Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Lolita Obsession: Shoes

I think that most people go through phases of interests. For a while I would go through a cycle of playing video games, sewing/doing crafts, and playing with my dolls. Then it would start over. Recently, I’ve noticed a similar trend in my Lolita. I’ll become obsessed with one thing, and then move on to another one. Right now, it’s shoes.

I’ve never been much of a girly girl. So for me to be obsessed with shoes is something unique. But I just can’t get enough of Lolita style and vintage shoes. There are just so many styles and colors. They can be covered in bows, hearts, flowers, or swirls, and in every color imaginable. Boots, tennis shoes, high heals, medium high heals, flats, closed toe, open tow, sling back, sandals, platforms, slippers, lace-ups, you name it, it should exist.

Where to Buy

Lolita shoes can be found anywhere, but my personal favorites are vintage shops and Bodyline. I own two pairs of Bodyline shoes, but I’m planning to get many more throughout the New Year. Shoes are a staple of a wardrobe, but if you order them from a brand, they can cost upwards of $200. While brand shoes are gorgeous, they are usually made out of the same materials as their off-brand counterparts. Many companies have also been making

reproductions of popular styles, such as the An*Ten*Nai Tea Party replicas. These reproductions cost about the same as regular shoes from somewhere like Payless cost, around $50. Bodyline shoes are less, at around $30, while boots usually cost around $60, since they are heavier to ship and they use more material.

Rocking Horse Style Shoes

These are perhaps my favorite type of Lolita shoes on the market. Some people think they are a bit old school, but I personally adore them. I have two pairs, with plans for red ones in the future. I first saw them in the anime NANA, and while I’m no expert on Japanese punk styles, I believe they are popular in that too. I know that Kamikaze Girls is sort of an old style lolita movie, but the main character, Momoko, deems them "absolutely essential" in a wardrobe. The epitome of all Rocking Horse shoes are made by Vivienne Westwood. What I would do to get my hands on a pair of Vivienne Westwood original rocking horse boots. Oh man they are gorgeous. But I'd take any pair of knockoffs too.

They look like they'd be hard to walk on, but they're quite easy and even comfortable once you get the hang of it. Just practice at home before going out, beware of cobblestone streets, ice, and stairs. Those things can be tough to walk on. The heavier they are, the better. I own a pair of Bodyline ones, and a pair from the Littlechillishop on eBay. The Little Chilli Shop ones are heavier and easier to walk in. The base is a bit wider too. But the Bodyline ones were less than half the cost, came in an eighth of the time, and while they're a little tricky to walk on, I'm getting the hang of the balance and weight. Each pair is different.

Other Shoes

There are so many different types, it's hard to pick a favorite. If you want to experiment with different shoe styles, flesh out your shoe wardrobe, or simply get something cute, I highly recommend Bodyline shoes. They are cheap, so you can get two or three pairs for the same price you'd pay for one pair from another store. They come in most every color and style, they have flat rate shipping (shoes cost more to ship because of the weight from most places, but not Bodyline!), and they'll be shipped quickly. If you scuff them, it's not such a big deal since they weren't too expensive to begin with. However, sometimes the sizing on Bodyline shoes can be tricky. I've just ordered my actual size and they've fit, but I know sometimes the sizing can be way off. There is no good way to find out exactly which pairs of shoes will be off, but from what I understand, the company is getting better about fixing these sizing issues. Forever 21 and H&M also sometimes carry cute print and solid color flats that are perfect for a casual or a lighter summery style. You'd be surprised what great finds you can find in your local mall or shopping district!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Wearing Lolita at Conventions

I love going to anime conventions. I've been an anime fan for pretty much all of my life, and as I've grown up, my tastes have matured. When I go to a convention, I wear lolita pretty much the whole time. However, wearing lolita is much different at a con than it is elsewhere. Here are a few tips to remember when wearing lolita at a convention:

People Will Ask You For Pictures
So be prepared. If you've ever cosplayed before, you know what this is like. If you do mind having your picture taken, then respectfully decline by saying something like "please don't, I don't feel comfortable with that." If you don't mind, then let them. Have a couple of poses that you like ready so that it doesn't take you long to figure out what to do for the camera. My favorite is the curtsy pose, which allows you to display the print/design on your skirt or dress.

You Probably Will Be Asked Questions
Even at an anime convention, not everyone knows about lolita fashion. You might get asked who you are cosplaying, where you got your clothes, how much they cost, or if you bought that in the dealers room. People that know something about lolita might ask you if your dress is from a specific brand. Hardcore cosplayers tend to ask "did you make that?" The range of questions is endless.

Dealers Room/Artist Ally
At pretty much all of the cons that I've been to, there's some sort of dealers room selling industry goods, and an artist ally selling handmade goods. In both of these places, you may find things that seem to be lolita. And they very well may be. Last year at my local con, there was a Bodyline dealer with a booth. At a New York con I went to, there was a Baby the Stars Shine Bright booth. However, both places had extremely inflated prices. Do your research! I know a lot of people paid over $100 USD for Bodyline jumper skirts that online go for $35. However, you don't have to pay shipping, you usually can try items on, and you get it right then and there, which is something to think about. Artist Ally is usually safer. Often you can find cute, handmade accessories, jewelry, and even skirts and t-shirts that are unique and great for your wardrobe. A few years ago, I found a skirt with a sushi print on it, and it's just such a fun item to have in my wardrobe.

Meet-Up With Other Lolitas
Many lolitas have meet-ups at conventions. They could be meeting up to work on something together, like a panel or a fashion show type event. They could be meeting to go shopping, or just to hang out. Meet-up information for individual cons would either be posted on the convention's forums (through the con website) or on the local livejournal accounts. Find your area here!

Think About Your Outfit
Especially if you are not staying at a hotel, or if your hotel is far away from the site. Think, "am I going to be okay in these shoes?" "will I get hot/cold walking outside?" etc. Layers are always good, casual styles are a safe bet too. If it's cold outside, cons usually have a coat check.

Have Fun!
Don't forget to have fun! Go to panels, meet with other fans, learn new things! You'd be surprised what you can take from a cosplaying panel and apply to lolita, like wig styling tips.

In other news, I will be at Ohayocon doing a couple panels on lolita fashion with a friend. Mine is entitled "The Elegant Wardrobe: A Guide to Dressing Lolita" or something like that. If you'll be there, please come check it out!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dream Dresses: Past and Present

Most lolitas have dream dresses. These are usually rare or expensive dresses, older, popular prints, or simply difficult to obtain. Pretty much all of the lolitas I know have a dream dress or two in their hearts. I was fortunate enough to be able to buy my dream dress this year. Mine wasn't anything too special. It was the Baby the Stars Shine Bright drop-pocket embroidery jumper skirt.

This might look like a plain, black dress to everyone, but to me it's special. The fabric is soft and the lace is fine. There's tulle on the straps and the embroidery has a little rhinestone in the heart. It actually has pockets! Pockets! If I could, I'd also get this dress in the navy color. I got my dress second hand, but I could not love it more.

My current dream dress, gosh, that's such a tough choice. I'd have to say that it's BABY's Alice Portrait JSK in the black color. It's classic, and it would fit really nicely into my wardrobe.

I tend to be drawn towards black dresses, but being a kuro lolita is... well, sort of boring. So I can put this dress over a black blouse or under a cute bolero and I'd be set! The different colors in the portraits allow for all sorts of colors to be added to the coordinates, like the pale blues and pinks, and even gold from the frames. The pearl loop is just that final touch of elegance. To put it simply, I am absolutely in love with this dress. But it's not available from BABY anymore! So I'll be scouring the second hand community for awhile, I think.

If you read my blog here often, please become a follower! And as always, if you have any questions or comments, you can either leave them here or you can leave them on my formspring.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Not-So-Popular Styles

In fashion, there are popular styles and not-so-popular styles. Lolita is no different by any means. Most people can easily identify sweet, gothic, and classic styles, and these aren't tootricky to pull off. However, there are many many sub-styles that are somewhat tricky to wear, no matter your figure and complexion. They simply aren't popular and therefore, brands don't put out as many pieces for those styles. Nevertheless, these styles are lovely in their own ways. The three that I'll be spotlighting today are country, sailor, and pirate.

Country Lolita
I think many country lolitas get started as sweet or classic lolitas and then add the other style in to their wardrobe little by little. Country style is a sort of hybrid between sweet and classic. It has the "cute" motifs such as bunnies or other animals, the fruit motifs such as cherries or apples, and it generally features more elaborate pieces and accessories. However, it also has more classical elements such as flower prints, the use of unique headpieces featuring flowers,
and using vintage items such as straw baskets, boater hats, and vintage jewelry. It all depends on how you coordinate and accessorize. Now what I said above about brands not making pieces for this style, doesn't apply here. Because you can take a sweeter piece and accessorize it to make it more country, or you can take a classic piece and make it more country. This also allows for a very flexible wardrobe with a few pieces coordinated in multiple ways. The one factor of country lolita that sets it apart from classic or sweet is its abundant use of gingham. Gingham prints can go more towards the sweet side of things, as they're often printed with fruits and flowers on top.
This is a country coordinate using gingham. This Metamorphose dress screams country, and the open sandals make it feel summery. Baby the Stars Shine Bright has been making these "bunny ear" hairbands, and I kind of like them. They give the idea of bunnies, without actually
being bunny ears. Plus, they have wire inside them, so they can be positioned in different ways. This coordinate is most definitely made with more sweet influences.

I think I posted this coordinate here before, but it's a great example of a classic print made into a country coordinate. The straw boater hat and cardigan make it perfectly suited to walking down a country road in the springtime. There are a few sweet influences with the bow, key, and heart jewelry motifs, but this is a pretty and simple coordinate with a more classical style overall.

Sailor Lolita
I have a bit of an obsession with making sailor coordinates. In addition to the ones on my polyvore, I have one that I'm making for me to wear. Most sailor coordinates use some combination of navy, cream or white, and red, with other colors acting as accents. Some brands have made pieces reminiscent of the Japanese sailor school uniform. Some sailor lolita pieces have sailing motifs, such as boats, anchors, and shells printed onto them. I personally feel like sailor lolita is suited to a more casual style, but that's just me.

This is one of my favorites! It's casual, using a Moi Meme Moitie skirt and an off-brand top. All of the ship themed jewelry really drives the sailor aspect over the top. And the anchor bag has been sitting in my saved items just waiting for a purpose.

This is a bit more formal, but I didn't put a blouse under it. This is an Angelic Pretty dress from earlier this year, but it's reminiscent of some of their older stuff. The colors are very saturated, and it's just so cute! Red tights with big white shoes really pop. If I had done white next to the white frill edges of the dress, it wouldn't have quite as much visual interest. I've been sort of obsessed with these big chunky shoes recently too, these specific ones are from Bodyline.

Pirate Style
This is a style which I greatly admire those who pull it off. Pirate style is a very tricky line to walk. Go too pirate and it becomes a costume. Don't go enough and it's not recognizable as pirate style. Pirate style is one of those styles with both male and female parts. It even has its own brand, Alice and the Pirates. AATP is a sister company to Baby the Stars Shine Bright. They share a website, and many BABY stores in Japan, as well as the ones in San Francisco and Paris stock Alice and the Pirates items regularly. The designs can range from more gothic to classic, to even somewhat sweet items. AATP also has put out a few miniature tricorn hats. These things are amazing. They can give a coordinate another element of pirate-ness. I only have one coordinate I've made for this style, but I have something even better, an actual pirate lolita.

I found this photo on a website called Hello Lace. I then went to the EGL livejournal community and searched up "pirate." I found this same photo shoot done in Vancouver. She is an excellent example of a pirate lolita. Please check out the rest of the photo shoot here.

This is my pirate lolita coordinate. It's got a bit of an aristocrat touch to it with the long sleeves and high collar, as well as the full size hat. Jewelry themed around pirates, ships, compasses, telescopes, and treasure really help to make it pirate-y. So do tall boots.

These styles are each unique and sometimes passed up for more popular ones. As you can see, it doesn't mean that they can't be awesome and perfectly lolita.
If you have any requests for articles or questions for me, let me know on my Formspring!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Quick Guide to Tea

Tea is perhaps the oldest beverage around. It was found in ancient China, when tea leaves accidentally fell into a boiling pot of water. The emperor drank it and found it to be delicious! Thus, tea became a staple in Asia. However, tea did not make it to Europe as a whole until much much later. Sure, some tea came to European towns through the Silk Road, but tea was not nearly as popular and easily available until the 16th century, when a Venetian author attributed long life to tea drinking. From there, tea spread like wildfire. It was first marketed to Europeans as a medicinal beverage, but it wasn't long before the courts of Europe took to tea and made it a refined beverage for the wealthy. Tea parties became popular amongst high class women and their friends. Soon, Dutch settlers took tea to what is now known as New York state. But it wasn't until the mid 1800's that High Tea, an English tradition, was created.

Tea is probably my favorite type of lolita meet-up to attend. Even if it isn't a traditional English tea service, it's still a lovely time. High Tea in England is like a small dinner and is also called meat tea. What this actually means is that tea is served with smoked meats and fishes, eggs, small sandwiches, and breads. In America, we use the term "High Tea" to refer to what the British call a Full Tea. Full Tea involves small sandwiches, hors d'oeuvre (appetizers), scones with clotted cream and jam, and assorted pastries.

Many American tea houses offer different choices for tea. For example, my favorite tea place offers a full tea service with the scones and the sandwiches and everything. However, they also offer a simpler tea, served with assorted scones and cakes. Depending on how much time you have, what you want to spend, and the different choices offered at your tea house, tea can be a fantastic meet-up to attend.

Types of Tea
Pretty much everyone knows about green tea and black tea. But there's also white tea, oolong tea, herbal "tea," and pu-erh tea. Each one has a distinct flavor profile, aroma, and color. However, these types only refer to when the tea is picked, how it is picked, and what is done after it's picked.

Green Tea
After the tea leaves are picked, they are immediately dried, baked, panfried to dry it out for packaging. Because it is immediately processed, many of the antioxidants and other healthy things are sealed in. This makes green tea a great choice for health conscious tea-drinkers.

Black Tea
The leaves are allowed to oxidize and develop deep and complex flavors. Each black tea is unique to the grower, with no two being quite the same.

White Tea
This tea is picked before the leaves are fully developed, right before the buds open. These are then air dried and packaged for sale. Because the tea leaves are picked before they are mature, this tea is more expensive. It also contains three times the levels of antioxidants as green tea, as well as other health benefits.

Oolong Tea
Oolong tea is somewhere between green tea and black tea. It's allowed to oxidize, but not as much as black tea. The resulting flavor is very smooth.

Herbal Tea
It's not really tea at all because it does not contain tea leaves. Instead it is made up of roots, seeds, flowers, other types of leaves, and other parts of plants and herbs. It often serves a medicinal purpose, but chamomile and peppermint teas fall under this category too. It's made the same way as tea with tea leaves is made.

Pu-erh Tea
Pu-erh tea is unique to the Yunnan province of China, just like Champagne is a type of grape only grown in the Champagne region of France. The leaves are allowed to grow a thin layer of harmless mold. This tea is known for its health benefits, particularly known for reducing high cholesterol.

No matter what type of tea you enjoy, tea is a delightful beverage for any time of day or year. Right now, my favorites are jasmine tea, an herbal tea called Rooibos tea, and oolong tea picked by specially trained tea-picking monkeys. However in the summer, I drink enough sweet iced tea to keep Lipton's in business for a long time. I make loose-leaf tea, but if you want to get a tea bag, then I highly recommend Tazo or Stash brand teas, as they are high-quality and retain their flavor for a long time. What's your favorite type of tea?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Creating A Wardrobe

So I know it's been a little over a week since I last updated. But hopefully the number of posts per week will go up as my school time goes down. Finals are just about over, so I should have oodles of free time to write. Which is good, right? Anyhow, on with the post.

Building a Wardrobe

You've got your style choices, color choices, and maybe you see some pieces that you like. Now, you can start building a wardrobe. This can take a long time and can be a hit and miss process. There are two methods to building a wardrobe. The first is the purposeful, methodical, and planned out method, and the second is the random acquisition method. I'm going to first talk about the random acquisition method.

Random Acquisition Method

This is probably the most common method for creating a wardrobe. This method involves buying random pieces and creating outfits around them. The resulting wardrobe can end up with varying styles and outfits, or it can end up very homogenous. I personally have been piecing my wardrobe together using this method. My resulting wardrobe consists of many different styles (some sweet pieces, some classic, mostly kuro, quite a bit of casual) and is a moving target. This is a perfectly fine way to make a wardrobe! You should definitely make a wardrobe of pieces that you love and not worry too much about keeping consistently to one style.

Purposeful and Planned Out Method

This is a much newer and more internet-centric method. What you do is choose pieces that you want to get, create outfits with them, and then buy those outfits. This can still lead to the same wardrobe as above. I've recently started doing more of this, but I still want both sweet pieces and classic, kuro, and casual coordinates. This can also lead to a highly homogenous wardrobe where every piece works in multiple ways.

Using Polyvore

I know I've brought up Polyvore before, but I cannot stress how fun this thing is. You can save all the things that you want or own and make outfits from them. Or you can save random stuff and just have fun with it. I'll use Polyvore frequently here to show coordinates in particular price points, styles, or even whole wardrobes, like I will right now.

This is a gothic wardrobe. It's a bit on the medium side, but each piece can be coordinated with multiple other ones. The five dresses/skirts at the top are all brand pieces, from right to left they are Metamorphose Temps de Fille, Alice and the Pirates, Moi Meme Moitie, Alice and the Pirates, and Baby the Stars Shine Bright. The first two blouses are off-brand, and the other three are from a Taobao shop, Qutieland. All of the shoes are from Bodyline, except the cream ones (Innocent World) and the blue ones (offbrand). Four of the five head pieces are Alice and the Pirates/Baby the Stars Shine Bright, and the blue one is Moi Meme Moitie. But most of these are easily made at home using materials that are easy to find. The black bat bag is Bodyline, the silver one is Fan + Friend, and the black bow bag is off brand. All of the tights and jewelry are off brand too. This illustrates that your entire wardrobe does not need to be made up of "brand" items. There are plenty of fantastic off-brand items out there that will fit in perfectly with your wardrobe.

Both of the coordinates above were made from items in that gothic wardrobe. As you can see, they are both gothic and very different. If you have a wardrobe filled with the basics, then you will be able to make lots of fabulous outfits!

Say you're not into gothic style. It's not everyone's thing. Well, I've also made another example for you all!

Here's a wardrobe that depending on how you coordinate things can go sweet, classic, or even country. Maybe it looks familiar? That's because I based it off of the coordinates I used in my Choosing your First Pieces post.


Chocolat by Cat91151 featuring a heart bag

While this coordinate does have items not in the above wardrobe, none of those items are very expensive on their own. The shoes are from Bodyline (around $33 USD) and the bow is handmade. This is a more classic use of the pieces.

This is a coordinate using the Angelic Pretty One-piece from the original wardrobe. The bow is handmade, and the jewelry could be found anywhere, even somewhere like a party supply store. This could become a more over the top sweet coordinate, but for this, I made it a very subdued sweet style.

So as you can see, two very different wardrobes with very different coordinates that can be made from the pieces. If you click on the wardrobes, it will take you to a page that lists everything in them. From there, you can make your own polyvore account and make coordinates for yourself! Have fun!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Types of Pieces

I realized that I'd never introduced the different types of pieces available at many lolita shops! That's very important to know, because each work in different ways. I'm going to be using Baby the Stars Shine Bright for my examples here because it is my favorite brand and it is also one of the most recognizable to newcomers.

There are two major types of dresses, One-piece dresses (abbreviated to OP) and Jumper-skirts (abbreviated to
JSKs). One-piece dresses are just as they sound, one piece. It's a dress that has sleeves. Sometimes they are long sleeves and are detachable to turn into a short-sleeve dress, other times they only have one sleeve option.
Jumper skirts are sleeveless and come in a wide variety of cuts and necklines. They are typically worn over a blouse or cutsew, or underneath a bolero or a cardigan. Often, companies will release a one piece version and a jumper skirt version of the same print, as seen below.

Blouses are a staple of a lolita wardrobe. They also come in a variety of cuts, styles, and colors. Some may have shirring in the back or all the way around. Shirring is embedded elastic into a piece to allow it to stretch more than it originally could. This allows for a wide range of sizes to wear a company's products.
Cutsews or cut and sewn items are typically made from knit materials, the same fabrics that t-shirts are made from. They stretch and are generally more casual in style. Both blouses and cutsews come in different sleeve styles, collar styles, and cuts.
Blouse vs. Cutsew

Typically, skirts are worn very full with petticoats and bloomers underneath them. They can also be a-line and have less of a poof shape. Petticoats give the skirts a cupcake or bell shape that is the key to the lolita silhouette. These also come in many styles and cuts. They are worn with either a blouse or a cutsew.

Headpieces are very important in lolita fashion and are often overlooked. There are many different styles, but some can be more tricky to coordinate with than others. Popular styles include the head bow, headdress, bonnets, hats, and hair ties.

Socks and Shoes
Lolitas generally wear over the knee (shortened to OTK) socks or opaque tights. These can have prints or patterns on them, or can be a solid color. Many companies make matching socks for their popular prints. Shoes are also a tricky business. Generally, lolita does not include stiletto heels, platform shoes (there are a few exceptions), and flip-flops. However, outside of those, pretty much anything goes. There are "official lolita style" shoes such as rocking horse shoes (RHS for short), Mary Janes, and the ever-popular "tea party shoes" produced by Angelic Pretty. As long as your shoes match your outfit and look good, it should be okay. I personally like to wear flats with a lot of my coordinates, but it's up to you!

This is an extremely important part of the outfit, which is the most overlooked part by new lolitas. You need a petticoat for sure. This is what gives skirts and dresses that poofy shape. There are many different petticoats to choose from, but you always want to see a photo of it underneath a skirt to make sure it will give that poof. The best one that I've seen available (for a reasonable price) is the Fluffy Petticoat from Candy Violet. It gives a great shape, it's not too expensive, it's made from soft chiffon (so it's not itchy), and it won't deflate (which happens to petticoats made from tulle or net).

Bloomers are also important, but many girls choose not to wear them. Wearing them keeps you a little warmer, protects you from "upskirt issues," and generally add a little something more to an outfit. Pretty much any bloomers are okay, because they should not be seen. They're easy to make too. Brands do make their own bloomers (often called drawers).

Other Stuff
Many companies also make coats, parasols/umbrellas, purses, wrist cuffs, cell phone straps, jewelry, wallets, and gloves. These items are nice, but they aren't really necessary for anyone to have. You can find plenty of purses, jewelry, and even parasols at your local mall or online from American and European stores.

I hope this was helpful! Now you know about the different clothing types and pieces, but more importantly, you know the abbreviations for these items. These abbreviations are used probably more than the actual words themselves, so they're super important to know. I think that's the last of the basics, so if you have a question or something you'd like to see me write about, let me know on my Formspring!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Choosing Your First Pieces

By now, you should have a few styles that you're interested in, some colors that would look good on you, and now you need to start creating a wardrobe! There are a few ways to go about this. If you know how to sew, you can make your own pieces. There are plenty of tutorials and patterns online that can help you get started. I recommend checking out the livejournal community Sew_loli if you're interested in sewing your own stuff. If you aren't confident in your sewing skills or you just don't want to make something like that, then you can buy your first pieces. Many Japanese companies will ship to Europe and the United States, as well as Asia, Australia, and many other places. There are also American based companies, European companies, and other Asia based companies. You can also buy from Etsy shops or other craft sites. You can also choose to buy second hand. You can get pieces second hand from the Livejournal community egl_comm_sales or from ebay. I strongly suggest that you avoid ebay because there have been problems in the past of misrepresentation of products and bad transactions.

Brand vs. Offbrand
This is a point of many arguments in the lolita community. Personally, I do think Bodyline is okay as long as you use your judgement and choose the right things. I don't think that replica pieces, as long as they are advertised as so, are terrible. These things help lolitas fill out their wardrobe and they allow those that are just starting out to experiment with different styles and prints without spending a fortune.

Choosing Versatile Pieces
You want to get the most out of your first pieces because you will be wearing them a lot until you can get more. So choose pieces that can be used in lots of different ways. A good way to do this is to use Polyvore. Polyvore lets you make virtual coordinates (the term lolitas use for complete outfits) and see what will look good together before you buy. You would be surprised how many different outfits you can make from just a few pieces.

This is a coordinate I made using a Baby the Stars Shine Bright jumper skirt. Everything else used is either from Bodyline (very inexpensive) or from other sources.

This is one made from the same Baby the Stars Shine Bright dress, but using all offbrand items. Jewelry is something that you can find in all sorts of places, Forever 21 is my favorite.

This is a third coordinate also made from the same BABY dress as the others. As you can see, this dress is very suited to either classic or country styles. Pretty much anything can be dressed down to be more casual too. So out of this one expensive dress, you can put just a little money into other pieces and have three fabulous outfits.

Maybe you can't afford to get a brand dress right off the bat. That's fine too! My first pieces were skirts from Candy Violet's old line (no longer sold). I still have one of them that I wear regularly. You can also have someone make you pieces or buy second-hand. I've bought almost everything I own second hand. There is no stigma associated with it, and it's a great way to get older pieces or find something that you didn't even know existed. Since the pieces are typically used, the price is lowered too.

Bodyline is also a good choice for a first outfit. As long as you choose wisely, you'll be fine. For more information about choosing pieces from Bodyline, I highly recommend reading F-Yeah Lolita's posts on buying from Bodyline. I adore the series of posts and they've helped me learn more about buying from Bodyline. They are a must-read before placing an order there.

No matter what you choose, congratulations! You're now a lolita! You have your very first pieces and you're on your way to having the wardrobe of your dreams!

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Basics #2: Choosing Colors

So now you know a little about all the different styles of lolita, and maybe you've even picked a few to try out. Now you need to decide what colors you want to wear. There are just somecolors that don't look good with different complexionsor hair colors. For example, I have medium-tone red hair and skin with pink undertones. Because of this combination, I don't look good in most pinks and yellows. This also goes for hair colors.

Determining Your Skin Tone
Before you put on any make-up, look at yourself in a mirror or take a picture, preferably on a white background. You all know what your hair color is, even if you've dyed it, think about your original one. The four skin tones are like the four seasons,
winter, spring, summer, and fall.
Winter: has blue or pink undertones. Your actual skin color could be dark, olive, or extremely pale. You probably have dark hair and dark eyes.

Spring: usually has golden undertones and creamy or peachy skin. Your hair color is either very deep blonde or strawberry blonde. Your eyes are probably blue or green. You probably have naturally rosy cheeks.

Summer: Also can have blue or pink undertones. Your skin tone is probably pale and pink. You also probably have light-color eyes and naturally blonde or brown hair.

Fall: If you have golden undertones and either red or brown hair, you're probably a fall. You also probably have brown or goldish eyes.

Now you know a little bit about the different skin tones. Determining your skin tone is the first step in determining the colors that will look best on you and the ones to avoid. As a reference, I use Beauty and the Bath.com. That site also has a ton of information on hair care, make-up techniques, and a lot of other stuff. Please check it out! I've linked the page for the different skin tones, but from there you can get to the whole website.

Now for example, I am a fall. I have red hair and blue eyes with gold flecks. I should not be wearing pastel colors, especially near my face. They will make me look dull and sickly. However, black can make me look awesome. As a result, I have a few kuro coordinates and no Angelic Pretty prints. Do you know what your color pallet should be now? If the website above didn't help you out, you can google your season and see what comes up. There are tons of helpful sites out there!

Photos from Google images and http://beauty-and-the-bath.com

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Becoming A Lolita: The Basics

This will be an ongoing series of posts based on my panels at various conventions. This panel often gets a different name depending on the major focus. This particular post is what I usually do for my "lolita 101" panel or an equivalent one to that. It's directed towards those who want to take the first step into the world of lolita. Do you know anyone like this? I do! I have a few friends that want to become a lovely lolita lady but they really doesn't know how. So this first post is dedicated to them!

Step 1: So you want to be a lolita?
Great! Being a lolita is a fun and rewarding hobby. But before you buy your first items, you should do your homework. For example, do you know the different styles of lolita? Everyone knows gothic and sweet lolita, but there are tons of styles!

Gothic: A very recognizable style. It's not just black pieces though. Gothic can have dark reds, blues, or even jewel tones like rich purples and ruby. It's not to be confused with American gothic styles, and should not feature whiteface with dark makeup!

Sweet: Very cute and innocent. Pastels and white are popular colors, but you can wear black and be a sweet lolita! The prints usually are cute with animals, toys, candy, or cakes as the focus.

Classic: features floral prints and classic silhouettes. Often skirts can deviate from the cupcake-shaped ones of other styles. Also can utilize vintage pieces and simple hairstyles/makeup.

Casual: an easy style to wear everyday. It's all of the pieces of a lolita outfit, but toned down. Instead of a fancy, lacy blouse, you can wear a cute printed t-shirt (or cut-sew). It's still important that you match your colors and patterns and that you don't forget a part of the outfit, like a headpiece or a petticoat.

Kuro: In Japanese, Kuro (くろ)means "black." And that's what you wear, black. All black items.

Shirou: The sister style to Kuro, Shirou(しろう)means "white" in Japanese. Shirou lolita features all white items. It used to be quite popular to do twin photo shoots with kuro and shirou lolitas, but I haven't been seeing too many recently.

Country: Country is a mix between sweet and classic. This is where you find the ginghams, fruit prints, miniature straw hats, and baskets. It's reminiscent of a country picnic in the summer. Some country lolitas even choose to use fresh flowers to accessorize their outfits!

Punk: This style has been more influenced by the west than any other. It is reminiscent of British and American punk styles, but with a lolita twist. Skirts can be somewhat shorter, and plaids are very popular. Ties are appropriate in this style, along with simpler tops and crazier hair styles.

Sailor: Many brands put out pieces that are inspired by the typical sailor uniform worn by Japanese school students. It's not an extremely popular style by itself, but often the pieces can be integrated into other styles.

Pirate: It's a fairly new sub-style of classic lolita. It often features tricorner hats, belts, swords, and lots of jewelry. It can get close to becoming costume-y though so you have to be careful. The only "official brand" for pirate style is Baby the Stars Shine Bright's other line, Alice and the Pirates.

Hime: This is a hybrid between lolita and Hime Gyaru styles. It features the same hairstyle and accessories as the Gyaru style, but the silhouette and anatomy of a lolita coordinate. Pieces can overlap between the two styles, as well as color schemes and prints.

Kodona: Also known as Ouiji, Dandy, or boy style. It's one of the few styles in which it is okay to wear pants! It's based off of the clothes that young boys would have worn in the 1800's. Sometimes, the wearer will choose to add feminine touches in the shoes or make- up, it's up to you! It can also be easily mixed with the punk style for a cool hybrid.

Aristocrat: Also known as Elegant Gothic Aristocrat. It is a more mature style of lolita, with longer skirts and fewer frills. Often, skirts are ankle length and blouses are long sleeved and high collared. The shape is not at all what other styles are, but it is a very elegant silhouette. There are also aristocrat styles based off of mensware from Victorian England.

Common misconceptions about styles:
You would be surprised at how many questions I get about styles that don't exist. For example, I got a question at a convention about where this person could purchase "maid style lolita." There is no such thing! There are websites out there that will tell you that maid uniforms, nurse uniforms, cosplays, and even Alice in Wonderland costumes from a costume store are appropriate lolita items. I always tell people the same thing: absolutely not! Even if your Chii cosplay may fit some of the requirements for a lolita outfit, it will never work. This is because people will always recognize you as a Chii cosplayer. This point always earns me skeptical looks from the cosplayers in the room. But trust me, it isn't a proper lolita coordinate.

So now you know a little bit more about the different styles of lolita. What did you think? Did you see a few that appeal to you?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Welcome to The Elegant Wardrobe

Hi everyone! This is my newest undertaking, a blog about my adventures in lolita fashion! I so very much admire all of the lolita bloggers out there and I want to be one too! I hope to be able to update a lot, but if I can't, it's because I am also a full-time student. The title of my blog, The Elegant Wardrobe, is the title of the lolita panels I do at conventions. I'm still new to paneling on lolita, but I have been a very successful panelist for about two years now. So from time to time I'll put my panel stuff up here for others to see and even use at their conventions if they'd like.

Introducing myself
I've been a lolita for almost four years now. My relationship with the fashion is a love-hate one. I love the sweet prints and the cute candy/bunny/rainbow accessories, but I can't wear them. I'm a red-head, so pink is pretty much automatically eliminated from my wardrobe possibilities. Secondly, I am a college student, so I know that I should try and dress myself in a more mature manner. But I can't help but love cute things! If there were a Hello Kitty print dress, I think I'd buy it, no matter what color is was. So I've made compromises in my wardrobe. Instead of being OTT sweet, I go for a bittersweet or classic style. I think my favorite brand has to be Baby the Stars Shine Bright. I also tend to create a lot of kuro coordinates. Being a completely kuro lolita is boring though, so I try to branch out. I collect Ball-Joint Dolls, so my funds for my hobbies are split in half. As for my lolita inspiration, I really admire Julie Andrews. She just exudes elegance, and so I'd like to think of her as my lolita roll model.

What Should You Expect?
Not much. I'm not a professional writer, I don't plan to be one, and therefore, I will write here as I would talk. So please don't expect eloquent writing or anything. I will be sharing my opinions on the fashion here, and some of those opinions may not be popular. For instance, I like Bodyline. I'm not ashamed to admit it either. So if you can't be nice in your comments, please don't bother commenting at all. Golden rule here. If there's something you want me to write on or something you'd like to see done here, don't hesitate to let me know!