Lolita Fashion and Me – Part One

As it’s the 1st year anniversary of my blog I decided to write about my starting point with lolita fashion and my early experiences (it’s very long, I’m sorry!). I think when you are first starting out, especially if you have no friends who are in to the fashion it can seem a bit lonely and daunting. It’s also hard to meet people at first as although you want to go to meets or attend events you worry if your outfit is right and if you know enough about the fashion or whether they will accept you or not. There’s also the added risk about how your friends, family and strangers in the street will respond to the fashion and treat you. I had all these worries at the beginning, as did my friends. What I learnt though is that in most cases you are worrying over nothing. The UK scene on a whole is very welcoming and supportive. I decided therefore to share some tips and advice based on what I have learnt and experienced in my first couple of years of wearing lolita. I’ve also done a more personal post about how and why I eventually got in to the fashion. It is long but it documents lots of common problems and feelings that people have when they first start out and valuable lessons that I hope by sharing I can stop others having to go through.

 

My Experience Starting out in lolita

Discovering the fashion:
I can’t remember where I first learnt of lolita fashion. I’ve been trying really hard to remember or guess where it could have been but I really have no idea. I know it must have been around 2004/2005 but exactly where I first saw it is a total mystery. I’m guessing it must have been on a TV show, in a magazine/book or perhaps on some site online.

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The early lolita fashion images I saw were like the ones found in the photo book ‘Gothic and Lolita’. The Japanese street fashions were just so different to the gothic and alternative fashion here, it was creepy, cute, flamboyant, inventive, creative and so individual. I just found it really inspiring. In terms of lolita I loved all the details and the full poofy dresses, it was so cute and pretty.
My first dress:
I’ve always been interested in alternative fashions and so enjoyed visiting Camden where there were loads of little stalls/units selling more Japanese street style clothing. Looking back it was mostly Visual Kei/gothic, though there were a few that sold what I now know to be badly designed and made ‘lolita’ type dresses. I loved the look of the styles and always admired the shop owner’s co-ordinates and any customers who were trying stuff on but I knew I just wouldn’t fit the majority of it so I didn’t even go in. I just felt too out of place. On one trip to Camden though I saw girls that were closer to my size and height trying things on and they fitted fine and looked so pretty so I decided eventually to venture in to the larger unit down by the docks and actually have a look around. I discovered that some of the dresses actually came in S, M, L and had shirring in the back so I tried a dress on that seemed like it might fit. It wasn’t one I really loved, all the things I loved just wouldn’t have fit me, but I wanted a lolita style dress because they are so girly and cute so I bought it anyway (see purchases post for more info). As soon as I purchased it I felt a slight regret though. It was a lot of money (£45 I think) for something that I didn’t love and that I actually wasn’t sure if I would ever wear as I had no idea where to wear it and thought I should maybe have picked something more fitting with my usual style.
After my mixed feelings about my first lolita dress and not really liking any of the loosely lolita based clothing that the alternative brands were making I pretty much just carried on with my interest in western alternative, punk and gothic brands. I was familiar with other street styles and briefly looked into lolita fashion as part of my University art course but it never occurred to me to wear it myself so I didn’t research any deeper. I think I felt it was a thing people in Japan do so it just never crossed my mind at the time to look in to it from an actual fashion point of view. I always liked looking at the photos from a creative, artistic and inspirational point of view because they just looked so pretty.

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The dress was exactly like this one, found pic on google.

Attending my first lolita event:
It wasn’t until a trip to London in 2011 that my interest in lolita would be properly rekindled. I spotted an advert online for a small lolita themed event happening at the Resistance Gallery in London. It happened to fall at a time when I was actually in London doing some work experience. In fact I also went to my first Visual Kei live during that period too, it was a lucky 2weeks to have picked. I didn’t know anyone going and spotted it fairly last minute so I hadn’t had time to do much research about the event or try to talk to anyone on the page. It was called ‘Lolita in Wonderland II: Through the Looking Glass’.

Lolita-in-Wonderland-Flyer-

This was the first time that I discovered there were girls here in the UK actually wearing and buying the fashion. I had kept an eye on various things online, researched a bit more about the fashion and checked out egl every once in a while but never with any real conviction until after this event. The event itself wasn’t great, it didn’t attract many people, was badly organised and didn’t seem to actually be starting properly until hours after the doors opened so lots of us left again. I didn’t wear anything remotely lolita as I had to pack my case for 2 weeks work experience and had limited what to take. Anyway, the fact is that it let me know there were lolitas here in the UK and that made all the difference. I only bought some accessories at the event, I didn’t find any clothing for sale that I liked. I found some photos and things from the event online, they help show just how much the scene, fashion and lolita events have changed and grown since then:
http://www.eveproductions.com/Loli/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcX4M0WFXQ4

http://tokyotelephone.com/lolita-in-wonderland-through-the-looking-glass/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/8432100@N05/sets/72157626619759819/show/
My second lolita event and 1st purchases:
On another trip to London I spotted a poster advertising an event called Hyper Japan. I thought it sounded really interesting and I had always had an interest in Japanese popular culture so I visited it just for the one day. It runs over a weekend and I think I maybe went on a Saturday but I really can’t remember. The year I went (which I think was Feb 2012) they had a bring and buy stall full of lolita items, clothing, accessories etc. I was so excited! I had a look through the items on the rail and the tables and picked out a £15 black op with pink polka dots (Bodyline), a £10 poodle print skirt (Bodyline) and a small poodle purse/bag £5 (off brand). I was so happy and excited, they were a whole world away from the poor quality dress I got in Camden and so much cheaper too. They looked like new even though I’m sure they must have been worn. I had a look at the brand dresses but I just hadn’t planned for buying anything in that kind of price range, I didn’t know beforehand there would even be a bring and buy. It was this experience mixed with me getting more in to Steampunk and gaining more confidence that led me to actively pursue my interest in wearing lolita and looking for other lolitas online. I also went to the Christmas Hyper Japan in 2012 where I wore a very simple (and not great put togther co-ord) but somehow made it on to Kawaii International’s feature anyway.

me on Kawaii International

Joining the community:
Through Steampunk I found out that there were all these local groups on facebook based around the country where people into Steampunk from various cities would meet up and do stuff together. I did a search to see if the same was true for lolita and discovered this whole social network of lolitas holding events and smaller meets. I did more in depth research about lolita, what to look for, brands, styles where to buy etc. Bodyline didn’t have their set price air fee at this point so I looked at their site but just couldn’t afford anything with the added shipping cost. I discovered all these second-hand sales on facebook though and knew what to search for now on ebay. The search term ‘Lolita’ brings up way too many wrong things on ebay and means never ending searches but now I knew more I could use set key words and then only 5 or so items would come up and were usually relevant. I also found lolitas really local to me too which came as a surprise as I live in the middle of nowhere. I remember when I first found the girls in Lincoln, I was so nervous about the first meet even though there would only be 3 or 4 of us. I tried checking their facebook to see what clothes they had, the lolita style they were in to, how well they co-ordinated and what else they were in to. I got up early after barely sleeping due to a mixture of nerves and anxiety, curled my hair, put on a Vampire Requiem replica high waist skirt with black blouse. I decided to go for a more Gothic co-ord as it was easier with what I had and seemed like an easier way to break the ice as it was my first time going out in lolita to a meet and in to town. I met with Gina and Charlotte, Ari couldn’t join us and we went for tea and cake and they were lovely! Since then I haven’t looked back and I now regularly meet with the Leeds lolitas and ones from Sheffield too.

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My first meet, sadly the weather was bad so my hair is more waves than curls

The Future:
I still have a long way to go as my wardrobe is not very coordinated and my co-ords still need improvement plus there’s always more I need to buy but I’m slowly getting there and I’m enjoying my journey! I aim to go to more meets and events, to try and wear lolita on a more regular basis as well as other Japanese street styles. I really want to embrace fashion and do things that are fun, expressive and creative as you only get one life. My confidence has grown loads too! I also have met so many lovely people and had so much fun at events, I still hate travelling alone wearing lolita and often try to finds way of toning my look down so it’s not as obvious (like taking wigs & accessories with me to put on after, wearing a long coat etc). I also have pretty much run out of room in my wardrobe but I’m learning so much about putting outfits together, it’s all really good fun. I even got to do a talk about lolita fashion which was something I never expected would happen when I started in the fashion and I’ve just been inspired in so many different ways. It has had a massive positive impact on my life and I hope that continues. I also hope I can wear it for a lot of years to come but I guess only time will answer that one. Lolita makes me happy and that’s all that is important!

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So, its been a year…

Hello lovely blog readers,
Yesterday marked a year since I started my blog and I just wanted to thank all my followers and regular readers for being there. I hope you find what I write helpful and interesting. I still haven’t achieved most of the aims that I wanted to but I will continue to work towards that. I also still have loads of planned posts to actually get finished and put up – I’m so sorry for the delays. Life just gets in the way….

Here are just some of the things you can look forward to me posting about over the next year:

More clothing/shop/wig/accessories etc reviews
Event reviews and write ups (Enchanted, S-Con, Hyper Japan, the Asylum)
My S-Con talk
Meet ups
Outfit posts
More fashion introductions and tips on shopping and styling
Interesting finds online
A review of the Nightmare Rising JSK
Bodyline clothing reviews
Steampunk vs lolita
Petticoat help and advice

There is also my anniversary write up series about my personal experience of getting in to lolita fashion, mistakes, learning, helpful tips and support and about how it’s had an impact on my life.
I hope you continue to read it, also if there is ever anything you would like me to do a post about please get in touch!

Join the Revolution

http://lhouraiili.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/im-changing.html

My friend shared a link to this above blog post on facebook and after reading it I thought I would share it here too as it’s exactly the reason I decided to do my blog. I think its awful that people make each other feel this way especially over something so superficial and I’m glad she has decided to continue to be who she is and wear what she wants. I’m still not brave enough to do that and I never did a month of wearing more bold fashion like I said I would (this is my New Year’s resolution though) but I am doing and wearing things now that I would never have done even just a few years ago. I think it’s important that people get to be who they are and are allowed to express themselves, after all you only live once so this is your only opportunity to do it. Therefore I would like to encourage you all to join the ‘weirdo revolution’ too though I think ‘Unique Individuals’ is maybe a nicer term as I’m all for calling myself a weirdo but when others use it as a hate word then it’s not so nice… So, if you have ever wanted to wear something bold, try a different fashion, dye your hair a bright colour then I suggest you go for it, you don’t need to answer to anyone else as it’s not for them. If you aren’t brave enough to wear it out then keep it to the comfort of your room or wear a more toned version out but please be yourself, don’t let anyone take that away from you or make you miss out just because they have narrow views. I don’t want to get old and be filled with regrets or I wish I had done this or that when I was younger and I don’t want anyone else to feel that way either. Life goes by incredibly fast so grasp it now and I will aim to do the same.

On a similar note I would also like to make you aware of the Sophie Lancaster Foundation as they do really good work trying to promote the acceptance of others. Sophie was a young girl who was attacked and died simply because she was a Goth. This is totally unacceptable behaviour within our society which is why I value their work so much plus their motto S.O.P.H.I.E – Stamp out prejudice, hatred and intolerance everywhere, can be applied to so many other factors beyond fashion and appearance.

http://www.sophielancasterfoundation.com/

https://www.facebook.com/thesophielancasterfoundation

Stay strong, keep safe, be happy and live as you are!

Stay strong and be kawaii

Hello Lovely Blog Readers,

This is a slightly off topic and unplanned post. I came across this particular article and just had to speak out about it. It will probably keep being re-tweaked but currently they paint a very negative picture of the ‘kawaii’ Japanese street fashions and make it seem more like a joke.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2386757/I-felt-like-Grayson-Perry-What-happened-normal-Home-Counties-girl-tried-wacky-Japanese-Kawaii-trend-day-.html

Like with all the other similar articles done recently on the Japanese street fashions it is terribly inaccurate. There are so many mistakes it would take ages to correct them all. My main concern though is over the negativity it puts out. The people doing the makeup at Hyper Japan are professional makeup artists but sadly no-one filled them in on how to do any of the makeup styles properly. I saw a few girls having their makeup done over the weekend and they were all plastered in it which is not the correct way. False lashes in lolita are usually un-naturally long but not to the extreme like some they were using. Also it’s a personal choice about how long you want your lashes and if you wish to stick gems on your face. Some girls do it, but more don’t (look at any of the sweet lolita brand photos for a reference). Also, nearly everyone I know who dresses in Lolita or other street styles are usually at least in their 20s. Done correctly you can look lovely in sweet lolita even in your 30s. I strongly believe that you should be able to wear what you want, you only live once so please don’t miss out on doing something you want to do. Hyper Japan is a great place to come to be yourself and express your love for the fashion in a safe environment, on the general street reactions can be very different so if you wish to avoid such confrontations then its safer to be careful when and where you wear it. It shouldn’t be that way but unfortunately people seem much quicker to want to judge and make people feel bad rather than say anything nice. I’m 28 myself and I don’t intend giving up wearing lolita anytime soon or until I wish to. I really hope that you are never knocked back by articles like this, if you want to give the fashion a go then you should and if its not quite you then at least you know. The transformation booth at Hyper Japan was a bit of a letdown to be honest and didn’t give a true idea of the fashion at all, it was more like playing dress up which was embarrassing. If I had known what it would be like I wouldn’t have promoted it on here beforehand. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure lots of people had fun and I’m sure some loved their makeup too, its just it wasn’t an accurate portrayal of the styles.

Stay strong and be as kawaii as you want, never let others put you down!

Why Today…

I have started this blog today for a couple of reasons.

1). I have a tumblr but what I have realised is that I like to blog. I like to have lots of words and a few images within the same post and tumblr just isn’t really the place for that. Its much better for sharing images or tiny bits of info/news etc. So that’s why I’m using this blog.

2). As covered in my previous post I commented on how everyone looks the same and its not always easy to break the mould. I have low self confidence and sometimes struggle to face the world as it is so going out in a bold fashion style is a massive thing to do. The trouble is I see these people online who do go out in what they want and I own all this stuff that just sits in my wardrobe because I’m scared to go out in it. I’ve had enough, I want to embrace these styles before I get too old and actually live my life and not have regrets. As part of my New Year’s Resolution I decided I wanted to dress more like me and wear stuff that I don’t usually and which just sits in the wardrobe….currently this hasn’t gone well. Therefore after coming across an inspirational blog by the lovely Andrew O’Neil I decided to pick a month and make an effort to be brave and wear something new and different and make more of an effort. April is this month – how it will go I really have no idea but I guess we will find out!

Aims…

What do I aim to achieve with this blog:

Partly this blog is for me, I want to be who I am and not hide away because I’m too scared, I want to live my life and hopefully inspire others to do the same. Life is too short for all this stupid petty stuff like hating on each other for tiny things like how they dress, this needs to change and hopefully if enough people embrace being different and go against society then some things may change….hopefully.

What I will actually post:
I’m looking at Japan as a start so here I will blog the various different street styles, where to get more information on these styles, tips, what you can find on the high street that can work, places to shop, things you can make, etc in the hope that more people join me in the UK fashion take over!

Also you will be glad to hear that this is my last post for today, so good bye for now and stay fashion strong!

What is my blog about….

I’m sure you would like to know what my blog will be about and more about why I have decided to start it.

I’m hugely influenced by Japanese popular culture and especially their fashion. The Japanese youth are so creative, brave, colourful, experimental, playful and cute with their fashion, they think outside the box and I just find it really inspirational! They have all these different fashion trends that originate in various parts of Tokyo and are clearly defined by certain elements, I don’t think any other country has this.

I’m so bored with fashion here in the UK, it’s hard to find anything different and we don’t seem to have any clear defined fashion styles anymore. Another worrying trend I’ve found is that a lot of more alternative fashions seem to be disappearing, I don’t know if this is a safety issue, but I hardly see any alternative people about lately. People don’t seem to make an effort anymore either when going out to events, to see bands, for dinner… its all getting really boring! I walk around town and see nothing exciting, everyone seems to be becoming clones and it makes me sad. I want to see more individual expression, people having fun with fashion and enjoying life, if a greater range of styles existed on the streets and it was no-longer unusual to see someone dressed differently I think people would feel safer too. Plus think how lovely the world would look with people making an effort and breaking the mould.

One problem is that the high street stores all stock the ‘in trend’ so every shop you go in tends to have pretty much the same stuff which not only makes it almost impossible sometimes to find things when they aren’t on trend but means all our youth start to look the same. Its almost like a lot of people here are zombies and don’t think for themselves so they just follow what is dictated to them by society and whatever  the high street tells them.