On Being Lolita: No Royal Ambition

On Being Lolita: No Royal Ambition

Personally, I have a hard time identifying with princesses. I don’t want to be a princess, whether it’s the historical variety or the Disney idealization. Although I love wearing lolita fashion, “like a princess” isn’t a term I like to use to describe how I feel or how I want to be. Wearing elaborate outfits with fantastical details doesn’t make me feel like something else–it makes me feel like me. It makes me happy to be myself, which was something I had forgotten about as I grew up. I remember being perfectly content with who I was when I was a child, but at some point social pressures and day-to-day “politics” undermined my personal pride and made me uneasy and sometimes ashamed for liking the things I liked and not liking the things that I was expected to like.

The me that is myself is not a flawless, elegant young woman with a heart so pure and shining that even forest creatures long to befriend her. I am not poised and picturesquely beautiful, with an inner beauty glowing so brightly it glimmers through every pore. I have my faults and weaknesses, most of which are more noticeable than any positive aspects. These aren’t things I want to gloss over or pretend not to have, but things I want to work with and overcome. I want to be a better me, not a better different person.

I can understand the appeal of princesses. Princesses generally celebrate femininity, which is often otherwise looked upon with disdain. Princesses are not pressured to grow up, but to celebrate being youthful. Princesses don’t cake on layers of makeup as soon as they reach double-digits and flip through fashion magazines to beg Mom and Dad for $300 high-heeled shoes. Princesses don’t suffer from “the daily grind,” and it’s completely acceptable for them to be eccentric. Princesses have the wealth to enjoy luxuries as day-to-day necessities, but they also have the mindfulness and goodness to avoid being spoiled and intolerable. Romance comes immediately and easily to the princess, who is courted by dashing suitors and usually finds a destined true love before reaching 16! This is the escape that many girls wish for, because it’s not very close to the life anyone actually leads.

Yet, somehow, this doesn’t really appeal to me. I’ve always adored fairy tales, but I particularly liked the hard worker more than the princess. I liked the princesses before they were princesses, when they had to toil amid cruelty in a life filled with heartbreak, yet didn’t lose their gentleness and kindness. Inevitably these consistently-beautiful girls would capture the heart of a prince, break their curse, end their poverty, and never need to work again. I didn’t care for this predictable ending, and thus one of my favourite fairy tales is The Red Shoes. The young girl in the red shoes is not the flawless beauty of most stories, nor does she ever become a princess–she makes poor choices that very negatively affect her life, and learns a very hard lesson.

I want to be the kind of person who works hard and is happy. That’s how wearing lolita fashion makes me feel! I work hard so that I can afford and maintain my expensive hobby, and then I get to enjoy it. (I appreciate my days off more when I have been actually doing things otherwise; if I lived a life of luxury I know I’d get bored very easily.) Lolita fashion isn’t an escape where I pretend to be someone I’m not–it’s just another way for me to express myself. If it were appropriate for all situations, I’d wear it every day! (I won’t always work at a job with such a lax dress code, though! My business suits are waiting in the wings.)

Little Piece of Wonderland
The pink, fluffy, and frilly me is the one I enjoy being the most! ☆

How do you feel about princesses? Do you want to be one? Do you not want to be one? Is there some other “character type” you model yourself after?

On Being Lolita: Questions and Answers

On Being Lolita: Questions and Answers

A little while ago I signed up for FormSpring when I heard people talking about it. I never used it and had forgotten about it, but then it occurred to me to link it from the blog as a way to have a “drop-box” for questions without worrying about spam email. (I’m working on an “email me” option, just in case anyone would like to, but I want to keep myself from piles and piles of junk.) I liked that FormSpring allows people to ask questions anonymously, and I can delete or choose not to enter questions that are rude or insulting–they aren’t posted until I respond. (Thankfully that has not been a serious problem, but I try to be prepared.)

For a while there wasn’t much activity, but recently I’ve been receiving a few questions about lolita fashion. I decided to compile them here in the event that anyone else was curious.

Please note that I am not a magically all-seeing, all-knowing judgment-casting princess of the style. n_~ These answers are my opinions. Please feel free to disagree with me!

1. Would you dress lolita in school? Or is it perfectly ok to hang out with friends and dress lolita at home and with them?

Whether or not I would dress lolita in school depends on the class. I would certainly have worn it in high school if the opportunity had been there. I have worn it to university courses on occasion, but because I am enrolled in a school of business it is usually inappropriate. My professors and classmates could be potential business contacts, and I don’t want to alienate them by being known only as “the girl who dresses weird.”
          And it is absolutely positively okay to hang out with friends and wear lolita fashion at home or with friends! You might as well wear it while you enjoy it. ♥

2. Do you keep a number of how many lolita items you have? If so how many?

I don’t really count my lolita items, but I have quite a few! I’ve been wearing the fashion for several years, and I very rarely resell anything–plus my little sister loves to pass off clothing to me. But there’s definitely a lot!
          I have a picture of my closet here (which would give you an idea), but it’s not up-to-date.

3. How do you get your hair in those lovely curls/spins?

My hair is very curly, and it easily forms spirals with little coaxing. When my hair is wet I twist it in the direction I’d like the curl to turn, and occasionally repeat the procedure until my hair is dry. Sometimes I use a bit of gloss to help with fly-aways.
          I get asked this a lot, and I wish I could do a tutorial on it, but my method won’t really work for anyone with a different hair type.

4. Is it strange for a sweet Lolita to wear black?

Not at all! My little sister wears sweet lolita almost exclusively in black~ ♥ A print of cookies and candy is still cookies and candy whether it’s on a pink or black background–it really doesn’t look any more “gothic” that way.

5. What did you dress like before you discovered lolita?

Boring! Even now, when I don’t wear lolita fashion my clothes are duuuuuuuull. XD My typical outfit involves a tshirt or camisole under a sweater with jeans. I wear sweaters even in the summer, although then over casual sundresses instead of jeans + shirt.

6. Have you seen the movie Kamikaze Girls?

Yes, I have seen it. (I also own it.) :3 It’s a cute movie!

7. Do you wear bloomers beneath your Lolita clothes?

Yes; I think bloomers are very important. I don’t want to accidentally flash my undergarments at friends or strangers!

8. How do you sit with a petticoat? Do you sit on it?

Yes, you sit on it. It’s like wearing a very cushioned or thick skirt.

9. How do you clean your Lolita clothes?

I dry-clean my blouses, delicate cutsews, jumperskirts, one-pieces, skirts, and coat. Even if they could be handwashed, I trust my dry-cleaner (they are very careful) more than myself. They also do a much better job ironing than I ever could.
          I machine-wash bloomers, petticoats, socks, cardigans, and some cutsews. However, I hang my socks, cardigans, and cutsews up to dry. I only run my bloomers and petticoats through the dryer.

10. Did you promote your blog? How?

My promotion is very minimal–I just write for fun, so if no-one reads it that’s a-okay. I’ll never try to make money off of it, and I don’t need “fame.”
          My blog is linked on my LiveJournal, and linked as my website on any account elsewhere (Flickr, Poupee Girl, Den of Angels, Twitter, WeHeartIt, and Formspring). I also have a feed so that updates are posted on my Twitter account.
          I think I actually get a lot of traffic from other lolita-related blogs. They often have lists of the blogs they read or updates on those blogs; I think that’s where most of my visitors come from.
          I hope that was helpful!

11. How can you make sure your bloomers don’t peek out from underneath your skirt?

The easiest way is to make sure your skirt is longer than your bloomers~
          If your bloomers -are- longer than your skirt, you’ll want to position the elastic higher up on your legs. This scrunches up the legs of the bloomers to make them functionally shorter in length.
          Although bloomers peeking from underneath a skirt is not really a problem or tragedy, especially if the lace or finished edge is particularly pretty.

If you have a question, feel free to drop one off, anonymous or otherwise! If you don’t want me to answer it publicly, include your email address as part of your question and I’ll email you~ ♥ Questions don’t have to be related to lolita fashion–I’ll answer any question that isn’t obscene or rude. ★

On Being Lolita: Planning a Picnic

On Being Lolita: Planning a Picnic

Lolita fashion is an expensive hobby; even if you sew your own clothing the costs of fabric, notions, trims, and laces can certainly add up. Meetups can be expensive, too–a formal tea at a restaurant or hotel is usually over $20 per person, movie tickets average $10 each, museum admissions fluctuate but can be wildly expensive (especially if a special exhibit is the object of the trip), and then there’s transportation or other “hidden” costs to attend. All that besides whatever it cost to acquire or complete the perfect outfit. Sometimes it makes my head spin! Although the ambiance of a truly nice hotel can rarely be matched, seeing treasures and artwork adds enrichment to life, and opulent activities seem to mesh well with such a luxurious style, I simply cannot afford to spend a fortune every time I want to see my friends–and I know they cannot either!

Thus my favourite kind of all-inclusive meetup is the potluck-style picnic. I like food-centric meetups not because I necessarily want to eat, but because I want to prolong the time I can spend with everyone. If we arrange a short meetup without meal plans, inevitably the time passes and suddenly it is lunch or dinnertime and everyone is trying to figure out what to do. Spur-of-the-moment restaurant plans are often more expensive than everyone had hoped, not as tasty as everyone wishes, and rather crowded if there’s more than a handful of petticoat-wearing people trying to sit around one table. To avoid this, I always try to build in lunch or dinner when planning an event.

Lolita Day Picnic
I took a few pictures of the picnicking on Lolita Day, since we were having this very sort of picnic!

Picnics make sure there’s plenty of room for everyone without worrying about whether or not there are enough chairs. All you need are picnic blankets (or sheets) and decent weather. The “weather” part isn’t the easiest, but now that spring is in full swing and summer will be upon us where I live, I want to make the most of it!

Having a potluck-style picnic is my preferred picnic type for a few reasons:

  1. Low cost to all those attending–you can spend as much as you can afford.
  2. Greater variety in food choices.
  3. More opportunities to socialize.

Eating out is very expensive, and splitting the check can be even more difficult! Bringing something to a picnic, however, is entirely under your control. If you haven’t much to spend you can bring something from home (food or supplies–every picnic needs napkins, plates, picnic blankets, etc.) or check your grocery stores for a good sale. You don’t have to spend too much, or bring a massive quantity of food; although with smaller groups (generally less than ten people) you may want to make sure there’s enough for each person to have a serving, with larger groups this isn’t as much of a concern. In fact, if 29 people did such a thing, how could anyone actually eat a portion of 29 different things? It would be quite difficult.

Everyone has different food preferences. Some of the delicious things I’ve tried at picnics are dishes I never would have thought to bring or make myself! Other times you might find that someone has a secret family recipe or a special skill making this one particular item. I love trying new things~ ♥

If everyone brings separate lunches, it’s too easy for the group to fracture immediately–established friends sitting together in pods with the newcomers isolated. Sharing foods encourages everyone to begin mingling to see what others have brought, decide what they might like to try, select from the bounty, and talk about what’s been provided. It sounds like nonsense, but I’ve seen it work numerous times. There’s just something about sharing that breaks the ice.

Picnics are also good opportunities for other activities, too–word games and parlor games tend to work out very well. A picnic is often very well suited to a stroll before or afterward. It’s nice to pair a picnic with another outdoor activity, particularly if the weather is cooperating. Personally, I really like to tie picnics to zoo trips, because there is a free zoo in the area that is in an area well-suited to picnicking.

Lolita Day Picnic
It’s always important to have enough blankets, since no-one should have to dirty her outfit in the grass or on pavement.

When planning a picnic, some of the most important things to remember are:

  • Keep a total of guests
  • List who is bringing what
  • Make sure the location and time are clearly known
  • Exchange contact information with other attendees

Keeping track and informing all guests of the total number of attendees is helpful to both host and guests. Knowing the number of picnickers helps you estimate how many blankets will be required for adequate seating; how many plates, utensils, or napkins will be needed; and allows you to scout out a potential area for picnicking based on the size of the group. It helps your guests estimate how much food they ought to be bringing with them. Bringing too much of a dish means they have to carry it around the rest of the day or let it go to waste, while bringing too little can be embarrassing or disappointing.

A list of who is bringing what (or at least what people have committed to bring) helps you spot what is still needed. Is everyone bringing cupcakes? Sounds like the perfect opportunity to provide sandwiches. Has no-one offered to bring beverages? That might be something to suggest if someone asks what they ought to bring. Someone said they’re bringing potato salad–will there be forks for everyone to eat it with? These are questions that can be accidentally overlooked if you don’t know what to expect for the event.

Location and time are vital for any meetup, but particularly so when attendees will be carrying goods that might be heavy or awkward.

Exchanging contact information is vital so that you know if anyone is late, lost, or canceling. It’s frustrating to the rest of the group to be waiting around for an expected participant who never shows up, only to learn later that she changed her mind or was too ill to join you. It’s terrifying as an attendee to be wandering around aimlessly, unable to find the people you were supposed to meet and unable to contact them.

It’s also best to try and come up with a rainy-day alternative! You can’t always count on sunshiny weather. It helps everyone if you come up with a backup plan well in advance and communicate it to everyone so they know what’s going on. If you are forced to cancel, make sure you notify everyone. Sometimes posting a message just isn’t enough–it’s always best to call or text message those who said they would come. Otherwise they might show up to a picnic that never was, wasting time and effort in vain!

Does anyone else have picnic tips? ♥ I know I cannot be the only lolita who likes picnics!

On Being Lolita: My Frilly Beginning

On Being Lolita: My Frilly Beginning

Inspired by some of the thoughts from my previous post, I decided to reminisce a bit. I’ve been wearing lolita since 2006, which sometimes seems like a long time and sometimes seems like a very, very short time!

I’d know about lolita fashion before then, but hadn’t paid too much attention. I wasn’t very aware of sweet lolita, only the more gothic or punk styles which aren’t really to my taste. Then I became interested in Pullip dolls and purchased one who wore shirololi. When she arrived and I saw all the cute little details, I knew that’s what I wanted to wear, too. I started to plot immediately.

I joined EGL on LiveJournal right away and tried to compile as much information as possible. I browsed the websites of lolita fashion brands; it was the reason I installed Japanese text support–so I would see characters instead of boxes or random symbols. I studied discussions, although I was too nervous to participate. I actually took notes on some things, such as lace types or abbreviations. It’s funny to think back on how focused and serious I was! I fretted about my hair, my finances, and more things. I started typing differently after being ridiculed for a stupid but mostly harmless habit of adding extra syllables at the end of sentences for emphasis. (Didn’t stop me from abusing the tilde, though~!)

This was my very first picture! I had just gotten all items for my outfit, and I insisted on putting it on right away and forced my father to take some pictures of me outside. I still remember how excited I was!

I attended my first meetup without any proper clothes, because I wanted to meet other lolita in person. I was not disappointed in the least! One girl (who was later my roommate for several years) arrived in full regalia, and I was fascinated. She was perfectly coordinated, wearing everything I wanted to own, and didn’t mistreat me for being awestruck. She wasn’t even taken aback when I asked awkwardly if I could touch the lace on her blouse. (I still remember thinking, “WOOOOOOOOOW, this is what they mean by good lace!”)

My first items were purchased shortly afterward. I bought a custom dress from In the Starlight. Sadly they closed in late 2009, but for many years In the Starlight was a go-to for custom-made lolita clothing. They probably provided petticoats and bloomers to hundreds if not thousands of girls! My first dress was of my own design, with a built-in petticoat and detachable sleeves. I wanted something that would be versatile as possible. I didn’t commission my item from In the Starlight because it was any cheaper, I did it because at the time I thought (based on measurements) that lolita brand clothing would be too big for me. I didn’t realize the versatility of sizing until a little bit later!

Once the dress and hair accessory were in hand, I commissioned some socks from another lolita seamstress–then I set out on a hunt for white shoes. My grandmother was kind enough to not only help me hunt out white shoes for tiny feet that didn’t look like toddler shoes, but also to pay for them once we found a pair at a dusty shoe store in a neighboring town! I found a white child’s umbrella with a ruffled edge to complete my look and felt very satisfied. I had the opportunity to wear the entire outfit both in a parade (where I was mistakenly thought to be the lead singer of a band) and to a meetup soon after my birthday~ It was very exciting!

Same outfit, but this picture was taken at my first meetup. I was always very fond of this particular image–the girl who took it coached my pose.

I only have a few not-great-quality pictures of that outfit, but I think back on it fondly. I no longer have any of those items except the shoes–eventually I stopped wearing them. For a while I had just those items, and I wore everything so often that I really bored myself even though I tried to add variety, but I wasn’t bored until I’d worn it to death for a few years! The detachable sleeves made it really easy to wear in different ways, although I’m sure someone more creative than me could have done even more.

Overall, looking back on old pictures gives me a warm sense of nostalgia. I’ve definitely come a long way, but I really regret or cringe at anything. I’m happy that I can think of the way things started with such fondness~ I can’t even really imagine what my life would be like if I hadn’t started to wear lolita fashion; it would be much different! For something that isn’t earth-shaking, it really has had a significant impact on my life. Someday, when I’m old, I want to be able to look back on this part of my life with a smile and think, “Wow, I had fun wearing those ridiculous clothes!”

On Being Lolita: Where to Start?

On Being Lolita: Where to Start?

When you’re just starting to get into lolita fashion, the sheer variety and choices can be overwhelming! I remember debating for weeks about what would be the very first thing I’d purchase. The prices seem so unimaginably expensive–and they especially did several years ago, before the accessibility of Bodyline or reputable Chinese sellers, such as Dear Celine or Rose Melody, and services like Qutieland.

My sewing ability is nonexistent, which is too bad–bloomers and petticoats are easy (and useful) first projects! Shorts can be substituted for bloomers if you don’t care for them or don’t want to make or buy a pair right away, but there’s little substitute for a petticoat. Sometimes another skirt can fill in, but that’s only if you’re lucky enough to already own something in the right shape with plenty of “floof” to it.

I found this petticoat tutorial by RhodyGunn at DeviantArt. Her tutorial has lots of pictures and follows the pattern from the GosuRori pattern books. Kouhiko posted a petticoat tutorial in Sew_Loli, which has some very adorable illustrated instructions. Free bloomer tutorials are easy to search for online, although most of them are historical patterns and may need a bit of modification to use for lolita fashion.

A petticoat and bloomers are foundation garments. They’re not always pretty and lacy, and you can’t usually show them off or take your first lolita fashion pictures with only those things, but without a petticoat and bloomers it’s difficult to wear the outer layers of lolita as best they could be worn. For a lolita-at-heart, I recommend making these undergarments, if you can, as inexpensively as possible so you can save your hard-earned money for clothing items without lacking what ought to go beneath.

Undergarments aside, I personally feel that there are two “best” starter pieces for a lolita’s wardrobe. Which one is a better choice for which lolita-hopeful really depends on her sewing goals and ability.

A Blouse with Detachable Sleeves
For the Lolita-to-Be with Sewing Potential

If you can sew or are learning/want to learn to sew, a blouse with detachable sleeves is a great starter piece. Simple rectangle skirts are a staple of the style, and quite easy to make. When those have become second nature, there are other skirt styles to add to your repertoire. Then, jumperskirts, and from there–the world! Additionally, most lolita accessories such as hairbows or wrist cuffs are not terribly confusing to make, either.

Blouses, however, are generally not very easy to make. Figuring out the patterns in the GosuRori pattern books can be difficult without a good grasp of written Japanese, and most commercial patterns just aren’t quite right for lolita fashion.

Owning a blouse with detachable sleeves will give you a proper top to wear with the skirts or jumperskirts you can make, and it will be suited for warmer or cooler weather and slightly different “looks” due to the ability to be short- or long-sleeved. There are often blouses with other detachable elements as well–waist ties or additional collars. These extra pieces allow more variety from the same garment, so that even if you are always wearing the same blouse you don’t have to feel or look like it! You can add a little bit of interest with your craftiness with brooches, ribbons, or other temporary embellishments. Maybe even change the buttons once in a while~

Also, a blouse is also usually less expensive than a skirt, jumperskirt, or dress–so you can save some money on your purchase and have more to spend on the supplies you’ll need for your sewing endeavors!

A Non-Print Fabric One-Piece Dress
For the Future-Lolita without Much Sewing Interest

Maybe you already know that you and your sewing machine are mortal enemies, you cringe at the thought of pricking your fingers yet again, or you just know you’ll quickly grow bored of the practice. Maybe you just don’t have enough free time, or have too many other hobbies. Whatever the case may be, the bottom line is that you really don’t want to sew your own lolita outfits.

In that case, you probably ought to get a “one-piece,” the term used most commonly within the fashion for a dress with sleeves that typically isn’t intended to be worn over a blouse. This makes a nice first item because you instantly have an outfit. It’s much simpler to start off with an item that doesn’t require too much to complete it–you can usually accessorize with things you already own. Doing the opposite–starting with what you already own and accessorizing it to be lolita–is much harder.

A good first one-piece ought to not be a specific print. Brand-name or small-label print garments are incredibly popular, but they’re also incredibly noticeable. After you’ve worn and re-coordinated that dress several times, you’ll likely grow bored with it. There’s no real harm in wearing the same outfit over and over, if you like doing so, but a lack of variety can make you envious of other girls with more varied closets. A dress without a specific design is easier to reinvent over and over again, because it has slightly more of a “blank canvas” quality.

You can wear the one-piece as it is, you can wear it with patterned tights, you can wear it with a cardigan, you can wear it with a skirt over it like some of the models in Alice Deco À La Mode, you can wear it over a blouse or cutsew like a jumperskirt, etc. You can wear accessories in matching colours or contrasting colours. There’s a lot of opportunity for experimentation! (Also, non-print one-pieces are much less expensive than their highly-sought-after and limited-release counterparts!)

Pictures are online shop catalog images from Angelic Pretty, but that doesn’t mean your purchases need to be! I simply chose them to illustrate my points because I love Angelic Pretty! ♥ Moi-même-Moitié, Sweet Rococo, Bodyline, a shop from TaoBao, or a commission from a seamstress–all are great choices! It’s best to pick something you love, so you won’t get tired of wearing it, and to pick something that fits you well, so you will be comfortable and look your best.

I’d love to hear others’ opinions as to the best “first item.” It can be quite hard to choose~ Thinking about this subject has made me very nostalgic~ ♥ My first “starting point” seems so long ago!

On Being Lolita: In Defense of Bloomers

On Being Lolita: In Defense of Bloomers

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.

On Being Lolita: Errands and Lolita Fashion

On Being Lolita: Errands and Lolita Fashion

Today I had one of those moments that was so amusing that I very much wanted to write about and share it, but I couldn’t quite connect it into anything more than an anecdote. There’s not a clear lesson to be learned or theme to expand on. I find that sometimes even when I’m not actually wearing lolita fashion, it’s interesting how it impacts my life.

I insist on dry cleaning my lolita garments, even though many of them can be hand washed. When I voice my opinion on dry cleaning, I am often reminded that lolita clothing can be washed by hand. Why take it somewhere that uses questionable chemicals and incur additional expense? The biggest reason that I dry clean the bulk of my lolita fashion wardrobe is related to the fact that I have a really, really awesome neighborhood dry cleaner. My dry cleaner has been dealing with lolita fashion for years, even before I moved into the area, because a friend of mine has lived there and worn lolita fashion much, much longer than I have. She once wore it daily for a year without interruption!

When we were roommates I became acquainted with the dry cleaner when I would stop by and drop off or pick up her clothing, and eventually mine as well. I was always a little bit wary of dry cleaners, because there can be such varied results. (My grandfather has a penchant for taking his clothes to a place that doesn’t actually send them back clean because he likes talking with the employees there.) My dry cleaner is far more reliable! Everything comes back without damage, looking pristine. ♥ They’ve even brightened my bunny pochette, Mallow, who was looking a dingy from living such an active life.

For some reason, the dry cleaner always enters my clothing under my friend’s name, even though they are well aware that I am not her. Most of the employees recognize my husband and me before we’ve even walked through the door, and will ring out our bill before we’ve even asked. Whenever I drop something off there are always “oohs” and “aahs.” One of the employees has told me that she adores my outfits and is always hoping to spot me when she’s not at work.

Today when I stopped by to pick some things up after work, I noted that I didn’t recognize the employee in the shop today. When I pointed out my garments so they could be paid for, she was visibly confused and apologetically excused herself to make a phone call. I could hear her worriedly asking if the “costumes” were ready, if they had needed more sewing work, etc. She had to be guided through ringing them up, at one point exclaiming, “…But they’re costumes!” I couldn’t help being a bit amused, because she’ll be seeing more of me and my “costumes”–which were only there to be cleaned and pressed, no alteration or construction required.

It got me thinking about the kind of reactions I tend to get when I’m not attending an event, but just milling about doing mundane tasks in ruffles and lace. Sometimes the reactions are oblivious or avoidant; when I grocery shop in lolita fashion, almost no-one will look me in the eye and they often glance away hastily. My petticoat could brush against someone’s shopping cart, and they’ll stare juuuust over my head to avoid acknowledging me. Sometimes–such as at the post office–the attention is almost unbearable. And if I venture downtown for shopping, every tourist wants more information about the “show” I’m promoting…as if carrying a tote and browsing the shelves at a bookstore is promoting. n_~

It’s always interesting to me to see what people will try to do to justify or explain things they don’t understand. :3 It’s very difficult to just accept something as “unusual”–there’s always a quest for a deeper meaning or logical reasoning.

On Being Lolita: When Courage Fails–Keep Going

On Being Lolita: When Courage Fails–Keep Going

This weekend was a whirlwind of fun and lolita activities. I missed out on a very lovely tea with a lot of girls in the area, but did find a way to keep myself occupied in the meantime. A friend of mine has been continually reminding me that she owns a Hello Kitty waffle maker, which is basically one of the greatest things ever invented even though it isn’t a high-quality appliance. So Saturday, since I couldn’t attend the tea party with everyone else (the upcoming Dolpa, which I finally registered for yesterday, has made my pocketbook cry) I took her up on her offer and went over for waffles.

I carefully selected my outfit, styled my hair, and prepared to leave; everything was going well. Yet for some reason, when I locked the door behind me I felt afraid. Every step towards the train station made me nervous, despite the fact that I’ve worn lolita fashion in public alone for years. Sometimes, negativity gets the better of me and makes me ashamed and nervous about being myself. Before I started wearing lolita fashion I was extremely shy and perpetually frightened of just about everything. Finding the courage to wear clothing that wasn’t “accepted” brought me a skill that has impacted my entire life in a positive way.

Then sometimes, experience seems to melt away and I feel like I’m going out for the first time again, worrying fretfully about what strangers might say or do. There’s no easy way to deal with that kind of anxiety, but I refuse to let it get the better of me. I like myself more when I’m not terrified needless of everything around me. I have more fun and enjoy a more fulfilling life if I’m not holed up in my room. I want to wear my frilly clothing while enjoying the other things I like to do.

I absolutely adore the movie Dune, and recently read the novel by Frank Herbert. (Although I couldn’t come up with a sufficient connection to write a book review about it here~) Whenever I am afraid of something I always think of the often-repeated quote that states:

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

In the book this is the Bene Gesserit “Litany Against Fear,” but it has a practical application even if you aren’t trapped in a moisture-deprived planet amidst possibly-hostile native peoples after the assassination of most of your family and closest friends while different warring political powers seek to destroy or control you for powers you may-or-may-not be bred to have. n_~

The thing that makes me most uncomfortable when I’m wearing lolita fashion are not whispers or shouted commentary, but laughter. Sometimes I will walk past someone or they will walk past me, and immediately I’ll hear a chorus of laughter. I always think they are laughing at me, and although I don’t value the opinion of a random stranger, I feel ridiculed and embarrassed. There’s a human tendency to assume that everyone else is paying attention to you and notices every mistake you make, since you notice it, but usually this is not the case and others don’t notice at all. However, it’s very hard not to notice something like lolita fashion, so I worry that my suspicions are correct.

But even if I am correct, it shouldn’t matter to me. I don’t want to limit myself to wearing lolita fashion only where no-one else might judge me. I don’t want to hide. So, even on those types of days, I look straight ahead and walk confidently–even if that confidence is entirely pretended. I’m very glad that I didn’t run back inside and change my clothes, because although I would have avoided the confused or disdainful stares, muffled commentary shouted from passing cars, and real or imaginary chuckles, I would have missed the broad smile and exclamation of “Look at your bad self!” when I stepped off the train near my destination.

There may come a day when I won’t wear lolita fashion, so I want to make it count and enjoy the most of it while I can!

On Being Lolita: Take a Picture

On Being Lolita: Take a Picture

I am neither handy with a camera nor good at posing for one, which causes certain difficulties when it comes to lolita fashion. There’s really nothing wrong with not taking pictures, as wearing the clothing provides the experience, but personally I like having something to look back on and share. Years from now, when I’m an old lady, I want to be able to reflect back on this time of my life with pictures to illustrate it better than my memory might. Maybe my nieces or nephews will enjoy seeing those “weird pictures of Aunt Alice,” too.

My camera is a point-and-shoot Sony that I bought when I started wearing lolita~ At 6 megapixels, it doesn’t have the highest quality. It also has very little in the way of options and settings; I moan my lack of white balance on a regular basis. (It’s the one feature I could really use to avoid the yellow cast of electric lighting.) Despite this, I still manage to get some very nice pictures with it and have only vaguely entertained the thoughts of replacing it.

Although some lolita are also photographers, not all of us are–but we’d still like to take nice pictures. It’s fun to get good shots to remember an awesome meetup; take clothing pictures to get more ribbons for your Poupée Girl account; share your outfits on Daily_Lolita or Daily_Ala_Mode; add more to your Flickr photostream; or just take pictures because you want to!

  • Use the highest megapixel setting. Smaller resolution photos will take up less space on your memory card, but they won’t look as crisp and clear. When you buy a camera it’s best to use it to its fullest extent. You never know when you might take a picture you REALLY adore, and it’s very hard to duplicate an image. Might as well take the highest-quality image you can, so you don’t regret it later.
  • Don’t use digital zoom. This might look nice when you’re staring at the picture’s preview on your camera’s screen, but it won’t look so nice when you’ve downloaded the picture to your computer and can see it with more detail! Using digital zoom reduces the number of pixels in your picture and thus the quality is poor. Move closer to your subject instead of thumbing the zoom dial.
  • Take multiple pictures of the same shot. A friend of mine is a professional photographer. When he takes a picture, it sounds like machine gunfire. He rapidly takes several pictures instead of just taking one. This is because even a second can make a difference–something especially true for pictures of people. Sometimes we make weird facial expressions, or cause a blur by moving, or the focus isn’t quite right, etc. Sorting through a few versions of the same picture provides a chance to pick the best one, instead of having to discard a pose and setting you really liked because your eyes are half-closed and your mouth is open.
  • Pay attention to lighting. Sunlight is typically the best option, and flash is usually the worst. Stepping outside to take your pictures, or standing near a large and sunny window, will avoid most weird colour casts or darkness. Too much light can cause glare or wash out pale outfits, so try taking pictures at different times of day in different weather conditions and get to know your sunlight. That way you’ll have a time in mind for pictures when you’re in dark clothing on a cloudy day, while also being prepared for getting the optimal shot of an all-white coordination when the sun is full-force. Always turn off the flash if you can, as it tends to distort colours.
  • Practice posing. This is something I am really bad at, but trying to improve! It’s hard to know what you look like when someone takes your picture, so give yourself an advantage by practicing beforehand. Prance around in front of a mirror to see what angles you like best. Does looking down give you a double-chin? Does placing your hands a certain way make them look HUGE? Now you know what to avoid! It looks silly if you always stand the same way in every picture, so make sure to try new things and give yourself some options.
  • Check your outfit. When someone asks to take your picture, pause for a moment to straighten your hairbow, pull up your socks, and make sure your petticoat isn’t slipping. (Of course, you’ll want to do this in a lady-like manner to avoid flashing friends and strangers.) A small hand mirror can come in handy for last-minute adjustments, although I usually use the closest reflective window or well-washed car!
  • Notice the background. A good picture–even if the goal of the picture is to share an outfit–shouldn’t have a sloppy mess in the background. Before you take a picture, stare through the viewfinder or at the display and notice what else is there. Your dirty laundry scattered across dingy carpet? A smear of dog poo on the sidewalk? Probably not the best place to take a picture, then. Find a better spot, or (if, for example, the lighting is only good RIGHT THERE) clean up or disguise the mess. Angle to avoid the dog poo; pick up the dirty laundry. It’s very easy! If you plan on taking pictures fairly frequently, it helps to designate a certain area as “the picture place”–and keep that spot neat even if the other areas are messy.

Unless you have a lot of skill, it can be very difficult to take a picture of yourself. Mirror shots–although a staple for most–are never as nice as those taken directly. The mirror bends the light, slightly distorting the image, and having the camera in the picture rarely looks as good as without. In this case, having a tripod is best–but if you can’t manage that or don’t want one, try finding a piece of furniture or stacks of books and boxes to bring the camera to the necessary height, and use the timer feature.

If you can convince someone else to take a picture for you, it’s always best to be courteous. At a meetup, it’s generally appreciated to “trade” picture-taking duties. If a friend takes a picture of me, I should at least offer to take a few for her. Give your friends (or acquaintances) the same kind of attention you’d prefer–pay attention to the setting, point out and adjust flipped-over bows or untied lacing, and take a few pictures of each shot so she has a few to choose from. It’s not fun to take lots of pictures for someone else to have them just brush you aside–don’t make your photographer feel unappreciated.

The same is true for loving boyfriends/girlfriends, family members, or others who take a picture for you and do you a favor but might not want pictures in return. Don’t give them a reason to feel resentful and unwilling to cooperate–show your thanks in another way. If they’re attending a meetup with you or just helping out while you’re at home, do what you can so they don’t feel like you only wanted them around to carry things and hold the camera. If you have suggestions or requests, asking is always better than demanding. And everyone appreciates being thanked, with words and actions. Personally, I try to repay favor for favor.

When we started living together, my husband was not keen on being my in-house photographer. He would groan if I reached for the camera, or conveniently “forget” it when we were going out for the day. It was a tiresome, boring thing for him. Now he has a much different attitude. Before, he felt criticized and unappreciated. I would ask him to take a picture, then ask for another because it “wasn’t good enough.” When we talked about it, I changed my method to let him know exactly what I didn’t like and why I didn’t like it. Instead of a vague assessment, I’d point out something specific like “this bow is turned over–I need to fix it” or “this angle is unflattering–can you try holding the camera like this?”

I also encouraged him to experiment or give direction. It’s not very fun to do something if you’re being forced, but it can be fun to do something if you have control. This led to our recent photos posted in the previous entry. I told him that he could pick everything; he selected my outfit, the location, and poses. I’d add my input sometimes, but given free reign he was much more creative than I would have been had I been telling him what to do. He had so much fun that he said he would certainly do it again. I’m looking forward to taking more pictures with him, so we can share our happy memories in the future~ ♥

On Being Lolita: BUNNY BEAR SURPRISE

On Being Lolita: BUNNY BEAR SURPRISE

Usakumya Postcard
This is possibly the cutest postcard ever. I didn’t know BtSSB had illustrated their iconic bunny-bear.

I have a very firm belief that my family is utterly amazing. Anyone who has talked to me would confirm that I insist consistently that my family is the best. Even my complaints are prefaced with an aside or accompanied by a disclaimer. Even better–this is regularly proven to be true. Whether it’s pulling through in an emergency, going above and beyond the call of duty, or acting spontaneously with kindness, my family members display through their actions what wonderful people they are. ♥ (And if my mother ever starts reading my blog, I know she’ll be reaching for the tissues! n_~)

Last night my mother and stepfather surprised me with an invitation to dinner near MY house. They picked a restaurant and drove into the city to see me. It was very unexpected and really brightened my evening. My husband had left for the weekend, and I didn’t have any other plans. I didn’t arrive at the restaurant quite as fast as they did, not really realizing how far of a walk it was, but when I sat down at the table I noticed a massive pink bag filling the chair beside my mother.

With some grins and hinting comments, the bag was hefted over the table to me. When I peered inside, I saw the pink-eyed face of a white usakumya.

Is It a Bunny... or a Bear?
It’s a bunny bear all of my own!

I squealed!! ♥

I’m sure that with my previous post about usakumya (and, if you’re unfortunate enough to be subject to it, my constant pining for an usakumya and/or temporary kidnapping of the bunny-bears of others) it is at least somewhat established that I very-very-very-very-very much wanted one. However, since they’re out of stock on the website I thought I would have to wait until a new release–which was a bit disappointing because I really wanted my usakumya to match my little sister’s.

My luck in finding this fuzzy backpack on Yahoo!Japan auctions was…less than lucky. I’ve been keeping an eye out, but it’s not very easy with a specific release as the target. (Also, I didn’t want to pay an exorbitant amount, and with the current status of the exchange rate slight price increases would be magnified.) The bunny bear is very popular (for obvious reasons, I think), so there aren’t the easiest thing to find.

Ears Exposed
I love the adorable bear ears hiding under the bunny-eared hood~ They’re not very small–it’s a good thing that hood has enough room!

I learned that my mother decided she wanted to get one for me for my birthday, so she sent my stepfather to the BABY, the Stars Shine Bright store in Paris with specific instructions. He told me that was sure that he saw it in the window but brought a printed image to have the shopgirl to verify that it was the right one. There’s something so amusing about the fact that both my mother and stepfather have the Paris location memorized~ ♥

The best part of the story, in my opinion, was when he said the employee was ringing him up and he pulled out his punch card. She was very surprised! I’m sure it must have been such a hilarious moment–my stepfather looking somewhat out of place in the very small, very pink BtSSB shop…and holding the pink point card from his wallet!

I believe this is the largest size of usakumya–it’s definitely enormous! My stepfather said that it took up half of his suitcase~ ♥ I can’t even begin to express how much I appreciate the sacrifices made so that I could receive such a wonderful present!! I’m still almost in disbelief. It’s going to be so hard to resist the urge to take him to work with me~

Double Bunny Cuteness
I could not resist the urge to take pictures of Mallow being cuddled by the new plush. He’s so small compared to the big usakumya!

I absolutely adore everything about my wonderful usakumya! My birthday isn’t for months, so I’m very surprised that I received it so early, but my mother was afraid I would buy one myself. (She also has a very bad habit of hiding things so well that she doesn’t know where they are. I think that was a real threat, even to such a massive thing as this.)

I’m having a difficult time coming up with a good name for my usakumya. I want to pick something perfect! Mallow (who obviously had to meet the newcomer) was very easy to name, and his name is just perfect. I still haven’t made up my mind if this bunny bear is a boy or a girl, even! Most of my stuffed animals–and, honestly, most anything I assign a gender to–is a boy, so it’s likely that this will be a boy, but I’m just not sure. There’s also the issue of the name. This is one of the best kinds of indecision to be afflicted with! n_n

I’ve come up with some ideas, but I’m leaning towards Lait~ After all, usakumya is from Paris, so perhaps a French name is suitable. I want to pick something white, since it is white, and something food-ish, since Mallow is food-related. I’ve also thought of Cream, Milk, Chiffon, Cake, etc. Hmm… I know what will be on my mind for a while.

Usa-Usa-Usakumya
I absolutely had to get a picture of the bag holding the postcard with the picture of the bag. So much cuteness!

When I got home and sorted through the bag, I saw that a postcard of usakumya was included. (I’m considering collecting these Paris shop postcards!) It’s such a lovely touch! It was a bit bent at the bottom of the bag–I’m glad I noticed it. It would have been such a shame if it were just tossed out.

My mother also called to let me know that there were ribbons in the bag. Usually the staff at the shop tie the handles of the bag closed as part of the elaborate wrapping of your purchase, but my stepfather asked that they place the ribbons in the bag instead. The thought was that I might like them for my hair–and I certainly do~ I plan to put them on hair clips! I’m very thankful that I didn’t miss those. I should be more thorough about things like this~

I’m so happy and thrilled and amazed and complete overwhelmed! SQUEE!