To some people, fitness is who they are; or perhaps their career is an essential part of their reflection. Maybe they find their identity in a book club, cooking, or a sport. Others still find their true nature in performance: a stage persona, or a microphone.
Is it so odd for fashion to be a personal marker?
After all, it has permeated nearly every aspect of my life: the people I hang out with, what I like to eat, what I buy, and how I practice my hobbies.
Yes, I sew; but I don't sew curtains, quilts, or casual clothing. I sew Lolita fashion: jumper skirts, hair bows and onepieces.
Yes, I like music; but I like music Lolita fashion has brought me closer to, such as Visual Kei, or other music that fits the fashion's aesthetic. If I never got into Lolita fashion, who knows if I would have found some of my favourite bands, or vice verse?
In short, being a Lolita effects you in more ways than you realize. In this week's Lolita Blog Carnival theme, I'd like to look at some specific habits I've picked up from Lolita fashion.
- I have more expensive taste
In my early teens, before Lolita, I was a bargain-driven shopper. I used to look for the best deals on clothing at a thrift store or department store, and would choose to purchase something if it was cheaper, regardless if I liked it better or not.
Of course there is nothing wrong with being bargain-savvy, and it's still a useful skill; however after being a Lolita all these years, I've come to recognize the value of quality.
One may think that "value" and "quality" are the same, but it's not the case. Something can have value, because it is good quality; that is why heirloom jewelry is often saved and passed down through generations. Or, imagine a pack of plastic party cups, in a wholesale pack of hundreds. Perhaps it is a good value, because you get a lot for a low price; but plastic does not last, and rarely exceeds a single use. It will never be the same quality as fine crystal.
Quality comes from technique, mastery of the medium, and an investment in good materials. Lolita garments are not only expertly made and tailored, but they are also made from high-quality textiles and materials. From the unique printed textiles made in small batches, to the one of a kind embroidered lace specific to one brand, there is nothing cheap or mass produced about Lolita fashion.
For all of these reasons, Lolita has made me less of a bargain shopper. Now, I look at fashion as more of an investment. If anything, something that comes too cheap from the manufacturer makes me weary of the quality.
- I pay more attention to garment quality
Above, I spoke a bit about the value of quality. Since I sew, I've always inspected the quality of a garment in a store before I buy it.
After becoming a Lolita, this habit became more frequent. I flip clothing inside out in the store, to check if seams are finished. I look at the hem, to see if it nicely done, a rolled hem to prevent fraying, or if it is even hemmed at all. If the garment does not pass my tests, I do not buy it.
- I eat more sweets
Before Lolita, I did not have much of a sweet-tooth. My first job in my teens was lifeguarding, so physical fitness and nutrition were very important to me. Over the years, I came to know the simple pleasures of a small macaron; or the solace one could find in a cafe, with a sweet beverage. I've made good friends over hot lattes, or sharing an ice cream parfait after a meet-up.
I think Lolitas like sweets because they are aesthetically pleasing; that is why they are common motifs in prints. They also remind us of certain European countries, which are influential in Lolita fashion. Sweets are also an essential part of a tea party, one of our most frequent meet-ups.
Whatever the reason is, at least in small quantities, I find myself indulging more than before I was a Lolita.
- I mind my weight and measurements
Though this may sound contradictory to the above, Lolita has made me more conscious of my measurements, and more inclined to monitor them. Health, exercise and nutrition have always been important to me, certainly; but with Lolita, it comes back to the garments themselves.
Lolita garments are usually only produced in one size, as "one size fits all". I believe this is for two reasons: first, because Lolita fashion originated in Japan, where multiple sizes are not that common. Second, because of the quality and niche audience for Lolita fashion, it is produced in smaller batches. When clothing is produced in smaller batches, it is not always economical to produce many sizes. It is more efficient to produce one size, or produce one-offs in custom sizes.
Since Lolita garments are mainly made for Asian frames, they run smaller. As a clearly western girl, I have to keep myself at a reasonably low weight in order to fit them.
In the US, women wear an average size 14 or 16. I'd say with Lolita fashion, a western girl should average a size 8, to fit most of the clothing. Of course there are exceptions, and I am not claiming this is "ideal". I simply mean to say the size ranges for most brands max out around a US 10.
Not every Lolita takes this personally, as it's possible to order custom clothing, or find pieces that are plus-size friendly. I have just made it a habit to "diet for Lolita" when necessary, because it is important to me.
- I plan my outfits more carefully
In the past I never planned outfits in advance, I simply threw them on. Now I find myself planning at least a week ahead, even for a casual outfit to wear to a concert.
- I spend more time online
In general, many people spend more time online than they used to. Social media is a powerful drug; and it becomes addictive to share your life with the world, when you get instant gratification in the forms of likes and comments.
However, Lolita fashion depends on the Internet to survive, especially as a means to attain the clothing. As Lolitas in the West, we do not have Lolita stores in most major cities.
If you live near a fashion center, like Paris, New York City, or San Francisco, then you're lucky enough to live near a Baby, the Stars Shine Bright or Angelic Pretty flagship store. But the rest of us must rely on brand websites, shopping services, or websites where Lolita is sold second-hand.
I also spend my time online reading Lolita blogs, news about Lolita, looking at other Lolita's outfits, and reading debates about Lolita. Almost all of my news and resources, from what the latest releases are to when the next meet-up will be, are found on the Internet.
This may be a bad habit, as it often distracts me from sewing, cleaning, or otherwise adulting. But conversely, it has also made me more Internet savvy, and more comfortable with technology. After all, I can't be the only one who picked up a bit of HTML coding to format a Livejournal post.
Here's a few others I thought of:
- I travel more
- I'm more open to new experiences
- I have a stronger sense of community
- I study fashion history
- I study more languages (French, Japanese)
These are just a few habits I have picked up from the fashion. It's hard to say if they are good habits, or if they've made me more nit-picky, elitist and anal. I think that there is both good and bad with everything, and it is important to understand why somebody does something before we judge.
Would you like to see what other people have picked up from Lolita fashion? I invite you to check out the blogs below, on this week's Lolita Blog Carnival: