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.)