Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Recent Releases

I'm late! I'm late! I've been meaning to do a review of some of the newest Japanese brand pieces and with school and work I've just completely forgotten to do it! Here we go, a whirlwind tour of the newest fall pieces!

First, we'll start with Angelic Pretty. They have Petit Patisserie and Royal Palace out so far this season. Petit Patisserie features vertical lines of various cakes and ribbons. It's quite different from Angelic Pretty's famous border prints, and I rather like it. It comes in two jumpers, what appears to be a coat, a mini skirt, a hair bow, and socks. One of the jumper skirts is pictured on the left, in Ivory. It's quite a delicate look, and this version is still in stock in a few colors. Next, is Royal Palace. It's a floral printed dress with a bustle in the back and plenty of subtle details. It seems to come in ivory, brown, and pink. It only comes in a jumper so far, and only the brown is listed. This dress also very subtle, and I personally like this. It's on the right in the ivory, but is in stock in the brown.

Next on the tour, we have Innocent World. Another two dresses from this brand, Delft Jumper Lotta and Stained Glass Rose. I'm really not sure what "Delft Jumper Lotta" is supposed to mean, but it's quite lovely. The print has little deer and other woodland animals in little scenes together. It comes in three colorways, blue/green x cream, pink x brown, and bordeaux x pink. And like many of the other IW releases, it comes in a regular length and a long length. The print also comes on a skirt, socks, and a matching bag. The short version of the blue jumper is pictured on the left. I love how the designers used the print to make the detail, there's very little lace or other decoration. Second, the Stained Glass Rose. It was the feature of a F Yeah Lolita article a few weeks back, and it's something you just don't see everywhere else. It also comes in three colors: blue, bordeaux, and apricot, and in both short and long styles. In this series, there's a skirt, a hair bow, socks, and a rather plain looking blouse and bag. The picture on the right is of the short version in the Apricot color, and my sister actually ordered this dress. I can't wait to see it in person!

Finally, the designers over at BABY and AATP sure have been busy. In the last month, they have
released seven different series, not to mention their fall coats and shoes. I can't possibly talk about them all in enough detail without this article being entirely too long. Starting with Milky Rail Train, this is a special series in conjunction with KERA magazine I believe. Make sure to check out the clock-themed accessories, striped details, and the matching pullip dolls! Black Cat, Witch, and Apple Tree is AATP halloween-themed print. I love the border print, reminiscent of Vampire Requiem.
The big miss for me is the full-size witch hat. It's just too costume-y for my tastes. BABY's print, released around the same time as the AATP one,
is Marchin' Cookie Flavour. It's something I would have bought if I hadn't already seen BABY's most recent dress in KERA magazine, and something I would like to own in the future. It has a diamond pattern with a border print of cookies and tea cups. The pieces are pretty safe, and I like that about them. The VANTAN collaboration sets are not something I really get. I believe Vantan is a fashion design school in Tokyo, and they had students work with both BABY and AATP designers to create these two dresses. The Tales of Xillia sets are based off a video game for the PS3, released in Japan on the 8th of this month. I don't really understand why BABY made these outfits. They're cute, but I don't see them working in a lolita wardrobe. Putamayo also worked with this game to create their own looks.

And now we're to the set I wanted to talk in detail about. Clockwork Tea Party is the dress that kept me from ordering Marchin' Cookie Flavour. I saw it in the KERA scans a few weeks ago, and instantly fell in love. It becomes available for reservation on the 30th. The series has two jumpers, a skirt, a head bow, a bonnet, a blouse, socks, and some jewelry. Whew! Unfortunately, the reservation page doesn't have actual pictures of
the items, just sketches. The print has teddy bears and tea cups with butterflies, cookies, and other tea party stuff. It comes in five colors too, ivory, pink, red, navy, and black. On the left, there's the only picture I can
find of the actual pieces. That's the first jumper skirt, head bow, blouse (princess sleeves!), and socks. According to the KERA magazine that the scan on the left came from, Alice and the Pirates will be releasing a series called Lock the Pandora's Memories, but I can't tell much from the ad (on the right).

If I've missed or forgotten something, please let me know and I'll add it! Did you purchase one of these dresses or are you planning to? Which is your favorite? I'm so excited to order this Friday! Thanks for reading!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Transitioning from Summer to Fall

The season change between summer and fall is perhaps the most drastic one of the whole year. It goes from unbearably hot and sunny to cold and dark in a few short weeks. However, Lolita is a fashion that requires layers year-round, making fall and spring perfect for coordinating. Since it's cooler, you have many more options than when it's warm out. There's a world of options that become available from fall through mid-spring or so.

A bolero is a sort of sweater that's much shorter than a cardigan. For
lolita, it's usually frilly around the neckline, bottom, and cuffs. They come in long or short sleeves and in a wide variety of colors. Many brands and off-brands make boleros for all seasons. In the summer, there are chiffon ones that are translucent and let air in. In the winter, there are knit ones that keep you a bit warmer. Boleros are a replacement item for a blouse, in other words, if you're wearing a bolero then you don't need to wear a blouse. In addition, boleros are commercially available and many work well in Lolita fashion. When looking on Lolita clothing store websites, check under the "cut and sewn" or "knit" sections to find them.

I love cardigans! They are just the best. A cardigan is a long sweater that buttons up at the front. They're comfy and also commercially available. Cardigans are perfect for more casual styles. Many cardigans specifically made for Lolita fashion have decoration on the sleeves and up the button area. They often come in cute prints, like hearts and polka dots. Cardigans are also easily made at home. And by this I mean you can get a fairly plain one from somewhere like Target or a second hand store and add decoration in the form of bows, cute buttons, embroidery, etc. Use pictures from your favorite fall coordinates and pieces from lolita shops as inspiration!

Blouses & Cutsews
As you probably know, blouses come in long and short sleeves. But what if it's still warm in the daytime and cools off at night? Well, there's such a thing as detachable sleeves. This is a great solution if you want the more formal look of a blouse but with the options that sleeves offer. I know this sounds a little bit tacky, carrying around detached sleeves in your bag. It sort of reminds me of the zip-off pants they make for men. But it's practical and it's not like the sleeves don't match the blouse. All of the above also goes for cutsews, as they come in detachable sleeve styles as well.

Skirts & Jumpers
Skirts are just not something that I wear a ton of. I own them, I occasionally buy them, but for some reason I just don't wear them often. Skirts for cooler months are not so different from other months. The big difference is in materials. In the cool months, items made with heavy fabrics such as velvets start popping up. They give your coordinate a luxurious look, and I personally associate them with Christmas! This also goes for jumpers. If you're finding that you are getting cold easily, try wearing a plain colored underskirt for an extra layer.

This is the big change from summer to winter. Many Lolita companies sell coats specifically designed to accommodate the petticoat shape without crushing it. They come in a variety of styles and shapes. It's easy to get caught up in the options when it comes to coats, but remember, you should build up your wardrobe before you get into this sort of unnecessary but nice item. Many coats are plain color, but you'll often find one or two with a pattern. Usually it's a simple print made to go with lots of different things. Polka dots are the most popular by far. In addition to female styles, many companies that make menswear also make coats for men. Coats are very expensive items, ranging from $100 to over $500.

For fall and winter, there are a lot of new accessory options available. In addition to winter-themed bags and jewelry (think gingerbread houses, snowmen, and candy canes) there are plenty of items to keep you warm. Gloves with bows on them, earmuffs, hats, and scarves are all options! There's also this thing called a hand warmer muff, sometimes you see them in period films. It's the furry-looking thing that the ladies carry around in the winter. Innocent World makes a really cute one, but I haven't seen too many others made specifically for lolitas. There are also removable collars, made from faux fur, that you can add to your coat to dress it up.

Finally, I made a coordinate to illustrate just how to take an outfit from summer to fall.

For this example, I went with the Chained Berry Memoir print from BABY. Why? I don't really know. The summer coordinate uses a headbow with berries and knee socks, as well as a short-sleeved blouse with shirring. The socks keep your legs from overheating, and the short sleeved blouse is a must during the hot summer months. For the shoes I chose these sandal-esque ones from Bodyline. The strawberry bag is a little more casual and brings the red to the center of the outfit. Both coordinates use the same strawberry earrings, ring, and necklace. Over on the fall side, you'll see that I swapped the blouse for a cardigan. I also swapped the strawberry bow for a simpler one. In fact, I took all the red accents out of the coordinate. Thick tights replace the socks to keep your knees from getting cold, and I replaced the sandal-style shoes with normal ones. Finally, a bow bag with rhinestones adds a little sparkle and is perfect for storing gloves and a scarf in for the evening.

So with that, you're all set to take on the cool months! Stay warm!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Con Report: Fan Expo Canada

So I went to Canada about two weeks ago with a friend before she moved away. We had the best time ever and Canada was such a great country. Did you know that in Canada you can get a waffle on the street and it's delicious? Or that there's a thing called "icing sugar" that's just powdered sugar? Or that there are crepes everywhere? Or that milk comes in a bag? We learned all these things about our great neighbor to the North. But this is not my personal journal blog about the super fun times I had at a con. I'm here to talk about Lolita fashion.

I went to the fashion show on Sunday morning to see two friends walk. I have to say, I did enjoy the show. It was worth staying a little longer at the con. I took so much video of the show, but I've decided not to include it here. The reason being that they were so short and I need to edit them together, but I want to get this article up quickly. I'm going to talk a little about my favorite outfits in the show. All the photo credits go to Tony Pags. I met him at the show and he was kind enough to let me use his photos here.

This was one of the very first outfits, and a strong start to the show. It's cute and sweet without being over the top. I like that she used the pink as well as the red and white from the dress. The print is the French Cafe print from Angelic Pretty earlier this year, and the parasol is from BABY.

This is one of my favorite dresses from Innocent World! She also has the book-shaped purse~ I think I'd rather have had her wear a more cream colored blouse with this, but overall I was thrilled to see this outfit!

Another beautiful classic coordinate! This one looks like it might have been made up of lots of vintage pieces. I love how she did her hair with the hat! She looks like should be in a forest~ I'm not
entirely positive where the dress came from, but
I think it's a piece by Mary Magdalene.

This was I think the only pirate coordinate in the show. I was impressed! I love that she had the hat and vest, it really drove the pirate theme home. I wasn't such a fan of the eyepatch though. Overall, I was really pleased with this
outfit; the blouse and skirt are just perfect.

Chess Chocolate twins! So cute! I like how they matched with the print, style, and color, but their accessories were slightly different. I was glad to see this print here, since it's pretty new. And what a huge
Usakyuma! I've never seen such a big one!

And here's one of my friends! Isn't she cute? We met last summer in New York City for a doll convention, and it was so nice to see her again, even for just like a minute. I love the straight wig with the falls~ She's wearing Milky Planet in pink and I believe the Milky Planet hair bow too. When she came out with the balloons, my first thought was that I hope she doesn't let
those balloons go accidentally! But she didn't, thank goodness!

And here's my other friend! We met in Japan actually two years ago and another girl, San, and I were the ones who introduced her to lolita fashion. Where better to get started than in Tokyo? She walked in the show as well, but this picture I took of her was my favorite. She's wearing the new release of Vampire Requiem and a vintage blouse. Curse you for making me want this dress!

This is the last one, I promise. I really like this Ouji-style coordinate! The striped pants are just perfect, I wonder where she got them. The rose at the jabot adds a touch of elegance, and the little hat is the right scale for the outfit. The classic outfit on the left is simple, but coordinated well. I like the trim on the dress very much, it looks light and airy. The shoes are simple, as is the headpiece. Overall, a solid coordinate great for any occasion.

I had a lot of fun at the show, but I really really wish I had had some business cards to give to the models and organizers. Next time I cover this type of event, I will have them for sure. Thanks again to Tony Pags for these photos, this article would not have looked half as good as it does now without them. When I edit the video together, I'll add it back in here for reference. Thanks for reading, as always!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Style Spotlight: Pulling Together a Pirate Look

Today I'd like to tell you all about pirate style! Pirate style is one of those looks that is so hard to put together, and as a result, it's not a common style. It's sort of a weird combination of gothic, classic, and sailor styles. The colors are really up to you, I've seen purples, creams, navy, black, reds, other blues, white, and brown. However, they usually trend towards the darker spectrum. The really great thing about pirate style is that there's a male style and a female style! The ouji-pirate style usually consists of puff pants at or just above the knee, a vest or coat, a blouse (usually more simple than a female style one), the usual socks, and platform or boot shoes. The female counterpart has all the regular types of pieces but in a more pirate-y style. That's sort of an arbitrary sort of thing, but I'm going to attempt to explain what I'm thinking. There are a few staples of a pirate coordinate, that take the outfit from a more gothic or classic style to true pirate style.

1. Asymmetry
Many pirate coordinates are made from a dress or skirt with an asymmetrical design. This look is impossible to achieve without the right piece, and is a distinctly pirate element in a coordinate. Not very many brands or off-brands make asymmetrical skirts, the only ones I could find came from Alice and the Pirates and Moi Meme Moitie. However, you can make a pirate coordinate with other types of designs. Prints, solid pieces, and even plain staple pieces can make killer coordinates.

2. Accessories
Pirate lolita is all about the accessories. Sure, you can make a pirate coordinate with minimal effort in the accessory department, but putting that extra effort to find the perfect pair of boots, the perfect hairpiece, or the perfectly pirate-y jewelry can really make a coordinate go from a borderline pirate outfit to a very obviously pirate one.

The easiest accessory to start with is the hairpiece. Now if you somehow happen to have one of those miniature tricorn hats, then this is automatically a step easier. Those are specifically for pirate style and really scream pirate to me. If you do not, don't worry! There are other options! My favorite right now are the fascinators that I've seen a lot of stores making. They often have a veil and some faux flowers attached to a headband. You can make your own quite easily. There are bunches and bunches of tutorials out there, but my favorites are from The Wedding Bee. It shows how to make the more simple corsage type and the more complicated ones with veils.

Other accessories to change include bags, jewelry, and socks. This might be the only style that I think it's okay to use fishnet stockings in. Of course, these should be layered over other stockings, but it gives it a cool, deconstructed look. Layer dark over light for the best contrast, or by layering with the same color it creates a very textured look. Wearing printed tights underneath the fishnets will create a really busy look, so I don't recommend it. Experiment with different colors and styles to see what you like best!

Bags are not so important in a pirate coordinate. In sweet they have the candy and the animal shapes. In gothic there are bats and coffins. Well for pirate, there are a few shapes available. The most popular (and by far the best) has to be the treasure chest. I saw one in person once and it was absolutely stunning. There's also the trunk-style bag. These would also work well in a classic coordinate, so if you're into both styles, it can be a good investment piece. I'd personally like one so that I can wear lolita to school without having to take my backpack too.

3. Shoes
If you're looking to get shoes for pirate lolita, my recommendation is
boots. Boots are the perfect shoes for pirates, as they keep your socks from being splashed with seawater, they keep your feet safe from falling ropes and crates, and they're made of leather so they are stylish too! If you do a google search for pirate boots, it will come up with a ton of options. You want something not costume-y and without too high of a heal. Ideally, a thicker heal would be best. But low stiletto heals are okay too. Vintage shoes are also an option. Really, it's the element of lacing that makes the shoe feel more pirate to me. For great shoe options that aren't Japanese Brand, I highly recommend Modcloth. They have a wide variety of vintage style shoes perfect for many styles of lolita, not just pirate.

4. Prints
It seems that to be the quintessential "sweet lolita" that your dresses and skirts must have an adorable print on them. Sweet seems to be the only style with this level of emphasis on printed items. While printed items are available in pirate style, they aren't required by a long shot. I just want to take a bit to go over some print options that can be worked into a pirate's wardrobe.

Florals: Florals are a staple in any classic lolita's wardrobe. And while you might think
that a flower print doesn't have any place in pirate, that's not entirely true. It can be tricky to make a pirate coordinate based with a flowery dress without it becoming a strictly classic coordinate. But it is possible. If you're a die hard floral fangirl then check out the options from Innocent World and Mary Magdalene. I'm in love with the cut of the Ekaterina OP and the asymmetrically of the skirt fits with the pirate aesthetic well. Paired with a chiffon blouse with fitted cuffs and a cross-body style bag and it can become a pirate outfit with no problem. For florals seemingly made for the style, of course you should look at those done by Alice and the Pirates. Queens Coach and Operetta Bouquet are my two favorites for this.
Themed Prints: With the interest in pirate and other sub styles on the rise, prints created specifically for the style are on the rise too. Alice and the Pirate's recent release of Night Fairy Fantasia (based off the story of Peter Pan) as well as prints by Moi Meme Moitié and BABY seem to be created for the sole purpose of appealing to Pirate style enthusiasts. My favorites are: of course Night Fairy Fantasia, Masquerade Theater, and Vampire Requiem. All AATP I know, but I just don't really follow other brands quite as well.

Stripes: Probably my second choice after the themed prints for
Pirate style. Having pinstripes on a piece is classy and it's a bit edgy if you're wearing a female style. Fortunately, many pieces designed for men are also available in women's sizing. It's a neat look to combine menswear into female lolita looks, and it creates an edginess that's difficult to achieve with puffed sleeves. If you're not really into that, then your choices are a bit more limited. My favorite item of all time with pinstripes is this Frilled Stripe Blouse (right) from AATP. My sister owns this and so I've seen it in person often. I love the jabot on it(detachable) and the frill detail around the buttons. She NEVER wears it either, which is such a shame. It looks great on her.

Finally, I want to end this article with two coordinates. They're both pirate style. One is a Ouji look and the other is the female Pirate sub-style.

I'm pretty proud of how the left outfit turned out especially. I've never made a boy-style coordinate on Polyvore before and it turned out well in my opinion. I made this outfit with a friend of mine in mind. I think she'd really love this look, and I'd love to see her wear it someday! The blouse, shorts, and shoes are from Alice and the Pirates, as well as the bag. I went with a stripe motif for the whole thing; the bows on the bag, the blouse, and the tights all use the stripe pattern. The ship necklace is something that I personally liked but I'm not sure if it fits with a boy style.

The coordinate on the right is actually not something I created. All the credit for this has to go to my sister. She actually owns this outfit, minus the bag and hair piece. It's a classic coordinate with the boots, bag, and hairpiece pushing it into the pirate realm. The skirt and bag are from Alice and the Pirates. The blouse is from an Innocent World lucky pack, and the shoes are from Modcloth. Everyone loved the outfit when she wore it and so I hope you do too.

This article has been a month in the making, but I think it's turned out nicely. I'm going to try and do some more of these style spotlights, maybe even throw in some of the crossover styles. School's back in session for me now, and for some reason this is helping me write to the quality that I expect of myself. I hope to bring this blog back from the dead in the next few weeks. Please, if you have any questions about lolita fashion, something you'd like to see here, or general comments for me, let me know on my formspring. Thanks for reading~