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!


  1. 1. I think this has always been this way, i do not see an increase of people saying this, in fact i see a lot of people wearing handmade and even more, indies and taobao stuff. I honestly do not have the same experience.

    2. I do suffer a bit from this as well because i have wishes... i have a set of things i'd like to achieve once in lolita before i am forced to quit do to my age or any other reason and being 32 makes the pressure seem more real because I do feel like there isn't a lot of time left. Not sure how to explain this. But I do understand what you say too, its just something i cannot help but stress slightly about.

    3. I am super critical of myself and people often say i look good when i dislike something about an outfit and I always have a feeling they are just being nice. I have come to realize that I am super harsh on myself.

    Super interesting post! <3

    1. Yea, I mean personally I know it's been an issue since the very beginning, but I have been seeing a bit of an increase myself. But at the same time I do believe indie brands are gaining ground as staples in people wardrobes as well as well done handmades, so I guess in that sense there is a balance. I still think though that this ongoing war over brand vs. non brand is really aggravating to an extent.

      I hope you will wear lolita for a long time. I know everyone says that there is no age limit, but its more about what the person feels while wearing it, not others perception so much. But that's my personal opinion. I'd say not to worry that much, but that is coming from someone 9 years younger, so my opinion right now is pretty invalid to be honest.

      I think to a degree, yea we are all a bit harsh on ourselves. I think it comes with the territory. This is a fashion completely based on outward appearances that are already outlandish to begin with, so it can be difficult not to want to be your best. But as long as its your best and not someone elses :)

      Thanks for your comment!