When I started wearing lolita fashion, bloomers were a highly-touted staple. Tutorials and requests for tutorials popped up frequently in the main community, and lower-priced pairs from Metamorphose‘s seemingly-endless stream of lucky packs disappeared from sales posts almost instantly. Most lolita seemed to struggle internally between owning really lovely bloomers or spending as little money as possible on something that should hopefully not be seen. The now-closed online lolita clothing shop “In the Starlight” was a good source for relatively inexpensive bloomers, something they were known for besides their infamous petticoats. Wearing bloomers beneath one’s petticoat was considered to be of tantamount importance; an outfit was incomplete without that undergarment.
Now, it seems that the tide has shifted. I’ve spotted numerous discussions or commentary expressing dislike for bloomers–some saying they’re too babyish, annoyingly uncomfortable, or simply unnecessary. The popularity seems to be falling.
However, bloomers play an important role in lolita fashion: shielding your undergarments from prying eyes.
Admittedly, that doesn’t necessarily sound very important. That’s not something commonly worried about with other fashion styles. Most of the time paying attention and not behaving rambunctiously is enough to keep from flashing friends and strangers. Unless the wind is extremely gusty, modesty is pretty much up to your discretion.
This is actually not true in terms of lolita fashion, and the primary reason for this is the petticoat. When wearing a petticoat, it pushes the hem of your skirt further from your body. This provides an angle that makes even a knee-length (or slightly longer) skirt not quite long enough. A slight bend at the waist or hips, even less than 45-degrees, can be enough to provide a clear view of everything beneath one’s skirt. Traveling up or down staircases or escalators, or merely standing on a higher level than another person, provides the same opportunity. Although I am never consciously looking for it, I am usually aware of who is and who is not wearing bloomers–because unintentional actions can flash your undergarments at those around you!
Some lolita don’t mind showing their skivvies to strangers and friends, but I am not quite that at ease about it. If bloomers themselves just rub you the wrong way–so much that you can’t bear to put on a pair–there are other substitutions. Maybe you feel it’s too weird to wear something poofy like bloomers, or maybe you find the leg elastic uncomfortable. Bike shorts, exercise shorts, or boxer shorts can serve as stand-ins for bloomers. Opaque tights are another option, although that can be somewhat oppressive in the summer.
It’s simple to overlook the usefulness of bloomers. That doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself a ¥7900 pair of long bloomers from Metamorphose. Bloomers are a very simple staple to make yourself; you don’t even need fancy fabric or trim, although bloomers don’t use very much of either. You can pretty them up as much as you like. Bloomers patterns are easy to find in the costume selection of most fabric stores, and there are always patterns for bloomers in the GosuRori pattern books. There might even be patterns floating around on the internet~
Additionally, longer bloomers with a pretty lace or ruffled edge can be a nice outfit accent, particularly with shorter skirts. It used to be common for lolita coordinations to feature bloomers peeking out below the hem of a skirt, although that has fallen out of fashion recently. If Angelic Pretty keeps raising hemlines the style might be revived!
Whether you wouldn’t dare wear lolita without bloomers or vow to never place one leg into something so ridiculous, don’t forget that most undergarments are worn for a particular purpose. Bloomers aren’t just for looks–they’re for preventing them.