When I went to New York City for the doll event in June, I had only a vague idea of what it would be like to travel wearing lolita fashion. I’ve gone on a few overnight trips where I’ve worn lolita, but for those occasions I had my suitcase in the trunk of a car I was driving. I ride public transportation while wearing lolita fashion on a regular basis. I’ve also packed a lolita outfit or two for a few trips where I flew. Overall, I thought it was a pretty good starting point for my very quick overnight trip, and for the most part, I was right.
Traveling while wearing lolita fashion and having luggage packed with more outfits is not extremely different from traveling otherwise. You want to be comfortable, you don’t want to have luggage that is too heavy, you don’t want to over- or under-pack, and you want to get through security as fast as possible.
Plan Your Outfits
This is helpful for any trip, so that you can maximize the space in your luggage, but it’s particularly important for a fashion with garments and accessories that can take up a lot of space! It’s better to have assessed your options few nights before packing your bags, rather than standing in the hotel room trying to find another way to coordinate a certain skirt or jumperskirt. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself wishing you’d brought that cutsew you didn’t pack or the brooch you forgot about.
The current size and weight restrictions on luggage make getting the most of your clothing extra-important. You can’t always fit a week’s worth of dresses into a carry-on suitcase, and what if you plan on doing souvenir shopping at your destination? Prevent these problems by laying out your outfits in advance. Pick a few “key” items–such as jumperskirts, one-pieces, or skirts–and try to think of as many varied coordinations with that item as you can. (When selecting the “key” items, make sure to pick those that don’t require very gentle care. Sturdier garments that can be worn for more than a day without looking dirty or very wrinkled are better options–although most hotel rooms do have an iron that will do in a pinch.) Pick blouses, cutsews, socks, and accessories that make each outfit distinct–you don’t want to look like you’re always wearing the same skirt, even if you are! During the trip, space out these outfits–wear dress A on day 1, skirt B on day 2, jumperskirt C on day 3, then skirt B on day 4, etc.
Once you’ve settled on what you’ll wear during your trip, make a packing list! You don’t want to fly 800 miles and suddenly realize that you needed your blue shoes, but they’re sitting in your front hallway. It also helps prevent the horror of boarding your plane, buckling the seat belt…and realizing that your brand new parasol is still in the closet of your former hotel room! Make a packing list, keep it updated (if you buy something new on the trip, pencil it in at the end of your list), and use it when packing for departure and arrival.
Travel is also a good time to leave unnecessarily bulky items at home. The dress with the mega-ton of built-in petticoat and yards upon yards of lace on the skirt might be gorgeous, but if it takes up an entire suitcase it is wasting space. Structured bonnets are also difficult to travel with, unless you plan on wearing it the entire time. Extremely delicate items should also be avoided, unless a specific occasion makes the garment necessary. If your bag is selected for a random search, the employees may be very rough with the contents!
Was That Expensive?
Consider insuring your luggage. Airlines lose or damage bags on a fairly frequent basis. If you have hundreds or thousands of dollars in clothing that is going out of your sight for several hours, it might be worth the additional expense. When buying insurance for anything lolita-related, always make sure you can get replacement cost if the item is lost or stolen. If your Milky Planet jumperskirt is in the suitcase that goes missing, you’d rather get the $500 it will cost to buy a new one rather than $100 or less on the basis that it’s “used clothes.”
Prepare for Takeoff!
Wearing lolita fashion in the airport definitely attracts attention. With the knowledge that travelers might be spending ten hours or maybe more in one airport or another, it isn’t often a place where elaborately-dressed people are seen. Make sure you are mentally prepared for the questions (and snickers) while waiting in line for the checkpoint or while seated at the gate. I found that most people gawked or whispered about my attire–no one simply pretended I was wearing “regular” clothes.
Ditch the Petticoat
If you’re going to be pushing your way through crowds, marching through a metal detector, and spending hours in a narrow seat, wearing a petticoat is not a good idea. (Particularly if you worry about it “deflating.”) For practicality’s sake, I packed my petticoat near the top of my carry-on bag and put it on at my destination!
Buckles, Straps, and Snaps
No matter how cute your shoes are, you’ll have to take them off at the security check point. This is a bad time to wear the boots that have to be laced-up just so or the shoes with thirteen buckles. You don’t want to hold up the people in line behind you, so wear shoes that aren’t difficult to take off. It’s also convenient to be able to take off your shoes without a fuss once you’re in the airplane, if the change in pressure makes them squeeze your feet a bit too much. Most Japanese shoes fasten with snaps under decorative buckles, so they’re easy to take off.
Also, don’t wear socks that you can’t wash easily! Airport flooring is usually not very clean–and there’s nothing you can do about it! Don’t ruin your favourite socks–pick a pair that won’t leave you in tears if you step in a puddle of muddy water from someone else’s shoes.
Be careful when taking off your shoes, too! It’s easy to be unladylike when you’re in a rush, but bend at the wrong angle and you risk showing the people behind you right up your skirt.
A Time and Place for Accessories
When you enter the airport and are preparing to go through security, don’t wear too many accessories. Those are best packed in an easy-to-reach spot in your carry-on, so you can put the finishing touches on your outfit when you reach your destination. The goal is to avoid setting off the metal detector and being further wanded or searched. However, you also have to worry less about losing items when you’re in a rush. There’s also a risk that some items, particularly jewelry, might catch on bags or seats.
Keeping Cool or Staying Warm
Airports and airplanes are notorious for having unpredictable temperatures. You might be shivering in one terminal only to melt in the next. Pack a sweater or parka in an easy-to-reach place in your bag or purse, so you can be prepared. Wear it if you’re chilly, shun it if you aren’t. It will be easy enough to take on and off, and can help you stay comfortable during you trip.
Overall, I had a lot of fun taking my trip while wearing lolita fashion! At the core, the traveling portion itself hadn’t changed, but I was able to wear the clothes I feel most comfortable in. I would certainly do it again–I’m just not sure when I’ll have an opportunity to do so! The stares and commentary weren’t enough of a deterrent, and I didn’t find it was too much more difficult than packing “normally.”
I breezed through security, although the other passengers waiting in line were really curious about what on Earth I might be doing while dressed like that, and managed to be relatively undisturbed while sitting at the gate waiting for my plane to board. Boarding was simple, as I’m a pro at hoisting my suitcase into the overhead bins. XD The gentleman next to me on my outbound flight was not very talkative. (I appreciate that a bit more than the type of person who wants to be your best friend for the flight.) When the flight landed and I zipped off the plane, I took a moment to put on my petticoat, hairbow, and jewelry and re-attach my waist ties. That was the only part that really felt “different,” and it didn’t even take 5 minutes!
Has anyone else traveled in lolita? What was your experience like? Do you have any tips?
Please note: I only have experience traveling from major airports in the United States. My tips might not be useful if you live in another country or choose to fly in smaller planes!