Lolita is probably the best known Japanese street fashion and is particularly popular with girls (and a few boys who are known as Brolitas) worldwide. As a result there are a lot of dedicated blogs and websites out there packed full of information. Therefore I will cover some basic things and point you in the right direction for where to find out more. I’m actually going to start by explaining what Lolita isn’t first before trying to explain what it is. Lolita is not a Cosplay, costume, fancy dress, maid outfit or a fetish it is simply a fashion. It also has nothing at all to do with the book & film with the same name.
Lolita fashion originated in Japan (I think in the 80’s) and the main influences behind it were the Victorian period and the French Rococo era. I did read somewhere about where the name Lolita apparently came from but typically I can’t find it. Lolita is not about looking sexy or being provocative, it is actually a very modest fashion and is more about being youthful, feminine, cute and elegant. The main and most common Lolita styles are Gothic Lolita, Sweet Lolita and Classic Lolita. I won’t go in to all the other styles as this is just supposed to be a starting point and trying to cover everything will cause this post to be massive. Also Lolita is an expensive fashion, brand dresses usually cost between £100 – £300 (even second hand you can still pay around £100).
Unlike a lot of fashion styles Lolita has a lot of rules that generally should be followed. I know to some people this may seem a bit crazy, limited and maybe even narrow-minded but if you don’t follow the basic rules then what would characterise an outfit as Lolita? A quick google or ebay search brings up loads of items that are not at all related to true Lolita fashion hence the tendency for Lolita’s to want to keep definitions clear. Also due to the negative connotations that are usually associated with the word Lolita’s are obviously keen to try and separate themselves from that. Some very basic rules to follow are to wear a petticoat as the silhouette is very important, skirts & dresses should be full enough that you can fit a petticoat easily underneath without it distorting the shape of the skirt. Skirts and dresses should be knee length (or as close to that as you can get) and a blouse should be worn under a JSK (jumper skirt, dress without sleeves). There are occasionally exceptions to the rules but again it will get very complicated to go into that now. Some other key tips are to avoid anything that has loads of lace on it, that uses very cheap & nasty lace and that is made from really thin not very good quality fabric. Please also get and wear some bloomers, it’s not very lady like to be flashing people – the petticoat makes the skirt stand out quite a bit so in windy conditions & when going up/downstairs etc it would be easy to have some accidental flashing so bloomers will help keep your modesty intact.
There are a whole load of guides, tutorials, do’s & don’ts listed here:
Lolita Handbook: http://lolita-handbook.livejournal.com/
I think that’s the best place to look when wanting to get started in the fashion. Also I would take time to look at proper Lolita pictures versus anime Lolita characters, maid outfits, Lolita cosplays etc as you will start to spot the difference. I will do a how to get the look/where to shop post too which will also cover places that really should be avoided – I don’t want anyone to get ripped off.
The mook (magazine book) Gothic & Lolita Bible will also be really helpful when looking for fashion inspiration. You can find them 2nd hand on ebay and in facebook sale pages and you can sometimes buy them at Japanese conventions too though they can be very expensive. Also Lolita fashion has changed A LOT over time so if starting out try to buy newer ones as older style Lolita is hardly worn any more. You can usually buy them for around £15
The key thing is to avoid being called an Ita Lolita which is very easy as long as you read up on the fashion and learn what not to do. Here’s a quick explanation about it here:
I hope this information is helpful, please don’t be put off or scared to try Lolita fashion if you want to. The UK Lolita community is lovely.