Here we go into the second day of the 30 day Lolita challenge, which I have sworn a solemn oath to uphold.
Though, I am cheating a little, because today I decided to consolidate two days into one. In my defense, they go hand in hand...
Route A => 10 Things I Love in Lolita
Route B => 10 Things I Hate in Lolita
Are we ready to start?
Okay, so to start off on a positive note, here are the 10 things I adore about Lolita.
1. It's uniquely, "Lolita".
|Misako Aoki's "Lolita Fashion", a book highlighting the sub-genres and distinct qualities of Lolita.|
You recognize Lolita fashion as soon as you see it. It has specific qualities and details from an age long past, or maybe a fantasy world that never existed until that moment.
It's a little bit of visual kei, vintage shoujo anime, historical fashion from the Victorian and Rococo age, and avante-garde high fashion... and through the years, it's developed to fit the tastes, needs and lifestyles of customers internationally.
It is it's own little node of style that has grown to be internationally recognized, but still confined to its original aesthetic. It perpetuates its own trends, from the fad of split-color wigs to the very "on trend" head veil and religious themes.
Because of its independent existence as a culture and genre, not just a fashion, I love it.
2. Lolita is internationally known and practiced.
I love tracking Misako Aoki's travels across the globe (in a totally non-creepy way). It fascinates me to see Lolitas in all different countries from Mexico to China. I envy that she gets to witness how a Lolita's local culture effects their aesthetics and needs, and the way they wear their style.
One reason Misako Aoki didn't come to Hawaii sooner, is she thought there weren't possibly any Lolitas in Hawaii because of the hot, humid weather. She was quite surprised to see there were not only a good sized group of Lolitas, but that we all recognized her as Japan's "ambassador" of Lolita.
I love to see the different Lolita ambassadors nominated to represent their countries and communities, no matter how large or small. It's amazing to me that in so many countries, there is a community drawn together by Lolita fashion.
3. It gives a nod to historical fashion.
|An incredibly detailed and period-correct bonnet by Triple Fortune.|
My favourite styles are those that take notes from historical and period fashions. That's why two of my favourite designers, Excentrique and Triple Fortune gained a pedestal in my heart.
Of course, I love the new-fangled OTT coords and prints remniscient of the 80s, but it will always lose out to my taste for period-correct corsets, hemlines and head wear.
4. The fashion is liberating.
|Heading out to shop in Nagoya. |
I had just chemically straightened my hair, and was finally finding confidence in my own skin.
It says, "I wear what I want." I don't have to wear the prescribed trends and fashions that any girl can buy off a rack.
Lolita also helps liberate me from body shame, and body image issues I have. I've never been comfortable with my curves, but in Lolita, I can cinch in my waist with a corset, bind my chest, and hide my thighs behind petticoats and bell-shaped skirts. I can achieve a silhouette that I like, which would not necessarily be flattered by trendy clothes in the mall.
Most of the time, no one even notices these modifications because of the layers the style requires. Or, if I want to cross-dress, I can chest bind and easily hide the evidence with a full, ruffled blouse and tailored vest or jacket. It allows me to be who I want to be, not what sexism and mass-produced fashion wants me to be.
5. It has helped me make many friends.
|With my two friends in Nagoya, English Tutors I met through Lolita!|
This counts not only in Hawaii, but during my study abroad in Japan as well. I clicked with two girls teaching English in the area, who I may have never met if it wasn't for Lolita fashion. And if I had never met them, I never would have been fully confident about dressing up, or cosplay, or doing "lolita" things without being ashamed.
It's as if the fashion draws like-minded people to eachother, who may have otherwise never met under certain circumstances.
6. It's something my husband and I can do together.
|With my husband, at Kawaiikon 2014.|
7. It has links to Visual Kei.
Maybe you'll remember the off-kilter dress Angelic Pretty made for Meto in Mejibray? Even though it wasn't an every day design, I love seeing that link between music I love and the brands that are in my daily life.
Some other examples are Hakuei's designs and modelling for Black Peace Now, Ruki from the Gazette's designs for Sexpot Revenge, and h.Naoto's designs for Psycho le Cemu.
8. It gives me confidence!
When I wear Lolita, I feel like I am not the same person! I carry myself differently, talk openly with people, and feel pretty. Lolita taught me how to pose for a camera instead of shying away from it.
When I came back from Japan, I returned with confidence in myself and my abilities, not just from what I had learned in school, but what I had learned about dressing up and being yourself. It led me to apply as a model for fashion shows, which I never thought I could be in. I modelled for Atelier Pierrot, and Mint Neko! And it didn't stop there, it gave me the confidence boost to model in Steampunk...
|Modelling Lip Service for Millenium Hawaii.|
...And things not even remotely Lolita!
|At DJ Nocturna's "What's Up Pussy Cat?" event. |
I would have never had the body confidence to wear this before!
I can wear anything from all-black-everything one day, to a navy and gold sailor coordinate, to a completely pastel princess with a simple switch of clothes. I love being able to express myself any way I want, or whatever character is in my head that day.
|My friend Alice and I, on opposite ends of the colour spectrum.|
10. My friends!
The style would not be the same without my friends that I've made, literally all over the world. Whether they're here in Hawaii with me now, in their home countries, or in Japan, we all keep in touch and chat about Lolita things on Facebook.
I've always been the shy type who has trouble making friends. But with Lolita, I have treasured friends, and we all seem to understand each other, at least through our love of fashion.
|My husband and I, with two lovely Lolitas we met at Tokyo Dark Castle this January.|
All that being said, it's really hard to think of reasons to hate Lolita fashion, which changed my life. But to be fair, here is the other side of the frills, if you will.
1. The sizing is restrictive, because at least for now, it's mostly manufactured for a Japanese demographic. Though some brands like Baby, the Stars Shine Bright have started releasing the equivalent of "Plus Sizes", they're uncommon, and still don't fully conform to a western figure.
2. Because of the sizing issues, the clothing isn't flattering on everyone, which leads to bullying and drama in online communities.
3. The high cost. If I happen to be working a lot, then it can be relaxing to select a Lolita item and "treat myself", but as I get older and gain more financial responsibilities, it's hard to justify a purchase that is at least half of a weekly paycheck.
4. Elitism. There are Lolitas with means to wear only the finest brands from head to toe, who seem to turn up their nose at those who wear cheaper options like Bodyline or handmade. Personally, I think this goes against the "Spirit of Harajuku", if you will, which celebrates individuality and marching to the beat of your own drum. Fortunately, a rise in exposure of independent western designers is starting to glamorise handmade items, which not "just any loli on the street" has.
5. The misconceptions. Many people take "Lolita" the wrong way, interpreting it as a fetish rather than a legitimate fashion. Still others take it for a costume. While there are people who practice it as a fetish, or cosplay a Lolita character from a series, I wish people would mentally separate it from people who love the fashion for fashion's sake.
(As a side note, I hold nothing against those who find Lolita attractive in that particular way, as long as they don't invade our personal meet-ups and cause the participants unwanted discomfort.)
6. The sweat... and the cold. I've worn Lolita in humid Hawaii year-round, in the positively dreadful Japanese summer, and frigid winters. There are very few temperature ranges which are forgiving to Lolita fashion, and the layers (or knee-length skirts) it requires.
7. You can't eat at a meetup, not really. You don't want to stain your clothes, or feel uncomfortable in their restrictive silhouettes.
8. How do you even hair? If you are experienced with hair styling or have the means to maintain a unique colour, then you should be able to style your own hair comfortably for Lolita. But for me, I always struggled with my ringlet, frizzy red hair, feeling it wasn't sleek or pretty enough for Lolita. When I finally got it chemically straightened, I started to style it in pigtails or updos for casual days. But when I am busy or my hair isn't cooperative, I feel I'd rather slap on a wig than show up without the full look.
9. People think that because you're dressed up, it's okay to approach and touch you. Once in high school, a woman at a mall saw my outfit and exclaimed, "Are you wearing a crinoline? I used to wear those in high school!" And lifted up my skirt, in the middle of a store. I've also had highschool kids use my Usakuma pouch as a punching bag when they passed by on the streets.
And last, but most scary, I was cornered by a man on the bus in college. I was wearing a shorter h.Naoto petticoat skirt, and full tights, but when I sat, my upper thigh was exposed. The bus was crowded, and he took the seat next to me... but was massaging my upper thigh with his finger the entire time. I kept scooting closer to the window, but he pressed up against me until I was literally squished. I got off at an early stop and forced my way out, and got on another bus because I was so shaken. (So please ladies and gentlemen, if you're ever assaulted in this way, get out any way you can and tell someone immediately.) Your clothing is never an excuse for objectification, whether you're wearing Lolita or not!
10. I guess I hate fads? It seems like a print will spike in popularity, then it is impossible to touch it for the original retail price. Sometimes it's double or triple what you pay in the store. Or even more annoying, often I'll see a flood of a certain print in second-hand sales, but the high price never budges! Anyone who has studied economics would think that with a high supply and low demand, sellers would lower their prices. But because it is a popular print, the price will remain high, even if there are three more for sale and no one buys them right away.
But all in all, those are not pervasive enough to keep me from my beloved Lolita. I've been in the style for 7 or 8 years, and see myself in it and creating it for many more years to come.
Onward to the Lolita future!