Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lolita Obsessions: School Bags

Midterms have come and gone and I finally have some time to write again! With my adventure into Lifestyle Lolita, I came across a major flaw in my wardrobe. I have very few purses, and only one of them is useable in a school setting. I take notes on my laptop and I also carry a few other things with me on a daily basis. My day-to-day backpack is from when I was in High School and is green and black, it doesn't match my lolita wardrobe at all. A lack of a matching school bag was driving me crazy! Here, I've found a few options for you to use if you want to wear lolita to school, but still need to carry a larger bag for your supplies.

Laptop Bags
My personal favorite option, maybe it's because I take my laptop (his name is Ringo) with me everywhere, is the laptop bag. They're commercially available in cute prints and styles and if you don't have a laptop, you can use them for folders and notebooks. This one on the right is my favorite one I own. It's got a cute Alice in Wonderland pattern and the White Rabbit charm is removable! I got it at, which also sells Sanrio and San-X merchandise and bunches of other cute things perfect for a lolita life. They do online shipping all over the world, and everything is just so cute! If you're looking for something a little less sweet, I really like some of the options from Modcloth. Their items are a little country and a little classic, like this deer print bag. If you're feeling crafty, you could make or get a plain colored one and decorate it to your liking!

"School Bags"
I know I've talked about these before on here somewhere, mostly because I adore them. Sometimes you see Japanese students with these briefcase-like bags for their books, both in Anime and in real life. The lolita fashion movement co-opted this bag style and made it fit into the lolita aesthetic. They are sort of like the above laptop bags, but usually they are styled more after briefcases. Both brands and off-brands (like Taobao shops) make bags in this style. However, as you probably can imagine, the Japanese brands charge far more for one. The price ranges from $100 - $250 for a bag like this, it's a little much for a purse. However, some Taobao shops make their own versions. They're far cheaper, at around $40 US. However, they are also often smaller, and "not meant for heavy items." So it just depends on what you're looking for and what you're planning to use the bag for.

This is what I really needed for school. If you have a sweet style or you wear things inspired by decora and fairy kei, then it's extremely easy to find backpacks. Sanrio sells a whole bunch of them that range in size and style. However, for other styles, it's a little more tricky. For gothic and punk styles, there are bags like the coffin one on the right that have backpack straps attached. The only problem is that they aren't always the right size or shape for school books or a laptop. In the way of backpacks for classic, there isn't really much. You're much better off getting a school bag to match. And all the sub styles. I have this theory that every sub-style in lolita can be made by combining two or more of these main styles. For example, country is just sweet combined with classic. But more on that later. As long as it works with your outfit and is functional, go for it! 9/10 times, no one is going to notice that your backpack doesn't quite match your clothes.

Do you have a bag that you like to use the most? I have this black purse with a bow as the snap closure that I use pretty much everywhere. It's big on the inside and blends into my black-based coordinates well. It's also cheap and durable! Thanks for reading~

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My Week in the World of Lifestyle Lolita

This past week, I decided to do a little experiment. I wanted to see what being a lifestyle lolita was like. And I have to say, it was a lot different than I expected. I wore lolita six days during the past week, I had to skip Sunday because I can't wear it to the job I have on Sundays. I'll talk about some of the really fun parts of the week, as well as some of the problems I had.

Getting Up and Getting Dressed
I am not a morning person. At all. I get up and catch the bus less than 20 minutes later. Which made dressing in lolita particularly miserable. I decided on my outfit the night before, but even with that, I was still missing the earlier bus and nearly late to class a few times. If I could manage to get up even 15 minutes earlier, I wouldn't have felt so rushed getting ready to go. If I could have gotten up an hour earlier, I would have actually felt awake when I was getting dressed.

Wearing lolita, while fun, is terribly inconvenient. I'm not used to wearing clothing without pockets. And only one of my dresses actually has them. It was difficult to carry my ID and phone with me. I have a bright green and black backpack that I use regularly. When I was wearing my frilly clothing, it felt out of place and, well, just plain ugly. So I couldn't use it. I have a few laptop bags that I used, and while they worked, they didn't really match either. What I really needed is a school bag, but more on that later.

Reactions: Good and Bad
I prepared for the worst. I prepared for the usual stares and the negative comments. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Fellow students ignored me, professors didn't make comments or make me explain myself. The people working at the two coffee shops I frequent were so positive and I received lots of complements. One girl told me to check out the PGH_Lolita group, where I'm a moderator. I politely thanked her for letting me know about this.

Working my week-day job in lolita was pleasant. I work in retail, so it was quite easy to wear lolita to work. However, it was also somewhat difficult to work in lolita. It was cramped and hard to move around a lot to help the customers. I've worn lolita to work before though, so this is not something new to me. My bosses really liked it though, and were very positive.

There were a few random reactions that I got in other places. A lady in the grocery store said she liked my dress and asked me where I got it. My little cat, Nia, was actually afraid of the dresses. There were a few people asking about it on the bus and on the street walking between classes and work. But overall, most everyone just ignored it.

Wardrobe Difficulties
I have a pretty decent sized wardrobe. I have seven skirts, seven jumpers, four blouses, and three cutsews. I've been able to make a myriad of coordinates thus far, but six days in a row took a toll on my wardrobe. I simply do not have enough dresses to make coordinates that interest and excite me every single day. Skirts were pretty-much unusable, because I only had a few tops I could use with them. This was a real eye-opener for me. I had always thought of each piece in my wardrobe being important. But truthfully, many pieces stay on their hangers in the closet. It may be time to do a bit of evaluating in my wardrobe, especially if I plan to become a lifestyle lolita.

I was quite surprised by myself. For the past two years, my life has become more and more lolita-centric. I've wanted to become a lifestyle lolita for past year almost, and that has been what I've been moving towards. After this experiment, I'm not so sure anymore. It's very difficult to wear lolita all day. Perhaps it's just me, but wearing lolita becomes exhausting after awhile. I learned that I would need to own enough cutsews to match my skirts, and while I have four blouse options, not one of them has long sleeves. How did that happen?

My conclusions
I think that it takes a lot of confidence and energy to wear lolita by yourself. A friend complimented me on my outfit one day, saying that she "doesn't have the balls to wear her lolita to school." I didn't feel that way before this experiment. I also feel that my wardrobe is not in a state to be used daily. I can barely make enough outfits to wear something different every day for a week. Finally, there are just some impracticalities that come with wearing lolita. It would be important for me to keep some "regular" clothes around to deal with these situations in. For more on these, check out my post from a week ago on this subject. Still, I don't think you have to wear lolita every day to be considered a "real lolita." Even if you just wear the style to meet-ups, conventions, and occasionally other times, like I do usually, you're still a lolita in my book!

It's almost been a year since I started writing the Elegant Wardrobe. I know I don't have a ton of readers or internet fame or anything. But I'm still happy with how this is going. So I'll be doing a one-year bloggiversary give away, starting later this month. Also, I am proud to announce that The Elegant Wardrobe now has a Facebook page! Please feel free to subscribe to it to get the latest updates right on your Facebook. Until next time~

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Lolita Obsessions: Publications

Welcome to another edition of Lolita Obsessions! This time, I'll be talking about the newest collection in my life, Lolita Publications. What is a lolita publication, you may ask. Well, basically it means anything printed published with a lolita fashion focus. Mostly this means brand catalogues and magazines. For example, there are magazines like KERA and Gothic & Lolita Bible. There are catalogues that Japanese brands put out at the beginning of each season (twice or four times a year) that show the newest items from their brand as well as some modeled outfits. There's also at least one book on lolita fashion, Misako Aoki's Kawaii Revolution. If it's printed on paper and it's about lolita, I'll put it in my collection. These items can range in price, from around $30 US for a new G&LB to $10-$25 for a KERA or a brand catalogue.

What's the allure of this collection, you may ask. After all, $50 will get you a range of items, including Bodyline dresses, brand socks and accessories, and plenty of jewelry. But these published items, while not wearable, are a part of the Lolita culture. The magazines are straight from Japan, and are in fact, in Japanese completely. But because they're from Japan, you get to see what the latest trends are on the streets of Harajuku. Often, brands will also buy up ad space in these magazines (or Mooks - magazine/book hybrid) to showcase their newest items, before they even go up on the internet.

KERA is the premiere J-fashion magazine available. It began in 1998 and has been publishing monthly ever since. KERA features lolita style as well as other J-fashions like Hime Gyaru, Mori Girl, Dolly Kei, Ageha, Pop Kei, Visual Kei, Decora, etc. It's still a mostly picture-based magazine, and still in Japanese. There are ads for lolita brands as well as other shops that sell the aforementioned non-lolita styles. Street snaps, make-up and hair tutorials, articles on musicians in the fashion world, and so much more. There are a bunch of other spin off publications from KERA, including Maniax, BOYS, Snap, and the ever-so-popular Gothic and Lolita Bible. The articles are in Japanese and often feature fashion icons such as Misako Aoki, Nana Kitade, and Ana Tsuchiya on their covers.

Yes, they really are all in Japanese. And no, I can't read it, not a bit. So then why would I buy it? I can't read anything in it, so what's really the point? Well, the pictures of course!! Taken by professionals, photoshopped beyond recognition, and finally decorated with oodles of sparkles and hearts. There really isn't another magazine quite like the Gothic and Lolita Bible (GLB) in regards to their photography. In addition to the actual pictures with models, GLB acts as a seasonal catalogue, showing the latest series from Japanese brands. There are also hair and make-up tutorials (with step-by-step pictures, no translating necessary!) and crafting/sewing patterns. The sewing patterns do need to be translated, but often someone will post that information up online somewhere.

However, there is one option available in English. A few years ago, Tokyopop decided to release a version of the Gothic and Lolita Bible in English with content designed specifically for western Lolitas. They completed five volumes before canceling the project. These are somewhat rare now, but every once and awhile, one will pop up for sale somewhere. The English version contains similar content to the Japanese one. Both have street snaps, advertisements for Japanese brands, catalogue sections, patterns, and hair/makeup tutorials. The patterns and sewing instructions are in English for these, making them an excellent resource for DIYers.

While the Japanese bible contains articles related to places in Tokyo, events in Japan, and other things Japanese girls might want to check out, the English bible created content for the American and European readers. They covered a few conventions and events held in America and Europe, and spotlighted designers that have become known as the "American Brands" (Megan Maude, Candy Violet, Sweet Rococo). Some content was directly brought over from the original, but the editors of the English version of the bible were quite successful in writing original content for their bibles. For example, the one above on the right is the "flower issue." It contains recipes for flower-themed sweets (candied rose petals!), a tutorial on making roses out of ribbon, and a quiz to see what flower you are. Because the English bibles were all published in 2008 and 2009, they're somewhat outdated now. But they're still fun to flip through occasionally and worth their inflated prices.

Here's my current collection of publications. It's still quite small. The first English GLB got a little cut off, and I have the newest KERA in the mail. I keep them in a plastic box to protect them from getting bent, dusty, and being nommed on by kitties. I most recently acquired my first Japanese GLB, and I have to say, I've really missed them since Tokyopop stopped making them. Even though I can't read it, the pictures tell the story of Lolita in Japan, which I just love. If you're looking to get some Japanese magazines for yourself, there are a few different places to look. If you live in a very big city that has a Japanese book store then you're really lucky! You can probably get it there! I believe Kinokuniya has these in stock. You can also order from Tokyo Rebel or through a shopping service in Japan. Finally, you can buy old editions of KERA, GLB, and brand catalogues on the EGL Comm Sales, though they may not come with the stickers/patterns/other goodies that are sometimes in these. In fact, all of my Japanese brand catalogues are from EGL comm sales and are secondhand.

Does this make you want to start collecting these items? Maybe not, but that's okay. There are plenty of better things to spend your money on in the world of Lolita. Still, I hope I've given you a better understanding and appreciation of these items and why they exist. Feel free to email me at or let me know on my Formspring with any questions or comments you've got!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

10 Things to Avoid in Lolita

I don't know about you, but I love wearing lolita out pretty much everywhere. To work, to school, to the grocery store, on the bus, out shopping. However, there are just some scenarios where dressing your frilly best is not only impractical, but inconvenient and, quite frankly, a nuisance. I did a post like this awhile back, but to be honest, I wasn't satisfied with it at all. So I've been re-working it and here's a better list (and a more practical one) of things to not do in lolita.

1. Shopping (For Clothes)
I hate trying clothes on. I hate it! It's such a bother. But it does help you decide on your purchases, so I do it anyhow. Wearing lolita to a shopping trip where you're planning to try stuff on is just plain bothersome. If you're shopping for "mainstream" clothes, do you really want to be pulling layers upon layers of frill covered items off, for not even five minutes of trying stuff on? Not only will you have to set your nice items on the floor or the bench, it'll just make the whole process take EVEN longer. Save yourself some time and go in your jeans.

2. On an Airplane
I've done this before. I wore lolita onto a plane, in the United States. It. was. a. nightmare. First of all, the TSA agents are extra suspicious of you because you look different and stand out. Secondly, you have to take your shoes off and I don't like getting my nice socks dirty. Third, no wigs, period. Finally, once you get on the stupid plane, the seats are really cramped and you're super uncomfortable and the petticoat doesn't fit in the little bathroom so well. It's miserable.

3. On a car/bus trip
This also goes for a car ride, though less so I think. I drove back from Ohayocon in lolita this past year. It wasn't terrible, because I'm used to driving in my dresses. But if the car ride had been much longer, it would have gotten really terrible, really fast. It's that uncomfortable, cramped car factor that makes this an awful experience. If you have to do it (like I did), then I suggest planning a more casual outfit for that day and perhaps taking the petticoat off.

4. Getting a Haircut
Getting a haircut is so nice~ They make it look so much better than I ever can manage on my own. But there are a few reasons not to wear your lolita to your haircut. Most of the time, they will wash your hair before they cut it. Lolita and water don't really mix, so why risk exposure to it? Also, all those little bits of hair and whatever products they use on your hair, they can get on your clothing (even with the protective covering). If you want that just-cut look for a meet-up or other event, schedule your hair cut in the morning and then put your lolita on once you get home.

5. Prolonged Exposure to Children under 3
Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against kids. I work in a nursery and I'm in school to become an elementary teacher. But kids... are sticky. They sort of leak fluid from, well, everywhere. And they love to put their sticky little hands wherever they aren't supposed to, especially right on your pretty clothes. Don't babysit in lolita, don't hang out with your niece/nephew/baby cousin/sibling in it, don't go to work in a day care in it! Better safe than sorry.

6. Amusement Parks
One of my favorite places in the whole world is, in fact, Disney World. And up until recently, I wanted to wear lolita to the park and pretend I was a princess while I was there. But then I realized the logistic difficulties of wearing lolita to a theme park if you're planning on riding anything at all (and let's face it, that's why you're there in the first place). The seats are dirty from thousands of people going on and off the ride, many are also outside and exposed to weather and animals. You'll have to leave your purse in the little area before you get on the ride, and it could get scuffed up or stolen. If you like to wear heals in lolita, imagine walking around and standing in lines all day in those shoes. As fun as it would be, I've given that idea up.

7. Cooking
Sure, it would be adorable to bake some cupcakes in a cute dress and a frilly apron. And sure, the apron would protect your dress from some harm. But! I highly recommend changing out of expensive, irreplaceable clothes while you cook. Stuff happens in the kitchen, and you look down and you're covered in flour or whatever you're working with. The un-washable nature of lolita makes it a poor choice for cooking in. If you are making something simple (like pasta, the only thing I know how to cook) then you're probably going to be fine. But much more than that, and your outfit could get damaged quite easily.

8. Messy Arts & Crafts
I've been trying to think of crafts for a crafting meet-up for about a year now. And I can't seem to come up with anything other than sewing and deco den that's completely safe on your clothing. And even then, deco den uses a bunch of glue. Scrapbooking is probably okay too, but mostly what I'm talking about here is painting, paper machét, clay-based crafts, decoupage, and pretty much any other craft that involves liquids. Most of these materials won't wash out of regular clothes, much less lolita. And just like with cooking, an apron won't protect all of you.

9. Napping
I must confess, I've fallen asleep in lolita before. It happens, mostly after long meet-ups or at conventions. While this isn't the absolute worst thing you can do to your clothing, it's not great. First of all, it's not too comfy to sleep in a blouse and a petticoat. Second, your clothes will get wrinkled very easily when you sleep in them. You'll have to iron it (again) and it just takes time and effort. If you want to carry the lolita aesthetic over into your
pajamas, there are a few options. There are vintage or vintage-styled nightgowns or dressing gowns. You can either make your own or buy one. I looked around at a few online shops and this one seems to have a good variety of styles and sizes. You could also go with just regular sleepwear with cute motifs. There are tons of pajama sets featuring Hello Kitty, My Little Pony, Snoopy, other Sanrio characters, and whatever other cute things you like. The third and final option is to wear bloomers and some top to bed. I like babydoll-style t-shirts for this option the best, and bloomers are so comfy!

10. Cleaning
I hear all the time about people cleaning their house in lolita. And I always think "how much did they really clean?" Because I just can't imagine doing dishes, cleaning the bathroom, or doing laundry in lolita. Sure, sweeping, picking up, and maybe dusting would be easy enough, but if you're going to be moving around a lot, using chemicals or soap, or lifting a lot then maybe throw on some of those pajamas I mentioned above.

This is a great introduction post for the next week in my life. For the next week, I will be delving into the complexities of lifestyle lolita. Whether I'm going to school or work, on the bus or driving, I'll be wearing lolita. Every day. So please look forward to finding out how I do!