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.
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).
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!