On Being Lolita: More Questions

On Being Lolita: More Questions

I’ve been neglecting my poor blog~ These past few weeks I have been feeling a bit less fluffy than usual, so I haven’t been writing. I’m trying to get back on track, particularly because the coming of autumn brings such a nice season for wearing lolita and attending meetups.

Since starting up an account at Formspring and incorporating it onto my blog, I’ve been getting quite a few questions. I’ve already posted previously with a compilation of questions and answers, but I think now is as good a time as any to do so again. Please remember that these answers are my opinions. I’m just me–feel free to agree or disagree.

1. Do you wear lolita to work?
          Sometimes. Lolita outfits are not against my company’s dress code, and I don’t interact with clients. However, I don’t like wearing lolita fashion to work because it’s distracting to my coworkers; I want to be remembered for the work I do, not what I wear.

2. How did you come up with your blog name ‘Pink Mlik Tea’?
          I LOVE milk tea, and I like pink! Besides, some of my other choices were already taken! :3

3. Would you say you dress like your doll or that your doll dresses like you?
          Neither, actually! My doll (now dolls) has a lot of school uniforms and dresses in dark colours. Her one pink outfit has shorts, so I would NEVER wear it. I don’t dress her in lolita fashion. My “casual” clothes are jeans and t-shirts, something I won’t purchase for my doll.

4. You say you wear bloomers. Where did you buy them?
          I have a few pair that were made by a friend (bloomers are not difficult to make) and a few pair from Metamorphose–although, since I prefer the longer length, Meta uses the term “drawers.” Their “bloomers” are much shorter. Meta bloomers/drawers are quite expensive, but mine were part of lucky packs.

5. What challenges will a boy face coming to a Chicago lolita meetup? I would like to make friends, but am worried about acceptance of single males in the group. Could you offer honest and frank advice?
          The biggest challenge in being a male attending a meetup, particularly alone, is making it clear by your behavior and in conversation that you a) don’t think lolita fashion is a sexual fetish and b) aren’t attending in an attempt to hit on community members. The biggest barrier that a boy will face is suspicions about his intentions. Most of the girls are used to being mocked, propositioned, or any number of other extremely uncomfortable things when wearing the style.
          If you’re truly interested in the fashion and joining the community, you shouldn’t have to work very hard to “prove” yourself at all–it will be immediately evident.
          It helps to come dressed in your best attire and have a good attitude. Everyone is very friendly, but you’ll need to be friendly as well. Sometimes there are so many people in one place that it’s impossible to focus on every shy newcomer and coax them into conversation, and thus people can feel neglected or ignored. It’s best to avoid this from the start–introduce yourself and join in conversations. If “jumping right in” is overwhelming, try to talk to a few people one at a time during the event. And, most importantly, continue to attend! It’s hard to get to know people based on one impression.
          If you have any other questions I’ll do my best to answer them, as well.

6. I saw that you have Secret Shop Shoes. Do you think they fall large, small or are they just right?
          Secret Shop shoes are fairly true to size, and in my experience they run -just slightly- larger than the original shoes. (For example, my Secret Shop replicas are slightly larger than my Angelic Pretty tea party shoes.)

7. How do you know what kind of petticoat you need? A-line, fluffy, A-shape, it’s so confusing!
          The type of petticoat you need is determined by the fullness of the skirts you’re wearing. :3 “Fluffy” is usually the very full, traditional bell-shaped petticoat. A-line/A-shape/princess are less full–they give you a more trapezoidal shape (like an uppercase “A”–fluffy petticoats are more like an upside-down “U”). Circle skirts and full trapezoid skirts benefit from a fuller petticoat. If you try to put a full petticoat beneath a skirt with less yardage, it will be squashed and not fit properly.
          I usually determine which kind of pannier is required by following the line of the skirt on stock images or estimating the gathers at the waist. Looking at a stock image, if the skirt curves up and out from the waist, I’ll want a full petticoat. If the skirt slopes down from the waist, A-line will be better. Skirts that need full petticoats also tend to have more gathers at the waist, because there is more fabric.
          If you prefer a less-full silhouette, you can usually wear an A-line petticoat beneath just about anything without creating a look that is awkward.

8. Do you buy your lolita clothes in a shop (like Tokyo Rebel), online or secondhand?
          I buy most of my clothes secondhand, either from friends or online. I don’t live near a shop, and I’ve never been to Japan. I have made a few direct online purchases, but usually I look for good prices on lightly-used garments on Yahoo!Japan or egl_comm_sales.

9. Did you see that on Qcute they have almost exact replicas of Angelic Pretty‘s Wonder Cookie? What do you think of that?
          I don’t support replicas out of respect to the artists and designers of the original garments, particularly when artwork is involved.
          (I’m still trying to sort out my feelings about replica shoes. I don’t support that practice either, but I do own a pair that I love to wear–which is hypocritical.)

10. Where do you buy your lolita socks?
          I buy my socks from Angelic Pretty, BABY the Stars Shine Bright, and Metamorphose, sometimes directly from the companies, sometimes on egl_comm_sales, and sometimes from auctions on Yahoo!Japan.

11. Do you buy from AP’s English site or Japanese? In the case of Japanese: isn’t that hard?
          I usually buy from their Japanese site via shopping service. The English site avoids most fees, but the communication is not very good and the selection of items is worse.
          It’s not very hard to order from the Japanese site; I can read enough lolita fashion-specific Japanese (measurements, fabric type, etc.) since I’ve been interested in the style for several years. It’s even easier to see if something is in stock–I just try and add it to the cart and see if I get an error message. They won’t ship overseas from the Japanese website, though; a shopping service is necessary.

12. Do you know a good shopping service?
          I’ve heard good things about Japonica Market, but I’ve never used them.
          I like to use Crescent-Shop, because I like their system. However, they do not have a low fee structure.

I think there are even more questions, but those will have to be for another day~ I’m glad that there’s been some use of the “ask questions” feature, and I hope it’s been useful to someone.

Please remember–if you’d like me to get back to you instead of answering the question publicly, just include your email address in your question. I’ll send you an email instead~ ♥

On Being Lolita: Flying the Frilly Skies

On Being Lolita: Flying the Frilly Skies

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!

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!