Re: Rufflecon (Or, a long post about community and the road to finding it)

Like many others, I'm sad and disappointed that Rufflecon has died. But, also like my peers, I'm not surprised. There had been whispers on the wind for quite some time, rumors that 2017 would be its final year. I didn't want it to be true.

2018 marks my 12th year in the Lolita Community. When I started, I didn't have a local comm; meeting "strangers from the Internet" was still generally frowned upon. I was in high school too, a time when young adults struggle to find acceptance, and peers with similar interests. I was already a goth kid, and an art nerd, regularly covered in acrylic paint stains as I blasted weird, sad music from my headphones. Let's add frills to that, right?

I tried joining my local anime club, but it didn't fill my needs or address my interests. It seemed I could only fit in if I made a lot of costumes, watched a lot of shows, or was good at video games- and while I tried all of those, none of them made me happy. I even tried LARPing, because someone told me my outfits would be great for a character- but I was shy, not good at remembering rules, and ended up standing around the whole time. I felt like a poser, trying to be someone I wasn't. 

Feeling at a loss "IRL", I turned to the Internet: Vivcore forums and Livejournal, to get my much needed sense of camaraderie. I was only beginning to understand what "community" meant, in terms of interests and hobbies. These online bubbles were my first real support system I had; a niche that was all my own. I could share photos of my outfits and sewing projects, and get inspiration from others. I learned about new hobbies, like ball jointed dolls, and found new music genres, like visual kei. I started to feel more confident in myself, even if that confidence began and ended at the threshold of my bedroom door. 

At school, I was made fun of; of course there were the classics, like Little Bo Peep, but people also told me I looked like a prostitute; but one they wouldn't pay for. Thinking back on those words, it sounds like a rape threat. People threw pudding at me when I wore a dress I made, and when I stood up for myself, a boy spat in my hair. I was voted "Most Creative" in my Senior Class, and the male nominee refused to stand next to me in the yearbook photo. People asked me out on dates as jokes. I asked someone to prom, and though they agreed to go, they ended up going off with another girl. 

My point is, my teenage years, when I needed to connect with someone the most, were miserable and alone. I only felt at home in the online Lolita Community. I remember when Baby the Stars Shine Bright opened in San Francisco, and I saw videos on Youtube of all the Lolitas together. There was sweet music in the background, that had something to do with magic, or becoming a princess. I cried, watching the video over and over, wishing that some day, I would be able to go somewhere like that. 

I graduated high school, grew up, and went to college in my home state of Hawaii. I went to my first "real" meet and tea party there, even though I had to bring my mom the first time. (That sounds embarrassing, but I'm really glad I brought her; she loved it, and tea parties are now something we make time for together.) I started wearing Lolita around campus once in a while, and made a few local friends who were close to my age. But just when I was starting to feel connected, I decided to study abroad for a year in Japan.

As a foreigner, living in Japan can be both wonderful and frustrating. You can have a genuine appreciation for the culture, lifestyle and interests, but there is always an invisible wall separating you. You're never considered a resident; always a visitor on a conditional stay. Because of that, people are hesitant to make ties with you. They invite you in, but never too close. In regards to the Lolita Community and how this applies, I tried approaching Japanese Lolitas while dressed up, and saying hello. It was always a quick, polite hello, a mandatory compliment on the outfit, and then a hasty departure. I made friends with some of the shop girls in Sakae and Oosu, but there was always a wall of work between us, so we couldn't hang out.

So, this was almost right; I was finally somewhere I could see Lolitas pretty often, but had no one to connect with. 

I ended up connecting with fellow foreigners, who taught English in the area. We all had varied interests, and some common ground we could discuss at tea, or while out shopping. I took up cosplaying again, so I could hang out with one of the girls more often. Finally, I started to feel like this is what I was looking for, this was that "community" thing. Unfortunately, as quickly as I had found a niche, my study abroad was over and it was time for me to go home. Connections fizzled out, like they do.

I went back to college in Hawaii, graduated, and worked a bunch of weird jobs. I rejoined the local comm and over time, we became close. However, being isolated on a rock in the Pacific Ocean essentially amounts to: No Big Lolita Events. Sure, there was Kawaiikon, the local anime convention, but it wasn't the same as what I was seeing on the mainland. Flagship stores continued to open in California and New York. There was Frill in Georgia, large-scale tea parties at cons with big-name guests, and finally: Rufflecon.

Rufflecon was my concept of heaven. I remember desperately trying to find a way to save money and justify the trip on a minimum wage budget; I couldn't. It remained a faraway fancy, and something I was deeply envious of. Like many other things in my Lolita life, I watched it pass by on my screen in brilliant colours.

In late 2015, I finally moved to the East Coast. It was difficult parting ways with the Hawaii Comm, because I had some close friends I didn't want to part with. However, I was so excited to be a part of the larger comms I had seen grow over the last decade. It even looked possible for me to attend Rufflecon.

I made plans to go in 2016, and have a fashion show for my "side project" (calling it a brand is a little ambitious), Darkly Darling. I could taste it; my dream coming to fruition. 

Then in Spring 2016, I found out I was pregnant. I would be eight months pregnant by the time Rufflecon came. I decided not to go.

My daughter was born on ILD 2016. 

Then, 2017 came... finally, the year I'd be able to make Rufflecon work. I had my husband help me in the "Blood Bath" for a Deluxe Membership. I made room reservations and Amtrak plans with my friends. I applied to show as a designer, and got accepted.

The con came, and it went. After the show, I calmly undressed my models, said goodbye, and ran back to my room to call my mom and cry. 

I had never had the feeling of a dream coming true before. To see my designs walk down a runway in front of a room of Lolitas. To be able to wear a jacket I made, while handing my business card to a designer I highly respect. To be able to walk anywhere, and feel among friends and colleagues.

I now fully understand what community and joy is. I am thankful I had the honor of attending the last one.

Rufflecon made me understand what it meant to "belong" somewhere. This is something we all need to realize at one point in our lives, whether it's on Thursday nights with a board game and pizza, or once a year in a costume at a convention center, or behind a podium in a room of people you look up to. It's not just a convention, or a gathering, it's a psychological need that cries to be filled. 

That is what I mourn today, not the loss of a convention.

In so many less words: I love my community, however long it took me to find it; and I look forward to whatever rises to take Rufflecon's place. 

2018: Lolita Goals

I may be terrible at keeping up with my blog, but at least I consistently post on New Year. Part of it is the flood of Wardrobe Posts from the community, which both inspire me the continue Lolita, and make me want to post my own. Another part of it is the importance our culture places on New Year's Resolutions, and how we put stock in them framing the rest of our year.

I am still working on taking photos for my Wardrobe post, but there are some resolutions I wanted to share.

Last year, I wanted to expand my wardrobe by adding lots of supporting pieces, such as accessories, blouses and tops. This year, my focus is stepping back a bit, cutting out excess, and switching my style to something I am more comfortable in.

I adore Lolita, nothing will change that- but deep inside of me, I've always longed to wear boy style. However, I've been in this fashion a long time. When I started, there were quite a few things holding me back from trying boy style, both personally and practically.

Personally, I had horrible body image issues, and thought I could never pull off boy style.

Practically, not many brands made boy style, except in small, restrictive sizes.

These days, it had become easier to get a hold of elusive brands, such as Atelier Boz. There is also more information out there about them, and their different sizes, such as Men's size. With the advent of Men's sizing in brands such as Boz, or Alice and the Pirates, I realized for the first time this year that the style I love is actually accessible to me.

So my first goal for this year, is to clear out dresses I've hoarded and never wear, and move towards a more boy style oriented wardrobe.

And in truth, that's mostly my only resolution this year.

Other than that, I would like to help plan a large scale event, and maybe even DJ at it. I have been getting back into DJing lately, and since I have a niche skill for playing Japanese music, I'd love to cater to a crowd that enjoys the same music I do.

It's actually really refreshing, to have such a short and attainable list of resolutions this year. My life is busier than ever these days, but I also wear J-fashion more than ever. The trick is balancing your responsibilities with the things you love, and remind you who you are.

Coord Roundup: February

Happy First of March!

As I begin this new month, I have a lot to look forward to: Rufflecon ticket sales starting, outings with friends, my birthday, and a visit from family.

February was a busy month for me, but productive. I started reaching out to vendors to get some of my handmade accessories selling at cons. Rufflecon also announced their theme for 2017, which got me brainstorming, and contemplating whether or not I can create a line for the Label contest.

For coords, I tried to break my record of 4 from last month, but was unsuccessful. None the less, it was a month of trying new things for me, and I'm happy with how my experiments came out!

February 5th: Metamorphose meets Pinup

This was a very simple coord to meet some lolis at the mall. I wanted something somewhat casual, and closer to every day wear. I thought this Metamorphose Gingham Cherry Jsk would be perfect. 

I like everything about this coord from the shoulders down; but if I could re-do this coord, I'd have put more effort into my hair, and chosen a different hair accessory. 

Bolero: BTSSB
Jsk: Metamorphose
Shoes: Vivienne Westwood x Melissa
Headbow: Innocent World
Everything else: Offbrand 

February 11th: Pastel Lolita

I almost never wear pastels, as I've adamantly said many times. But for whatever reason, on this day, I decided to give pastels a try. 

It was also the first day I've ever ruined a jsk beyond repair. It was a disaster. 

I met up with a friend to get boba tea- that much was wonderful! But we also stopped at a Korean cosmetics store, which had some sort of devil-spawn liquid lipstick smeared on the counter. The lipstick got on my purse, and when I put my purse on my lap in the car, it got all over my lightly coloured dress. (T__T) I've tried so hard to remove the stains, but they're impossible to get out.

So while this was a pretty look, and I feel like I balanced the pink and lavender well, I am extremely hesitant to wear light colours, or shop for cosmetics in Lolita ever again.

Jsk: Angelic Pretty
Bolero, Purse and Headbow: BTSSB
Everything else: Offbrand 

February 12th: Boz and Boystyle

I adore boystyle, and have taken a stab at it in the past, but I feel like this was my first serious, successful coord. I'm very proud of how this one turned out; and with a better wig and a few more staple pieces, I hope to wear boy style more this year.

Coat: Atelier Boz Roland
Pants: MAM
Socks: Chantilly
Brooches: Voltaire, Chocomint
Everything else: Offbrand

February 27th: OTT 

I think this was my favourite coord of the month! I got this Elizabeth I jsk a couple of months ago, and really wanted to coord it. I don't usually go so over the top with my coords, but I like the colour balance and all of the details in this outfit! Probably one of my favourite coords of the year so far. 

Jsk: Taobao (I think the brand was called "Makiro"?)
Blouse: The Floral Notebook
Headdress: Sweet Mildred
Shoes: Bordello
Accessories: Voodoodolly, Offbrand
Socks: Metamorphose

And thus wraps up another month in Lolita! I'm excited to see what March has in store; I hope it includes more chances to dress up and improve my coords! I think my latest on the 27th was much more put-together than some of my others so far. I'm also a fan of my Boystyle outfit and can hardly wait to collect more pieces! 

Here's to yet another month of frills!


Coord Roundup: January

Hello Darlings,

One of my goals for 2017 is to better document my coords, and share them when I can.

One main reason for this is that I constantly forget to take photos of my outfits, even if I put a lot of time and effort into perfecting them.

Or, after I spend all that time dressing up, I am too scared to post photos outside of my personal circle. And it's not necessarily about my clothing, but my face or body type. I worry about retribution for my physical aspects I can't change, so I rarely post.

However, criticism is not always a bad thing. It is, after all, meant as a constructive thing to help you improve. As long as I receive criticism on how to make my outfits better, then I don't mind.

And after all-- this is a fashion blog. In spite of that, I have a handful of entries at best showing my outfits. That's awfully pathetic, and tarnishes my credibility, don't you think?

This month, I got to wear Lolita 4 times in total. In the past, 4 times in a month would be a lot, but in my current state, I think that's just where I want to be. I am moving towards wearing Lolita, or some aspect as often as possible. But as a new mom of a two-month old infant, who also works full-time, I'd say four times in a month is quite a lot.

January 12th

This was my outfit for my comm's monthly swap meet. This was my first time wearing Lolita since giving birth. 

I was itching to wear some of the pieces I accumulated while I was pregnant, but couldn't wear. On the top of my list was this "Three Archangels" long OP by Innocent World. I find the silhouette very flattering, and I love the long skirt. This OP is also half-shirred in the back, which made it very comfortable. It was a good outfit to get back into the swing of things. 

OP: Innocent World
Blouse: Bodyline
Headdress: Sweet Mildred
Socks: Enchantlic Enchantilly
Shoes: Offbrand (Dolce by Mojo Moxie)

January 15th

This is what I wore for my new comm's 10th Anniversary Tea Party. (I've been here a year, but it still feels like a new comm to me!) The theme was "Winter", so I wore my new jsk, "The Gift" by L'esprit de la Noblesse.

L'esprit de la Noblesse is a Russian Indie Brand, headed by fashion power couple Elizabeth and Nicolas. Together, they create many whimsical and unique Lolita designs, drawing from traditional garb of Russian royalty, and creatures of fantasy alike. "The Gift" was a limited Christmas release. Part of the profits were donated to a Russian charity.

With the long hemline and metallic champagne chiffon, this dress is easily one of my favourites.

My concept for this event was "Clara from The Nutcracker".

Dress: L'esprit de la Noblesse
Blouse: Bodyline
Socks: American Apparel
Headbow: Innocent World
Purse: Baby, the Stars Shine Bright
Shoes: Offbrand (Dolce by Mojo Moxie)

January 22nd

This is what I wore when visiting the San Antonio, Texas Lolitas, for their "Cheers to 2017!" Meetup.

My husband and I were visiting his family in Texas, when I attended this meet-up. My brother and sister in law both happen to be members of the comm, and were kind enough to take me along to the local meet-up. The theme just happened to be old school, which is one of my current obsessions!

My sister-in-law is to the left of me, in the photo above. I'm sorry, this photo caught me mid-blink!

Bonnet, Blouse, Jsk, Purse: Baby, the Stars Shine Bright
Socks: Metamorphose
Shoes: Montreal

January 27th

This is my favourite outfit of the month. 

A lolita girlfriend and I decided to go out for macarons on a random Friday afternoon. I took her to my favourite Patisserie, "Sweethearts Patisserie" in Annapolis. I knew the shop often decorates for Valentine's Day about this time, so I decided to dress to match the decor.

Beret: Innocent World
Blouse, Bolero, Jsk, Purse: Baby, the Stars Shine Bright
Socks: Metamorphose
Shoes (Not pictured): Bodyline 

And I think that's all I'll fit in this month! 

Since I'm gearing up to go back to work, and transition by daughter into Daycare soon, I am sure that the next month will be hectic. But I hope that I still find time to dress up! With a promised monthly swap meet, and a special Valentine's Day Tea, I at least have two events to look forward to!

Here's hoping I keep up with the outfit photos, and that the quality of the outfits (and outfit shots) improves throughout the year!


LBC: What Would You Change About Your Wardrobe?

Hello darlings! It's that time of the week (a little late this week, too), for the Lolita Blog Carnival!

This week, I would like to talk about the changes I want to make in my wardrobe.

I agreed with much of What Emily wrote on her blog, "It's Witchcraft". 2017 will be my eleventh year wearing Lolita, so my wardrobe is, for the most part, well-established and well-rounded.

Most of the changes I'd like to see have to do with cohesiveness, and building a stronger collection.

I would like to continue fleshing out my collection with blouses, socks, shoes and bags that compliment what I already have; and I'd like to cut back on what I call "stand alone" or "unitasker" pieces.

"Unitasker" is a phrase coined by one of my favourite television personalities, Alton Brown. He loves to loathe what he calls Kitchen "Unitaskers"- gadgets and gizmos that only complete one function in the kitchen. Though Lolita isn't exactly cooking, we definitely have unitaskers in our wardobe.

These are stand alone pieces, things we are all guilty of- for example, a single pastel jsk in a gothic wardrobe, that sticks out like a sore thumb and doesn't really coordinate with the rest of your closet. Or, a pair of pink shoes that you bought specifically to go with ONE dress, even though you have nothing else pink in your collection. UNITASKERS!

The worst part about stand-alone pieces is that it breeds more impulse buys. You find yourself compelled to buy more pastels, even if you don't like them, simply because you now feel obligated to include that in your wardrobe.

In case you haven't figured it out, this reluctant pastel hoarder is me, myself. Even though I HATE how I look in pink, and often find pastels look terrible on me, I come back to them again and again. I buy it, I try it on, and instantly resell it. It's a vicious cycle, and it results in left over pieces I will never use again- the one pink blouse I bought specifically for that one pink dress, or the singular lavender headbow I bought to match my only lavender jsk.

While there is nothing wrong with variety, if I've learned anything over the years, it's that I don't, and I won't wear pastels. The things I wear over and over again are often rich jewel tones, or dresses in black colorways. I'm especially fond of emerald green, navy blue and ruby red.

So why the hell did I buy pastel, mint green shoes?!

Or why do I follow the lemmings off the cliff, diving head-first into a new AP print release, when I know that I won't actually love it or wear it?

That is exactly my point.

So if I could change anything about my wardrobe, it would be to make it ship-shape, tight and efficient. I don't necessarily want a minimalist, capsule wardrobe, but I do want to borrow from that philosophy that everything has multiple purposes and can be combined with the other pieces.

My goal, in short, is to emphasize what I already have and like to wear... and find new ways to wear it, by adding in things that frame it beautifully.

A short list:

  • More solid, lace-topped socks in staple colours like white, ivory, black
  • More comfortable, multipurpose shoes 
  • More boleros and cardigans
  • Add in some Ouji pieces, that also match what I have
  • Less impulse buys on main pieces, that don't fit with my collection
To see an example of my wardrobe and what I've curated, please see my recent 2016 Wardrobe post. Since posting it, I've already cleared out some pieces I never got to wear, or knew I wouldn't wear. 

It's always hard to part with things, but I think it's a step in the right direction; and it makes room for new things to come!

What do you think about stand-alone pieces? Is variety the spice of life, or do you prefer to keep a general theme or colour scheme in your closet?

Let's take a look at what other Lolitas had to say!