Tag Archive | Victorian

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

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A Special Nursery Rhyme

Hello, readers,

I love English nursery rhymes, particularly because I didn’t really grow up with them. (My parents read Aesop’s Fables to me as a child.) I heard of some nursery rhymes from my friends in elementary school, and I’ve noticed their presence in the world around me more as I’ve grown older. My love for nursery rhymes and fairy tales sometimes leads me to spend hours reading them, mostly online.

By chance, I recently found a nursery rhyme that really resonated with me.

Curly Locks (Nursery Songs and Rhymes of England (1895) – Winifred Smith)

Curly locks, curly locks,

Will you be mine?

You shall not wash dishes,

Nor feed the swine,

But sit on a cushion,

And sew a fine seam,

And feed upon strawberries,

Sugar,

And cream.

How many of you had heard this one before?

It’s just silly how closely this rhyme matches up with my life. Curly hair, an extreme aversion to doing dishes, a love of sewing, a fondness for fruit, sweets, and dairy products… If you replace “feeding swine” with “manual outdoor labor” and expand “sit on a cushion” to include general soft furnishings, then this rhyme is a perfect match. (My boyfriend suggested changing swine to feline, but I don’t think it’s as funny with the change because I have no qualms about feeding our cat.)

I would love to be able to incorporate this rhyme into my life in a more meaningful way than just knowing that it exists. The obvious solution, to me, is to use it as the inspiration for a coord. That’s easier said than done. If I liked to wear sweet or country, then I could easily use something like this Meta JSK as the base for an outfit.

As it stands, any Curly Locks-inspired coord that I would feel comfortable wearing would probably use more subtle elements like this:

Maybe some socks with a strawberry print/pattern would also work with the theme without making me feel like I was wearing something inauthentic to myself. Ideally, I would have some sort of handmade element in the coord, too, for the “sew a fine seam” part…

People in my life have always joked that I was the princess from The Princess and the Pea, but I think Curly Locks fits much better. Have you ever found a rhyme or fairy tale that you felt reflected your life in a special way? If so, please share it in the comments.

Stay fine,

Raven

If you like nursery rhymes and you want to look through more illustrations of this style, check out the source book on archive.org.

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

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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

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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

Lifestyle Lessons: Sports and Physical Activities

Hello, readers,

In no way is this post meant to ever imply that “real lolitas” do not play basketball, rugby, or whatever other sport, or that you are in some way less of a lolita if you do roller derby, rock climbing, or whatever other sport. This is just a fun post where I talk about sports or physical activities that are lolita-appropriate, i.e., those that can easily be done in lolita (specialty shoes notwithstanding).

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Sometimes, you want to dress up in lolita and have a day full of adventures. However, I’ve found that I think of lolita as limiting. The sorts of things I want to do while I happen to be wearing lolita are not necessarily the sorts of things I would want to do if I were not wearing lolita (like painting, for example). I’ve also found that my concern for my clothes and does nothing to discourage my sedentary lifestyle.

So, for those of you who would like something (anything!) to do when you’re all frilled up, here are some physical activities that you can do while wearing lolita. Some of these would also be fun activities for meet ups.

Outdoor Sports

These, being meant to be done outdoors, are all heavily dependent on the weather, and they’re probably best done in summer and early fall (if you live around the 40th parallel or a temperate zone).

Croquet

If croquet is too impractical for you, mini-golf or putt putt is another option. Still, for those of you that can get a croquet set, this is the most picturesque lolita sport to do. (Alice in Wonderland, anyone?) It can get very competitive, but you don’t need to break a sweat while playing. If you have a yard, you can set a game up there, but if you don’t have a yard, or if you’re trying to play croquet as part of a meet, try going to a local park and setting up your match there. The rules are fairly simple, and you can find out how to play online. Croquet would also be a great game to add some variety to a picnic or to a lazy day of lounging. If the ground is dry and firm, you should be able to wear whatever shoes you’d like, too.

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Kite Flying

This is something I’ve always seen as being super Romantic and nostalgic, and it has the added “lifestyle lolita” benefit of being crafty. You could always buy your own kite or borrow someone else’s, but kites are very easy to make. There are all sorts of templates and instructions on the internet to help you make your own, and then the benefit is that you can customize them. If your local community has a kite-flying meet up, part of the meet could be everyone crafting their own kite before setting out to fly them. That way, all the kites could be decorated to match everyone’s coordinates! Of course, you could always match your kite to your coord as a solo lolita as well. Regardless, you’re probably going to have to find a park or a large city square in order to fly your kite, though, as most yards are too close to trees, power lines, or other buildings and are thus not conducive to kite flying. Since you only need to run a little bit to get the kite going and most leisurely kite flying is spent standing around with your kite in the air, you can feel pretty confident in wearing whatever shoes you’re comfortable standing in.

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Badminton

Now, I personally am not really a fan of this game, but other people seem to have fun playing this, and it’s certainly something you could easily play while in lolita. I’ve seen people set up games in their backyard with just a clothesline set up instead of a full net, so that’s always an option if you want to set up your own game. I think that this one would be another great thing to play at a meet, with lolitas on both sides of the net. Because of how much jumping and landing is involved, I would think twice before wearing most lolita shoes while playing, but flat shoes like tea parties or low-heeled boots should be fine. Don’t put yourself at risk for twisting an ankle! Keep in mind that every time you jump up to hit the birdie, your petticoat and skirt will inflate and puff out on the way down, so make sure you wear some bloomers if you’re planning on playing badminton!

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Indoor/Outdoor

I had a hard time trying to figure out what to call this category, so I settled on “Indoor/Outdoor” because these are activities that can be done inside, even if they need special facilities.

Ice Skating

Unlike all the summer sports elsewhere on this list, ice skating is meant for winter. The most picturesque way to ice skate is to do it outdoors, but outdoor rinks are pretty rare (at least in my experience) and skating over frozen ponds is often very dangerous (also, that ice tends to be really bumpy). I’m lucky, and I currently live in a city that has a seasonal outdoor rink downtown in which they set up a massive Christmas tree, but going to an indoor ice skating is also a lot of fun. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to skating rinks, in which case I’m sorry. Still, for those of you who can ice skate, I think it’s a great way to spend a day. If you’ve never gone ice skating, though, here are a few warnings: even indoor rinks are really cold, and you will probably end up bruised by the end of everything. I always get bruises from the skates around my shins and calves, but you’ll probably bruise if you fall, too. A side effect of the cold means that you probably won’t feel these until the next morning. Unless you’ve been ice skating before and are confident in your abilities, I also wouldn’t wear your very best and most expensive dress. It isn’t like people skating by will skate over your dress and cut it to shreds, but you will most likely fall at some point, especially if you’re new at skating, and I wouldn’t want my best dress subjected to that. Have I made ice skating sound dangerous and terrible? I really hope not, because it is so much fun and it’s very easy to do in lolita. The extra layers of lolita even help keep you warmer than just a pair of jeans would. It doesn’t matter what shoes you wear since you will replace them with ice skates.

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Giant Outdoor Chess… or just Chess

Okay, so this is a bit of an oddball. Chess is a sport, but it’s not very active and I’m clearly stretching here. Still, I love chess and I wish I were better at it. Plus, playing giant outdoor chess is a nice alternative outdoor thing you can still do even if you’re tired or not feeling your best. If you or a friend/family member like bigger DIY projects, then you could totally make your own set of pieces (even standing floor signs with pictures of the pieces painted on would work) and use extra floor tiles to make your own board on your lawn (or at a park). Otherwise, there are some outdoor sets that you might be able to find. A local outdoor shopping center near me has one, so you might be surprised where they could be. Of course, my favorite variation of giant outdoor chess is where you you have people playing as some of the pieces. Imagine how perfect it would be if you had enough people at a meet playing this where you could have lolitas in shiro and the lighter color ways of sweet and classic playing on the white side and have lolitas in kuro, gothic, and the darker color ways of classic and sweet on the black side.

One variation of this suggestion is to just go to a park with chess tables and play a regular-sized game outdoors. This is probably a lot easier to manage than the giant version. Also, probably the easiest variation to actually do is to just play regular-sized chess indoors, but that seems almost dull by comparison.

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Bowling

I think bowling is a lot of fun to do, even if you’re very bad at it. (I should know, I was on the bowling team at my high school and I was terrible.) The rental shoes are always hideous, but other than that, bowling is pretty lolita-friendly. For one, there’s a lot of sitting time so you don’t need to be physically fit to play for a long time. Secondly, there isn’t a lot of movement when you do actually bowl, so wearing lolita won’t get in the way. If you’re planning to go bowling in lolita with some non-lolita friends, or if your comm is having a bowling meet, I wouldn’t have fake nails, gloves or rings on. You can take off rings and gloves, yes, but I’ve seen too many people break their fake nails off while bowling. You should also be careful if you have very long nails, but most people should be fine. If you’re worried about alley grease, which does sometimes get on the balls, just bring an old kitchen towel and wipe off your ball before bringing it close to your clothes. (Bowling balls just need a quick wipe, so you shouldn’t have to worry about seeming too fussy in front of non-lolita friends.) Make sure you wear bloomers, though! Your legs and butt are liable to get into some weird positions while bowling, and there will definitely be panty-flashes if you don’t have bloomers.

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Dancing

This is a fairly specific category, but these dances have the advantage that they are designed to be performed while wearing a dress or costume. Obviously, lolita doesn’t fit the general aesthetic of the tango and lolita is not a ballet stage costume, but these dance styles can still be done for fun in lolita without the clothes getting in the way.

Ballet

You’ll need special shoes! You’ll also need a fair amount of physical strength and flexibility, but you can’t just instantly acquire those. While the other dance forms I talk about have basic steps that can be learned in a few minutes and you can start dancing almost immediately, ballet takes a lot of dedication. If you are not already a ballerina, then you probably don’t have serious aspirations to be a professional ballet dancer and you can approach ballet with a more relaxed outlook. Still, ballet is absolutely gorgeous, and it does not require a partner the way the dances below do. If you’re looking to learn a new skill and want to take lessons, consider taking ballet. Alternatively, if you’re looking for motivation to (continue to) go to the gym and work on strength, learning ballet might be a great way to give your training a more concrete focus.

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Ballroom

While you don’t need special shoes precisely, trying to do anything involving footwork and balance in Rocking Horse Shoes is probably a bad idea for both you and your partner. Some lolita-appropriate shoes will work just fine, but others are too intense. Just use common sense, and you should be fine. Modern ballroom dances include tango, waltz, foxtrot, swing, Latin dances, and polka. I’m in a ballroom dance class this semester, and I can tell you that the basic steps to all these dances are fairly easy to pick up. Of course, I’m learning American style ballroom dance, so I can’t say how easy it is to pick up international style. Ballroom dance requires you to have a partner, someone to lead and someone to follow, so this probably rules out most comms from having ballroom dance meets. Assuming you have a partner who is also willing to learn these dances, ballroom dance is a super fun thing to do while wearing lolita.

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Period/Historical

Just like with ballroom dance, just exercise common sense in regards to shoes. Also, I don’t really think that you’ll need to worry about period-specific shoes if you are in a full lolita coord. This might be a bit harder than the other dance styles to learn because not a lot of people still dance things like the cotillion and the minuet, but there are resources on the internet that you can use to learn. These sorts of dances were done by women wearing clothing that was much more impractical than lolita, so wearing lolita shouldn’t pose a problem for you if you would like to do the sorts of historical dances you would see in a movie adaptation of Jane Austen.

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What do you think of my list? Do any of you like to do some phsyical actictity while in lolita? Are there some pastimes I missed that you think should be on this list? Let me know in the comments below!

Stay sensible,

Raven