On Being Lolita: Take a Picture

On Being Lolita: Take a Picture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

I squealed!! ♥

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On Being Lolita: Following the Rules

On Being Lolita: Following the Rules

Recently, Caro of F Yeah Lolita made a post about breaking lolita “rules.” The post closed with a call to action for other lolita to come clean about the rules they disregard on a regular basis. Generally, I’m a law-abiding wearer of lolita fashion; rarely do my coordinations do something extreme or non-traditional. This isn’t the result of a conscious decision–I’m just not that creative! I don’t think that there should be strictly-followed rules for the style, and I really admire the unique and beautiful coordinations that some lolita wear.

“Rules” seem to be a concept that a lot of girls new to lolita fashion get hung up on. Some embrace the idea of rules and follow them strictly, from exactly knee-length skirts to a certain type of behavior. Others rebel from the start, constantly trying to add new twists or reinterpreting the style, regardless of the criticisms of those who insist on conformity. There are even more people in the middle, unsure of how to put into words their opinion on lolita fashion rules. For a long time, that was where I sat.

I think that lolita often state or insist on rules because it is difficult to develop an eye for lolita. More important than following or not following rules, in my opinion, is cultivating the lolita aesthetic. When I look at a coordination, almost instantaneously I decide if it is or isn’t “lolita.” The decision isn’t the result of carefully weighing one element or another, but rather an overall subjective impression. Even then, I’m not a lolita diety who drifts down with a frilly parasol and ordains an outfit “good” or “bad;” it’s entirely my opinion. Rules are invented and insisted on as shortcuts or broad concepts to rely on before the development of the skill to recognize and replicate the style.

Common rules include “lolita MUST wear a petticoat.” Most lolita outfits involve a petticoat. Most skirts have a bell-shape, which requires a petticoat. However, it is very possible to create an outfit without a petticoat–either because the wearer prefers less “poof” or because the skirt is not bell-shaped. Several companies have released skirts that are longer, shorter, a-line, fishtail, close-fitting, and so forth–all items that can be part of a legitimate lolita fashion coordination, but not with a petticoat! For the beginner, however, the quick reference of “MUST were a petticoat” typically prevents an incomplete-looking outfit.

A more puzzling “rule” is the one that insists on a specific type of behavior for lolita. I tend to think that these are mostly derived from some of the writings of Takemoto Novala. He has written profusely on lolita fashion, and all of his writings espouse his particular definitive view of what a lolita ought to be. A snapshot of this is encompassed in Kamikaze Girls (original title Shimotsuma Monogatari), but Momoko isn’t a “perfect” lolita–she has numerous character flaws, which make it a really enjoyable story. However, Novala’s works, specifically those featured in articles for the Gothic & Lolita Bible, tend to feature sentiments such as “lolita should never wear glasses” or “lolita must speak a certain way.” It’s too bad that it is difficult to find translations of these works–if they were easier to access, it would be simpler to show these are the ideas of one creative man, not a doctrine that must be accepted by all lolita.

Part of the reason that I rarely “break lolita rules” is because I really love lolita fashion for its silly, frilly, layered, elaborate style. I wear knee socks because I think they’re awesome, not because it’s a rule. I wear blouses beneath my jumperskirts in almost all weather because otherwise they look baggy on me! (Not like cute sundresses, the way they can seem on others.) I don’t blend lolita fashion with another fashion because I’m not interested in another fashion. My outfits’ boring-ness is entirely related to my personal boring-ness. :3

I believe that lolita fashion is, ultimately, about enjoying oneself. If it’s a chore to dress up, with rules on every side, then why bother? I wear frills because it brightens my day and puts a spring in my step! If you’ve dressed yourself in a coordination that is 100% you and maybe 13% lolita, it doesn’t matter as long as you’re enjoying yourself. Should you call your style lolita fashion? Probably not, but even if you do it’s not the end of the world! I admire all those rule-breakers who show off their originality and creativity. ♥

On Being Lolita: “I Do”–Do You?

On Being Lolita: “I Do”–Do You?

In the Court Room
As all of our pictures are very informal, I’m always caught in some kind of awkward pose.

With my bridal shower just around the corner (Which, for the record, I am really nervous about attending! So many relatives that I haven’t seen in years…), I’ve been thinking about my wedding. I eloped at the end of January, the intention and date kept a secret from everyone except my husband and best friend, and although there was no formal ceremony, I wore lolita fashion. Wearing lolita to my wedding was very important to me. The fashion has played a significant role in my life–most importantly, it has had a very positive effect on my well-being. When I’m in my lolita finery, I feel very happy to be myself–that was the mindset I wanted for a day as significant as my wedding day.

I am not really of the opinion that a wedding day is the “happiest” day of a girl’s life. I’d like to think that every tomorrow has the potential to be a “happiest” day–I aspire to live with increasing values on the happiness meter! However, marriage is a very meaningful step in one’s life. I am thankful every day for the man I can now call my husband, who loves and supports me in any situation. He has never opposed my hobbies or said hurtful things about my interests. With such a wonderful person by my side, I know that every day has unlimited potential!

Wedding Waiting Room
Completely excited and intensely happy! ♥

If I had had a formal wedding, with guests and a schedule, wearing lolita fashion would not have been an option. My family would have protested every step of the way, regardless of who should be making the choice. Additionally, there was no way I could afford even a small wedding. Instead, we opted to secretly elope. Our families were horrified to hear that my husband wore jeans and a Slayer t-shirt–but that is exactly who he is, and if I can pick my frilly attire he should have equally free choice.

Wearing lolita fashion to one’s wedding is a personal choice that rests heavily on how much you identify with the fashion. Some girls are madly in love with the style, only to move on in a few years to something else. In a case like that, one might not want to look back on wedding photos in your frilly finest–a traditional wedding dress that is suited to your tastes might be a better choice. I knew I wouldn’t have any formal photographs and my interest in lolita fashion is very stable, so I wanted to wear something I would enjoy immensely.

With the Judge
When I look back on this, I almost wish my husband had thrown the horns or removed his jacket, but he didn’t want to chance offending anyone.

When my family saw some of the snapshots that were taken during our ceremony, even those who wished very much that I had a “real” wedding and worn a “real” dress sighed and said, “You know… it really looks like you. It’s absolutely you.” And that, of course, was the point! I didn’t want something poised and formal–I wanted us to be us, comfortable about being ourselves.

Although lolita dresses usually look very formal and frilly regardless of the season, once in a while a dress is released that has an even more elaborate design. These dresses are rarely printed, and usually involve lots of lace. When I made up my mind about what I intended to wear, I kept a close eye on the blogs, waiting for the next wave of wedding-esque dresses to be released. Angelic Pretty was the company to step up. BABY the Stars Shine Bright and Metamorphose had not-too-distantly released dresses they actually intended as wedding dresses, neither of which suited my fancy and both of which were very much out of my price range. When I saw the series my dress was a part of, I knew it was perfect for me!

If I hadn’t planned on getting married, I doubt I’d have had a good reason to own such a fancy dress. I probably would have just pined for it and resolved myself to less elaborate pieces in my wardrobe. I’d love to coordinate this again.

I still hope that someday I’ll have the opportunity to take more formal pictures of the two of us in the outfits we wore on our wedding day. It was very, very cold that day (being at the end of January in such a windy and snowy city) so we weren’t brave enough to try and get any pictures out of the courthouse. The mere thought of taking off my coat was unthinkable, especially in something without sleeves! Now that the weather is nicer and everything is starting to bloom, I dream of getting some nice pictures of us together in our wedding finery. ♥

Does anyone else plan to wear lolita fashion on their wedding day, or have you done it already? Or are you dreaming of a traditional dress–or something completely non-traditional but entirely perfect for you? I’d love to see an entire lolita-themed formal wedding, especially if it was tasteful and elegant, but that’s a dream faaaar too rich for my pocketbook, so I didn’t do more than briefly entertain the thought.

On Being Lolita: Come Back, Headdress!

On Being Lolita: Come Back, Headdress!

A pink and white headdress from Angelic Pretty–I’ve always thought the styrofoam head they used to model hair accessories was a bit creepy, but I suppose it could be worse!

When I first started wearing lolita fashion, the headdress was on its way out. Issues of the Gothic & Lolita Bible steadily featured more and more hairbows. That trend continued until now, when I look at Angelic Pretty‘s “headdress, katyusha, bonnet” page…there are no headdresses! (No bonnets, either, but those have always been released less-frequently.) There are two headdresses on the BABY, the Stars Shine Bright website…but they’re both sold out in all colors (except for the Rosaline Ribbon Headdress in red–too bad it wouldn’t match most of my wardrobe). At least Innocent World still has one–the Olivia Headdress.

Another headdress from Angelic Pretty, circa 2006.

This makes me feel nostalgic for the headdress. One of the reasons they became less popular in the English-speaking internet-based lolita community was due to the association with beginners and “bad lace.” In the early 2000s it was much harder to order anything from Japan because most brands didn’t ship overseas and shopping services weren’t common. The headdress was a first sewing project for many lolita-hopefuls~ This was usually made with whatever could be found from Mom or Grandma’s sewing basket and a spool of $1 lace from the craft store. Some girls created masterpieces, while other headdresses looked a far cry from the elegance of those atop models’ heads in the Gothic & Lolita Bible.

Regardless of the results, these headdresses were cherished and often-worn possessions. In fact, some of the earliest coordinations I had seen online relied solely on the headdress to classify the outfit as “gothic lolita.” I tried to make one, myself, but my inability to sew resulted in many disasters and ultimately nothing wearable. At the time it didn’t bother me too much because I preferred the hairbow. As the subsets of lolita style began to change, Angelic Pretty advertisements becoming more and more bright and eclectic while black and white “gothic lolita” faded in popularity, the headdress gave way to the hairbow.

Now I find myself missing the headdress. Although they were often worn with less-than-stellar outfits, nicely-made headdresses are very beautiful. A headdress was one of my first shopping service purchases–with pearls dangling from side bows and delicate lace edging the rounded rectangular shape. I don’t wear it often (it only matches one dress), but when I choose a hair accessory I’m reminded how pretty it is~ ♥

Personally, I still love hairbows, but I am fond of headdresses as well. The headdress is a very substantial accessory, and I find that it reminds me somewhat of a very tiny bonnet or a very wide hairband. When I first started wearing lolita fashion I avoided headdresses because my hairstyle didn’t have bangs, and headdresses tend to look odd if they are right up against your hairline. Now that I’ve changed my hairstyle, I want to wear more headdresses–but they’re not all that easy to find! I like that wearing one almost feels as though I have some kind of hat on, and it also tends to help keep my hairstyle in place.

I wish the headdress could have a revival. There is a design for every subset of lolita–narrow, sparsely decorated headdresses for classic; dark, luxurious fabrics with crucifix charms for gothic; brightly-coloured bejeweled and accessorized for deco-inspired sweet; and so forth! I’d be so happy to see a new ad in the Gothic & Lolita Bible with the models elaborate hairstyles dressed with a headdress~ ♥ I wonder if my daydream will come true; I’m never sure what will come next for the fashion.

On Being Lolita: Spring in the Happy Garden

On Being Lolita: Spring in the Happy Garden

There’s just something about Happy Garden that makes me want to dress up like an Easter egg all spring! When I first saw the print I didn’t care much for it…until I realized something very important. It has massive-tailed, big-cheeked rabbits just like those on my ultimate favourite print, Cherry Berry Bunny! ♥ Now I struggle with an internal tug-of-war between my mind that says, “Don’t spend money on a dress like that! How often will you really wear it?” and my heart that goes, “;_;-♥ But I looooooooves it. I loves it so.”

My little sister was equally on the fence, first deciding she had to have it, then deciding it wasn’t really worth it…and then she realized it has fluffy little Angelic Prettied chicks on it. As much as I adore bunnies, my little sister loves chickens. Especially cute baby chickens. The fact that the matching cardigan’s only decoration is an embroidered chick is almost too much! So we look at the pictures and sigh dreamily over how adorable yet ridiculous it all is.

Although I adore it, my feelings aren’t quite a “must-have-it” level of obsession. There is a degree to which the print reminds me of a tablecloth or bedsheet, something I find both cute and unlikely to make me wear the dress on a regular basis. A whole rainbow of pastels is used in the illustrations of Easter eggs and baby animals, so I know I won’t wear the dress on a regular basis–I generally prefer a less-varied palette. Most importantly, bunnies are not the focus. There are delightful, wonderful fluffy bunnies, but not with the intensity of Cherry Berry Bunny~

If it would have been available sooner, so I would have had the opportunity to wear the print on Easter, perhaps I would have felt more rushed to get it. Now that the holiday has passed, I prefer to look at the advertisements and think about how cute it is. It’s available for purchase from different outlets, but I’m focused on other things. Perhaps Happy Garden will just be a nice springtime dream for me…or maybe when winter comes and things are gloomy, I’ll find myself stalking Yahoo!Japan auctions looking for a burst of sunshine and bunnies.

I hope those bunnies make another appearance! I can’t get enough of their enormous fluffy tails~ ♥

On Being Lolita: Your Attention Please …Or Not

On Being Lolita: Your Attention Please …Or Not

A few weeks ago, when I was waiting for a bus, a gentleman approached me and asked what I was wearing. My response in such a situation is always, “Oh, I just like to dress up.” He answered, “Huh. You must like attention.”

This seems to be a common impression of lolita by outsiders. It’s understandable–even a more subdued classic outfit or one in hues other than bright pink stands out in the crowd. When I look out the windows from my office, most people look somewhat the same: jeans and shirts, sometimes black or gray business suits, and the occasional person who lives in sweatpants. It’s rare to see groups in completely identical outfits, but other than very slight changes they seem to wear the same style. This is why I rarely notice what the person who passed me on the street is wearing–my senses are automatically filtering it out. However, the boy with neon pink hair or the girl with a halo of safety pins piercing her left ear catches my eye. Regardless of whether it is intentional or not, anything beyond the norm is attention-grabbing.

However, I don’t wear lolita fashion because I crave attention–and I don’t think most lolita do, either. I’m much happier when I glide through the crowds, passers-by turning a blind eye and pretending that I’m not pink and fluffy, than when there are stares, comments, questions, or blundered attempts at stealth-photography. After all, I’m not dressing up for anyone else–I’m dressing up because I like it!

It takes a certain type of courage to wear lolita fashion, because it isn’t often accepted or even admired. Strangers will puzzle over your “costume,” balk at the mere mention of the fashion’s name–immediately associating the style with the pop-culture interpretation of the famous novel, text candid pictures of you to their friends to ridicule, grumble if your skirt accidentally brushes into them when passing in a narrow corridor, or insult you to your face because you aren’t “fitting in.” Thankfully not all reactions are bad, but you can never gauge who will say or do what when you go where.

However, I’m sure there are some lolita who revel in the attention–whether it is positive or negative–and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Assumptions and stereotypes aren’t a reliable manner of reference, one way or another.

The stranger who approached me at the bus stop didn’t care enough to listen to any explanations on my part, so I let the topic die without protesting. It stuck with me, though, as something I mulled over during my bus ride. I do expect a different level of attention when wearing frills, although I don’t look forward to it. I get the impression that this is a common sentiment, but I can only speak for myself.

Do you wear lolita fashion because you want attention, or do you consider the attention a negative “side-effect” of wearing the style? Do most people you encounter think that you are trying to get attention?

On Being Lolita: Why Not Every Day?

On Being Lolita: Why Not Every Day?

Whenever someone asks me if I “dress like that” every day, I wish I could say, “♥★♥★♥YES!♥★♥★♥” (Even better if a shower of sparkles could emanate from me in a halo~)

Unfortunately, that’s not the case, no matter how many stars I implore. I used to tell myself that it’s because I can’t afford to wear lolita fashion on a daily basis–I can’t afford to buy enough garments to outfit me for more than a few days, and I can’t afford the time and cost launder them properly. I would tell myself that I’d worry too much about ruining my nicest clothes–I can’t wear it every day for practicality. I used to say that I didn’t have time to get dressed up on a daily basis–I can’t wear lolita fashion every day because it would take too long. I’d insist that wearing lolita constantly would be tiring–I can’t put forth the effort. I’d think of all these excuses and convince myself that there was something about me that meant prevented me from doing what I wanted to do.

Sometimes, you have to make a choice–do I wear what I want or do I wear what is accepted/appropriate/expected? As much as it would be fun to always wear what I want, I make many clothing decisions based on the wants of other people. My job doesn’t have a strict dress code, but all the same I can’t wear a formal lolita coordination in my style. My clients and coworkers have expectations about what is to be worn at work–and even if I could explain to them what the fashion is and what it means to me, it would add another layer of connotations and impressions of me. I want those who interact with me to remember me for my work ethic and disposition–not for being “the weird girl.”

Similarly, I don’t wear lolita to class. I’m studying at business school, hoping to enter a field that is very conservative and traditional. I certainly wouldn’t be hired if I wore lolita fashion to a job interview, and because of this I don’t wear lolita fashion to class on a regular basis. Sometimes I just can’t help myself–especially if I’m taking a class that is an elective as opposed to required for my specialization–but usually I try to dress like my classmates. My professors and any special guests that might come to the class are all potential business contacts; I want their impressions of me to be free of biases due to my clothing habits.

Some people would consider my actions to be cowardly, conformist, or weak–and for the most part, I agree. After all, it takes quite a bit of courage to be true to yourself even when outside forces are against you. However, it is hard to make and act upon a decision to restrain or unfurl yourself, regardless of the final choice. If I wore lolita fashion constantly, I know that it would close doors to different choices in my life. I make a choice to limit my self-expression to avoid limiting my opportunities, but I’d much rather have both than one or the other; I want to be a constantly complete “me.”

However, I can’t guarantee that I will want to wear lolita fashion forever. I won’t make decisions based only on that aspect if I have to endure the future consequences after things have changed. With this constantly in mind, it’s a bit confusing to maintain a balance in my life of enjoying the things I want to do and working at the things I have to do. (If only they were one and the same!)

I greatly admire those who wear lolita fashion (or any alternative fashion!) on a daily basis. Putting your frilliest foot forward isn’t simple. Some people will fawn over your expression; others will chide or exclude you. It takes a lot of courage to overcome hurdles and withstand biases that would be otherwise nonexistent if only you’d change your clothes!

Sometimes I consider revising my goals, so that I could wear lolita fashion every day. If I aimed for a different career, applied for a new job, and transferred to another school, it would remove some of the restrictions on my clothing choices. Would that really be the right thing to do? Not for me. If I must compromise, it will be on my clothing, not my future–that is how my priorities are arranged. Despite this decision, I still worry that at some point that wearing lolita fashion will have a negative impact on my career… but not enough to stop wearing it.

Almost everything in life is best when there is a balance. This is how mine is working out, at least for now. I can’t even imagine what will happen ten years from now!

On Being Lolita: Navigating Public Transportation

On Being Lolita: Navigating Public Transportation

Depending on where you live, you may find yourself at some point stepping onto a bus in rocking-horse shoes. Although many lolita may find themselves distant from any metropolis, commiserating with Momoko in Shimotsuma, cities and other urban areas are common sites of meetups or other events. Driving may be convenient, as you are able to choose your own arrival and departure and will have a shorter commute than a vehicle that must make intermediate stops, but it can also be inconvenient. Some areas have little to no parking available, terrible road congestion, or various high fees related to motor vehicles, such as metered parking, paid parking, or tolls. Riding public transportation isn’t usually difficult, but there are some extra precautions when dolled up in one’s lolita finery.

Avoid Dirt and Grime
Public transportation systems, whether rail or bus, are typically less than impeccably clean. Generally the cleanliness of the stations and vehicles is related to the area and route–I find that terminals in high-traffic areas such as downtown are often cleaner than those in outlying regions of the city, as are the buses or trains that service them. In a train station or at a bus terminal, grime can be everywhere. Buses and trains contribute to the pollutants, and people traffic mud, slush, or dust as they pass through. Sometimes graffiti is also an issue.

Due to the poofing power of the essential petticoat(s), corridors and turnstiles require a certain level of awareness. I use my arms to push my petticoat close to my legs, to avoid brushing my skirt against the walls of the station or surface of the turnstile. The walls are often very dingy, sometimes washed even less frequently than the floor. Pressing your petticoat close when passing through the metal arms of the turnstiles can also prevent you from getting caught on something and possibly snagging or tearing delicate clothing or trims.

Additionally, watch your step! Puddles are common, as are spills of beverages, food items, and even art supplies. Besides dirtying your shoes, the scattered remains of a half-finished smoothie could cause you to slip, possibly causing injury and/or damage.

When you board a train or bus, be aware of your surroundings. Watch for the open window (a blessing if you are feeling too warm, but a danger if it is allowing brackish water to drip inside), leaking fixture, filth-smeared seat, or freshly-graffitied panel. Never sit down without looking–and if you are extra-cautious, touch the seat with your fingertips to be sure it is dry. I’ve luckily avoided mishaps when wearing lolita, but I have taken a seat on my way to work onto to discover that the snow melted off the previous rider’s jacket into a very cold damp spot at the edge of the seat; it’s quite unpleasant.

Prevent Theft
Buses or trains are prime locations for theft. An expert pickpocket can squeeze past you in a crowded bus and exit at the next stop before you’ve even noticed your wallet is gone. While iPods and other music players are convenient and can make a boring commute less taxing, they are distracting. Even when you’re not wearing lolita, it’s safest to keep the volume at a level that doesn’t block everything else out. Games, either on a portable system or cellphone, can serve the same purpose. Wearing such an eye-catching style such as lolita fashion attracts attention, and it might be the criminal kind. It’s always a bad idea to just assume you are safe.

If you must carry a large purse, as most lolita do, never let it out of your focus. Don’t just see it, or know you have it with you–confirm that you feel it securely in your hands. Cross-body straps make it harder for someone to snatch a bag from your hands or off your shoulder, but lolita handbags are not made of materials resistant to cutting; don’t rely on a handle or strap to be the ultimate in protection. If possible, keep essential items, such as your ID or bus pass, in a secure place on your person. And close your purse, to keep someone else’s hands out!

When you are in a station or riding public transportation, try to stay near facility employees. Sit near the bus driver or train conductor, or wait near the station agent. This can be just a little bit of extra determent, especially because with such conspicuous clothing the employees are bound to be paying at least some attention to you.

Generally, lolita fashion seems to make unsavory people want to keep their distance, but it never hurts to be cautious.

Respect Other Riders
When you are getting on a bus or passing through a turnstile, have your fare ready. If you’re traveling in a group, you don’t want to be left behind because you had to fumble through your Usakumya backpack to find your fare card. Even if you are alone, it’s frustrating to anyone behind you if someone is blocking the entrance because they weren’t ready to pay when they stepped up.

Lolita clothing is voluminous; try not to invade other passengers’ personal space. Hold your skirts close to your body and carry bags in front of you to avoid bumping into someone else–no-one wants to be accosted by Sugary Carnival or to be knocked in the shoulder by a plush Milky-chan fawn, even if she is utterly adorable. Unless the route has a low volume of riders and the bus or train is empty, try to sit down. Standing up will avoid wrinkles or worrying about the cleanliness of the seats, but it is very difficult for other riders to get past you when they get on and off. Additionally, it takes a little bit of practice to be able to keep your balance when the vehicle is in motion or stopping/starting–you eliminate the risk of tripping onto someone else if you sit down.

When seated, try to only take up one seat. If there’s plenty of space, there’s no harm in carefully arranging your petticoats and skirts to flow as elegantly as possible across the plastic seating, but if everyone is packed in like sardines, don’t assume that no-one would dare sit on your clothes if they’re invading nearby seats. I typically take hold of each side of my skirt and fold them over my lap, setting my bag ontop of that if I am carrying one. That leaves the seat next to me free for someone else.

And, if possible, sit next to another lolita. It’s less nerve-wracking to be next to someone who is probably more aware of the value and sentimental attachment to your clothing than a random stranger. Another lolita is less likely to smear dirt/dust on you accidentally, grumble about your attire, or start off on a commute-long tangent about how you remind her of the Tooth Fairy and don’t you know it isn’t Halloween yet?

Take a Deep Breath
Although you may be doing your part to respect other riders, sometimes other riders (or even bus operators) will disrespect you. People may snicker while you wait at the bus stop, snap photos with their cellphones while you ride the train, make comments among themselves about your attire, or attempt to start up conversations with you for a variety of reasons. In these instances, it’s best to stay calm. I recommend being polite and ignoring non-direct offenders, but the proper reaction is entirely dependent on the situation.

Don’t be afraid to ask “stealth-photographers” to stop, but don’t expect they will just because you asked. Smile and nod when an old man rambles on about how you look so pretty and what a shame that the good ol’ days are gone, but don’t put up with someone’s unwanted advances if they make you uncomfortable. Ask them to stop, turn your attention to something else, or move somewhere else if possible. If you feel threatened, don’t hesitate to contact the nearest transit employee–it is their job to handle issues like this, and if they ignore you make note of their name/number and file a formal complaint!

Usually I find that there are only twitters from teenage girls, which are better ignored than acknowledged, and ramblings from homeless or “troubled” individuals, which can be uncomfortable to weather through but generally are harmless. It’s inevitable that people’s attention will be captivated if you look like a pastel cupcake or a vampire princess.

Watch Your Step
Lolita footwear is not very practical. Take care when stepping on and off the bus so that you don’t loose your footing and slip. (This is especially important when it is rainy or cold outside, as there may be water or ice!) Gorgeous shoes can complete a coordination, but if you have a difficult time manuvering in said shoes, consider wearing a more practical pair, carrying the pretty ones, and swapping them at your destination.

Also, don’t rely solely on shoes that are painful to walk in. Public transportation eliminates some of the walking, but often not all of it. Make sure that you can keep up with the others you are meeting up with; unfortunately, if your shoes are really hurting you it is extremely unlikely that someone else will carry you! Be responsible, and bear it as best you can or (the much better option) wear more comfortable shoes.

Magical Transformation
If any of this seems daunting, it isn’t at all uncommon for lolita to wear one outfit for traveling and change into their coordination when they reach their destination. If you’re too worried about your clothing or too nervous about attracting attention, tuck your outfit into a backpack or duffel bag and bring it with you. It usually isn’t too difficult to find a bathroom in which to change–the station nearest your destination, a coffee shop, etc. It isn’t worth stressing yourself out over!

If you don’t want to pack your entire outfit, sometimes just packing your petticoats is enough. Petticoats provide the volume that is the most common problem when using mass transit; a flatter skirt is easier to deal with or more comfortable for some lolita. If you have a very large purse and a very durable petticoat, you may be able to squish it inside for the duration of your ride, and change back into it at a later time.

Overall, public transportation isn’t something to be feared or avoided, but a little extra thought can go a long way! I’ve relied on my city’s rail and bus system, which isn’t the best but certainly gets the job done, for several years with very little in the ways of mishaps. I don’t have any horrific stories of clothing ruined, valuables taken, or injury sustained–but I try to take some part in that rather than relying entirely on chance! Once you’ve ridden public transportation a few times with a full lolita coordinate, it becomes second nature to be alert for dirt, check your footing, and keep your poof controlled.

Since I don’t have to worry about finding a parking space or feeding the meter, I can enjoy my time at the meetup with my friends even more! ♥

On Being Lolita: Usakumya’s Evil Clutches

On Being Lolita: Usakumya’s Evil Clutches

Before I started wearing lolita, I really disliked plush purses and bags. I loved stuffed animals, especially as a small child, but I was absolutely horrified at the thought of unzipping something cute and reaching my hand inside. It seemed like invasive, unwanted surgery! (These kinds of thoughts came from the fact that my childhood stuffed bear constantly developed holes, and needed to have his stuffing removed, replaced, and be sewn. Traumatizing!)

However, I have completely fallen in love with the BABY, the Stars Shine Bright usakumya (“bunny bear”) bags. Any of them! All of them!

When I first saw one in print, I was unimpressed, thinking, “it’s a $200 stuffed animal with red eyes.” When I saw one in person, I still wasn’t impressed. The more I met other people’s bunny bears, the more my mood changed. They’re cute. They’re soft. They’re SO BIG. (At least the first ones~) I loved to hold and pet other people’s bunny bears, daydreaming about a tea party attended by only me and a plethora of usakumya~ Yet I didn’t buy one. My common excuse for not getting one was, “I won’t treat it like a nice accessory–I’ll cuddle it, get it dirty, and wonder why I spent $200!”

My excuse has lasted, but not for too long. My little sister bought one when she was in Japan, and the more I play with hers the more I really wish I had one. (Even moreso because it would be twintastic!) Then another friend started collecting the “mini-mini” versions–the ones that can’t even fit a tube of lip balm–and I cannot stop staring at them with dazzled eyes. I accidentally took one home with me, and returned it promptly–but already I couldn’t stop that “uwaaaa~” kind of feeling inside that comes from super-super-super cute irresistible things.

Still the Same

Now I want a white one to match hers, since we already having matching bunny pochettes, Mallow and Liquorice~ Of course, they’re sold out on the website, but I am wishing-wishing-wishing for them to be re-released. They’ve been re-released several times, always selling out, so I can only hope that the company will make a sound business decision. My back-up plan has involved fluttering around my mother and stepfather, trying to persuade them that they would absolutely love to purchase one for me if there are any at the BtSSB Paris store. It’s not a very good plan, though… maybe in a few weeks I’ll get serious and start looking for one second-hand!

Somehow the bunny bear just seems so much cuter to me than some of the other stuffed animal bags. I’m not very fond of the Angelic Pretty purses, even though they have such cute designs, because they rarely seem to be of a higher quality. Every usakumya that I’ve touched has been soft, with a subtle nubbed texture. The lace trimmings on the hood are lovely, and the straps and hardware are better than the average backpack. A friend’s Milky-chan purse, on the other hand, looked and felt very much like the kind of plush animal purse sold at toy stores–although the fawn herself was adorable!

Ah, usakumya~ Someday we will be together! ♥