On Being Lolita: Traveling Light

On Being Lolita: Traveling Light

(This post was originally begun in mid-2016… I’ve been meaning to post it all this time! Yikes!)

In early May of 2016, I was lucky enough to do something I have dreamed about for a long time: visit Japan! 💖 There were many things I wanted to do and see, but something that always remained in the forefront of my mind was my strong interest in lolita fashion. Shopping in Tokyo seemed like an obvious and essential part of the trip. Considering my travel companions and our shared interests, perusing clothing and accessories was assured.

Another important question became “what should I wear?” There are some for whom the answer “lolita fashion of course!” is an immediate response. Not so for me.

When I travel, I typically pack the minimum possible, always trying to fit my things into a smaller and smaller bag. I don’t enjoy dragging a heavy suitcase behind me or worrying where it’s going to fit. I rarely check luggage when flying, preferring to carry on what I must have. I feel secure enough without planning for every possible need, and I don’t mind improvising if plans change. I typically bring clothing that folds up to a small packet and doesn’t require ironing. (I’m also not a fan of space bags or packing cubes, although I know there are travelers who swear by them.) For these reasons, I rarely wear lolita when traveling.

Japan, however… to not wear the fashion I love so much in the place it originated… that seemed like a poor choice. So I set about to reconcile two somewhat-opposing desires: wear lolita fashion and bring minimal luggage.

Planning, Planning, and More Planning

jumperskirt, blouses, skirt, one-piece, and shoes selected for travel

I considered my goals for the trip. I knew that I’d be bringing things home with me, as I aimed to purchase clothing and other items, so it was important that I have enough room in my suitcases. Also essential: avoid airline overage charges related to baggage size, weight, and quantity. To do so, I needed to determine what must be packed versus what could be purchased at our destination.

The suitcases were my first step, mostly because my selection depended on what I already owned: a carry-on, a backpack, and a collapsible duffel bag. The collapsible duffel bag was purchased years ago to take to a doll-related event, and it has come in handy several times since. It fits nicely in the bottom of my suitcase, folded up into a pouch about as big as a folded pair of jeans, but when expanded it is large and durable, without running afoul of airline luggage policies. The duffel allowed plenty of space to bring souvenirs/etc. home.

That meant that the rest of my things needed to fit in the suitcase and backpack. Our trip involved 10 full days at our destination, not including the in-air travel time for our flights. Even though I hoped to buy frilly clothes in Tokyo that I could wear immediately, I planned for 10 days of outfits based solely on what I brought with me. I was very lucky to have access to laundry facilities during the trip; that made it much easier. (I’m not a big fan of washing things in a hotel sink; etc. My garments never seem to dry in time or launder well that way.) In fact, the neighborhood laundromat became a staple of Japan that we took full advantage of on this trip and the next!

As I wasn’t sure of the weather, I selected a jumperskirt, a short-sleeved one-piece, a skirt, a long-sleeved blouse, a blouse with detachable sleeves, and a bolero to coordinate during the trip. I packed a pair of pink lolita flats and a pair of low-heeled ankle boots, as I knew we’d be doing a lot of walking. Although some people recommend wearing one’s petticoat on the plane to save space in luggage, I packed mine in the zippered mesh pocket located on the lid of the suitcase. It compacted just fine! On the plane I wore a comfortable non-lolita dress that I thought would be easy to sleep in.

In Practice and Thoughts for Next Time

Lolita Packing - Ready for Purchases

(I didn’t know it at the time I started writing this article, but I went back the next year and was able to test some of my “planned improvements”, and they worked! I’ve done the same since then.)

The carry-on suitcase and backpack have been my traveling companions for years, and they worked just as well on this trip. I think what really mattered in this case was that I was familiar with them; I know their dimensions, pockets, and the right angle to roll the suitcase! (That’s what always trips me up when I help pull someone else’s wheeled suitcase!) We absolutely used the duffel, which we didn’t have any issues checking. An exciting bonus was that it was long enough to fit umbrellas! There was plenty of rain and some of the umbrellas/parasols we bought were too cute to abandon unless we had to. They survived the return flight just fine because they’d been cushioned with clothing.

slightly underestimated just how much clothing I’d be buying… and when reviewing, decided I would have been better off if I’d packed fewer items initially. (I never even wore the long-sleeved blouse or the skirt… I should have been more honest with myself about the coordinates I prefer to wear when given an option.) This varies for everyone, but I found plenty of new-to-me things to purchase, especially at secondhand shops. On our next trip, I packed fewer lolita clothing items (a blouse, jumperskirt, cardigan, and one-piece) and made stopping at Closet Child a priority upon arrival. I also didn’t pack accessories (hair accessories or jewelry) on the subsequent trip; I bought things when I found them and didn’t worry too much if I’d have worn something differently had I been at home. We were so busy with activities—museums, excursions to cultural sites, and meeting friends—that I found I was too occupied to fret over a bracelet or bow. I certainly restocked during the days we were there!

On a separate trip that also involved lolita fashion, we traveled somewhere with fewer laundry options and no clothes shopping, I packed an additional jumperskirt, two cardigans, and two short-sleeved cutsews. I did not bring a skirt, bolero, or a long-sleeved blouse. Having two jumperskirts, a one-piece, a blouse with detachable sleeves, two short-sleeved cutsews, two cardigans gave me plenty of options for a trip slightly under a week. I was able to do some spot-cleaning,  airing, and ironing to keep my clothes from looking or feeling “dirty”, but this might not be possible for everyone depending on the climate. If it’s too hot, too cold, or too dusty/gritty, it may not be possible to wear a limited wardrobe comfortably. That’s one of the reasons I don’t wear lolita every time I travel; I value a smaller suitcase over a full selection of clothes.

I realized that I needed to pack my camera in a slightly more easy-to-access part of my backpack, even though it’s very snug at the bottom. Some airports require that larger cameras are removed entirely from the case during security.

We got a lot of use out of laundromats and looked forward to them for the next trip. Even if we stayed somewhere with a washing machine, if the laundromat had a drier it was often beneficial to take the wet clothes over for a tumble if they could stand it. Sometimes there was too much humidity for air-drying to be prompt. When the temperature soared and threatened to roast us, having freshly-washed clothes felt like a luxury!

Lolita Packing - In the Suitcase

I didn’t follow a particular packing procedure (such as cubes, rolling, unique folding styles, etc.) for the suitcase… I tend to visualize the upright suitcase and aim for weight-distribution when it’s being rolled. I like to have shoes and heavier items near the “spine” of the handle and down by the wheels. I tuck grooming items (hairbrushes, etc.) along the sides and fill in spaces between shoes with small clothing items, with the goal of creating a flat layer that I can stack folded garments on top of. I use my suitcase’s built-in straps to help corral garments and winch a taller pile down to a shorter height, and I have more success with this if the item on top is roughly the size of the suitcase opening; I think of it like a tarp on a flat-bed truck! It worked just as well with lolita clothing as it does with anything else, and I was happy to find I didn’t unpack the most wrinkly stack of clothing in the universe.

With the ubiquity of 100-yen shops and convenience stores, as well as the novelty of 💕being in Japan with all the fun sparkly things💕, on our next trip I packed very few toiletries and consumable items. We purchased what we needed, and either left things behind or brought them home as “souvenirs”. When we purchased laundry detergent, we left what remained in the apartment for the next occupant or the property owner. When we needed first aid items, we brought the extra bandages and dressings home in the duffel bag. Buying cosmetics felt particularly thrilling despite the risk that they might not play nice with my skin; some of the packaging is so pretty that I couldn’t resist! ✨ Doing this wouldn’t necessarily be enjoyable or useful to everyone, but it made things easier for us.

A Note or Two in Closing

My traveling method won’t work for everyone. I’m related to a few people who can’t imagine not checking a large suitcase both ways and some others who can’t relax if they don’t have layers that accommodate all possible weather at their destination. I received peace of mind because I didn’t have to worry about how to physically carry my luggage (even the duffel is not so huge that my husband and I can’t maneuver it on trains or buses) and whether I’d be charged extra fees. We stayed in populated areas of Japan that made it possible to buy toiletries without spending a fortune and use laundromats.

I was, however, happy to find that it was possible to pack and wear lolita (including bringing clothing home) without requiring huge bags and strategy-related devices like packing cubes. It made me feel more confident about packing the clothes I enjoy wearing, and I’ve taken a few initiatives to wear them on other trips! ✈️

I’ve shared my thoughts here in the hopes that someone else may find it useful! Bon voyage! 🗼

On Being Lolita: “She Left Lolita”

On Being Lolita: “She Left Lolita”

Sometimes I get asked “Oh, how long have you been in the fashion?” and it takes me a minute or two to sort through things and remember when I began participating. (This is generally something I have a bit of a rough time with… length of time between dates… 😅 My poor siblings and husband are pretty used to this from me.) It’s interesting to look back on the years and see how much has changed; things were very different for the fashion in the mid-2000s. I try not to get too hung up on the “way things used to be”, but sometimes it’s hard to fully embrace the future when you have to let go of the past.

Especially when it means saying goodbye to others.

As someone who still wears this fashion (in fact, early 2010s me would be ⚡shocked⚡ that I now have enough frilly clothing and a lifestyle that would allow me to be a “daily lolita” if I were slightly less lazy), one of the things I regularly reminisce about are the people I’ve known. For me, the community has always been a significant part of the fashion—even though I am, admittedly, not always the most involved community member. The clothing itself defines my interest, but the friends I’ve made are more valuable to me than even my dear usakumya rucksack. 💖

I sometimes wonder whether I was lucky—if I a variety of factors I cannot control primarily contributed to the friendships that I’ve made, some of which have lasted over a decade. I consider if this scenario is typical, or perhaps an anomaly… and I believe that it’s both inevitable and beneficial, but not guaranteed. After all, despite the friends I still regularly interact with, there are others that I’m no longer in contact with due to changes in their lives or mine.

When someone chooses to “leave lolita” (no longer wearing the clothes or participating in fashion communities), it is not uncommon for friendships with other lolita to end as well, unless a few other factors were involved. It’s inevitable that people change and unrealistic to expect that shared hobbies and interests will remain static. This impacts any relationship: I have to acknowledge what exactly the other person and I enjoyed about each other’s company and whether our interactions were deliberate or convenient.

Sometimes you hear people speak of “lolita friends”; when this means “people I enjoy the company of, who share an interest in lolita fashion, and who I see primarily at fashion-related meetups” it is highly likely that if either party “leaves lolita”, the friendship will end. Often these relationships are built on convenient interactions—commenting back and forth in a group, chit-chatting during a tea party, attending or presenting a panel at a convention, etc. If the other person no longer participates in the lolita fashion interest and is not present for these types of interactions, the relationship slowly fades. If the bulk of conversation centered around fashion-related news, preferences, stories, etc. that well will run dry and silence settles in its place.

That said, if a friendship initiated by a shared hobby (such as fashion) has become something with a variety of enjoyable focuses (personality characteristics, shared interests, differing point of view, etc.) and interactions are deliberately initiated (inviting someone over, making plans to see a movie or attend an event, etc.), even if one hobby is no longer shared, there’s still enough substance to maintain the friendship. When I find that there’s someone I enjoyed conversation with at a tea party or picnic, it helps to reach out to spend time together and see what else we might have in common. (Honestly, this is just what I try to do, in general! Sometimes it’s so strange being an “adult” without school and other hobbies to make getting to know new people happen without much planning. It takes effort and sometimes it doesn’t work out, but it gets easier the more I try. 💗)

It’s not always possible (or advisable) to maintain a relationship with someone else—people’s lives and priorities change, on all sides. When I think on former friends that I don’t see anymore, I at least try to appreciate the positive memories. I’ve found more value in building new supportive connections than insisting on regaining something that existed in the past.

(Note: I started writing this in 2016… but it’s been something on my mind for a while, given all that’s changed in within the fashion itself and communities for it. Seems like no matter where you look, there’s always change… some of it’s good, some of it’s bad, but it’s going to keep on happening.)

On Being Lolita: Angelic Pretty at Anime Central

On Being Lolita: Angelic Pretty at Anime Central

I am supremely excited that this year one of the special guests at my local anime convention, Anime Central (ACEN) will be Angelic Pretty~ ♥

Angelic Pretty has been my favourite Japanese lolita brand house since I started wearing lolita fashion six years ago~ ♥ I don’t particularly dislike any of the other brands, not by far, and I don’t own Angelic Pretty’s clothing and accessories exclusively, but there’s just something about their designs that really draws me in. When I was first wearing the style I would print out pictures of their dresses and imagine that some day I would learn to sew and these would be inspiration. Ultimately that did not happen–firstly I am a horror with a sewing machine and secondly I like purchasing the clothing directly. I like supporting companies that make things I enjoy buying, after all, and the best way to show that support is with purchases. I would be very excited if BABY, the Stars Shine Bright, Innocent World, Mary Magdalene, or any other Japanese lolita company was represented anywhere in my area, but for me there is an extra bit of thrill in knowing that it will be my very favourite!

In general I don’t attend the local anime convention, even though my friends really look forward to it. I’ve attended a few years in the past, but I don’t really follow anime so there isn’t a whole lot there that appeals to me. It is another place to see my friends, but usually I’d rather wait for another day and another meetup. I also get really nervous in such large crowds of people. Sometimes I get very lost trying to navigate the maze that is the convention center and its attached hotels. Overall, it isn’t the sort of thing I plan on attending–but I have said to others, when the subject of the convention has come up in conversation, that the one thing that could make me attend would be the presence of Angelic Pretty.

At the time, it was something I stated mostly in jest. Although Chicago is a large city in the US, it doesn’t attract the same kind of attention that the East and West costs do. As Japanese lolita companies have expanded their scope to attending events in San Francisco (and opening stores) and New York, that was very exciting–but it didn’t necessarily seem to foretell any involvement in the Midwest. I honestly didn’t believe that Angelic Pretty would ever attend anything in my general area, anime convention or not. I couldn’t imagine a situation in which it would be a good business move for any of the lolita fashion companies, despite how much I would personally adore that kind of chance. Now that it’s actually happening, I am thrilled! ★

As soon as the announcement was semi-official, I started getting notes from different friends, reminding me of the words I’d casually tossed off in previous years when questioned about ACEN.

When details for the tea party were made available, I was so worked up about hoping I could get one of the tickets that my fears wormed their way into my nightmares. When I received the confirmation email about the ticket after sitting at my pink computer holding my breath and hope-hope-hoping that I wouldn’t be unlucky, I finally relaxed a bit–although I’m still nervous! I hope I don’t spill anything on myself or others, or do something similarly embarrassing. I am not very well-coordinated or graceful, unfortunately…

I also applied to model in the fashion show, and somehow I was selected~ I am also nervous about that, of course. There’s a nagging voice in my mind that keeps thinking they’ll see me and change their minds, or that they confused me with someone else and didn’t mean to choose me. I know, rationally, that both of those things are incredibly unlikely–but that doesn’t stop me from worrying. As long as I don’t worry so much that I can’t enjoy myself, I’ll survive regardless of any internalized silliness on my part!

I want to remember to take lots of pictures, enjoy all of the time that I can spend with my friends, and participate in everything to the fullest extent that I possibly can! I never could have imagined that I would be so excited for an anime convention, haha~ My life would certainly be a lot less exciting if I hadn’t become interested in lolita fashion; I never regret it. ♥ This seems like it will be a wonderful weekend. I’m determined to have a great time no matter what happens~!

On Being Lolita: The Luckiest Lucky Pack

On Being Lolita: The Luckiest Lucky Pack

My relationship with lucky packs hasn’t been a good one. I love the concept of lucky packs, because I can always appreciate the opportunity to save. Lucky packs can be a fantastic way to add pieces to your wardrobe without paying full price. If you don’t get things that work with your clothing, sometimes you can still break even by selling the pieces you’ve received. I’ve never been very good at this. All of the lucky packs that I’ve purchased have contained garments that don’t match my style or don’t fit my size, and usually it has taken me quite a while to sell what I couldn’t use. I’ve never gotten anything particularly desired by others! In fact, I’ve had items that I simply could not sell and then passed along to friends.

This hasn’t stopped me from buying lucky packs. I like the surprise, I like the deal, and I like the potential. As they say, hope springs eternal! When lucky pack season rolls around at the beginning of the year and the brands are clearing out their old stock, I try to rationalize with myself and avoid temptation. I remind myself of the failed lucky packs of purchases past. I calculate the odds of getting a really great lucky pack–for me, very, very unlikely. I estimate how much money I won’t be able to get back when I then turn around and sell the things I cannot wear. This year I went through the ritual; I was pretty sure that I was safe from lucky packs.

On January 1st, I was sitting in my office and the Angelic Pretty lucky packs went up for sale on the US website, and I bought one without a second thought. When the confirmation email hit my inbox I felt guilt–not for actually purchasing the lucky pack, but for the eventual explanation to my husband that yes, I had bought another lucky pack, and yes, I knew that I was really unlucky about them, and yes, I didn’t really expect all that much from this one either…but I had to do it.

When the parcel arrived the next week, I was ready for it to be a disappointment. I opened it with excitement, but also with acceptance. Instead of what I expected, I loved every item! I was so happy! It was so perfect!! Finally, I was lucky!!!

I didn’t realize until the next day that I hadn’t actually purchased a lucky pack, but instead a special set!

A lucky pack is a random assortment of overstock at a reduced price. A special set is an assortment of specific items at a reduced price. I received a perfectly-coordinated outfit that fit into my wardrobe seamlessly, because it wasn’t a random collection of things that were being cleared out, but instead an outfit designed to be sold at a special price. It was a very lucky “lucky pack” for me!

Girly Ribbon Set
The Girly Ribbon set contained a hairbow, socks, and a totebag~ I really love the designs of all of these items!
All of the items that I received were a perfect match to the promotional photo used for the sets, even down to the colour, as I bought a pink set. It contained a pink hairbow, pink and white striped socks with a pattern of bows, a dark pink totebag, a white blouse, and a pink jumperskirt. The hairbow and jumperskirt were made from the same fabric and involved the same trims; they’re a perfect match for each other! The shade of pink is the pink that Angelic Pretty typically uses, so the bow and jumperskirt also match my other jumperskirts and accessories featuring that same pink. The socks are adorable; even though I’m not usually a fan of over-the-knee socks, I know I’ll be wearing them–I can’t resist socks with bows on them!

I particularly love the shape of the hairbow! The “ribbon” that the bow is formed from is narrower than most bows. It makes the overall bow take up less depth across one’s head. I also appreciate the positioning; the bow isn’t standing upright on the headband, but instead laying flat against the head. The wider bows that stand upright seem to me to require more volume of hair behind them to avoid a look that is particularly overwhelming. They’re commonly depicted on teased wigs with clip-in pigtails. Although my hair is certainly capable of volume, it tends toward “glam rock”–not a look I want when I’m wearing lolita. I appreciate bows that sit against the head like this. This hairbow is my new best hairbow friend~ ♥

Girly Ribbon Blouse and JSK
I absolutely adore this blouse and jumperskirt! They’re such perfect items to add to my closet!
The blouse was a long-sleeved blouse with a Peter Pan collar. I really prefer rounded collars to stand-up collars or most other shapes. There are little satin bows on the collar, as well. The lace has the image of tiny strawberry layer cakes woven into the design; so cute! ♥ The material is thinner than my other blouses; it would need an undershirt of some kind if it weren’t worn beneath a jumperskirt, as it is fairly sheer. I’m fairly certain that this material was used to save on costs for the special set to sell at the reduced price it was offered at.

The jumperskirt is really wonderful! A friend of mine purchased this same set from the physical store in San Francisco. She commented to me that the dress was very “me,” and when I opened my own pack I understood what she meant. It fits right in with the type of sweet lolita that I love most of all–solid colour fabric, white lace of several types, bows in ribbons, scallops, and ruffles! The back is shirred, so I can slip it on without getting myself (or my hair! ;_;) caught in the zipper. The best feature, in my opinion, are the hidden pockets–one on each side! I love it when dresses have pockets~

I am so glad that I purchased this “lucky pack.” It was certainly worthwhile! I added five adorable things to my closet, all of which I plan to wear again and again~! ♥

On Being Lolita: Surprises from Santa

On Being Lolita: Surprises from Santa

For the past few years my stepfather has been living part-time in Paris. He has always traveled frequently for work, but his current project is based in Paris. Due to my influence, both he and my mother are well-acquainted with the BABY the Stars Shine Bright boutique in Paris. (They have also visited the shop that sells Angelic Pretty, but I can tell they have a preference for BtSSB.) Since introducing my parents to the shop, their attitudes towards my hobby have changed dramatically. My mother used to remind me with a sigh that frilly clothes were not something that grown women spend their money on. Now she has her own BABY point card.

As they are both familiar with the shop, I’ve stopped asking for particular gifts for holidays. If I say nothing, they’ll select their own choice from the BtSSB shop. For me, lolita clothing or accessories is always the perfect present! Receiving lolita gifts is the sort of thing I didn’t think would ever be really possible; my mother is unlikely to shop online for something expensive from overseas. She has no problem stepping into a shop, however; particularly a shop that she can easily travel to on her own while visiting my stepfather, or one that she can send him to if necessary.

Shopping at the BABY the Stars Shine Bright Paris shop isn’t exactly budget-friendly. Lolita garments have always been expensive to start with, but the exchange rate between the yen and euro impact the shop’s prices–and then my mother also has to consider the exchange rate between the dollar the euro. French import taxes also play a role in the pricing of items in the shop. A pair of socks might not look like an impressive present to the untrained eye, but I know how expensive they can be! For this reason, I never expect to get certain items. There are things I would never dream of hinting about. I don’t want to take advantage of my mother’s kindness by bleeding her wallet dry. That’s why I have my own job and my own budget–so that I can buy my own luxuries. I take pride in that.

So on Christmas morning, when I sat in the living room of my mother’s house with my family and we unwrapped the presents that Santa* had left, I got quite a shock! I must have been very good this year. When I opened my first gift and found socks from BtSSB, I was thrilled! ♥ Then I opened another box and found a blouse! And then another box with a cardigan! And another with a tricot petticoat! At that point, I almost thought I was hallucinating. Every gift I unwrapped was from the BtSSB shop!

Very Frilly Christmas
I couldn’t believe it when I unwrapped all these beautiful things! It was very touching. I nearly cried, but my family would never believe that.
Mentally, I couldn’t help totaling up the cost of everything I unwrapped, feeling increasingly spoiled and potentially undeserving. Previous holidays had featured one blouse or one cardigan or one pair of socks…having all of them together seemed like too much. I appreciated being lucky enough have all of these things loving picked out and purchased for me, but I worried about how much it must have cost. When I opened the final box with my name on it I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Usakumya Slippers
Usakumya slippers are probably the cutest little slippers I have ever seen! I like slippers, and I have some adorable slippers already, but these take the cake!
The last gift was these adorable usakumya slippers~ ♥ They’re soft, they’re a really nice shade of yellow, they have cute little embroidered eyes, and little pink bows above their ears. Since these are slippers, they don’t have actual teddy bear ears under their bunny ears; that would be too fiddly. As I admired them, my mother explained that she had seen them in the Paris shop and had to have them. However, the slippers were part of a promotion that required you to spend a certain value of euros to qualify to receive them, so she painstakingly picked out every other item to hit that target. I love the image this conjures up for me of my mother and one of the shop girls, wandering around the store and trying to find items that she wanted to buy AND that would accumulate to the required purchase to bring home the slippers. We then spent a few minutes on the computer where she tried to show me some shoes she had really liked that they didn’t have in my size, which she had then contemplated buying for herself.

I feel so lucky to have received so many wonderful things from my family. Not just because I love lolita fashion, but because it really shows how much love and effort they are willing to put into the holidays. It would be a lot easier to buy something else, something that isn’t “weird” and something that doesn’t require being in another country. It makes me feel very loved to know that my mother accepts and encourages my hobby. I wish that everyone could have that same kind of acceptance~ ♥

*Santa visits my mother’s house, and probably will always visit her house. The only presents under the tree until Christmas morning are those from my siblings and the ones my husband and I bring with us. The stockings are empty. It’s a tradition that I really value, even though I’m an adult!

On Being Lolita: Sweet Resolutions 2011

On Being Lolita: Sweet Resolutions 2011

I wanted to start a tradition of setting new year’s resolutions for myself. I enjoyed doing so during this year–I think there is a lot of value in giving some serious thought to what I might like to do to encourage personal growth. I’ve mainly been setting goals related to my interest in lolita fashion, but I think I might jot down a few unrelated goals, too, and see how that works out this year! Those types of goals are usually the ones that I change my mind about or entirely avoid, but I want to continue to try to be a better me. ♥

★ Organize a tea party at one of the hotels downtown!

I love meetups of all types, because I love spending time with other lolita~ Most of the girls I’ve met through the fashion have become cherished close friends of mine, and I’m always hoping for the potential for more! Although I did host a few meetups during 2010, they were all fairly casual events. That’s my preferred type of meetup, but I miss the opulence and elegance of the formal events I’ve attended in the past.

That’s why I want to arrange an afternoon tea meetup at one of the hotels. It can be pricey, but the atmosphere is so luxurious and dazzling~ Plus, it’s such a wonderful setting for pictures! I want to do this while the weather is still chilly, but thankfully this city is good at being cold and snowy–I should have plenty of time~

★ Knit the Chocola-chan scarf!

The Chocola-chan scarf, a pattern featured in the Gothic & Lolita Bible, is one of my knitting-related ☆holy grails☆ because I own the “Going Out with Chocola-chan” coat. I avoided this project in the past because it was something I thought was “too hard.” I’ve been doing a lot of knitting, and I’ve already tried most, if not all, of the few techniques used for the scarf. I think that I should be well set to try my hand at making one. After all, nothing terrible will happen if I fail–I’ll just have to try again~

I’m starting off 2011 by going “cold sheep,” however, so I’ll have to work on this scarf as a reward. I’ve gathered up quite a bit of yarn over the holidays–I’m planning to get some headway into using up that which I’ve accumulated before any new yarn comes home with me. (This will be very, very hard. I am determined to use my stubborn streak to my advantage!)

★ Strategic wardrobe enhancement!

After wearing lolita fashion for a few years, my closet isn’t really what could be considered “small.” Although I rarely buy, I even more rarely ever sell, so the quantity of garments in my possession has continued to increase. Despite this, I tend to purchase things that I consider to be “good deals” instead of things I’ve been wanting for various coordinations. I own very few cutsews, most of which are very specific, when I know I could get much more use out of a white cutsew with no design. I own no boleros. There are also a few hair accessories that I’m sadly lacking.

I want to carefully plan my purchases for the new year. I don’t want to thing, “Oh fluffbunnies, if only I owned item x–it would be so perfect for this,” and then buy another one-piece. I get so much enjoyment from wearing lolita fashion–I want to be able to wear it more frequently and arranged in new outfits!

★ Take better pictures at meetups!

When it comes to meetups, I never seem to remember that I have a camera with me! Afterward, as I reminisce about how much fun I’ve had and eagerly sort through ideas for meetups to come, it dawns on me that I should have taken pictures. Usually I’ll have only one or two quick snaps saved on my camera–pictures that are out of focus, blurry, streaky, and taken in bad lighting. The subjects are typically unprepared, resulting in a picture that is overall unflattering and just plain bad.

I want to work harder on taking good pictures of meetups. Pictures of attendees, pictures of activities, and pictures of interesting things. I want to have something I can share with others or just look at on my own. I’ve always thought it would be fun to scrapbook, but it’s hard to do that without pictures. A lolita-themed photo album would provide an easy way for me to review at all the memories that I treasure~

BONUS: ★ Make a video post!

This isn’t something I want to run myself ragged trying to do, but I’ve thought it would be a lot of fun to add at least one video post~ I just don’t know what would be something best talked about, rather than written about.

Has anyone else set resolutions for 2011~? Are you excited about the beginning of a new year?

Happy New Year, to absolutely everyone! ♥ I hope this coming year is more marvelous than the last~

On Being Lolita: Year-End Wrap Up

On Being Lolita: Year-End Wrap Up

At the end of the year I decided to set a few resolutions for 2010. Looking back on what I wanted to do, I think I can consider 3 of 4 to be accomplished~

2010’s Goals in Review

★ Host more meetups! Check!
Although I haven’t hosted a million meetups, I’ve done my best to host meetups whenever I could come up with a decent-enough idea. It’s been lots of fun; I love any excuse to see my friends.)

★ Work harder on loli_bookclub! Fail.
I just haven’t kept up. I feel pretty guilty about this one…

★ Hold still for more pictures! Check!
If I did anything in 2010, it was record more outfits! I like being able to look back and have proof of my frilliness. My husband has gotten much better at taking pictures, too~ ♥

★ Post entries more often! Check!
I wrote entries fairly regularly for most of 2010. I slacked off quite a bit in December, but sometimes other things get in the way. Overall, I’m satisfied with the frequency of new content.

Now I just need to decide what to do for 2011! It’s almost upon us!

On Being Lolita: The Halloween Dilemma

On Being Lolita: The Halloween Dilemma

Every year when October rolls around, I find myself pondering the same question: “What should I be for Halloween?”

In recent years, there’s been a second question: “Should I wear lolita fashion?”

For me, this is a hard decision. On the one hand, I love wearing lolita fashion. It brightens up any day, and fills my heart with sparkles and happiness. On the other hand, Halloween is a time for costumes. Lolita fashion is not a costume. Additionally, I think of Halloween as a time to be something unusual, unique, and absolutely out of the ordinary. For me, lolita fashion is none of those things.

When I wear lolita fashion, strangers are constantly asking what my costume is or who I am trying to be. They see something they don’t recognize and presume that it must be a costume–that I am trying to be something else. There’s no way that they can be expected to know that I’m trying to be myself. When I respond that I’m not dressed up as anything, this is just the way I like to dress, there’s a lot of resistance. Some people absolutely refuse to believe me; others nod as though they understand completely, despite their bewildered expressions.

Since I spend so much time championing the “lolita is not a costume” assertion, why would I want to wear lolita fashion during Halloween–a time known for costumes? Simply because I enjoy wearing the style so much. Despite this, I worry about reinforcing lolita fashion as a costume…by wearing it as a costume. Even if I know that I’m wearing lolita fashion simply because I can, doing so at a time when I’ll be less-questioned because costumes are expected makes it seem to be a costume.

This is counter-productive to my actual intent. I even avoid wearing lolita fashion the week immediately after Halloween (and sometimes even the second week), specifically to avoid jeering passers-by yelling, “Halloween is over!” (Often with more distasteful terms added on.)

Yet, when I’m pressed to choose a costume I often assemble something from my lolita fashion wardrobe. This is not because I’m feeling particularly hypocritical around the Halloween holiday, but instead because I want to avoid spending money on a Halloween costume. I cannot sew and do not have other garments at my disposable to fashion into a costume. When I’m pressed to need a costume for some event, I will rifle through my frilly dresses and lavish accessories, and cobble something somewhat passable together. “Princess” is always a very easy one, although I don’t own a crown or tiara. “Alice in Wonderland” was simple before I parted with my solid blue dress. “Little Bo Peep” would be instant if I had a stuffed sheep. (And, really, I’m the only one who notices that kind of thing. People suspect I’m dressed as the wayward sheep-herder no matter which dress I choose and despite being sans sheep.)

I’d rather be something more interesting, but I find that most commercial costumes are low-quality, and most high-quality costumes are very pricey. I don’t want to spend so much money on something I’ll only wear once. (And, because I am a lolita, I don’t want to spend so much money on something that isn’t a lolita garment! Predictable, but very true.) I ought to invest in one costume that I can wear year after year, but I don’t attend Halloween parties or go trick-or-treating; I only dress up for work events.

I always tell myself that I won’t get dressed up for Halloween, because I don’t want people to think that the style I love so dearly is a costume, but when it’s October 30th and I can’t decide what to wear for the function at my office, I pull out something from my closet. It’s a habit that I know I ought to break, but I don’t think about it until there’s just not enough time left. Sometimes I have difficult reconciling my philosophy with my actions.

Do you like to wear lolita fashion as part of your Halloween costume? Do you prefer to wear something else entirely? Do you have absolutely no problem with lolita fashion being perceived as a costume?

On Being Lolita: Winter Coats

On Being Lolita: Winter Coats

Autumn is here, and the chill in the air makes me think of winter coats!

BABY, the Stars Shine Bright has posted their 2010 Coat Collection in the reservation section. Angelic Pretty has added a few short jackets and capes to their jacket/coat section of the webshop. Metamorphose has their winter coats on reserve. Elegant coats and capes are on the reservation page at Victorian Maiden, as well as Mary Magdalene.

I really like the Dolly Long Cape from Angelic Pretty~ I think the design is cute in its simplicity, and the houndstooth pattern adds a nice touch.

This is my “dream coat.” (If such a thing exists~) I believe it’s called the Lovely Rabbit-Ear Coat and may be from 2005 or 2006.

There’s something about a lolita fashion winter coat that is more than just a very expensive jacket. Although they’re often not made for extremely cold winters, the shape is perfect for wearing over a lolita silhouette, and the designs are adorable. Although it is possible to wear other winter coats with a lolita outfit, oftentimes they don’t fit the silhouette very well. A few buttons have to remain unbuttoned, or the skirt is squashed and twisted at an odd angle, or the jacket is large and baggy enough to be almost shapeless.

Most of all, I adore the designs of lolita fashion coats. They often have rows of ruffles, fur trim, and lace adornment. The designs can range from simple-yet-luxurious to ornate-and-eye-catching, but they all tend to make me think of an old-fashioned dress coat that has been updated and modified to suit the tastes of lolita. It makes me feel like it’s slightly less of a shame to cover up my frilly clothing if my coat is frilled to accent it~

My coat is from 2007–“Going Out Chocola-chan.” It’s not new, rare, or sought-after, but I really love it~

Winter Coat of Coatness
This coat always gets plenty of use in the colder months, and the colder months here feel like they last quite a while~

I love the pink houndstooth, which is woven in tones of baby pink and pale cream. The small cape is such a perfect accent that I almost never unbutton it and wear the coat without it, even though that is an option. The white fake-fur adds a wintry touch to the cheerful colours, and I love that it seems even more decadent because it is dotted with imitation pearls. The buttons are pink, heart-shaped, and have a bow molded into the design. The applique of Chocola-chan, the white cat, is plush and accented with added details.

It’s not quite cold enough to start wearing my coat yet, but autumn has reminded me to take it to be cleaned before the upcoming winter season. ♥ I keep entertaining the thought of buying another coat, since there are so many lovely designs, but I don’t think I can really justify the purchase. I use my coat enough that I feel as though I have gotten a good value for it, but it would be difficult to do that all over again with a second coat. (Although, even knowing that, I still sort-of want another one~)

How do you feel about lolita winter coats? Do you have a favourite design? Do you own more than one? Or, perhaps–do you think they’re unnecessary? I’m sure that not everyone shares my warm and fuzzy feelings about them–although I’d like to image it is so~ ☆

On Being Lolita: Unexpected Encounters

On Being Lolita: Unexpected Encounters

This weekend I had a day all to myself. My husband was at work, and I hadn’t made any plans, so I decided to be productive. I made a list of chores and errands and started working on them right away, slowly checking things off my list. It was drizzling rain outside, but I didn’t want to lose an opportunity to wear lolita fashion, so I dressed in something subdued but still good-mood-inducing. (Oftentimes I forget just how much I love wearing lolita, only to be reminded when I put on a pretty dress or add a bow to my hair. I always seem to remember it as slightly less-intensely enjoyable, and sometimes I slack off and don’t put forth the effort because I don’t think it will be “worth it.” It is always “worth it!”)

I headed out to pick up some groceries, and decided to head to a particular store that I don’t usually frequent. I’m within walking distance of a selection of stores, but there are a few other places nearby that just require a train or bus ride. In this case, I took the train.

The rain was on-and-off all day. It didn’t quite reach the level of a downpour, but it did get past a drizzle at several points. Sometimes it let up so that it almost seemed like the rain had stopped, but still there was a drop here or there. The temperature was also chilly; autumn is announcing proudly that it is here! I still don’t have a lolita rain coat (I wish!), so I bundled up in my (hideous) black windbreaker and headed out.

After purchasing my groceries I walked back to the train station and waited for the train. It wasn’t terribly crowded, but the only available seats were beside other passengers. I sat down next to a young man with white earbuds, oblivious to everything but his music, and read the advertisements near the ceiling of the train car to pass the short trip back to my stop.

I was surprised when I heard a mild voice address me from the direction of the young man. “I wish more people dressed like that,” he said with a smile, holding his removed headphones in one hand.

Although my coat covered up most of my outfit (which was very simple save the lolita skirt), he had noticed the white print of parasols and logos along the bottom hem of my skirt. Apparently the words “BABY, the stars shine bright” meant something to him. He commented on how the style was anachronistic and yet still modern, and asked if I’d had a chance to visit one of the stores–either in Japan or San Francisco. I was really happy to be asked such detailed questions about the style from a stranger.

Most of the time, if a stranger wants to talk to me while I’m wearing lolita fashion, they ask the same questions:
“Why are you dressed like that?”
“Are you in a play?”
“Who are you supposed to be?”
“Do you like working at the American Girl store?”
“Is that purse a bunny?”

Those are the questions I’ve come to expect. I expect pokes on the shoulder, an exchange of confused glanced, curious whispers between friends, and raised eyebrows when people ask what’s been on their mind while they’ve been staring. I certainly don’t imagine that anyone knows what I’m wearing, although I do occasionally hear excited shouts of, “Hey! A lolita!” Even as I was talking to the friendly young man seated beside me, I could hardly comprehend that he not only knew that I was wearing a particular fashion style, but knew where the stores were located.

I know that some people worry about lolita fashion becoming mainstream or widely-accepted, but I really appreciated the change. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t mind if the fashion were recognized by more people–if instead of shouting, “Little Bo Peep, where are your sheep?” they could just mutter and think, “One of those weird lolita girls.” (Or, even better, smile and start a good-natured conversation!) I can’t help but think that this one guy’s recognition is related to the growth of lolita fashion in the United States. It isn’t quite mainstream, but there’s a lot more information available in English to anyone able to use Google.

Several years ago, that wouldn’t have been the case. There wasn’t a BABY, the Stars Shine Bright store in San Francisco. There weren’t numerous (if misinformed) online articles. There weren’t so many blogs, so many girls sharing photos, or so many companies offering overseas shipping and thus having that one page on their website, often awkwardly-phrased, with translated instructions for English-speaking customers. Now that Tokyo Rebel exists in New York City and Angelic Pretty will join BtSSB in having a San Francisco store, I can’t help hoping that more information will spread.

There was something nice about being known. It made me feel like a person with an unusual clothing choice instead of a strange frilly alien to be feared. ♥