On Being Lolita: “She Left Lolita”

On Being Lolita: “She Left Lolita”

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

Especially when it means saying goodbye to others.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daily Life: Mmm, Ice Cream

Daily Life: Mmm, Ice Cream

An Original Rainbow Cone
Originally uploaded by sweetmilktea

Today was an enjoyable and interesting day for two reasons: firstly, I saw my little sister ♥, and secondly, I started gradually introducing my workplace to lolita fashion.

My job does not have a dress code, and everything and everyone there is very casual and laid-back. There are some coworkers of mine who wear alternative fashions to work, and no-one gives it much notice. I have really wanted to wear some of my lolita wardrobe to work, but I worried about distracting my coworkers–a full sweet lolita coordinate can be very overwhelming–and I don’t even wear things too “over the top.” Gradually introducing aspects of the fashion seemed like a better choice to me, for a smooth transition to wearing anything I wanted.

I decided to start with a skirt. Lolita skirts are unique, but very easy to coordinate for a toned-down outfit. My goal is to present elements of the fashion to make it so that no-one even blinks twice when I finally come in with a headdress and parasol. I know from experience that hair accessories and knee socks really catch people’s attention, so those were not to be my first endeavor.

I wore my Bodyline-replica of Angelic Pretty’s “fruits parlor,” print, with a yellow-and-white striped mid-sleeve tee-shirt, flat brown shoes, and pigtails. My objective was casual and non-lolita, but with evident lolita fashion influence. (Of course, this would be the day they took my ID photo!! XD I look hilarious on it!)

Surprisingly, one of my coworkers identified my clothing! He started with a casual comment asking where I had gotten my skirt; my response was that it was from a Japanese retailer. Upon hearing that, he went, “Aha! You can’t buy stuff like that around here! That’s that… what’s the name… lolita fashion!” It was quite a shock that he would be spot-on~ (There were no negative connotations or suggestions of fetishes.)

After work, I met my little sister for some tea and coffee at a local shop. I always ♥adore♥ spending time with her! She brightens up my day no matter what~ We talked about lolita, mainly the local community. She expressed an interest in starting a few weekly regularly-scheduled meetups, which I would certainly enjoy, and we discussed the possibility of some kind of casual affair where even the non-fashion-wearing-but-interested would feel welcome to mingle among avid community members. Personally, I love our local community and am always coming up with ridiculous ideas to get us together more often and bring in more interested people~ With the opening of the BABY, the Stars Shine Bright store in San Francisco, I see more and more lolita-potentials coming out of the woodwork; I want everyone to feel welcome and get to know one another!!

I’m going to see her again tomorrow–after another weekend shift at work–we’re sure to scheme up more ideas! Maybe some of them we’ll have a chance to use!

On Being Lolita: Joining a Community

On Being Lolita: Joining a Community

Because Chicago is a major city, our “lolita population” constantly ebbs and flows. The sheer volume of people living in the city or various suburbs means there are bound to be several people interested in something you like, even if it is very obscure. This is particularly true for lolita fashion–numerous lolita live in the city, and even more can be found out in the outlying suburbs. There are constantly people moving in and out of the city, coming to and fro for university, and of course there are always new girls (and inevitably some guys) discovering the fashion.

I firmly believe that the very best part of lolita fashion is the communities that form around it. I particularly adore my local community, as most of the members are really great people that I feel very lucky to know. ♥

When one starts getting into lolita fashion, it can be very confusing to sort things out and get a true grasp of what the fashion is and is not. Even following the “rules” cannot guarantee a successful understanding of the style. It takes time and experience to really get a feel for it. Spending time with other lolita is a great way to evolve and grow from a fledgling lolita-admirer to a ♥lolita♥. The best way to do this is participation in the local community–interacting with other, more knowledgable lolita.

However, not every community is the most welcoming. Some lolita have forgotten what it was like to be brand-new to the fashion, enthusiastic about everything and ignorant of sublties of the style. They might have rude comments about the outfit a newcomer was so excited about. However, weathering any initial unpleasantries can reveal willing help–especially if one is eager to learn.

It is very important for a lolita-hopeful to learn how to accept criticism. Most lolita are extremely opinionated, and some will add their 2¢ even if it wasn’t requested. Learn to ignore the rude, unhelpful comments from those who just want to be insulting, but pay close attention to the people who offer constructive criticism–criticism that doesn’t just point out what is wrong, but provides suggestions to make it right. Don’t assume to be an expert on the fashion at first try; be willing to listen to what veteran enthusiasts have to say.

Some people don’t have patience or tact, so they are best avoided if one is brand new. However, there will inevitably be kinder individuals who wouldn’t mind helping out someone unwise in the ways of lolita fashion. Additionally, some people are much crueler online than they are face-to-face; the same person who might be spiteful on an internet community might prove to be a wealth of knowledge that they share with a smile if one is meeting her in person. Attending a local meetup is a great way to talk to experienced lolita, ask them questions, and learn more about such an intriguing style.

It can be intimidating to go to a first meetup–an event where everyone else seems to know each other except you. Being friendly, willing to join conversations, and participating in whatever is going on at the meetup will open doors.

Besides, you just might run into a silly person like me, who loves talking to lolita-to-be~ (Especially since the others are bored with my nonsense by now!)