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. ♥