Tag Archive | oldschool

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

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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

A Lolita in Harajuku!

Hello, readers,

A big reason that this blog has been really quiet lately is that I’ve been out of the country a lot. Back in May, I went on a two-week trip to Japan, and I recently got back from two weeks in Colombia. In this post, as you probably figured out from the title, I’ll be talking about some of my experiences in Japan.

I decided to go as a graduation present to myself, and I really had a great time. I was in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka, with little day trips out to Himeji Castle and the Omiya Bonsai Village / Tokyo suburb. One of the things I was most excited about doing was dressing in lolita and wandering around Harajuku on a Sunday. Here’s my full report of that.

Note: Every single brand shop/store I went in had a clearly marked “no photography” sign. I tried to be respectful of that while also ignoring it, so I took pictures of the fronts but I don’t have pictures inside any of the shops.

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Since I’m not really a big shopper (or drinker) in general, there really wasn’t a whole lot for me to do by myself in Tokyo, and that just felt super weird. I stopped by Harajuku a couple of times, and the first time was on Thursday, May 14. If you don’t know anything about Japan, let me just tell you that the address system is super confusing and you’ll be relying on little cartoon “access” maps if you want to go anywhere. I figured that I should find where the lolita shops were ahead of time before I’d have to wander around in heels on Sunday.

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It took a bit of wandering around to find Laforet, but that was just because I left Harajuku Station through the more inconvenient exit. Laforet is this big department store in Harajuku that has a lot of lolita or lolita- related brands inside. It has Alice and the Pirates (which also sells BtSSB), Angelic Pretty, Atelier Pierrot (which also sells items from Enchantic Enchantilly, Juliette et Justine, Mary Magdalene, Moi-meme-Moitie, Triple Fortune, Victorian Maiden, and a ton of other brands), h.NAOTO, Metamorphose, Putomayo, and Swimmer all on the same floor (B1.5). If you poke around the other floors, you can find Algonquins, Vivienne Westwood (Anglomania), and Jane Marple.

B1.5 Floor Map

B1.5 Floor Map

It was very exciting to see so many lolita clothes and accessories being sold in one place. I stopped by Alice and the Pirates and bought a parasol.

 

The shop girl really did not seem very interested in helping me, but I wasn’t wearing lolita and I think she assumed I was just some tourist looking at all the “weird Harajuku clothes.” She spoke English, as it turns out, and she was nice enough as she wrapped up my parasol. She still wasn’t very welcoming, but she did give me the option of choosing between an Alice and the Pirates shopping bag and a Baby the Stars Shine Bright one. I guess that’s something, right?

I’d meant to buy a pagoda-shaped umbrella, but I couldn’t resist this one’s fun handle. I wish I hadn’t bought it on my second day in Japan, though, because it ended up being too long to fit in my suitcase, and I had to lug it around by hanging it on my wrist whenever I needed to change hostels. It counted as my second free carry-on when I had to fly back, so there weren’t any real consequences to me buying a too-large parasol.

The one big exciting thing that did happen was that I saw Misako Aoki on floor B1 of Laforet as I was on my way out of the building. It was definitely her, and she was wearing a skirt with a big strawberry print on it. I didn’t stop and say hello because I assumed she was probably working. Plus, I didn’t want to bother her and ask for a picture since I wasn’t even wearing lolita. Still, it’s nice to have casually seen a lolita celebrity without having to go to some big convention or special meetup.

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On Thursday, Harajuku in general was fairly quiet except on the two main streets of Takeshita (the one with all the fun boutiques and personality) and Omotesando (the one with the bigger stores, like Dolce & Gabana and Jimmy Choo). Even there, it was no more crowded than any other place in Tokyo, and it was easy to avoid getting sucked into the crowds. 

This was definitely not the case on Sunday.

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My coord – I got to wear my favorite dress in Harajuku!

Tokyo in general was really crowded, but Harajuku was completely crammed. I’m glad I did my exploring on Thursday, because I would not have been able to take my time and look around with all the people everywhere. Actually, this was the spot in Tokyo with the highest concentration of foreign tourists. I saw a bunch of tour groups, too. I’m pretty sure everyone went to Harajuku to see all the “weird people” and different J-fashions, but I honestly did not see very many people actually wearing J-fashion. One of the girls who worked my hostel’s front desk said that Harajuku is where hipsters go to hang out, so maybe I just didn’t recognize that some people were wearing alternative fashions?? I did see more lolitas walking around on the streets today than on Thursday, but barely. Harajuku was definitely not the lolita haven/Mecca that I was expecting. I don’t know if lolita isn’t as popular as it used to be, or if I always had a mistaken idea about how many lolitas actually hang out in Harajuku from the street snaps in the Gothic and Lolita Bible and other fashion magazines.

Regardless of how many other lolitas there were, I’m glad that I wore lolita on Sunday. It was super hot on the 17th, and I was wearing mostly black, but I was determined to wear lolita in Japan. I mean, I already went through the effort of thinking of a “travel friendly” coord and bringing it with me, so a little thing like weather wasn’t going to stop me. It was humid, though, and my bangs were completely puffy within minutes of me straightening them. Ah, well.

Despite all the lolita shops in Laforet, my first stop was actually to go to MAM Maxicam. Honestly, I was really hoping that I’d be able to buy a dress during this lolita shopping adventure, and I figured I had the best chance of finding something that would fit me here. They’re located right outside Harajuku Station in this building called Le Ponte, and the brand even had a little flag/banner outside the building. The actual shop was right on the first floor when I walked in. It was a little bit bigger than the lolita stores in Laforet, but not by much, especially since they needed to fit the brand’s three lines in one little space. The shop girl didn’t seem interested or very welcoming, ans she was doing something on a tablet the whole time I was looking around. I didn’t end up buying anything from MAM Maxicam, though. None of the dresses were really my style, so it didn’t matter if they would fit or not.

I took a brief break to get something to eat before heading off to do more shopping. I had no idea, but Harajuku is full of crepe shops and vendors. They’re literally everywhere, and I could not find any other street/quick food to eat. So, anyway, I grabbed a “hot chocolate cheesecake” crepe from this little stand that claimed to be the oldest crepe place in Harajuku. They were right next to the Bodyline store (which was gigantic and ostentatious).

After eating, I went to Closet Child, and it was very cool. I wasn’t at all interested in the bottom floor, which I don’t even know if Closet Child owns or if it’s another store entirely. The second floor was the main “lolita,” floor, although it was mostly sweet lolita. I saw lots of Angelic Pretty, Mary Magdalene, Victorian Maiden, and a few other big brands. I don’t think I saw Baby the Stars Shine Bright, though. There were a fair number of people shopping at Closet Child, but only one other customer was actually wearing lolita. Besides the staff, everyone was just wearing regular “jeans and a T-shirt” street clothes. The second floor was packed with things, but it was all just too sweet and pink for me.

The third floor of Closet Child was the “gothic lolita” floor. I liked this floor a lot. They were playing music from overhead speakers, unlike the other two floors I explored, that I would have called metal but was probably VK since it was in Japanese. Half the floorspace was devoted to punky/gothy clothes like pants and strategically ripped T-shirt cutsews. The other half of the floor was more gothic than lolita. They had some MmM, and this was the first time I got to touch one of that brand’s dresses. I honestly couldn’t really tell if the materials were nice enough to justify the brand’s pricing because I was a little in brand-awe, as embarrassing as that sounds. I was actually able to find a couple of Black Peace Now skirts that I liked and that also fit me, but they weren’t long enough for me to wear them with lolita, so I gave them a pass.

The fourth floor was also labeled “lolita,” but it was mainly filled with Emily Temple Cute, and it was a lot more expensive than the downstairs lolita floor. The decor going into this floor/room made me think it was going to be more classically-inclined, but it was mainly otome. I did see a couple of dresses and skirts from Innocent World and Angelic Pretty on this floor, but they were definitely more otome-like than lolita. I was amused that Closet Child, besides having “no photography” signs everywhere, also had a sign saying that note-taking inside the store was prohibited. I guess they don’t want people writing down what they have in stock and/or the prices, which makes sense but still amuses me.

After Closet Child, I headed over to Laforet and finally saw other lolitas. Laforet wasn’t super crowded, but there were basically only lolitas walking around the B1.5 floor. I stopped by Alice and the Pirates again, but the two store attendants were ringing up other customers. Since I didn’t see anything new that I wanted, my visit was pretty brief. I was a little disappointed that they didn’t really have anything in stock that was geared towards gothic lolita, despite it being an Alice and the Pirates store. (I would have understood if it had been a BtSSB store.)

The next shop, however, was Atelier Pierrot. There were two shop attendants; the girl was very nice but hardly spoke any English, and the guy didn’t talk at all. It was really exciting to go through all the items in this particular boutique since they sell a lot of brands and I don’t like navigating their website. I saw a beautiful white MmM dress and a bunch of Enchantlic Enchantilly dresses. I would probably have been able to find one of their dresses in my size, but I didn’t like the materials they used. It was so nice to be able to see all these clothes in person first instead of trying to piece together a complete idea from pictures online. When I went over to the sock area, the female assistant came over to help me. Between her little English and my little Japanese (and many, many gestures), we managed to have a little conversation about the items. I got the last pair of blue and black checkered Chantilly OTK socks and swooned over some beautiful bonnets that would never have survived the trip home in my suitcase. I was hoping to be able to find one of Atelier Pierrot’s magnificent shirred corset dresses, but I didn’t see any.

Angelic Pretty has the corner spot after Atelier Pierrot, and I did stop in briefly to look around. The shop staff smiled and seemed welcoming, but they stayed behind the counter. I didn’t see any of AP’s occasional gothic wonders in stock, so I left pretty quickly.

The next stop was Putomayo. I’ve always adored this punky little brand, but most of their stuff is just too short for me, and I’ve never really considered buying anything from them. There was a girl behind the counter wearing lolita, and another girl on “floor duty” wearing ouji. She was super cheerful and friendly, and I managed to ask her some questions about another pair of socks in my broken Japanese. I ended up buying another pair of OTKs from Putomayo, and they even gave me a tourist map of Tokyo at the register.

I walked by Meta, and it looked like there was some event going on. There were lolitas lined up to talk to someone that I vaguely recognized, and I decided to keep walking to the next shop. The store area is very small, and I didn’t want to take up any space if I wasn’t interested in meeting the guest. Plus, the stock was mostly sweet. One thing I did notice about Meta’s store is that they have the drawings of their new releases actually paired with big swatches of the print/fabric in all the colorways so you can touch it and better visualize the finished product. I honestly wish that Meta would release more things that I liked, because I really like some of the little details about them like that.

I briefly walked through h.NAOTO again (I spent some time in the boutique on Thursday) and pined over their accessories. All of them were incredibly cool, but they’re all very expensive and I didn’t want to spend any of my money on them since I know that I just don’t accessorize well. All the shop attendants were just as kind and welcoming to me in lolita as they were when I wasn’t in J-fashion.

On my way out of this floor of Laforet, I passed by Maison de Julietta, the “lolita makeover” salon. Honestly, I thought that they were some indie brand I’d never heard of. I didn’t embarrass myself by going in to check out their “stock” though, thankfully, because it was all sweet or sweet/classic and I wasn’t interested.

By this point, though, I was getting pretty tired. The day was really hot and humid, and I was tired of being on my feet. I was looking for a place to maybe eat and rest for a bit before heading back to my hostel room to unwind when I suddenly found the Innocent World store location. I honestly hadn’t expected to just casually find it. I thought the location was a bit undignified, as it was on the seventh floor of a building above a very busy (and loud) kebab place on a non-J-fashion street. Once I got up there, though, it was everything I dreamed a lolita boutique should be. (The elevator let out right outside the shop door, so I wasn’t able to get any pictures inside.) Innocent World had the whole seventh floor to themselves. While it wasn’t much bigger than one of the Closet Child floors, they were able to spread out their stock and display everything so delicately. They were playing nice, soft, classical music over the sound system, and I can’t think of a single word to describe it except “lovely.” Even the decor was lovely. I didn’t buy anything here, either, but it was a good way to end the day. While I’m sure being in Laforet is good for those brands’ businesses, I can’t help but wish that they all had more control over their physical stores.

From here, I went back to my hostel. I now have a profound appreciation for Japanese lolitas. It was very hard to not feel super rude while wearing lolita on a crowded train. I was gawked at a lot by foreigners on Sunday, but I had about the same number of confused stares from the Japanese people as when I wasn’t in lolita. I did notice, though, that most people went out of their way to not sit next to me on the train, even though there was hardly standing space.

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I had a couple of different reactions to me wearing lolita throughout the day. The two girls at the hostel’s front desk were both really excited that I was wearing lolita, and they were both really happy when they found out that I was on my way to Harajuku for the day. The one girl said that lolita looked good on me, and she got my picture posing with a prop paper parasol they had. The other girl told me she was glad I was enjoying their culture. None of the other lolitas I saw in Harajuku acknowledged me, but I did get a couple of smiles and nods from a few cosplayers. Someone actually called me “kawaii,” and I felt absolutely precious. Still, when I was leaving Harajuku, a Japanese tour guide got super excited and pointed me out to her group (who I guess were Spanish-speaking), saying “se visten como ‘maido.'” (They dress like maids.) I was wearing black and white, so I guess I can’t really have expected anything else.

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To end this, I’d just like to list off some random lolita-related observations about Japan.

  •  Not all young Japanese women are thin. Yes, most of them are, but there were one or two girls at every decent-sized station or big tourist spot that would have been considered fat, even by American standards.
  • I saw one brolita while I was out shopping on Sunday. He was wearing Meta, and his dress fit just fine, even though he was fairly tall and broad-backed. There are definitely options out there for people who are tall or have broad torsos to own and fit into brand.
  • Not all lolita coords I saw were good. I even saw two coords that would have seemed really ita if the girls had not had perfect hair and makeup that made it all look intentional, if costumey.
  • The gothic lolita coords I saw were really gothic, much more so than I’m used to seeing from the international community. Think h.NAOTO, not Alice and the Pirates.
  • I saw hardly any classic lolitas. The majority of coords I saw were sweet or a kind of sweet/country look, and then gothic lolita was the next biggest group. It was really cool to see so many gothic coords since I just feel that the international community hardly has any gothic lolitas, but maybe that’s just my experience.
  • I did not see a single Japanese lolita wearing Bodyline (although I do admit that I wouldn’t have recognized Bodyline shoes). The two Bodyline store locations I saw were actually a lot easier to find than the brand stores (Osaka!), and it was only foreign tourists that I saw either going in or out of the shops. I was actually fairly impressed by both their storefronts, but there was no point to me going inside (since I can already just buy Bodyline from home and get free/cheap shipping) so I don’t know what the stores are really like.

Stay international,

Raven

How I Got Into Lolita

Hello, readers,

Today is my birthday, and I thought today would be a good day to do a little blog post about my lolita beginnings. I’m 22 as of today, and I was 19 when I wore my first coord, but I’ve been in love with lolita fashion since I was 15. I already did a post on the picture that first made me fall in love with lolita, but this is where I’ll share my full story.

Basically, I got into lolita through trying to find out stuff about goth. I had loved the goth aesthetic for ages by the time I was 14, but only certain things. I was trying to figure out why I really loved some things that were labeled “goth” and really hated others, so I turned to the almighty internet to answer my questions. (This was before I realized that marketing people could label things whatever in order to drive up sales, you understand.) I searched and searched for answers the summer I turned 15, but I didn’t know how to search for what I wanted. Instead of finding goth substyles (I think my life would be very different if I’d found any information about Romantigoth), I found styles that were somehow related to goth, like punk and gothic lolita.

Now, gothic lolita spoke to me in a way that nothing before ever had. Here, I thought, was a way to reconcile all the conflicting ideas I had about the aesthetic that I kept trying to love, but could never quite manage to really do wholeheartedly, and a confused sense of femininity. It may seem a bit crass to talk about, but it’s important to say that I’ve had very large breasts since I was very young. They are/were always well out of the standard deviation that regular clothing was meant to fit. As a result, from the age of 12 or so, I was left with two options by mainstream clothing: I could look frumpy and lost in ill-fitting clothing that I thought was hideous anyway, or I could dress in a very sexual/sexualized way. I was very uncomfortable looking sexual at that age, and I’d already been dealing with older boys — and older men, even — looking at me and talking to me like I was some sex object that they could conquer (even though I wore baggy clothes and have a really young-looking face!). This was way before I had ever come across anything that would even suggest that this behavior was not okay — even if I had been as old/sexually mature as they apparently thought I was — and so I just felt very sad and isolated. None of my friends dealt with this, and they were all able to physically fit and look nice in clothing that reflected their growing senses of style and identity.

I wanted to look cute and feminine (not sexual), but it felt like mainstream clothing had no options for me. I can’t even imagine how hard that struggle is for young girls now, because I’m always very concerned when I see how sexualized most clothing seems to be that’s marketed at little girls.

(A brief note here: there is absolutely nothing wrong with being or looking sexual, if it’s what you want. There is everything wrong with being or looking sexual when it isn’t your choice and is forced or projected upon you by other people.)

When I found gothic lolita and oldschool lolita (at the time, I lumped the two together under gothic lolita, which I thought was the only style of lolita), I was overwhelmed. The girls wearing this fashion looked both absolutely beautiful while also looking completely and totally weird. They looked like they were dressing for themselves, and I got the idea from all the pictures I saw that these girls felt beautiful in these clothes. They had hardly any skin showing. They were all in dresses or skirts and covered in so many markers of femininity. (A lot of them had big curly hair, too, which was an entirely separate personal issue for me.) These girls’ aesthetic was exactly what I had been searching for: something that was delicate and feminine, and also dark with gothic tones.

I tried to go all in, but my clothing didn’t change really. I obsessed over pictures of lolitas I found online, I consistently checked out and re-checked out the first four Gothic & Lolita Bibles from my library. I tried to figure out the sewing patterns in the back of the mooks to be able to make my own lolita clothing. I took tons of internet quizzes about what type of lolita I was (always gothic). I continued to mostly wear regular, boring clothes that didn’t fit right until I finished high school.

In high school, I made a failure of a mini bat hat, a terribad headdress, and one sad, floppy skirt that I wore once. I did not consider myself a lolita. My love of lolita did influence me through those years of high school and college. I actively tried to find dresses I liked that would fit me, which was a bit more successful than trying to find pants/shirts. I fell madly in love with black and white lolita coordinates, and I tried very hard to get as many blackxwhite options into my wardrobe. One year, I made a lolita-inspired Queen of Hearts costume for Halloween and the premier of the Tim Burton Alice movie.

The first year of college passed by like those later years of high school with no change to my clothing. I got a tumblr blog, and I discovered all these amazing lolitas that shared their pictures on tumblr instead of on egl. I fell in love all over again with lolita, although I was horrified at what had happened to sweet lolita since the original G&L Bible publication dates. At the start of sophomore year, I decided that I wanted that to change. I felt like it was time for me to start becoming my own adult and to start looking the way I wanted to look. Also, I no longer lived with my parents, so it wasn’t like it would matter if they disapproved of my clothing choices anymore. After watching several tutorials, spending a lot of money at Jo-ann’s, and getting my own personal sewing machine, I made my first skirt.

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It wasn’t gothic or oldschool, but I loved the fabric. I scraped by with just enough fabric to finish the skirt, but it was a mess on the inside. I had attempted to line it because I felt that all “real” lolita skirts were lined, and that was a badly executed failure. I only managed to do the ruffle because something was off with the tension of my machine and it kept sewing unevenly. Lucky me! I didn’t use interfacing for the waistband because I thought I didn’t need it. (I was wrong.) I knew that it was a happy accident that I was able to make a skirt at all, but I was so proud of this thing. I still am, even though I’ve come a lot farther in my sewing ability.

Even though I was limited to thrift stores for the other components of a coord, I don’t really think I had an ita phase, which I suppose is the benefit of having to wait a long time before you can dress in a certain style. All those years of pining prepare you a little bit for when you finally dive in. I definitely had plain coords — and one very bad outfit that isn’t even lolita, but I labeled it that anyway — but I think that they were nice anyway. I made an outfit tumblr to serve as a diary/archive of my progress with the fashion.

Confession time: I used the underskirt (made from an old, white sheet) from my Queen of Hearts costume as a petticoat for ages. It didn’t really work. I tried to make a “proper” petticoat out of crinoline, but that was a disaster and a waste of money.

At some point, I went to my first meet, but I showed up late and didn’t really get to know any of the girls. That put a damper on my drive for lolita, but then I discovered Fanplusfriend. (I’d known about Bodyline, but I didn’t like how any of their items looked in their stock photos.) I hosted a group order — and that was all manner of stress — and I was finally able to get a skirt that actually fit the aesthetic I loved.

Fanplusfriend

This skirt. This was the one. It fit me wonderfully well, it was beautiful, and it has its own poof so that it actually looked fluffy if I was wearing my “petticoat” under it. Wearing this skirt, I finally felt like I thought I would when wearing lolita. It sounds cheesy, but it was like a magical girl transformation for me. This is the skirt that solidified my love for lolita and really started me on my journey.

Since purchasing this skirt, I’ve made more lolita clothes by hand, continued to haunt thrift stores without expecting any success, purchased Bodyline, purchased secondhand brand, participated in a Taobao group order (where I got my first real petticoat from Classical Puppets), and also bought a JSK directly from BABY. More importantly than just buying a whole lot of stuff, I’ve become better at coordination. I’m also much better at sewing, which makes me happy because the emphasis early lolitas especially had on making their own clothes was a big draw for me into the fashion. I also have solidified my style more so that I don’t make mistake impulse purchases. I’ve established a budget that enables me to indulge in my lolita frivolity without it ever taking money away from something “important.” I’ve gone to a few more meets and have gotten to know some of the girls in my local community.

I know that I can still improve (and I feel confident that I will continue improving) but I’m very happy with how my lolita journey has turned out so far.

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What I find ironic about all this is that I had a good, dear friend back in middle school who adored Mana and Malice Mizer, and she showed me pictures of him all the time and would make me mixed CDs with their music and other Japanese anime/videogame music. It never clicked that he was wearing something I wanted to wear. Then again, I still don’t like the Moite look most of the time, so I guess it was never meant to be.

I hope you enjoyed reading about how I got into lolita. Do you remember how you were introduced to the fashion? When did you start trying to dress in lolita? Please share your stories in the comments!

Stay inspired,

Raven

Lolita Blog Carnival: Favorite Lolita Hairstyles

Hello, readers,

This will be a quick little post in response to this week’s LBC prompt. This week, the bloggers of the Lolita Blog Carnival are talking about our favorite lolita hairstyles. I normally have a difficult time choosing my favorite anything, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that. So, using examples from Gothic & Lolita Bible scans, I’m going to give my favorite hair style for the three styles I wear: gothic, classic, and oldschool.

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Favorite Gothic Lolita Hairstyle

I love the look of pin-straight hair, particularly if it has hime cut bangs. Maybe my love for this hair is heavily influenced by western goth ideals, and maybe it’s all just hair envy because I have curly hair. Regardless, I think that long, straight hair just looks great with gothic lolita. I think that this hair style is more suited towards monochromatic gothic looks, though. Something about the elaborate, busy nature of things like the Alice and the Pirates print Merry Making in the Ghost Town needs bigger hair with curls or waves to balance it out.

Favorite Classic Lolita Hairstyle

For whatever reason, I really like hair to be up in classic lolita. Maybe it’s the more visible historical inspiration of classic lolita, or maybe it’s just the prominence of high collars, but I think that an updo can benefit a lot of good classic lolita coords. My favorite hairstyle for classic lolita is wearing your hair in two simple braids. I think looped braids are especially charming.

Favorite Oldschool Lolita Hairstyle

I love the ringlet look that used to be popular way back in the day. It’s definitely the most “perfectly polished and yet super creepy” doll-like hairstyle I’ve ever seen. I like this hairstyle worn down, but the ringlets do look cool in little pony tails, too.

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I suppose it is only fitting to end a post about hair styles with a picture of my own hairstyle.

I normally use my natural hair in lolita, and I don’t really do much to it other than straighten my bangs. Looking at my favorite hairstyles, my hair is sort of a fusion between gothic and oldschool. Considering that that’s how I’d like my wardrobe to be, I’d say that’s pretty fitting.

Stay stylish,

Raven

Don’t forget to look at all the other lolita bloggers’ favorite hairstyles!

Divine CrossA Heart’s Sound ⚜ Poppy Noir

Marionette CemeteryNew Vogue Children ⚜ Courtly Dreams for Burgher

The Bloody Tea Party ⚜ Art du noir