On Being Lolita: Keeping the Sparkle in Your Heart

On Being Lolita: Keeping the Sparkle in Your Heart

Although I’m sure there are many lolita who would love to build a frothy cocoon around their lives, living in a bubble of a sweet, romantic dream, harsher aspects of life tend to creep up on us. It’s hard to truly feel lolita—even if you know that it glitters in your heart like a brilliant gemstone—when bad things keep happening and the beauties of life seem dim or nonexistent. Sometimes I don’t have a chance to wear my much-beloved frills; it can feel like other parts of my life continually conflict with meetups, preventing me from seeing my friends; or a lack of funds can make Angelic Pretty’s constant new releases feel like torture. At times like that, the sparkle in my heart is tarnished.

That sort of thing has certainly been happening to me lately—financial assistance troubles make even a dream of buying something new feel like a cruel joke. My new work schedule and just-beginning courses keep me occupied all week with absolutely no chance to get dressed up. (I can’t really wear it at work, and I certainly don’t want to wear it to graduate school—I don’t want to be judged based only on my clothing.) Additionally, my best friend is getting married in a few days; various planning and pre-wedding activities have kept my weekends booked. My family also likes to commit to various get-togethers or special events without letting me know until the very last minute. I’ve seen so many pictures of meetups I haven’t been able to attend. Additionally, being very sick for several weeks with one thing or another certainly takes away any pretty, fluffy lolita feelings.

However, I don’t despair! I won’t! If lolita fashion truly makes you happy, don’t give it up when you feel down—it’s exactly the sort of thing you need more of in your life. I try to rekindle that warm glow little by little. Some things that might help:

  • Wear a piece of your favourite jewelry with an otherwise “normal” outfit. A cute cupcake or unicorn necklace can put a smile on your face during the rest of a dull day. So can elegant earrings, a quirky pin, or a charm bracelet. Or clip a charm onto or inside your purse for something really stealthy~
  • Bring tea, hot chocolate, or whatever your favourite beverage is with you in a pretty thermos! Even water is a little more fun if the bottle has some attitude. If you don’t own a thermos or re-usable bottle and don’t want to scout one out a Sanrio (or even your grocery store), put some fun little stickers on your drink cup, can, or bottle—or draw lolita-esque symbols on it with permanent markers.
  • Similarly, decorate something you use every day! This can be a full-on decoden project with false whipped cream and tiny fake sweets, or just an embellishment or two that’s to your liking. The pens I always carry with me to work and school are already pastel and glittery (despite writing with standard black ink), but I like to put stickers on the caps for a little something extra~
  • Paint your fingernails. As long as it isn’t prohibited (perhaps if you work in food service without gloves), there are all kinds of polishes out there for any budget. (And most people have some nail polish lurking in their bedrooms or bathrooms anyway…) Pick your favourite color and change it whenever you’ve got a little spare time. Don’t worry if you don’t already have beautiful fingernails—take a moment to trim them neatly and file the edges, and that should be plenty of preparation. After all, bolder colors are less overwhelming on shorter nails.
  • Wear a pretty lip gloss. It’s low-maintenance, and there’s sure to be a colour that suits your situation and appeals to your taste. A little glitter can be fun, or maybe you’d prefer a delicious scent or flavour!
  • Call a friend! Even if you text all day, sometimes hearing the voice of someone you love, even for a few moments, can really add a spring to your step. Even something for a few moments, in-between running to catch a bus, can be a lot of fun. If you don’t get through, leave a silly message with the request for them to call back. (This one is fun because you’re not the only person who benefits!)
  • Add some silly thoughts to your day—even better if they’re lolita-themed. Picture your boss in over-the-top Angelic Pretty (maybe the new Bambi series?) or your classmates wearing headdresses. Maybe design—in a doodle in the margin of your notes or on a Post-It at work—a lolita outfit specifically for a particular person. A pirate-themed dress for that guy in the other cubicle? Or maybe your teacher in some kind of lace monstrosity? (Just don’t label it or write down their name! It would certainly be hard to explain if Joe wanted to know what was going on.)
  • Tuck a treat into your bag. It could be anything from your favourite cookie (maybe in a napkin tied up with ribbon) to a few pieces of bacon—what it the item is doesn’t matter as long as it gives you something to look forward to. A decorative lunch, perhaps trying your hand at bento, can also add a bright turn.

Most of my suggestions are obviously not directly lolita, but that’s because it’s up to you to pick whatever makes you think of that thing you love. Replicate Momoko’s lunch (as long as all those sweets won’t make you sick), draw a crown on one fingernail with a gold gel pen after applying sparkly pink polish, pack lunch in your BABY, the Stars Shine Bright shopping bag, or tie a red ribbon and strawberry charm on your USB drive. It certainly doesn’t take much time at all to do at least one thing, and having something to smile about can put any day into a totally different perspective.

My yesterday certainly wasn’t going too well, but writing this post reminded me to enjoy my silly, glittery pens (especially since earlier, an older gentleman sitting next to me in class borrowed one!) and enjoy the delicious slice of Boston crème Oreo pie that was waiting for me at home! (Not to mention having a very kind-hearted person to cuddle up against.)

On Being Lolita: The First Meetup

On Being Lolita: The First Meetup

There’s nothing quite as intimidating and exciting as doing something new for the very first time. This certainly includes attending a lolita fashion meetup. Regardless of whether the meetup is something casual, like a picnic in the park or an afternoon at someone’s house, or a formal occasion like an afternoon tea, it can still cause uneasiness for that of a fledgling lolita (or a veteran who is simply new to the area!).

I often reflect on my first meetup, which certainly caused me a lot of anxiety! I worked up the courage to attend a picnic downtown, since I at least knew the area although I did not know any of the attendees. However, I committed to attending the picnic knowing that did not own any lolita clothing. Although I owned many cute or girly items, I was painfully aware that they were not lolita outfits.

First, my grandmother said she would help me make something. Her attitude was a bit different after realizing that the pattern I intended to use was in some Japanese magazine with no English instructions. We bought the materials anyway, but couldn’t figure out where to start–and never even cut out the pattern pieces. When I explained my distress to my mother, unwilling to ask any more from my grandmother (who has certainly put up with quite a bit of nonsense from me), she took me back to the fabric store and we tried to find a suitable commercially-available pattern.

The night before the picnic, the two of us huddled over a sewing machine on the kitchen table, trying desperately to decipher the confusing instructions for making a simple skirt. The pattern pieces that we cut out seemed awkward and unlike what was required from us. Repeatedly we sewed a seam, examined it, and ripped the stitching out. Finally, at some early hour of the morning, my mother gave up and insisted I would wear something normal–as this new skirt was not to be. I went to bed in tears, convinced that everyone would make fun of me and determined to avoid the picnic at all costs.

However, my mother woke me up the next morning and pushed me onto the train despite my protests. She chided me for my cowardice, saying that I had been so excited, already made the cupcakes I had promised to bring, and if “these people” were going to be mean for about something so trivial they weren’t worth knowing anyway. I honestly think it was the best way she could have handled the situation. If I had been allowed to stay at home and mope, I would have missed out on so much!

At the picnic, no one mentioned my outfit–even so I constantly repeated that I was not wearing a lolita outfit and I knew it wasn’t a lolita outfit oh-please-oh-please-don’t-think-I’m-the-sort-of-person-who-doesn’t-know-what-she’s-doing-I-really-like-this-style-please-don’t-hate-me-you-are-all-so-experienced-and-wise. The weather was lovely, and the food was quite tasty.

It was because of that picnic that I met several people I now feel proud to call friends. (Including one who was also my roommate for over a year.) No-one was rude or cruel, and it gave me the courage and initiative to work on a new outfit and come to another meetup, where I would meet even more wonderful friends~! ♥

Don’t let fear keep you away from something that interests you! Even if you aren’t wearing a coordinate that looks like you stepped out of a BABY, the Stars Shine Bright advertisement, even if your hair isn’t “that perfect hime cut,” even if you aren’t an adorable teenage Japanese girl, even if you hate drinking tea–go to a meetup. Find out what the lolita in your area are really like. Search for that “nice” lolita, and keep an ear open for what everyone else has to say. Ask for opinions, join in conversations, and try to make some new friends!

The first meetup is scary, but you can’t get to know people without meeting them first!

On Being Lolita: Downpour Dollies

On Being Lolita: Downpour Dollies

As I battled my way to work in a steady rainshower and then almost swam home in a downpour that literally had me wringing out my socks at home, it got me thinking about the value of having appropriate and cute lolita-esque “rainwear!” Personally, I am an advocate of rainboots/galoshes/Wellingtons/rubberboots/topboots/gumboots~ Having wet feet can really ruin a nice walk in the rain. (Besides, puddles are made for splashin’~) Rainwater can damage certain shoes, as well, whether it’s from dirt in the water or just from the moisture.

Lolita shoes, in particular, are really not intended for water. Man-made materials and glue compromises the majority of lolita footwear. Pleather does not hold up well to water, and walking through the run-off from a downpour could easily weaken glue or the soles of certain shoes. There might be some shoes that can hold up to getting wet, but certainly not every pair! Personally, I try to take very good care of my lolita shoes.

Cute rainboots are a fantastic alternative! They also are quite handy to have even if you’re not wearing lolita. Typically rainboots last quite a long time before they wear out, since they aren’t worn every day; so one pair can last for years! Printed and patterned rainboots have been very popular for the last few years or so–they’re quite easy to find if you just take a look around. Most shoe stores, department stores, and big-box retailers carry rainboots at various times of the year. I think they’re seen more often in the spring, but they’re not too hard to find during autumn. Target.com always has a wide selection of rainboots–most pairs for $25! Chooka boots come in some amazing patterns and designs, although they often retail for $60. Swimmer makes rainboots in all kinds of cute patterns, although you’d need a shopping service to buy a pair–after fees and shipping, they might be very costly! My rainboots were only $5 from a clearance display at Macy’s 2 years ago. You’ve just got to keep your eyes open~

Sweet lolita can easily find a cute pair of rainboots–maybe even something from the children’s section if your feet are small enough. (However, children’s rainboots are shorter than adult rainboots, which limits the depths of puddles you can safely stomp in.) There are lots of bright or pastel-coloured rainboots, often with patterns like ribbons, animals, or candies.

Gothic lolita need not fear–although Moi-même-Moitié hasn’t made a pair of rainboots yet, there are still suitable pairs out there! Black rainboots are very popular–especially from high-end designers who add their own touches that might appeal to a blacker heart. Skulls (with or without crossbones) are a very popular motif for rainboots.

Classic lolita might fancy floral-patterned rainboots, such as these Autumn Wellingtons from the Victorian Trading Company. Richer colours of solid-hued rainboots can also seem fitting for a classic lolita–especially if the rainboots come in ivory. A contrasting sole adds a nice touch without seeming too inelegant. Although rainboots do not have a sophisticated shape, wearing them is much better than ruining a pair of beautiful shoes.

Umbrellas are also important! Some parasols are also waterproof, thus doubling as rain protection. Otherwise, having a few cute umbrellas certainly cannot hurt! Museums, gardens, or art shops sometimes sell umbrellas with beautiful patterns that would delight a classic lolita. (Or perhaps scout around for a lovely antique–as long as it’s waterproof.) “Cute” umbrellas aren’t hard to find at all–especially with stores like as Sanrio or Swimmer catering to such a sect of umbrella-buyers. Gothic-themed umbrellas might take a little bit more searching, but they are certainly available. Crosses and skulls are fairly popular motifs–checking stores catering to punk or goth tastes often yields some results.

Raincoats would be wonderful–I regularly dream of a lolita raincoat that will fit a petticoat-fluffed skirt–but they are incredibly difficult to find. Trenchcoats can sometimes be worn with lolita, but typically the skirt of the coat is just not full enough to fully protect a bell-shaped skirt from the rain. Certain other cuts of coats might fit a petticoat, but typically these coats are very shapeless and look very unflattering when ballooned out at the bottom. (However, that’s certainly better than ruining a garment you really adore!) A poncho almost always fits over lolita…but it’s definitely not adhering to the aesthetics of the fashion~ ♥

I also make it a rule to never wear my favourite socks in a rainstorm. Even with a great pair of boots, some rain inevitably gets in there, and the friction and dampness of continued walking has killed many a pair of my socks. I get attached to cute socks, so I hate seeing a pair fall apart!

Daily Life: Sick is Perhaps Less Fluffy

Daily Life: Sick is Perhaps Less Fluffy

I’m afraid I haven’t posted in a while. I certainly haven’t run out of things to say, nor has my interest in lolita fashion dwindled. I’ve just been rather sick. ;_;

I suppose the most “lolita” thing about being ill is drinking lots and lots of tea! Thankfully I have many different flavors, so even 8 or so cups a day doesn’t get boring, and plenty of teacups. (Although I’m afraid that allows the dishes to pile up when I’m feeling very poorly.) I’m almost out of honey, though, having used it copiously to soothe sore throats.

Despite all this, I did host a casual, regularly-scheduled meetup over the weekend. It only lasted for a few hours, so I managed pretty well~ There were some other events going on that weekend, so only a handful of my friends showed up for a cookie swap. That’s alright, though, since I have a teeny-tiny apartment and not a lot of seating! We spent the afternoon flopped all over the floor, trying not to melt from the heat; thankfully the temperature stayed manageable in my house. I also prepared plenty of iced tea to keep things on the cooler side.

Everyone brought cookies one way or another (one of my close friends is a pastry chef, so she came with enough cookies to sink a ship!) and there were lots of varieties. I ate more than my share of sweets, which wasn’t very good for my cold but was very good for my soul~ ♥ There were multi-colored lemonade-flavored pinwheels, pink coconut crisps, buttery spritz cookies, oatmeal chocolate-chip cookies, and frosting-sandwich cakies. The lemonade cookies stole the spotlight–even from a massive pink cake shaped like one of Baby, the Stars Shine Bright‘s bunny-bear backpack purses!

I absolutely love having people over for tea, regardless of our attire. The four hours that were passed on the floor of my apartment, with plenty of tea and cookies, and a distracted viewing of Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain brightened my entire weekend~ I didn’t feel so sniffly or choke-y amidst the pleasant conversation and laughter. Not to mention that my house still has lots of cookies–maybe there is such a thing as too many!

It’s a little bit hard to feel at one’s frilliest when one is feeling under the weather, so I try to enjoy a few moments–like the crafternoon with my friends–or cheer myself up with a few momentos–such as using a pretty teacup or wearing cute socks on chilly toes. However, I’d much rather get better quickly than stress myself out too much trying to maintain a fancy outfit when I’d much rather be in pyjamas! Hopefully I’ll be back to better very quickly–my throat could use a rest from all this coughing.

Charming Activities: Letter Writing

Charming Activities: Letter Writing

One of my favourite activities is exchanging letters~ There’s such a lovely thrill that comes from opening the mailbox and finding something other than bills or advertisements. It’s even better if that “something” is a cutely-decorated envelope containing a hand-written note from a dear friend! (Especially if they use adorable stationery.)

Although letter writing is out-of-fashion due to constant raise in stamp prices and the benefits of instant communication on the internet, it’s a bit of old-fashioned indulgence that I really enjoy having as part of my life. I’m always looking for pen pals, especially other girls that like lolita fashion and cupcakes! ♥ However, it can be a bit hard to find someone to keep up the correspondence with you–several of my former pen pals disappeared into oblivion after a few letters. I’ll admit that I may not always respond with promptness, but I do try my best.

Some of my favourite places to get stationery from are Sanrio, especially at one of their stores! Although I do like Hello Kitty, I usually opt for Sugarbunnies–I think their designs are cuter for paper and envelopes! I try to pick up matching or coordinating stickers, as well, so I can apply them liberally to the letters. San-X also makes awesome stationery; they’re definitely giving Sanrio a run for their money when it comes to cuteness! It’s a bit harder for me to find San-X goods in the US, but some websites carry a decent selection. I usually check stores in Chinatown or other novelty stores.

Of course, it can also be fun to make your own stationery! You can use artistic skill and draw your own pictures onto blank sheets of paper and envelopes. (If you’re not very good at using traditional media, it’s possible to design stationery on the computer and print it up! You could even decorate it a bit after it’s been printed–maybe with glitter, small rhinestones, or gel pens.) Another easy way is with cute stickers; when applied to blank stationery, they add a personal touch and can be arranged neatly for special writing supplies made exactly how you want them.

One of the most important things about letter writing is to make sure your letter provides a conversation that the recipient can continue. Ask questions, request their opinion, or provide topics that give your friend a place to start when returning your letter. A one-sided letter can be a bit difficult to reply to! However, don’t be afraid to answer questions briefly if there is something else you really wanted to say. Oftentimes there isn’t much space in a letter to really document everything you had in mind, so make sure anything at the forefront of your mind gets onto that paper.

There’s something very relaxing and enjoyable about sitting down with a cup of tea, pretty stationery, a nice pen, and completing and decorating a heartfelt letter to a friend! ♥ I think it’s well-worth the cost of a stamp.

On Being Lolita: Anime, Manga, and Jrock

On Being Lolita: Anime, Manga, and Jrock

fushigi boshi no futago hime gyu

Although lolita fashion is Japanese, I think there is a common misconception that it is deeply entwined with anime, manga, or jrock, and thus all lolita enthusiasts share a common hobby in those areas. I believe this kind of automatic association arises because there are many lolita who discovered the fashion due to an interest in the stage costumes worn by many jrock and visual kei performers or frillier outfits often noted as “lolita” in certain anime and manga series. However, not all lolita share these interests, just as not all lolita share a love of Victoriana or tea-time.

There’s nothing wrong with being a fan of a certain series or band, but it wouldn’t be right to assume that all other lolita you’ll encounter will share your passion. You certainly will meet some that do, so there’s no reason to feel ashamed or avoid the mention. However, a conversation that jumps right in and requires all participants to be fans of a given series or band can be confusing to those lolita who wouldn’t call themselves otaku.

There are some undeniable associations, such as the musician and designer Mana, formerly of Malice Mizer and currently of Moi~dix~Mois, who helped popularize gothic lolita fashion with his label, Moi-même-Moitié. DOLL, a manga series by Mitsukazu Mihara, features many characters dressed in lolita fashion–unsurprising, as the artist regularly creates artwork for the Gothic & Lolita Bible. Many other series use elements of lolita fashion in their characters’ attire. It would be silly to deny any link between these interests and lolita fashion, and I’m certainly not going to do so. However, not all aspects of Japanese culture are mutually inclusive. It is not necessary to like Japanese food to wear lolita clothing, nor required to enjoy listening to jpop to learn the language. There are some people who adore the culture as a whole, but not everyone shares that view.

Personally, although I’ve seen more than my fair share of anime series (my father is a Japanophile who spurred my own love of many aspects of Japanese culture), I’m really not interested in anime or manga as a whole. I’ve also listened to some jrock, but it doesn’t keep my attention. I always feel a bit embarrassed when I have to admit I just don’t know what someone is talking about when they break into a long analysis of a series I’ve never heard of.

It’s always important to keep in mind that every lolita is a whole, complete person. She is neither exactly like another lolita nor totally dissimilar. It’s important not to assume that because you share a fashion style you will share all other personality traits and interests. After all, variety is what makes people interesting and places value into friendships!

Reading Corner: Wuthering Heights

Reading Corner: Wuthering Heights

wuthering heights
Originally uploaded by me and the sysop

I’ve often heard people talk about the novel Wuthering Heights, usually when mentioning love stories. Personally, I don’t particularly enjoy the average love story, despite having a bit of a romantic nature, so I was sort-of avoiding the story. Recently, when I was doing a bit of research in terms of Victorian Gothic fiction, I realized that my impression of the story had been entirely wrong! In fact, it seemed to be exactly the sort of thing I’d love to read.

So I loaded up a version of it on Google Books (which I have become rather addicted to), and started reading. It’s been a perfect task to keep me occupied these past few days, since I’ve been working at a temporary job with a lot of down-time. I really enjoy the format of Google Books as opposed to Project Gutenberg, just because personally I find it less straining to read a scan of a book’s page than a text document of the volume. (It’s also easier to hold my place–I just jot down the page number I read last.)

I tend to strongly associate Gothic fiction with lolita fashion because I like to think that the “gothic” in relation to “gothic lolita” draws a lot of impact from Gothic fiction and architecture, as opposed to from the Western goth subculture. Gothic architecture focuses on opulence and ornamentation, which is a mainstay of any branch of lolita fashion. Gothic fiction combines elements of horror with elements of romance–something I also observe in gothic lolita styles. Gothic lolita designs aren’t merely attempting to be ghostly and dark, but also alluring. A stereotypical gothic lolita would probably be right at home in a Gothic novel, enjoying her haunted mansion and family curse. (I’ll keep my bakery and cakes, thank you~ ♥)

I greatly enjoyed Wuthering Heights due to the dark elements and twisted story that descended further and further. It took a few chapters for the actual plot to really come to light, but after that I could barely put it down! It makes me wonder what other detailed tales Emily Brontë might have woven had she written another novel.

And, to me, the best part is that it has a happy (and rather unexpected) ending~ ♥

On Being Lolita: Affording Indulgence

On Being Lolita: Affording Indulgence

One of the discussions that appears with relative frequency involves paying for high-priced lolita clothing. Most girls who have just fallen in love with a frilly, decadent dress–not knowing anything about the fashion–rethink their impulse when they learn of the price tag. I believe this is due to the somewhat materialistic nature of most modern cultures; if someone sees something they like, they want to own it–but usually not if it gets in the way of their owning other items. Additionally, a lot of people seem to take the high-priced items in their lives for a bit for granted; I constantly spot teenagers carrying designer handbags and wearing $200 denim or little children carrying around their own iPhones.

Personally, the high price of lolita clothing never seemed shocking to me. My parents provided necessities in my life (and the occasional treat), but stressed that if there was something else I wanted I ought to pay for it. As a child this meant doing extra chores above and beyond normal helping around the house, since my brother and I never received allowance. In high school I did some babysitting and applied for a part-time job as soon as I was of age. When I discovered lolita fashion, I knew that I would have to save up.

“Affording” lolita clothing is simple–earn money in some way possible for your age and abilities and use part of it to buy clothing. Younger lolita-hopefuls can hold garage sales, baby-sit, save up Christmas & birthday money, mow lawns, wash cars, or walk dogs. Older enthusiasts can work at various jobs. Crafters can try to sell their products or commission their services. It just take some effort and planning!

However, wearing lolita fashion is a bit like becoming a musician. The items you really want are often expensive (an ESP guitar or Baby, the Stars Shine Bright dress), but there are inexpensive options available (a pawn-shop instrument or something from an eBay seller). Sometimes, you can find an amazing bargain. Other times, you might be dissatisfied with the lower-priced item. What you have to decide is what matters to you. Is the status symbol of a Japanese brand important? Do you want as many outfits as you can possibly get, regardless of quality? Do you want a little bit of each side?

This choice determines how you will have to budget yourself. If you prefer buying Japanese brands, you’ll have to save up more, perhaps spacing purchases out a bit. You’ll want to look for used or otherwise second-hand goods at places such as egl_comm_sales on LiveJournal. Overseas shipping will always be on your mind, and you’ll probably become well acquainted with at least one shopping service. If you want the most inexpensive garments, you’ll test different eBay stores, learn all of the lower-priced seamstresses, or take up sewing yourself. Neither is more “affordable” than the other, because the true value of the clothing is determined by your opinion.

Despite the constant echoing of how expensive lolita fashion is, it’s really no different from having any other higher-priced hobby. Unless you are extremely lucky, there will be things you want that you will have to wait and work and search for. That is a fact of life–especially when you have other bills and obligations beyond personal interests.

And that’s why I’m typing this from somewhere other than the comfort of my own home~ ♥

On Being Lolita: Thoughts on Frilly Friendship

On Being Lolita: Thoughts on Frilly Friendship

The thing that makes lolita fashion dearest to me are all of the amazing friends I have met because of it. Dressing in lolita really helped me learn more about myself and become a stronger person; participating in the community helped me realize my value as a person and form trusting relationships with other people. Prior to my involvement with the style, I had very few friends. My school years weren’t spent as an outcast, but I didn’t have many people I could truly call friends. It wasn’t until I started interacting with the other lolita that I realized how insincere my former “friends” were.

I am always glad that I worked up the courage to go to lolita fashion meetups. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t know the fantastic people who I constantly spend time with regardless of what we’re wearing. They aren’t my “lolita friends.” They are my friends. ♥

Some girls go to lolita meetups with a mentality that they will find “lolita friends.” While it is important to share hobbies with others, I think that limiting yourself to having a specific category of friend is self-defeating. It is hard to form a lasting, trusting relationship with only one facet of a person. A person is not one-dimensional, and no-one should have to act ashamed of their hobbies or interests. Don’t be afraid to be yourself!

Obviously, some people may not share your interests. That’s alright. None of my friends are completely obsessed with everything I am, nor am I with their activities. What matters is properly expressing your personality, so that others who really want to be around you will realize it! When someone is holding back or trying to act in a way that is unnatural to herself, it always shows in one way or another. Being honest is the only real way to maintain a strong relationship. It’s hard to be friends with someone if they’re just putting on a show–how do you know you would still enjoy the company of the person underneath?

That’s not to say that it’s not right to have friends you only see at meetups. There are some people that I enjoy the company of, but life just works out so that we only interact when wearing lolita fashion. They are still wonderful people, and I still get excited to spend time with them. Sometimes it even seems a bit special if there is someone you see rarely, because there’s more to catch up on. What isn’t useful is setting yourself up to prevent forming deeper relationships with others by pidgeon-holing them into a certain mold–“lolita friend”–before even getting to know that other person!

Daily Life: Let’s Bon Dancing!

Daily Life: Let’s Bon Dancing!

Alice at Bon Odori
Photography by Percy Mui

I spent the other day at Mitsuwa, a large local Japanese market, celebrating Obon at their Bon Odori or Bon Dancing festival~ I adore festivals of almost any sort. However, I rarely have a chance to attend any of the state fairs for the states I am surrounded by and sometimes miss the local summer fairs that crop up in various parking lots of the outlying suburbs. I try my best to make it to Bon Odori every year to watch the taiko performances and eat delicious food! (It’s also the only time of year that is really suited to wearing my yukata.)

It was supposed to be a lolita fashion meetup, but so many people came from different directions and everything was incredibly crowded. I kept seeing lolita pass me by, but sometimes I couldn’t get through to say hello to anyone. I spent a lot of my time at the festival running around and sometimes had to leave the market and return later. Not many lolita popped over to say anything, either, because I was wearing a yukata and had just gotten a rather drastic haircut. I did spend time with some of my friends, however, so I had a really nice time~ (The only thing that could have made it better would have been feeling less sick! I’ve caught a bit of a cold and kept coughing into my sleeve or blowing my nose like a trumpet…)

Bon Odori is one of my favourite festivals because of the Japanese food! I ♥ Japanese food of all types–especially festival-types such as takoyaki (octopus balls) and melon shaved ice. I did manage to eat several orders of takoyaki, tasted part of a beef bowl that my person ordered, shared some delicious salmon yaki-onigiri, and drank strawberry Calpico~ I didn’t quite get a chance to try melon ice pops, though I spotted several girls eating them and they looked quite tasty.

However, my festival was made complete with a matcha parfait~ ♥ Inside of Mitsuwa, there is a food court. In the right-hand corner of the food court there is a stand called “Re-Leaf” that specializes in ice cream and matcha drinks. They make a confection called a “matcha parfait” that I am utterly in love with. The bottom of the glass has matcha jelly, then vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, cubes of yellow cake, red bean paste, soft-serve green tea and vanilla swirl ice cream, mochi, red bean paste, and matcha syrup. The masterpiece is garnished with a stick of puff pastry~ I never cease to be amazed by it! I was ★lucky★ and actually had one-and-a-half parfaits, as a friend of mine decided she didn’t want the whole thing~

Despite my focus on the culinary aspects of the festival, it was really nice to interact with the friends I was able to catch the attention of during such a crowded event. I was able to watch the first taiko performance; the grace and agility of the drummers is always astounding! I tried to dance along for the actual dancing part of the festival, but I’m afraid I simply don’t have the right kind of coordination to do so. One of these days I’m going to have to attend practice in the week before the festival so that I don’t make a fool of myself.

I rode the train home exhausted, ill, and very happy. I had planned to attend a sleepover that same evening, but I was so sick that it just wasn’t possible. As I fold up my yukata and carefully return it to storage, I’m looking forward to attending the festival next year!