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!