items (sometimes up to six months or more!) So again, be weary. Your taobao agent should be able to help you contact the shops to find out how long items will take.

Ok onto the items!

Infanta - Burgundy Striped Blouse
 with Pointed Collar and Gold Trims
Quality - 3.5/5

No link because they blouse is currently not available. 

This is quite a lovely blouse I must say. Sadly, at the time of purchase, they no longer had Size M in stock, so I had to buy a Size L. I tried it on, and it is rather big in the bust. Eventually I plan to take it in myself so it fits me a bit better. 

I had to rank this down in quality because the bow brooch broke in two places. One of the crosses came off as it was attached with really cheap nickel plated rings. I was able to re-attach, but I can see them falling off again. I will need to use pliers to really close the loop more securely. Then when I tried attaching the brooch, the pin back completely broke off. I will have to replace that too. So basically, the hardware on this blouse sucked. But overall, it's nice for what I paid (about $40 USD give or take.)

Infanta - Mutton-style Sleeve Chiffon Blouse
Quality - 4.5/5

I actually bought this blouse in a previous Group Order. I got the Ivory, and then I loved it so much that I ended up getting the black one this time too! It was hard to resist buying every color, as they have many to choose from! I really recommend this blouse! It fits amazingly! The sleeves are so fluffy! It;s very versatile and perfect for both Gothic and Classic looks! These blouses pretty much go with everything in my wardrobe, and I love them. They each cost me about $40 USD.

Ranked down only because I had to sew the top button back on because it fell off, and because the elastic on the sleeves are quite tight, so be very mindful of that. It's like that for a lot of Taobao blouses. I guess they want the elastics to stretch out over time and wear, or they think everyone has pencil wrists, haha. 

Little Angel - Black Striped Blouse 
with Gold Lurex and Detachable Bow
Quality -  4.5/5

This one is my favorite blouse of the three! Sadly its not available on their site anymore, but they do have the same blouse in other colors available here! This brand is a branch off from Little Dipper. 

I just love this. The fabric is soft and has a bit of spandex for a nice comfy fit! I love the detachable bow. It has a very quirky and circusy feel to it, and I'm sure I will be getting a lot of wear out of this. I kind of want more colors now! I bought their Size M and as I said, the fit is perfect with only one flaw - the sleeves are a bit short. I have fairly long arms, so be weary of that. It's not drastic, but it's noticeable when I bend my arms. I don't mind it too much though. 

Fox's Feathers - Death Angel JSK II
Quality - 4.5/5

I ultimately decided on the long length JSK in Black, which I don't regret! This goes right past my knee and looks great on.

I was completely floored at the quality of this piece. The fabric has a nice texture to it and doesn't feel cheap and it isn't shiny at all. This dress is also no longer available as far as I know, as there was a bit of controversy about copyrighted art regarding this dress. The link I bought it from is no longer available for some odd reason. Apparently the issue was rectified, but I still wonder, haha! 

Anyway, there are really rich and great quality laces and trims on this piece. The only thing I don't like is the lacing at the front is a little awkward, but I don't mind it. I also wish the waist tie was attached. It's a loose sash instead. However, it does give you varied options to tie it. The dress zips at the back, which is hard to get off and on, I would have preferred a side zip. I also wish the back was fully shirred, it would have been even more comfy that way, the bodice is a just fit for me. I like my shirring dammit!

Ultimatum? I think this was a good ass mini haul!

Coordinate One 
Elder Witch

Here is a mature Gothic look. I used the JSK and the Blouse I received, that match perfectly. I paired it with a Gunmetal wig (from Lockshop), a circular veiled headdress I made, and a Moss Marchen gold rosary. I threw in my good ol' trusty Evil Live school bag like always (I only have two lolita purses currently, and this is my main one. I'm not one to collect purses. I just like having my staples that I can use over and over in many outfits.)

I would pair this with some black lace tights and witchy boots!

Coordinate Two
Spoopy Time

If you know me well enough, you will realize that I wear spoopy Halloweeny shit all year round, so I cracked up this number. 

I recently also got the Metamorphose Secret Laboratory Long JSK in Emerald, and then I put it next to this blouse, and they are a match made in heaven! At first I didn't like this dress because I thought it was a textured cotton when I was on the website, but when it came in, it was Chiffon, and I was a little disappointed (I didn't read, I just clicked BUY.) But I think it's growing on me now! The blouse is like a soft woven cotton, so the mixing of textures is nice!

I added a bunch of other spoopy touches, like the Moss Badger Ouija necklace, Skeleton clips, and my new Aetherlund Batwing cuffs. I threw in the harlequin tights for a little circus feel. Also if you know me well enough, I like mixing crazy unexpected nonsense together! I topped this off with a sparkly veiled headbow and some clip in roses. I need more gold hair accessories!

I would have done more coords, but it got late and I got very tired, but if you check out my Instagram, I post random coords when I'm feeling inspired, so do look for them over there! Lately I've been loving the regalia and gothic stuff, so there has been a lot of that.

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed!
- Aria Macabre

Sunday, October 4, 2015

An Emotional Thought Piece: Rufflecon 2015

I love Rufflecon.

I just experienced one of the most amazing weekends of my year. I attended Rufflecon, a fashion conference of all things frilly in Stamford, CT. I can't even believe it all happened. I met so many amazing people, saw so many extraordinary outfits, and felt so overwhelmed with feelings from it all that I just had to take some time to recollect it.

I'm home now and I'm literally crying writing this right now because of all my feelings. It's just that real.

Though I am tired, energy spent, socially exhausted, and it's all spiraling into a blur, I'm still over the moon and overjoyed that I was able to be a part of it.

First off, I must say that this weekend was a serious challenge for me. I have discussed it before, but I do experience moderate levels of social anxiety, which can make it difficult for me to be completely okay at large scale events like these. I tried very hard this weekend to talk to as many people as possible, interact with strangers, give compliments where they were due, and uphold a level of composure while facing my biggest fears. Though I wish I did better, I also have to accept the fact that I shouldn't push myself past my limits and only do what's within my means.

Sometimes were quite hard. I find that I over analyze my actions and always feel that I'm not interacting as well as others are, but it's probably all a mental thing. I hope that everyone I talked to this weekend didn't notice! Usually I am really afraid, but that heart-racing and gut wrenching feeling I usually get wasn't as bad this time around.

It's bittersweet. I wasn't able to talk to everyone I planned to, at least not as much as I wanted. Since everyone was demanding everyone's attention at all times, it was hard to hold extended conversation with people. That of course is no ones fault, as there was so much going on that it proved very difficult to hold a conversation with anyone for any longer than three minutes most of the time. Because of that, I won't hold any hard feelings. I will cherish even the smallest of moments I got to experience with people, even if they were awkward or didn't go as I had planned.

You can't plan out all the interactions you're going to have with people. We are just, people.

We are individuals, and you can't connect with everyone on a deeper level even if you desperately want to. It just doesn't work that way. If it doesn't happen naturally, then it's not as nice anyway.

But lets not be melancholy. Let's talk about the good things for a little bit.

I have to sincerely thank everyone who complimented all my handmade outfits, and all my dear friends who wore my handmade pieces this weekend and praised my work to others. Even though I wasn't vending or showing in the fashion show, I still felt like I left an impression on very many people with my creations. Just the thought of it is bringing me to tears again as I write this because I feel so encouraged to keep creating amazing things.

One of my favorite moments was when my dear friends Andrea and Susan walked on the runway for the coordinate contest in this amazing twin look featuring my Virgin of Guadalupe JSK and Skirt. They both looked so perfect, and were the embodiment of what I envisioned them to be. I wanted to cry when I saw them on stage, but I managed to hold it in, I guess why I'm crying now! 

I also have to mention my friend Aly, who was wearing my Robin's Egg Blue Bustle Skirt in an OTT classic coordinate, and she looked so amazing and perfect that I couldn't believe it. 

Photo courtesy of my friend Crystal Winterdream
My friend Chris wore her Walking Museum skirt too, and seriously, all of you guys really have brought me so much happiness that I don't even know what is life anymore. 

I am so motivated to really kick it up a notch with all the sewing work that I do and really push myself to keep creating and stay inspired. Next year my goal is to make Lilith et Adalia a more well known brand, both online and in person, in both the women's and children's markets.  

Another iconic and memorable moment of this weekend was getting to meet and chat with Shin Haenuli, head designer and owner of the Korean brand Haenuli. She is just the sweetest most genuine person and I was deeply honored to have met an talked to her on several occasions, first after the Designer Q&A panel, then in the Marketplace, and also at High Tea where I sat at the table she was at. I told her how I made my own dresses and accessories, and she was astonished and blown away and praised my talents every time (and even joked how she would bring me to Korea to work for her!) I was also humbled by her stories of the difficulties she had to face leading up to her now blossoming success as a well known Lolita brand globally, lessons that I'm sure I will learn in the task that lies in front of me in designing for and becoming a well known brand someday. The pieces I own from Haenuli are that much more special to me now, I hope to get more in the future!

Then there was the Fashion show, and I'm so impressed by the work of all the designers. Triple Fortune was a show stopper, Haenuli was magical, Morrigan NYC was just mind-blowing, I Do Declare - simply amazing as usual, there was just so much talent and amazingness. I really look forward to being a part of all that next year. To have my work appear on the same stage as these amazing people, well just the thought alone of it brings tears to my eyes again, tears of the utmost joy. I really hope I can do it!

Brilliant Kingdom, the band formed by Triple Fortune designers Kaie and Babi, performed on Saturday night and it was a life changing experience. They just captivate my spirit. I felt like I was living in a dreamland. I loved their music so much. Their costumes were mind-blowingly amazing, and they are just as themselves, on some other otherworldly level of awesome. I'm a new fan of theirs no doubt. I was able to nab a pair of tights from them! No bonnet, but maybe someday! They are just so over the top and inspiring. I was happy to experience being pulled into their world of merriment. They evoked the same feeling I felt at the Kamijo concert, which really says a lot.

I just adore them, plain and simple. I hope they keep coming back year after year!

Though there were a few small things that brought me down, mostly due to social exhaustion, the fond memories will keep me happy for many years to come. Rufflecon 2016 here I come, I hope you are all ready. 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Japan Trip 2014 - One Year Later - Recollections: What I Would Change or Have Done Differently? Planning Our Next Trip

Hello everyone! This post has been a long time coming, but I figure I get this stuff off my chest now because it is now exactly one year since I've been in Japan, and frankly I've been a bit depressed about it. Not like, horribly depressed and cannot function, but you know just a little somber. This is a chatty post, mostly words. More of a reflection and more personal than some of the other things I usually write here.

I guess it's obvious, but I really love Japan. I know the country isn't perfect. There aren't a lot of people in Japan that look like we do, but in my experience, that didn't change the way anyone treated us. I barely have a single bad memory of being treated as an other while in Japan. Everyone was super nice to us, and happy when we spoke to them in Japanese. Maybe we got a few stares, but none of which seemed malicious.

I. Learning About Myself - Negatively

I was really anxious about being in Japan. I wanted to go there for practically my whole life, and then it hit me - I was finally going. I was excited, but very nervous. Forget all the plane anxiety, that was just a given, but just the fact that I would be in a place that is so different from where I am from here in America. The customs were different, the social order was different, and sadly I became overly aware of this.

I found when I was in Japan, I acted differently from how I do normally. I wanted so bad to "blend in" that I think it took away from some of my enjoyment. I calmed my mannerisms, I tried not to speak too loudly, or do anything even remotely out of the ordinary. I was anxious about taking pictures (even if it was allowed) because the thought of the "Japanese people don't like photos taken" thing kept looming in my mind, which made me feel nervous about taking photos anywhere at all. When I'm anxious about things, I usually act in extremes. It's a trait of my personality that I truly hate and wish would go away.

I feel like this really hurt our experience there, my boyfriend and I. I was so determined to make everything perfect all the time and not do anything wrong that it really took a toll on us as traveling partners. I remember one night in Shibuya, where we kind of had a breakdown. I was being very overbearing, controlling, and frankly quite mean because I was scrutinizing every action that my boyfriend did. I didn't want him taking pictures or video taping because it was kind of going against the order of things around us. My social anxiety reached an all time high, and when that happens I end up acting extremely. He was clearly upset with me, and I began crying in the middle of this outdoor cafe because I just couldn't bare the strain anymore. We talked things out, and managed to come to a sort of reconciliation.

Then it happened again when we went to Odaiba, where I didn't learn my lesson and became that controlling bitchy person that I hate so much. We had another fight, and I cried while watching the ferris wheel lights. At that point I was afraid that it might have been the end of our relationship - in the place that I love so much, which frightened me so badly that even today I try to repress that memory. I think this is the first time I'm speaking about it publicly. He really made it clear to me that he did not like the way I was acting. I was being bossy and only thinking about myself - which at times throughout the trip we were both guilty of. I was also being condescending towards him, which was unfair and unnecessary.

But again, we reconciled. I learned a lot about our relationship in Japan. If you really want to test your love, take a trip to a foreign country. You will learn a lot about your personal shortcomings. But you will also learn about your strength. You will learn to change. You will learn how to become a better person. I'm still not perfect today, but I have to learn how to deal with that fact. No one is perfect, but you can always make a change when it's due.

II. Regrets of Dressing Up

One of my suckiest memories about Japan is not getting an opportunity to dress up in any Japanese Fashion while I was there. I went in the depth of August, and I really did not want to deal with it heat wise. Even though I came home with a ton of stuff from shopping, which I do not regret, I just wish I at least brought one outfit to wear while I was there.

Being in the Lolita shops not wearing Lolita felt so...stupid. I felt like I didn't belong. Not that the shop staff treated me badly, but I think I would have felt so much better about myself and more confident if I wore Lolita. Most of the trip, I wore summery American clothes, most tight fitting and short, which really did not fit in with the Japanese way of dressing in the summertime - mostly loose, girly, and flowy. It was even more apparent when I walked into a shop full of long frilly modest clothing. I will never know what the shop staff really thought of me, but that's a good thing. I will just say to myself that they didn't care, makes me feel a little better.

III. Not Enough Memory

So going back to the pictures thing, since I was so anxious about taking photos and being on video, even though we did take lots of pictures, I still wish we took more. Especially more video. I always told my boyfriend not to film me, and looking back I regret it so much and I wish I could have seen myself in the future now, sad because I don't have enough video memory of my experience. I guess it's a selfish thought in essence, but I wish i took video more so I could look back on them and really relive the experience. But I should be grateful for the ones we got, I honestly should.

I'm thankful for all the times my boyfriend just insisted on taking video even when I didn't want to. Why? Because he had a point in doing it. It was our trip, he enjoys taking video, and I really put a damper on that. I really wish it was different. Nowadays I'm so much more comfortable on camera compared to then. I hated being filmed before, but now I love it. Yes, again, people change. When we go back again I will be much better is all.

IV. Shop Until You Drop - Literally

For the both of us, we really mused on the idea of shopping like crazy people wile we were there, which honestly took away from the experience. Shopping became a necessity rather than a fun activity, and it really drained us. I was looking for my dream lolita dresses and fun and funky everyday clothes that were unique and exceptional. My boyfriend was looking for Anime figures (and so was I, since we like a lot of the same Anime.) In doing so, we put the prospect of finding material items over our enjoyment, which I feel was a mistake.

We shopped through fatigue and frustration. Honestly, if we weren't feeling it we should have just stopped and did something else. Like the time we went to Harajuku in the rain, which was so miserable. We should have just skipped it and done another activity, but I was so anxious of hitting the stores as quickly as possible that I didn't think of anything else.

The Anime figure shopping was fun, but it seemed like we were doing it constantly, which was tiring. We probably went to every single store in Tokyo, and definitely in Akihabara - where we were staying. It got a little mundane after the 20th store. Yes we ended up with the mother load, but we used up so much time doing this. I think we could have balanced it a lot better.

I also should have taken the time to figure out exactly where I wanted to go instead of just trying to go to every single place, especially in Harajuku, where it was very crowded. I was trying to go into like every single shop. I needed to be calmer and more strategic. I also needed to be more aware of my boyfriends' needs, as I was dragging him all around places where he wasn't really interested in being. I wish I took moments to appreciate him more instead of policing his actions constantly like I did. Thus the breakdown in Shibuya. It sucked because I was into searching for Anime figures, so his shopping needs didn't bother me so much, but he didn't want to shop for clothes so it was very one sided. I wish it wasn't like that and I hope to avoid that happening again, even if it means shopping more solitarily.

Next time we go, less shopping. When shopping we must be more calm and rational and don't get crazy about anything. If we are fatigued, it's time to stop for the day. Be aware of your companion and their personal needs, or opt for shopping alone and reconnecting at a mutually agreed upon place and time afterward.

V. When The Next Trip Comes...

Next time I visit Japan, I'm going to learn from the mistakes I made on this past trip and make the next one a better experience. I hope to see more of Japan, outside of just Tokyo. I want to have more cultural experiences instead of pop culture and shopping. I want to relax more, spend more time in local parks, on boat rides or by the oceanside, on the beach, generally more leisurely things. I want to explore residential neighborhoods and get a feel for normal Japanese life. I want to take it slow.

Next time we plan on doing an AirBNB type of stay, instead of a hotel. We loved our hotel, but I want to have a more residential lifestyle. I want to cook my own meals and shop for groceries. I want to live with the people of Japan.

I hope on our next trip we can stay longer. My boyfriend was there for study abroad, so he had been in Japan (Kyoto) for five weeks before I arrived. I only had the twelve days due to work restrictions. You can't do Japan in twelve days, I've learned. I would like to stay for at least one month. I hope I can get to a place in my life where I am more independent economically and I can do that. That is the goal.

I also hope that we can have more friends with us. I would have loved for some of my girlfriends to be with me when I was there, that way I could have shopping companions that were excited to be there, and it ultimately would have been more enjoyable. It's not that I disliked shopping with my boyfriend, but I knew it was a strain on him, and I don't like to force people to do things they don't like to do. I just end up feeling bad when it's all over and done with. So I'm really hoping I have a friend for that.

I also wish I could have connected with some of my acquaintances who live in Japan. I could have had the opportunity to create new friendships. I should have reached out to more Lolitas I knew who are foreign and living in Japan. I didn't even attempt to and I'm ashamed of that. I guess I found the prospect to be overwhelming at the time. Next time I want to make good on that.

My boyfriend and I have been discussing, but we hope to visit again in the year 2018, preferably not in the summertime. We are thinking Spring or Fall, and leaning towards Spring. It's some time away, and you never know what life will throw at you in three years time, but I'm going to remain positive and hope that I do get to set foot in Japan again and do everything all over, and better.

Thank you if you got through all this, though ultimately I wrote it for myself.

Until next time!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Kamijo World Tour 2015 - The Best Experience of My Life

So on June 6th, 2015, I had one of the most wonderful days of my life. Not only was it International Lolita Day weekend, in which I attended a wonderful brunch meetup with friends, and then hang out most of the afternoon surrounded by frills at Tokyo Rebel/Btssb NYC, it was also the day I would finally see my idol live in concert after being a die hard fan for about ten years.

Sadly we weren't allowed to take photos or video during the show, which is good in a way because it allowed me to fully focus on what what happening opposed to focusing on getting good pictures or video. I missed the opportunity to see Versailles in concert eight years ago when they came to New York City, so this whole experience was very important to me. Not only would he be performing Versailles songs, he would also be performing Lareine songs and his solo work. I was most excited for the really old Lareine songs.

Kamijo played with a support band of guys of various origin. On bass I was so happy to see Masashi, who was bassist for Versailles (following Jasmine You's passing) right before they disbanded.

The show began after several hours of waiting. I lost it when they began playing "Fuyu Tokyo" which is one of my favorite Lareine songs of all time. I couldn't help but sing along and dance, and I felt as though I was almost in tears from happiness. I swear Kamijo even looked at me in the crowd as I was singing my heart out. It was so magical and nostalgic.

A few more oldies were played, including "Finnacailles", which is another favorite of mines. And then he shifted into some Versailles era stuff and more of his solo work. All in all, I was most excited about the old stuff, even though I loved hearing Versailles era stuff live. I don't know his solo work as well unfortunately, but I did enjoy it nonetheless. 

The audience was pretty great too. It wasn't too rowdy and it was pretty mellow. I danced and threw my hands in the air, things that are usually not done by me to be honest, but in that moment I was my inner self, expressing the feelings of my soul which was full of joy and excitement. 

Kamijo is great live. Usually I don't like how most artists sound live, but no he was truly magical. I don't mean to be a fangirl, but it was like he was singing to my soul. Just being in his presence was like a religious experience. I've admired him for so many years of my life, and his music has influenced me all through my teenage life up until my adulthood and I hope that I will still be a huge fan, no, I know I will be for years to come. I'll be 80 years old and still listening to some of the best music ever made by him and his various band members. 

There isn't much more that I can say without spazzing out, but I'm just so thankful that i was able to have this experience. By the end of the show I was exhausted, worn out, feet shot to death, and sleepy, but it was all worth it. If I could I would do it all over again. I don't know if he will ever be back in New York any time soon if ever, but I'm more than happy to have had the time of my life.

Until next time...

"Why don't you touch my heart, 'cause it's so sentimental night..."
Haha, Kamijo's Engrish is a dream. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Thoughts and Things: Lolita Fashion to me is...

Artist - Kira Imai
What does it mean to be a Lolita? This can be a complicated question. Seasoned Lolitas, those in the fashion for a decade or nearly, people like me and many of my long time friends, may say one thing. Newer Lolitas, those coming into the fashion within the last 1-3 years, will probably think another. It's something that I've been thinking about a lot lately as many of my friends have been either having disparities about the fashion in general from different standpoints. Newer lolitas also seem to be having issues of their own.

Honestly, to each their own when it comes to partaking in this hobby, and I emphasize 'hobby' because that's what it is to me. I am by no means a Lifestyle Lolita, even though the fashion is a big part of my life, it's not my whole life.

I. Buying and Owning Brand Name Pieces

Lately I've been hearing  more often that many lolitas, especially newer ones, feel like they are being judged because they don't have brand/enough brand. This is obviously not a new thing.

It took me about four years before I had my first brand piece. Yes sure I wanted lots of brand, but the reality was that I couldn't afford it at the time. I faced the facts and just tried not to be bitter or angry about it. I knew my chance would come in time.

However, not being able to afford brand (not even secondhand at the time) led me to submerge myself wholeheartedly in creating my own lolita pieces - though I understand many others aren't as gifted or given the opportunity to learn at a professional level like I was (I went to design school), but I wanted it bad enough, so hey? I did what I had to do. 

Ten years later of sewing, eight years of experimenting in lolita silhouettes, and countless mistakes a long the way, I was able to successfully create my own pieces. It's not something everyone can do and I don't expect everyone to immediately turn to sewing as an alternative to buying brand. Skill is key and shoddy workmanship cannot rival that of brand quality, and it will be obvious.

Once I was financially able to get brand pieces for myself only literally a year ago, my years of frugality taught me only to buy something only if I really wanted it, not just to have it. Quality over Quantity I guess. I'll keep my small wardrobe of pieces I really love that took me many years to attain over a wardrobe full of random stuff I bought just because. If I bought just anything, I'd have no real attachment to them. All this time waiting to get the items is kind of what makes it special you know? At least to me.

II. Life Style or Life Takeover?

I feel like these days many lolitas turn the fashion into so much more that it actually is. They let it control every aspect of their lives, economically, socially, mentally...and that's when the fashion loses it's fun in my opinion. It's a hobby, something that is supposed to make you happy and occupy idle time. It's not your whole reason for existing. And yes you can be a "Lifestyle Lolita" without letting the fashion control you - honestly if it's controlling your happiness, that is no true lifestyle to lead.

Yes to many Lolita fashion is more than just clothes in many ways, but you can't let that idea corrupt your thoughts.  For me, it's just clothes, but at the same time a huge part of my life and the person I am today. It's also a large part of my career future.

But I'm not for letting the fashion get in the way of you being happy. Many Lolitas obsess over being the best dressed at all times, pressuring themselves to have the newest releases regardless of conflicting factors in their lives. Instead of wearing the fashion just for fun, it becomes a competition to be the best of the best.

Not being able to reach these high level goals causes a lot of lolitas to become depressed or feel inadequate to themselves and in their local communities. At that point, why even bother anymore? It's making you unhappy.

There is a difference between working toward having a wardrobe that represents the fashion in a solid way and having everything and anything just to be better or feel better about yourself.

The lolita community itself can also be very toxic, and if it's not working for you it's best to just let it go. Sticking with that one like-minded lolita friend or small group is okay. Being a loner is okay too. Do what works for you and there is no right answer. It doesn't matter what other people in the community think.

You can also do whatever you want in your clothing. I don't think I really need to list everything, and yes people may not agree, but guess what? You paid for your pieces, they are yours, and you can do as you please in the clothes that you bought. I mean if you want to mess them up, just skip on the resale at the very least and move on with your life.

III. Dressing for YOU

At the end of the day, you are your worst critic. Of course we have all been there, we want to have our dream items and be their best selves in this fashion. However, being happy with your own look regardless of being on trend, matching colors perfectly, looking a certain way (which is often someone else's individual opinion to begin with) is what's more important.

So you like wearing only old school? Like mixing pastels in your gothic style? Wearing only toned down looks? Only OTT and/or unconventional? Then do it. I think in the western lolita world, this whole "following the rules" business really has gotten out of hand and it stifles creative freedom in the fashion. Sure, I love the traditional silhouettes, but at the same time I love to see the evolution of the fashion and the mixing of the old and the new.

My wardrobe is just that, a mix of older printed pieces, new ones, and handmade pieces that reflect my personal creativity, and I'm so happy with it. Yes, it's still evolving and changing, but again that's what makes fashion fun. I love mixing different styles, wearing unusual color combinations, and wearing pieces in unconventional ways.

I know that everyone thinks differently, but it would be nice if we could remove some of the pressure in this fashion and instead use our creativity to its full potential and stop caring about what others think so much. Easier said than done, but for me, I am doing my best to do what I like in the ways that I like. Once you have the basis of the fashion down, take what you have learned and run with it. Run to places unvisited and uncharted.

Thanks for reading, add to the conversation!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Lolita Blog Carnival: A Brand I Love But Don't Own - Moi meme Moitie

Moi meme Moitie Head Designer, Mana
For me, Moi meme Moitie was the Lolita brand that started it all for me. The main reason I fell in love with Lolita Fashion so many years ago (about 8 years ago now) was because I fell in love with Mana, and Malice Mizer and Moi dix Mois - the music in turn led me to Gothic Lolita, and thus the obsession was born.

You would think that Moitie would have been my first brand piece, but unfortunately I absolutely could not afford this brand for many many years. I opted for of course, making my own pieces when starting out in the fashion, as well as obtaining pieces from other cheaper or more attainable brands (the majority of my brand closet is Btssb/Alice and the Pirates - and more of the latter - and Innocent World.)

They are often simplistic in design, the pieces overall, but I think that's the beauty in it. The cuts are also often quite flattering. Almost everything is grounded in black as a default, with a few deviations in pure White or Ivory. I'm more partial to the Black pieces myself.

I also love how architectural the prints are. Architecture is one of my most favorite themes in Lolita prints, so I love a bunch of Moitie prints for this reason. They hold the prize in this theme for sure in my eyes. I mean, how can we forget the infamous Iron Gate?

But I've been wondering more and more why I don't have anything from Moitie! I mean, it's just such a beautiful brand, and I am a true Gothic Lolita at heart. I should have my Gothic card revoked for not owning a piece by now! It's definitely one of my major goals for the year. But I don't want just any old dress, I want a piece that I truly desire. I'm sure most of my favorites are expensive or difficult to attain, but I've waited this long, I really think it's time.

Thank you for reading! Be sure to check out the other participants posts on this topic!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Shake the Shell Shock - Thoughts and Reflections on Approaching Those You Admire in Lolita Fashion

When it comes to Lolita fashion, it's easy to become caught up in the e-fame game, idols, tumblr queens, etc. It's also to become intimidated by those who have acquired high levels of fame when you meet them in person (or even interact with online.) It's crazy sometimes, because it's like we tend to forget that these lolitas are just like us, regular people, but the celebrity sensation easily takes that over sometimes.

Even beyond that of e-famous lolitas, it's easy to become scared to approach or become intimidated by lolitas with high caliber coordination skills, or even simply those who are more "socially gifted" if that makes any sense. I especially felt this way when I attended Rufflecon last year, feeling isolated and nervous even though I was surrounded by people I had an opening to start conversation with the easiest phrase...

"I love your outfit so much, you look amazing!"

Millefleurs - Model Midori
I would say it to myself over and over in my head, hoping that I could get the courage to actually say it out loud to the next lolita I admired in passing. However, I mostly kept quiet due to shyness and social anxiety. I mustered up courage to say it to maybe like, one or two lolitas I did not know personally.

But don't get me wrong, I'm not a complete wallflower of a lolita. I have many lolita friends, some of which I've known for nearly a decade now. Many of those girls were in attendance. In the end though, I ended up sticking with a very small group of friends, many of whom who suffer from social anxiety as well. We clung to each other and moved about the con in a low profile sort of way.

Even though there is nothing wrong with that, I felt in the end that I missed a numerous amount of connections and opportunities for friendship. Post-con I bumped up with a bunch of lolitas online who were in attendance and knew me through my sewing work, but didn't know me by face or personally (since I don't often post photos online of myself publicly like many other lolitas do), and therefore the connection was completely lost.

There were also a bunch of people that I recognized from photos online that I didn't have the courage to talk to in addition to people I saw in passing and wanted to get to know them very extremely. I had my eyes peeled for interesting and groundbreaking coordinations that were creative and impactful. I'm drawn to people who don't have your usual run of the mill outfits, using colors that aren't often used, wearing obscure lolita items, or those wearing lots of handmade items. Those people I saw that fit that had me in awe, and I'm sad that I didn't approach them then.

How exactly though does one get over the fear of speaking to lolitas they don't know and why does this fear even exist?

Sometimes I guess, like most people even in "normal" social atmospheres, are afraid of being ignored or rejected. I become afraid to sustain eye contact, and I often slur or mix up my words when I'm nervous about speaking, which makes me feel off. It has improved over time, but sometimes I just can't seem to shake it.

Then once you've past the threshold of "I love your outfit", then what? I'm often to shy to ask for photos, as I feel I shouldn't take pictures of people I don't know well (even though I do admit to collecting photos of lolitas off of tumblr and various other places for inspiration) or I just feel weird asking.

Okay so you do take the photo. Yay! In my mind, I always want a little more, but what exactly? I'm not going to creepily follow them around! Usually I hope that we have some kind of connection by ay of mutual friend, but that's not always the case. I guess from there you can hope that the other person wants to continue the conversation or move on, but hopefully not in an awkward way.

I guess I'm living that eternal creeper life?

Okay but for real, this year I have some major events coming up. Before Rufflecon a friend of mines is planning a huge frilly picnic in Central Park with like a ton of attendees and I'm here shitting my bloomers (figuratively of course) because I know it will be a strain on my social interaction meter. Honestly, I think it's best to just dive in head first into the chatting and mingling because if you don't, you just spiral into that "I'm going to hide behind this tree until someone comes looking for me" hole of despair. Dramatic I know, but it's true! I hope I can follow my own damn advice.

Kaya x Btssb
Yea I know I'm not going to be buddy buddy with everyone, but if I can at least talk to some new people, speak up when I admire someone's outfit, pose for photos (I'm super shy about that as well), take more photos, and be human I'll be happy.

Then come Rufflecon, with lolitas from al over the country, and even possibly the world, in attendance⎯I hope I can muster up the courage to talk to that lolita I've seen photos of online and love her style, the lolita I see in the hall with the handmade bonnet, veil, and accessories, the lolita in some fantastic 2005 era print in the turquoise colorway coordinated in that way no one would ever try, and on and on.

In addition to just being less socially awkward, making connections is good for business too. Being a seamstress, it's important to network with other lolitas to gain interest in your craft. This is also very important to me and I feel as though I failed in that department during last years events. I seek to change that this year.

So can I improve? Only time will tell. I can try at least right? Anyone with similar feelings? Lets talk about it. Advice? I'm all ears.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A Meetup Hiatus? A Shift in Socialization...

Just a cropped image of an Old-School Lolita GLB Scan, irrelevantly relevant to this post... 
This is a little bit of a short reflective post. I need to write more of these and I got the itch to write about this topic so I thought it best to take a moment and get my thoughts down. This is in part what this blog is for after all.

Just to begin, I am an introvert. I am very weary about social situations and find that I get bouts of social anxiety every now and then. Some days I find it difficult to go out into the world and be around strangers, and even sometimes people I know. It comes and goes, and isn't really debilitating or inhibiting in an extreme sense, but it is there and I live with it.

Where I live in New York City, our Lolita Community is quite large. I feel it's accurate to estimate that there are at least 500+ active lolitas of varying degrees in New York State alone, and several hundred more in the Tri-state area that also attend meets here in the city. I know at least 80 lolitas to some degree in my community - casual acquaintances or more deeper friendships - and at least 50 of them actively attend meetups. There is trouble in this because it's virtually impossible to invite everyone to everything these days, and a place that could house us? Even more impossible. 

At many large meets I often find that I can barely get to know anyone. Somehow I always go without talking to someone like at all even though we were both present the entire time. Yea, some people I just don't click as well with others, true, but there are some people I want to get to know, but just can't sustain a long enough grasp of their attention to do so. It's no ones fault, it's just that there are too many people.

I think for a bit I want to shift from attending a bunch of large scale lolita meetups to going on on more lolita "dates" so to speak, in which I can hang out with like 2-3 gals at a time (or even one other person) and just chill in frills. Gives us more excuses to just wear out our clothes and get to know each other on a deeper level (if you are so inclined of course, not forcing that on anyone!) 

I realize that for many of my lolita friends that I haven't gotten to just calmly hang out without having to organize a bunch of people, plan massive reservations with deposits and fees, wrangle and stress about who is meeting us where and at what time, and all the other things that suck the fun out of frilling it up with friends. 

I have done "lolita dates" with some people, but not for a very long time. I know people are busy and we all have our lives, but if anyone ever wants to in the future when the weather is warm, I'm down. It can be a whole day or a few hours, doesn't matter. I just feel like I'm out of the large scale meetup scene for...quite some time. Even groups of just ten is too much for me at the moment and I realize that socially and mentally, I'm cracking a bit under the pressure. 

Of course the fear is always leaving people out of activities or gatherings. You want to try and invite everybody you can and somehow you forget someone, or there is a space issue, or someone doesn't like the other person - it's always something. But honestly at this point I just want to reach out to a couple of friends and hope that they would oblige me in one-on-ones or three/foursome groups.

I wanted to plan some meetups for springtime, large scale picnic ones, but I don't think I'm going to anymore. [Also picnic meets in public parks are somewhat nightmarish because they draw way too much attention from the people around us, which is even more troubling sometimes] If I do anything, I'll probably just ask a few people. I just feel like instead of trying to make time for 20 different people at one meet and not fully connecting with any of them, how about have a few smaller intimate gatherings here and there with groups of three or four, or just that one other person you have a strong connection with or want to strengthen?

It's time to catch some air. I have been actively attending meets for a good five months or so and even though it's not every week (even though once I went to meetups for three weeks consecutively), I'm just exhausted at the thought. Wearing Lolita has now become synonymous with being tired and having a headache from all the social overload. I find that I usually end up just latching onto one or two people at a meet and talking to them the entire time instead of others because I'm weary of the strain.

Thus why I've only ever hosted two meetups ever in the seven years I've been active in the lolita community, and the last one was much more stressful than I expected and really did a number on my morale. The first one I hosted was okay and turned out rather well in the end, the last one that I most recently hosted started off badly but eventually got better towards the end, but I think it really set me over the edge a little. Both meets had over ten attendees. 

However, I will never entirely give up on large scale meets because there are certain people I want to become better friends with but I'm not on the level where we would feel comfortable just hanging out one on one. I mean if someone asked me I would, but I'm a little shy in asking see the trouble.

This is why my favorite part of large scale meets is breaking off into smaller groups and hanging with a few new people. I tried this at the Halloween meetup we had last year and was able to get to know some new friends over some good food and desserts. It really helped to break the ice and after being at a large scale tea party in the afternoon with like 40 attendees, to trickling into a small group of five lolitas that I was recently acquainted and simply tagged along. 

Man, I don't know how I'm going to handle Rufflecon, but I will have to really mentally prepare myself for that one when the time comes. That's a whole other animal it of itself, and I'm not proud of my antisocial tendencies from last year and want to work through that. 

Is anyone feeling the same way? Let's talk about it. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

My Dream Rufflecon 2015 Lineup

In the wake of La Vie en Rose, (which I'm eagerly awaiting blog coverage of all the details and photos!) I just couldn't help but to get excited about Rufflecon, which is our equivalent and I believe equally as amazing. 

Yes, Paris is well, Paris. But that doesn't mean that what we got going for us in the USA isn't worth getting excited for! After stalking photos on Instagram every day (check the #LVER tag in instagram, it's just glorious), I feel so inspired and ready for Rufflecon this year, as well as all the Lolita events I plan on attending in my local community, and the ones I intend on planning myself!

But if I could dream a dream of my perfect Rufflecon guest, panel, content, and event lineup, what would it be? And how would I be?

First off, as I said before, for Rufflecon I plan on wearing exclusively handmade dresses and accessories (main pieces at least, not blouses). I need to have about four total outfits for that weekend, possibly five. I might break to do an epic Haenuli Angel of Music super twinning event, but otherwise, all handmade. 

At this point I would say two of those dresses are being worked out, and maybe one will be something I have already made, but it's too soon to know. All I know is that I want to cover all my staple stylings: Simple Classic Lolita, OTT Classic, Classic Gothic, and OTT Gothic. I also need to make two bonnets for two of these looks. 

But back to the point, let's break it down!

Dream Guests for Rufflecon 2015

I have some astronomical dreams for my guest list, and I know it would never happen, but I will continue to imagine. 

Malice Mizer Reunion with Klaha, Kozi, Yuki, and Mana.

The band reunites at Rufflecon to give a concert at the Masquerade Ball. They sing all of the Bara no Seidou album and covers of some of the Gackt era songs (like Syunnikis, oh my god I would love to hear Klaha's rendition of that song.) Klaha is basically awol, so this would never happen, but alas... The photo above is from their brief reunion back in 2010. I would even take this...

Moi dix Mois performs.

This one is a little bittersweet, since K's untimely passing last year, but I bet it would still be amazing nonetheless. If it were both Malice Mizer and Moi dix Mois, that would be a little excessive I'm sure, but remember, its a dream! I think I would faint and die from all the glory though, oh well!

Kokusyoku Sumire

I had the pleasure of seeing them perform in concert back in 2009 when they gave a show at Webster Hall here in New York City, and they were amazing. I got to hug and talk to them a little too, and they autographed my poster. I would love if they attended Rufflecon this year. I haven't been keeping up with them lately, but if they still make music these days or perform, I would be so happy if they came!

My wall poster!

Kamijo Kabe-don Corner

Need I say more? I think the ovaries of many ladies would explode, but it's a risk I'm willing to take.  And for his male fans, heh you guys too. I know he's already coming for his World Tour, but to have him for a whole weekend? Possibly dangerous, but boy would I love it. I could totally see people stalking him around the hotel though. We would need some super security for him. 

Other than the Kabe-don corner, a Masquerade performance would really do me in. 

If even one of these came true I would be happy, trust me. These guest events would include panels and signings as well!

Dream Events and Content

I'm glad that this year the convention will be spanning the full three days instead of the two it was last year. This means I need to arrive at the con either Thursday night or early Friday morning. This depends on who I will be rooming with at the con and what we can afford accommodation wise. But this year, I'm going to be on point with timing and planning, not like last year when I missed a bunch of stuff and slept in every morning. I also need snacks for the morning and tea, I really need my tea. 

Anyway, lets talk dream events and content!

Fashion Show and Marketplace 
Featuring Haenuli, Innocent World, Jane Marple, Atelier Pierrot, Excentrique, Mary Magdelene - Obscure and Often Unseen Brands

Image via Lace a la Mode Blog - Marketplace Rufflecon 2014
It happening is well, a given. This is the bread and butter of any fashion convention or conference. But to see some of these more obscure or up-and-coming brands like Haenuli, would be quite lovely. 

I'm quite curious about the designers of Jane Marple and Excentrique. I don't know who they are at all so to see that would be quite interesting. I'm over BTSSB and Angelic Pretty shows, not that I don't love the brands because I do, but I really want to see something else. 

I also don't know much about the designer(s) at Atelier Pierrot, so that would be cool too, plus they are one of my biggest inspirations.

I know the Innocent World designer also came to PMX last year I believe? I LOVE Innocent World so that would make me so happy. 

Grimoire Pop-up Shop in the Marketplace

It would be awesome to see Mori, Dolly Kei, and Vintage fashions included in Rufflecon. I'm not sure if its really related, but I believe it is as these styles fuse with Lolita quite often. Maybe at least the tights? They make such lovely tights! Maybe not Grimoire, but just an incorporation of the stylings into items available for purchase or even a panel about fusing these styles with lolita? Is that trend dead? Because I still really like it. Oh well, my blog my opinions I guess. 

Western Indie Brands

I Do Declare © Xin Lolita Photography 2014

I would also love to see the continuance of Indie Brands, and more of them! I also hope to become a part of that soon. It won't be this year, but maybe next year, who knows? My favorites last year were I Do Declare, Morrigan NYC, Moss Marchen, Moss Badger, The Snow Field, and Belladonna. It would also be cool to see brands like Peppermint Fox, Lady Sloth, and 4 O'Clock present as well. 

Classical Music

Ultimate dream would be a constantly playing live orchestra playing little shows throughout the floors of the convention daily, giving a little show here or there and playing works from some of my favorite composers (Bach, Mozart, Vivaldi, to name a few.)

I would also just love to see more Lolitas who are classically trained in music giving panels and small performances. There was like one girl there last year but I missed all of her panel and her performance because of conflicts in schedule and I was very bummed about it. I hope there are more this year. I totally missed the talent show wholly last time as well, so I can't say anything about last years performances. 

I would love to see Lolitas play actual instruments all through the weekend in stop, drop, performances. Like girls literally toting around violins, flutes, and other small instruments and playing them here and there. 

Again, I really need to schedule better this year to be sure I see as much as I can. 

That's all I can think of at the moment, do you have any dream Rufflecon guests and events? They can be as farfetched and crazy as you can imagine. Do you have more believable ones too? Leave a comment! I'm super interested! Or write your own post too!

Thanks for reading~