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: Dry Cleaning

On Being Lolita: Dry Cleaning

Dry Cleaned Blouses
Originally uploaded by sweetmilktea

I don’t trust myself to wash some of my more detailed and more expensive pieces of clothing. Certain lolita garments are hand-washable, but I worry about colors bleeding or stains getting set in. Considering that I tend to climb just about anything that might have foot-holds, love dessert–no matter how messy, and can sometimes fall asleep in awkward places, my lolita clothing does not stay neat and pristine forever. To avoid unduly damage, I take my things to the dry cleaners.

However, it’s very important to find a reputable dry cleaner! Not all places use the same cleaning methods, chemicals, or level of care. Having an expensive, beloved jumperskirt meet its demise at the hands of someone who was supposed to clean it is very upsetting.

Right now I rely on Briar Cleaners or K M Cleaners. (K M Cleaners houses the dry-cleaning plant; both locations are owned by the same person.) They’ve been cleaning a fellow lolita’s clothing for years, and take exquisite care of every garment that passes through their hands. I’ve seen them remove old, set-in stains, and I’ve never lost a button, ribbon, or detachable piece. Not to mention that they press everything very well, so I don’t have to re-do it myself once at home. They even do alterations~

The price is higher than some of the other cleaners, but I don’t trust my lolita clothing to anyone else’s hands. They even cleaned my BABY, the Stars Shine Bright bunny pochette~ I kept trying to clean Mallow myself without much in the way of results. When I brought that purse in, they said they’d have to take him over and call me back. That call came only a few hours later, and they confirmed that they could clean him. He hasn’t looked this good since I unwrapped him from the original shipping box!

If you’re going to test out a new dry cleaner, make sure that the first lolita garment isn’t something too detailed. Avoid something with fake pearls, paste jewels, or any other dangling pieces that aren’t removable, as they can be melted or eaten away at due to chemicals or heat. Be upfront with the clerks at the dry cleaner, and ask if they think they can clean it. If your response is frowning and a stress that there is no guarantee, you should consider taking your clothing elsewhere. You may want to take a few detailed pictures of the item as proof of what it looked like before it was taken in for cleaning, just in case anything happens.

Once the item is returned to you, inspect it for any burns, tears, stains, or bleeding before you even leave the shop. If you have a complaint, you want to make it as soon as possible. Then, check to see how well it was cleaned, if there is any residue that you dislike the feel or smell of, and how the lace was ironed. If you’re generally satisfied, the next step is to have them clean something more detailed. Lolita clothing is usually much more expensive to dry clean than non-lolita clothing, so you definitely want to get your money’s worth!

Also, talk to other lolita in your area! Ask where they like to have their things cleaned–maybe there’s an experienced cleaner that you didn’t even know of.