Here is the second part of my anniversary special. This section focuses more on purchase lessons and advice for beginners, hopefully by sharing this I can help new lolitas from making similar mistakes.
Purchase Lessons and Advice
A Lace Monster:
My very first lolita purchase was from one of the Japanese fashion units in Camden town, London. It was by the brand ‘Angel Pretty’ who were obviously trying to slightly rip off the name Angelic Pretty and at the time I had no idea just how un-lolita it really was. Looking at it with all the knowledge I have now it’s obvious how un-lolita it really was. The lace was quite scratchy, the fabric was thin and made noises when you moved it – sort of crunchy, not good quality, the bows were just hideous, the finish was simple and quite rough on seams etc. It was your standard black and white monster complete with satin ribbon and long floppy ribbon bows. Awful! My first attempted co-ord with that dress was very bad too. I didn’t add a blouse or any sort of shrug/bolero, I wore with chunky lace up school shoes, un-styled hair and I don’t think I put anything on my head at all. Luckily I didn’t actually ever wear it out like that, I was just excited and wanted to put together a co-ord at home. As I had nowhere to really wear it the dress just sat in my wardrobe until I eventually managed to sell it on ebay.
TIPS: When looking for a dress you want the fabric to feel like its nice quality and preferably to be cotton. It should seem well made and everything should be finished off properly. Lace should be soft and not like the sort you would use on curtains. As for first co-ords, you will make mistakes, hopefully none as big as those that I did, I hadn’t done all my research – bad Cassy! An important part is not to try and rush things, you can’t put together a full outfit without all the parts so time, practise and patience are very important.
My very first Bodyline purchases were second hand items from a bring and buy lolita stall at Hyper Japan. The quality was so much nicer than my first dress from Camden plus the skirt had a cute poodle print on it. Since then I have ordered a load of stuff from their online website. Unfortunately the first few items I bought didn’t fit, which is very disheartening, especially as you wait for it to arrive and are so excited. I learnt lots of valuable things though like I needed things to be longer, I needed to buy things that would easily fit my measurements, most of their size M would not work on me even if it fitted (to do with my height and build), under bust dresses do not work on me, the elastic in their skirts is nearly always too tight so I often need to adjust it. Some people can be negative about Bodyline but I think for the price you pay the items are lovely. Bear in mind too that most of their items are around the £20 – £50 price mark as supposed to the £180+ for brand.
TIPS: Measure yourself properly and write down the measurements in cm and inches, it makes buying online much easier. Don’t buy things that are right on your maximum size, always get things that are a good few cms bigger. If items have shirring and ribbon ties you can make it tighter if needed. Don’t buy their Cosplay items for lolita, they are unsuitable and the quality isn’t there. Also don’t buy from the separates section as the same applies. Pick items carefully, some of their designs are not flattering, attractive or really that lolita. Check out reviews of items/talk to other lolitas about the items you want before buying. Also don’t forget to take in to account customs fees. I like to think of Bodyline as like a lolita equivalent of Primark.
Ebay and Second Hand Sales:
One of my early lolita purchases off ebay was a Vampire Requiem replica print dress by Dol off a personal seller. It fitted just under the bust and then flared out. It didn’t seem to have any shape or room in it, was like wearing a tent. The fabric was also really weird. This didn’t help with my confidence either as it meant yet another dress that didn’t fit or look right. I started to feel like I was the issue and just clearly the wrong shape and size for lolita clothing. I bought something else off ebay too and that also didn’t fit right and I just felt like giving up but luckily I found some other items here and there and they did fit and I started to realise what would and won’t work for me.
TIPS: Buying online is difficult as you never know for sure what an item will be like or if it will fit. In terms of ebay you are at least protected and can go to people if you have any problems. With sales on facebook you don’t have quite the same protection so always pay through PayPal and never gift anyone money. Keep an eye on how long you have to open a claim in case things go wrong, some sellers use delay tactics on purpose in the hope you miss the claim date. Also be very careful as items can be fakes, people can get sizes wrong and items are not always in the condition you expect. I’ve found the best thing is to ask lots of questions, for more photos if necessary, always check their feedback and if things seem a bit off or too good to be true they probably are. Also there are a lot of scammer businesses on ebay selling lolita dresses from China, they often have names with lolita in like lolita1234. The picture is usually a stolen image and the dress you get is a cheap costume version. Stick to personal/private/individual sellers (a person that is selling their own items rather than being a business) as overall that should make it safer.
Interactions with friends, family and members of the public:
Lolita is, compared to most fashions, very fancy, elaborate and over the top which can attract quite a bit of attention. It’s also very different to your usual fashions here in the west so it can take people a bit of getting used to. My Mum used to give me weird looks when I would try on a co-ord or ask her opinion on certain dresses. Sometimes her comments could be slightly unflattering and would dent my confidence or make me feel silly and self conscious about what I was doing. I don’t think she intended hurting my feelings but it just wasn’t quite to her taste and she didn’t hide her true feelings very well. My Dad has no real opinion on it at all, it just has no impact he’s pretty much cool with whatever I decide to wear. I guess as its fashion/clothes related its totally outside of his interest and knowledge.
I’m not too sure what my friends make of the fashion. They tend to be in to Steampunk, arty, alternative, hippie type stuff and are very open minded about most things so I don’t think they really have much of an issue. I haven’t worn lolita around them but it’s all over my facebook so they are aware of it but they haven’t really commented so I honestly have no idea of their true opinion.
Members of the public will react to the fashion. Often old ladies come over and say you look nice or the clothes are pretty which always make me happy. Guys can wolf whistle and shout fairly unpleasant remarks but they tend to do that whatever the fashion. Teenagers as well tend to shout not very nice things but again that’s to be expected. Most commonly you get stares, people taking photos, asking what/why you are dressed up, sometimes you get jeers and groups of people making a point of obviously laughing at you to try and make you feel small.
TIPS: when it comes to family and friends the best thing is to try and engage with them about the fashion. Explain what it is, why you like it, show them lots of images and just be very positive and enthusiastic. You need to bear in mind that it won’t be everyone’s thing but hopefully they will at least be understanding and supportive of you. My Mum doesn’t like sweet lolita so I ignore trying to engage her with that. If your family seem really taken a back then probably wear more toned down casual co-ords around them or classic lolita. Nothing too out there and hopefully that will calm them and then over time you may be able to turn them around to the idea. As for members of the public that’s more difficult. I usually avoid the word lolita when explain the fashion, I tend to say it’s a street fashion from Japan or it’s an alternative fashion but it depends on who’s asking. I also tend to travel alone a lot so I usually take accessories and sometimes wigs etc with me to put on at the other end so I don’t get as much attention. Large coats can help hide your outfit too and make it less obvious. It all depends on the situation and how safe you feel.