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Lifestyle Lessons: Victorian Slang

Hello, readers,

Here’s a point about the lolita lifestyle that I’ve always seen as controversial. If you want to live a lolita lifestyle, do you have to “speak like a lady?” There are lots of other ways to word this sort of idea. Sometimes I just see people saying that lolitas shouldn’t swear or talk about “crude things” like sex or alcohol (even outside of meets), and sometimes I see people suggesting that everyone speak with a contrived lady-of-the-manor vocabulary.

Personally, I don’t think either approach makes practical sense. (Especially the first one. Don’t ever feel like your lifestyle is restricting your life.) However, I am a big proponent of finding and incorporating old-fashioned things into my own life. Specifically, I am interested in Victorian England.

Without further ado, I present you with the fabulous book! It is a dictionary of Victorian slang and colloquial phrases.

(You can try and read this book while on my blog, but I recommend you just go to the book on Archive.org. It will be a lot easier to read. Curse you, limited embedding functionality!)

There is a pretty, modern reprint that’s known as Ware’s Victorian Dictionary of Slang and Phrase, but its original title was Passing English of the Victorian Era: A Dictionary of Hererodox English, Slang, and Phrase. You could buy a physical copy of this book if you wanted to (I’m sure it would look fantastic on any bookshelf), but you can read the whole thing online for free thanks to Archive.org. There is also a less expensive, less pretty paperback reprint just called The Victorian Dictionary of Slang & Phrase.

From what I’ve casually read about the author, it seems that James Redding Ware was a journalist that tried to record all the lovely slang he remembered being in use during the 19th century before it disappeared forever. I, for one, am very grateful for his efforts. This book was first published in 1909, so it’s probably safe to assume that most of this slang was in use during the mid- to late-Victorian era. Potentially, some of these words and phrases were already obsolete by the time this dictionary was published.

I like going through this book and seeing if there are any expressions that I’d like to take up again. There is a lot of combing that you have to do to find really good ones (I think “basket of oranges” is very funny), but it’s also possible to find some slang terms that we still use today. Some notable ones located in the B section are “bad egg,” “to back down,” “to badger,” and “bark up the wrong tree.” A lot of those were originally American phrases, and they are still in use here. Also, If you look up “Tom,” it’s easy to see how we got tomboy. How cool is that!

Anyway, I just wanted to write up this quick little post to share something amazing with all of you. I hope you go through it and find something wonderful.

Stay bricky,

Raven

Let’s Read the English Gothic & Lolita Bibles: Volume 4

Hello, readers,

I hope you’re excited for this month’s “let’s read.”

Today, we’re reading the fourth volume of the Gothic & Lolita Bible. I couldn’t really identify a theme this time. Volume 1 is princesses, Volume 2 is flowers, Volume 3 is Halloween, and Volume 5 is weddings. What is this one? The only thing I could find in multiple places in this mook is “renaissance du gothic lolita.” And that is what exactly? My best guess as to what it actually means is the beginnings of new school lolita. It’s the Winter 2008 publication, so I guess the dates make sense if that’s the theme they were going for. There’s just so much oldschool style in this mook that I don’t really think their theme worked out, if new school is even what they were going for.

The first few pages are taken up by rules for a contest, and the letters from the editor and from readers.

Pages 10-11: Oh Maiden, Advance with a Sword and a Rose. This piece is written by Arika Takarano of ALI PROJECT, who also modeled for the two photographs included with this feature. Reading this makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. It is the quintessential spirit of oldschool lolita. I really wish I could reprint the whole thing here, but instead have some excerpts (The text was so tiny that I didn’t think there was a point to including a scan in this post.):

  • “I wonder what made you become Lolita? Is it because you wanted to  wear cute clothes? Because you like lace and frills? Because you wanted to be like someone? Or was it because you wanted to become cute so you’d be popular with the guys? / No, no, that’s impossible, isn’t it? After all, Lolita isn’t something with which you worry about what guys think! I bet your answer is something like this, ‘Before I knew it, I was a Lolita maiden.'”
  • “This is what I think: Gothic and Lolita clothes are a maiden’s armor, which even a knight’s armor cannot compare to. A maiden’s lace is her steel. Her ribbons are chains. Her dress hat is her hemet, and she surreptitiously changes the blood that flows from her wounds into true red rose petals. Thus, the maiden fights. After all, to live is to fight, and to become beautiful is to become stronger.”
  • “Say, I can see wings on your back elegant wings, with the luster of velvet. Please keep flying freely, without fear. Even if someone should hurt you, you will end up landing in the right place. I know this well, because once upon a time, I was like you, too.”

Reading this feature makes me feel dreamy again.

Pages 12-18: The patterns.

Most of these patterns are knitting/crochet patterns for accessories. There’s nothing wrong with that, and I think a winter edition is perfect for knitting patterns, but I just wish there was some other sewing pattern of substance besides the skirt and fur muff/capelet.

Pages 19-21: An interview with the fashionable Arika Takarano of ALI PROJECT. It’s cool that the interview with her shows up so close to her other feature, but I honestly skipped reading it because I’ve never listened to ALI PROJECT.

Pages 22-37: Brand advertisements for Baby, the Stars Shine Bright, Alice and the Pirates, Angelic Pretty, Atelier Boz, Black Peace Now, h.NAOTO, Innocent World, metamorphose temps de fille, and PUTUMAYO. Two of the Innocent World pages served as a combination advertisement and contest/prizes announcement. The beginning Baby ad pages also served as “princess instructions.”

Five Provisions for Princesses:

  1. She shall have a pure and sublime heart, always.
  2. She shall have a kind heart with which to treat everyone with kindness.
  3. She shall extol beautiful smiles, always.
  4. She shall be mindful of beautiful words and behaviors.
  5. She shall be mindful of clothes to fit the time, place, and occasion.

With the Alice and the Pirates ads comes a description of Princess in the Dark: “A sharp glance, and sometimes an expression of ennui… When the curtain of night falls, the Princess, now free from her followers and alone, gives rest to her smile and begins conversing with her ‘real self.'”

Pages 42-43: Personal faves with Clair Belton. This is a very short, light sort of interview, but I love that they included so many pictures.

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Maybe you recognize her name or art style. Can you guess who she made?

I’m really happy for her that she found success. While her people illustrations aren’t my favorite, her style for non-humans is really cute, and Pusheen is a treasure.

Page 47: Another installment of Needs More Lace! Huzzah!
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This story is super cute. It’s a shame that the dress Ian gets her, which has to be costumey at least, doesn’t look bad at all in the comic. I would actually really love a dress like that (or at least how it’s drawn). Does that mean I have ita taste? Oh noooo!

Pages 50-59: These pages are devoted to step-by-step instructions on how to do various hair styles. My hair is curly and does not straighten well, so I have no use for this information. Also, the pictures and instructions are super tiny, so you need to go find an actual nice quality scan of this G&LB if you’re curious about the information.

Pages 60-69: Street snaps! There were some from the UK, but most were from Japan. There were not photos this time around that I found particularly memorable, but I do love looking through them.

Pages 70-80: Event snaps. Most of the pictures were coord shots, so it was basically a continuation of the previous street snaps.

Pages 81-83: Readers’ snaps.

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More continuous pictures of lolitas, but this section has one of my favorite lolita photos of all time. I absolutely adore the gothic lolita on this page. Firstly, I love her coord and how pared-down it is. Secondly, I wish more people did these sorts of conceptual photo shoots more often.

Pages 84-85: Looking Your Best, Tips and Tricks for Tall and Curvy Girls.IMG_064

I love this piece. In addition to being useful, the art is adorable. The red-headed girl in the maroon skirt looks especially pleased with herself. My favorite thing about this feature is that it sticks with the advise of “if it ‘fits,’ but looks wrong, then it doesn’t fit.” As a plus-sized lolita myself, I really can’t stress that point enough. Lolitas now have so many more options when it comes to custom sizing than were available in 2009. It might be a little harder to build a big, full lolita wardrobe if you have plus-sized measurements, but it can be done. More importantly, it can be done well. Trust me, you’ll be happier wearing clothes that fit well, even if it takes some time to get them.

Pages 94-97: Cause for Celebration photo shoot. The models all look like they’re having a good time, but they’re shooting in Party City. Does anyone else find that super distracting? Is it just me?

Page 98: Social Event Etiquette from Jillian Venters.

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When this volume of the G&LB was published, the Gothic Charm School book had not even been published. (I have a review for that book here.) There were parts of that book which felt very outdated when I read it in 2015 that dealt with the internet, and this feature suffers from a lot of the same problems. The lolita communities I know are based very much online, and they organize their face-to-face meet-ups with Facebook. While I would love to send and receive real invitations for meet-ups instead of getting the invite via Facebook, there are honestly very few people from my comm that I would want to have my address. Perhaps I’m weird, and perhaps most people would not mind lots of local strangers having their addresses, but I just don’t think that mail invitations and thank-you notes are something really viable in the current lolita scene. Readers, how do you feel about this? (Please let me know in the comments!)

pages 110-111: Tote bag tutorial.

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I think that this was a nice idea, but they really failed in design execution. The sweet and gothic bags just look tacky, and the classic one looks dingy and faded. (Seriously, though, what is going on with that tragic gothic bag?) However, these are solid instruction for making a reversible tote bag. You could easily use these same steps to end up with a much nicer tote that could match your wardrobe.

Pages 118-119: The Prose Poem of the Elizabethan Collar. This poem is also somehow the Royal Gothic Lolita Theatre of Nonsense. This story is certainly very strange. It honestly reminded me of the Rocky Horror Picture Show with the way more and more elements kept being brought in. Beyond that, the story was just hard to read because of the illustrated purple bubbles made it hard to see the contrast of the text.

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I included a scan partially so you could see the absolutely lovely illustration and partially so you can see the bubble problem. It’s such a pretty touch, but I wish they were more transparent for legibility’s sake. I’m mostly unsure of my feelings towards this story. It’s very weird.

Page 120: G&LB Volume 4 cover-inspired photograph.

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I’m just a sucker for these sorts of things. I love seeing people dressed like illustrations or paintings, and I think this was a really cool cover for this idea. (Thank heavens they didn’t do a shoot based on Volume 3’s cover! Although it’s sure to have looked less horrifying with human proportions…) Even though I don’t like either pink or sweet, I’ve always liked this set. It’s always seemed so silly and fun, but I think it looks quite good in the mix-n-match section at the bottom.

Lastly, here’s the manga. Please click on the last picture in this gallery first and then move towards the left. I tried to keep the original layout as best I could.

How disappointing that the second half of this story is completely monochrome! The previous half was so much more interesting because of all the pink. It would have been very cool if the second half had a different accent color, but to go back to being printed in black and white seems much more the result of a printing budget and not an artistic choice. Such a shame, too. I really like the character design in this part.

And that’s the end of this mook.

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This one is definitely not my favorite of the English G&LBs. They didn’t include any recipes or quizzes, and the patterns were disappointing. I also didn’t like that there wasn’t a real theme. A gifting theme would have been welcome in the winter edition, and probably quite nice/helpful, too. Ah, well.

Check back next month for a “let’s read” of the final volume of the English Gothic & Lolita Bible!

Stay “Looking Your Best,”

Raven

Let’s Read the English Gothic & Lolita Bibles: Volume 3

Hello, readers,

It’s been a while since I posted about getting the full set of the English G&LB, so I apologize that it has taken so long to getting to the “let’s read” posts. If you don’t know what the Gothic & Lolita Bibles are, or if you’re curious as to why I’m not covering volumes 1 and 2, feel free to read my introductory post to this series.

Note: These scans are not the best quality. I did not want to spend hours adjusting and retouching them because that’s not the point of this post. There are sources online where you can find legible scans if you want to read along but don’t have your own copy.

Let me just start out this post by saying that this cover has always creeped me out. When I was first trying to find out about lolita at 15, I got this mook out from the library and was instantly horrified and super embarrassed when I saw its cover because I just thought it was so weird. These were mooks about lolita, right? Then why was the cover so ugly? I’m pretty neutral about this cover now, but it made such an impression on me when I was younger.

Enough about me. Let’s dive into the Halloween themed August 2008 mook! (I won’t be covering every page, just those about which I have something to say.)

I’ll be honest, though, I always skip through all the beginning pages of magazines. This mook starts out with the table of contents, an ad for Angelic Pretty with a list of all their store locations, the staff page, an ad for Japanese “pop fashion” website that’s closed now, letters from the editors, and “Letters from Our Readers.” Despite the fact that this is volume 3, the letters all seem to be in response to volume 1, or even in response the the release of the English language translations in general.

Now we come to the first “real” page, a comic drawn by a Western lolita!

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I really love this comic. Her art style is endearing, she’s in punk lolita, and she’s pining after a spooky Halloween dress (which makes sense, since this is the Halloween edition). Also, it warms my heart to see that this comic is entirely relevant to lolita today, too. Does anyone know if Lilly Higgs did any more lolita comics after the English G&LB shut down?

Pages 10-15: This is one of Mana’s Moi-meme-Moitie photostories, with a page at the end of him talking about various things and a feature of MmM’s Autumn 2007 collection. I am tempted to just call this a regular photoshoot and dismiss the “story” for its lack of continuity, but all the mini stories relate to the setting, which is a “faithful reproduction of a medieval aristocrat’s manor.” Mana seemed to really like this location for the photoshoot. If you like Mana, you’d probably like the “Words from Mana” section. He talks about his impressions from the photoshoot, the various pieces of the MmM collection he wore during the photoshoot, and he gives a general update on the band Moi dix Mois. Also, the super-special feature is “About Parties,” which I found endearing. Out of nowhere, he gives advice: “I think the most essential thing to remember when you attend a party is your modesty and elegance as a lady.” He also talks about a movie he likes, the 1970 Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula, and comments on it.

Page 21: Voltaire Music Video Report. This was a really cool little feature. A dark vaudeville/cabaret musician Voltaire invited goths and lolitas to be extras in his music video for “Happy Birthday (My Olde Friend).” That’s really neat. Here’s the music video, too, so you can see everyone in action and actually hear the song.

Pages 22-25: Party Style! “Together with the members of Megamasso… here we reveal our tips for hosting a fashionable party, including essential rules of etiquette we hope Gothic and Lolita fans find useful!” This etiquette guide is actually quite helpful. The text on the actual guide pages of 24 and 25 is so small that there was no point including a scan here. I wish they would have made the (admittedly cute) pictures of the band smaller and spread the information over all four pages.

Pages 26-39: Brand advertisements from Angelic Pretty, Atelier Boz, Baby, the Stars Shine Bright, Black Peace Now, h.NAOTO, Innocent World, and Putomayo.

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I don’t know about you, but it was surreal for me to see “Radioactive Cupcakes” being advertised. I know this dress is infamous, but I don’t think it looks that bad in the lighter, washed-out colorway. (Then again, a lot of sweet looks the same to me.) The hot pink one looks obnoxious, and the black one looks gross. Hmm… Maybe it actually does look gross even in the ad.

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I don’t know if you can tell in this scan, but the Innocent World ad is terrible quality. The two pictures of the models are wildly different resolutions from the rest of the layout, and they look blurry and pixelated. It’s very obvious in person and such a weird thing.

Pages 40-43: This is an interview with Hirooka Naoto, designer of h.NAOTO. He seemed really guarded during this interview. Maybe it’s because there were no descriptions of his actions while the interview was being held?

Pages 44-47: These are ads for U.S. lolita brands Blasphemina’s Closet, Candy Violet, and Megan Maude. Looking at these clothing ads makes me really sad because none of these labels really does lolita anymore. The last page is a collection of Western brand shoes.

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It’s tempting to say that a lot of these shoe styles are not considered loliable now, but they may not have been put in this group because they were ever loliable at all. This is the Gothic AND Lolita Bible, after all.

Pages 50-53: Hollowed and Haunted. I cannot truly express how beautiful I think this lolita x urban exploration photoshoot is. When I first picked up this mook, this little four-page section took my breath away. This picture may have made me fall in love with lolita fashion, but this photoshoot made me fall in love with the lifestyle.

Pages 56-61: Halloween (and Party) Hair & Makeup


I was not a fan of the Halloween looks or advice. Did anyone else shudder when they saw how bad that blonde wig on Little Red Riding Hood is? I really like the “party” pages, though. I think it’s super interesting to see what the differences are supposed to be between the different styles. (A minor irritation: “gothic lolita” should have gone between “gothic” and “lolita,” not first.) In terms of what I actually think about these looks, “gothic lolita” looks like sweet lolita, “gothic” looks like gothic lolita, and “lolita” looks like classic lolita. Maybe I’ll specifically try out these looks and update this post with a comparison shot later.

Page 63: Twisted Treats for Halloween

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While I’m super excited that this GLB had recipes, I can’t help but be disappointed with the inclusion of decorated cupcakes. I honestly don’t like decorated cupcakes,  but I would like to see more diversity in sweet treats in general. (Radioactive) Cupcakes are everywhere!

Pages 64-69: The Sewing Patterns

Pages 70-71: Novala Takemoto story “bear’s party in the forest.” I never know what to say about his short fiction. I have to believe that something really crucial gets lost in translation if he’s the writer with the most lolita spirit. The ideal of lolita and the text I read from him never evoke or compliment one another. This piece is Alice in Wonderland fanfiction.

Pages 77-83: Street Snaps! I adore seeing oldschool in action.

Pages 87-100: A lot of these pages are filled with event snaps, a lot of them from Western events. That’s cool, but I don’t get any enjoyment from reading these features and the photos are generally more chaotic than the street snaps.

Page 101: Sweets & Treats Quiz

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If you take this quiz, let me know your results in the comments. I got “cupcake,” even when I chose different answers for “I love mixing and matching styles.” I suppose the description of cupcake fits me better than the other two, so at least the quiz is fairly accurate on my end.

Pages 110-117: Readers’ Snaps and Reader Spotlight. I really love these simple outfits. These are much more my style than most modern lolita coords I’ve seen the past couple of years. The middle and right coords of the top row of the page pictured below are my favorites.

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I also really enjoyed the reader spotlight on Angel, but I didn’t want to scan it all. The section ended with a special message from her: “Clothes can be wings or chains. Take pride in the things you love and let them take you to wonderful places.”

Pages 122-128: To close this issue, we have the manga at the end. Please click on the last picture in this gallery first, and then click towards the left. I tried to keep the original reading layout as best as I could.

That’s it. We’ve reached the end of our journey together. I hope you had fun reading with me or reminiscing about this mook. Stay on the lookout for my posts about volumes 4 and 5!

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Stay spooky,

Raven

Lolita Library: Gothic Charm School

Hello, readers,

I don’t know how many of you have read Gothic Charm School before (either the book or the blog), but I’m going to review the book for you all today. I can’t remember where I got the impression, but I feel like this is one of those books lolitas think they can appropriate by mentally replacing “goth” with “lolita.” How true is that? Well, I’ll go into detail below.

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General Book Review:

If you’re looking for an etiquette manual, this book is not it. It calls itself a guidebook, and Gothic Charm School does have some practical, goth-specific advice in it, but that is interspersed between lots of general “common sense, be polite” advice.

Also, I really don’t think that this book was really intended to be read cover to cover. This might be a remnant of its original blog format, but the book is incredibly repetitive. This is actually pretty nice if you just plan on reading just the couple of chapters that you think are pertinent because you’ll get everything the book has to say just in that selection. If you read a majority of the book, or the whole thing, be prepared to be frustrated.

Speaking of being frustrated, I really should comment on the “Lady of the Manners” persona that Venters puts on during this book: it’s excessive. Whether or not its persistence and silliness makes it endearing or aggravating is going to change based on the reader. For my part, I was mostly ambivalent towards it, but leaning towards annoyed. Then again, “The Lady of the Manners” thing may not be a big deal if you only read selected chapters instead of the whole book. For me, the saving grace was that she addresses the whole persona thing at the beginning, which at least makes it explicit that it’s meant to be lighthearted and fun.

The intended audience for this book is a mixed bag, with some passages explicitly targeted at high schoolers (maybe middle schoolers, as well), and some passages about professional job interviews. In general, this seems to be aimed at “young” goths, as in people who are new to the goth subculture. (There’s no advice here for Eldergoths, but there’s a lot of explanations about typical Eldergoth behavior towards newbies.) If anyone picked up this book specifically to learn about goths and what weird phase their devil-child is going through, there’s an entire chapter specifically for that (and it explains that goth might not be a phase and that devil-worship is not part of being goth). In general, though, the depiction of the goth subculture in this book is that of a bunch of silly, happy people spending half their energy on loving what they love and the other half on convincing everyone that “this is serious, guys.” It’s a sympathetic portrayal, which I suppose you could expect since Venters is a goth herself.

My main critiques for the content is that it all comes from Venters’s personal bubble. There’s only so much advice you can give outside of your personal experience, but I wish more of an effort had been made to talk to/about goths and not just similar-to-her goths. In the debate about music or fashion being most essential to gothness, she comes down on the side of fashion, and that’s very obvious throughout. Even in the fashion section, there is no mention of simple band T-shirts as wardrobe basics. Also, though she mentions in her wardrobe building guide that she’s trying to include men, the advise for men is quite watery and insubstantial. (She further insists that women have at least two blazers, which is obviously coming from her own fashion style. It rubbed me the wrong way.) Her advice is mostly meant for suburban and urban (American) goths and gothlings, and there is no special attention given to goths in rural areas or small towns. However, what I find most upsetting is that she really perpetuates the “all goths have very pale skin” stereotype, which is problematic and exclusionary.

Content and structure aside, I really love this book as a material object. The watermark on all the pages is a nice touch, and the illustrations are fantastic. They visually represent a lot of the goth diversity that the text homogenizes, although everyone is still paper white. Here are a few of my favorites:

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Lolita Book Review:

While Gothic Charm School doesn’t talk about lolita fashion, I’ve gone through and figured out which sections work for the replacing “goth” with “lolita” trick. As far as I know, there’s only one edition of this book, so I’ll reference page numbers to hopefully make looking things up easier.

If you’re a lolita in high school, some particular sections that might apply to you are pages 79-86.

Chapter 1: Am I a Goth?

  • Why you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the Internet, including those silly quizzes (25-29)

Chapter 2: I’m Not a Goth, But I Have Some Questions About Them

  • Can I comment on their clothing or makeup and ask if they make their own clothes? (39-46)
    • This is meant to be read by non-goths (or non-lolitas, in our reading), but I think it’s comforting to see that other alternative fashions deal with a lot of the same reactions that lolita provokes (mainly the unwanted touching or picture-taking). In this case, read it, but don’t substitute lolita in.
  • A few words for the Goths reading this chapter (46-48)
    • Go back to filling in “lolita” here, but some of the examples are really goth-specific and might not make the most sense in the reread here.

Chapter 4: Help! I’m a Goth and My Parent/Friend/Significant Other/Coworker Doesn’t Understand Me!

  • How to reassure people you aren’t a Satanist, drug fiend, or psycho killer (75-79)
    • This is another section that you should read for solidarity without trying to apply it to lolita. If this was written for lolitas, it would probably be called “How to reassure people you aren’t a delusional doll/princess trying to have sex with pedophiles.” There are some general strategies in this section for explaining away misconceptions, though.
  • Dealing with roommates (86-91)
    • This is a pretty solid section all around.

Chapter 6: Goths and Romance

  • The whole chapter (115-143)
    • This was probably my favorite chapter. It does a good job of filtering general relationship advice and questions through the particular concerns that someone in a subculture or alternative community might have. It also offers some suggestions for your behavior towards friends’ relationships or relationships you aren’t involved in. There are obviously some things that won’t apply to lolitas in general or to you specifically, but I think that those are few-and-far-between enough to suggest the whole chapter.

Chapter 7: Socializing, Cliques, and Gossip

  • Mostly the whole chapter (145-157, 165-167)
    • The two sections I don’t recommend are about the blurring and overlap between the goth and fetish subcultures, which seemed too specific to speak to general subculture crossovers, and the section about internet behavior, which read as very old and out-of-date. (This book was published in 2009, after all.)
    • There are obviously a lot of lolita-specific things that you can think about while reading this chapter, including /cgl/ and secrets/behind the bows, when Venters talks about gossip in general.
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    • The little illustration of a gothic lolita appears in this chapter, right next to the sections that talk about self-absorption, exclusivity, and snobbishness. Coincidence? Probably, but I found it amusing.

Chapter 8: Fashion – One of the Great Goth Obsessions

  • Dress codes (both spoken and unspoken) (182-185)
    • The section is super short, and it’s basically just meant to convey the idea that sometimes you just can’t dress how you want, and you must get over it. There’s a brief talk about “goth costumes” that I think lolitas can relate to well.
  • What to do when people ask you why you’re dressed like that (186-189)
    • If you replace “goth” with “lolita” here, it’s the same advice that the community has handed down since it began, but sometimes it’s nice to see things written down.

 

 

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Final Verdict

Is it worth it to add to your lolita library? Maybe. Get it if you like a lighthearted take on the goth subculture or if you’re a fan of the blog Gothic Charm School. Otherwise, no, I don’t think it’s worth buying to read about 1/3 of the book. Get it from your local library if you can, like I did.

Stay polite,

Raven

Lifestyle Lessons: The Language of Flowers

Hello, readers,

In honor of the first day of spring, here’s another post about how you can fill your day with lolita-esque things. This time, I’m going to talk about the Victorian language of flowers, or floriography. This version of the secret meanings behind flowers was introduced to Europe in the 18th century from the court of Constantinople of Ottoman Turkey, but the craze really took off in England and America in the 19th century.

I have a reprint of the 1884 version of Kate Greenaway’s The Language of Flowers that functions like a little translation dictionary, with one half the book being organized by flower and the other half being organized by meaning. This last half is particularly fun to play with. Want to know what flower to give to someone to convey remorse? Just flip to the back and find out you should get them some raspberry. My favorite flower meaning belongs to the delightfully snarky Japan rose: beauty is your only attraction. (My housemate and I refer to pretty but pointless/stupid/bad movies as Japan roses.)

While every lolita can learn and use the language of flowers in regular life, lolitas who live in spaces that have a country/rustic or classic lolita vibe probably will be able to use it the most. A big vase of yellow roses or acacia might be wonderful to have (in terms of sentiment) in every home, but they probably wouldn’t go with every decor scheme. (Keep reading to find out what they mean and what they look like.) Back in the days when more people knew the language of flowers, it even came in to play when choosing a perfume, as the scent of a flower still carried the meaning, which I just think is absolutely fascinating.

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Similar to how my book is set up, I’m going to have two sections. The first will be based on flowers I picked because they appear on lolita prints or in lolita accessories. The second section will be a list of meanings particularly suited to lolita matched with the corresponding flowers.

Flowers

Roses

  • Love, generally, but they are very nuanced
  • White rose – I am worthy of you, innocence
  • Burgundy rose – Unconscious beauty
  • Yellow rose – Jealousy, declining love; other sources say friendship (Make up your minds, interpreters of flowers!)
  • Pink rose – Appreciation, admiration
  • Peach rose – Sincerity, gratitude

Violets

  • Blue violets – Faithfulness
  • Yellow violets – Rural happiness
  • Sweet violets – Modesty

Daisies

  • Innocence

Hydrangeas

  • A boaster, heartlessness
  • I also found sources online saying they can also mean heartfelt emotions or gratitude for being understood.

Tulip

  • Fame
  • Red tulip – Declaration of love
  • Variegated tulip – Beautiful eyes
  • Yellow tulip – Hopeless love

*

Sentiments

Fantastic extravagance – Scarlet poppy

You are radiant with charms – Rannunculus

Courage – Black poplar

The perfection of female loveliness – Justicia

Ill-natured beauty – Citron (Chinese/Buddhist symbolism says that this flower stands for luck and happiness.)

Rudeness – Clotbur, Xanthium

Reconciliation – Filbert, Hazel

Betrayed – White catchfly

Disappointment – Carolina Syringa

Misanthropy – Aconite/Wolf’s Bane, Fuller’s Teasel

Wolf’s Bane (Wiki Commons)

Fuller’s Teasel (Wiki Commons)

Horror – Mandrake, dragonswort (My book and other online sources say that snakesfoot also signifies horror, but I absolutely cannot find pictures of the snakesfoot plant or any hint as to what the modern common name might be. If anyone knows this, please tell me!)

Dragonswort, Dracunculus valgaris Jörg Hempel, Creative Commons

Friendship – Acacia, yellow rose (Yellow roses are tricky. See above.)

Yellow rose

Elegance and grace – Yellow jasmine

Modesty – Sweet violets

* * *

I hope you all liked this fun little post. Maybe next time you want to get flowers (or fake flowers) to decorate, you can make the decision in terms of sentiment instead of looks. Maybe if you buy perfume, you’ll pick a floral perfume and be conscious of its meaning. Maybe now you’ll coordinate your garden to have only happy, well-meaning flowers. Maybe you won’t ever do anything with this knowledge, which is fine, too. I just really like learning this sort of thing, and hopefully some of you do, too.

Stay sincere,

Raven