Monday, 14 March 2011

The non-lolita lolita

This is not a lolita fashion blog. It might be strange to say, given that I’m discussing brands and prints and wear lolita skirts on a regular basis, but I don’t consider my style to be lolita – at least not lolita in its purest form and which follows all the rules. Lolita-influenced? Definitely. Lolita-derived? Sure. But if you saw me on the street, you’d probably be more likely to say “Hey, isn’t that an Emily Temple Cute skirt?” than “Hey, a loli!” (If you’re a purist about the fashion, you might also be tempted to ask what the fuck I’m doing with my brand coordinates, so be warned now: anyone who thinks lolita should be worn as lolita and nothing else is probably not in the right place.)

Up until about a year ago, I was wholeheartedly into lolita fashion. I had a veritable rainbow of pastel shoes, headbands with bows on and sweet print dresses. I started in lolita in late 2006, when old-school sweet was still predominate, and the most coveted pieces were things like BtSSB fairytale embroidery, platform wood heels and pretty, delicate vintage-style jewellery. My approach to lolita was ‘Victorian girl’s Sunday best’, meaning florals, pretty lace and pintucks (this skirt is probably a good example). I threw myself into the fashion, sewing for myself and others and eventually starting to moderate both the main livejournal communities.

But as I got older, apart from meet-ups or weekend outings with friends, I wasn’t wearing my frills super-often. I’d sometimes wear a casual outfit involving a print skirt and a pretty cardigan to work or to school, but even that often felt too sweet and little-girly. I’m 24, have just finished a law degree, and work as a public servant for the government; while I don’t think there’s an age limit for lolita if you’re still comfortable wearing it, I was bored and awkward with all the pastels and flat shoes. Add to that my irritation with Angelic Pretty print overload and new-school OTT-sweet, and I felt like I was done with lolita. Pastel wigs? Unicorns? Plastic sweets jewellery, glitter and 80s-themed accessories covering every square inch? AP clones clad head-to-toe in the coordinate exactly as released by the brand, from the hairbow to the bag to the jewellery to the socks to the colour-matched tea party shoes and two-inch stick-on nails bedazzled with gemstones, sweets and whipped cream? It was pretty, sure, but where the fuck had my pretty, girlish Sunday best gone?

Then I started selling off my stuff, because OH MY GOD I had found and fallen in love with Kate Sylvester, a New Zealand designer who does really lovely things. And while I felt a pang over selling things like Wonder Party (tea cups! And gold detailing! And a really lovely halter-neck cut!) I was happy enough to when I could use the money for buying other beautiful things. But when it came to selling simple print skirts, a voice piped up: I could wear this. I could wear a lovely silk blouse, a skirt and high heels, and it would be a perfect, pretty outfit to wear to work without feeling like I was dressing too sweet or too young.

Six months later, and this is still how I’m developing my style. Often, what I’ll wear sounds like it should be a lolita outfit. Today, for example, I’m wearing a black top with a print of roses and bunnies, black floral-lace-and-roses print skirt with a soft, fluffy petticoat, a bow belt, a gold acorn charm necklace and shoes with bows on. On the other hand, the skirt is a circle skirt whose hem reaches just below my knee, my shoes are cream and black peep-toe high heels, and my top is an oversized, draped Kate Sylvester t-shirt dress. And I have bare legs, with not a knee-sock in sight. The HORROR. There’s probably enough to discuss about the focus in lolita on clothing being “modest” and therefore better than “mainstream style” for a post all of its own, but suffice it to say that a) bare legs, with a knee-length skirt, are certainly not slapper-worthy, and b) anyone talking about modesty should look at how short AP dresses are getting. A bunch of those are practically mid-thigh. Just saying.

My post-lolita look is a mish-mash of 50s and 60s patterning (circle skirts, they are fantastic and fun to wear, and so are wiggle dresses), lolita prints and details, preppy styling and awesome high heels. I’m probably wearing my remaining brand items more than I ever did when I followed lolita fashion ‘properly’, and four days out of five I’ll have a petticoat on. Lolita definitely taught me a lot about coordination skills, although I find myself battling the matchy-matchy syndrome a bit. I very regularly follow the guidelines of lolita: a bell-shaped skirt or frock (in fact I wear a fifties-style petti which is more A-line than a sweet-lolita cupcake), a pretty blouse with some collar detailing and perhaps a few ruffles or lace, a cardigan, some sweet accessories (but sweet as in a vintage floral brooch pin, not a whipped-cream waffle on a brooch backing) and maybe even a bow clipped into my hair. It’s lolita without being lolita, and it is awesome.

1 comment:

  1. I totally feel you. I've been into lolita for 3 years and am now a mod of the main & sales comm. I have prints sitting in my closet that I can't bear to sell but at the same time, I don't wear enough to justify keeping. I've been going more towards simple skirts and cardigans / blouses to wear to work.

    I am definitely adding your blog to my reader. Please keep posting!