Saturday, June 27, 2015

Building a Wardrobe: Part Two

Hello everyone! Welcome to the second installment of my wardrobe revamp series! Today I'll be talking about how to plan your wardrobe to get the most bang for your buck. Let's go!

 Step Two: What works for you?
 Step two is where you'll start laying some of the ground work for your new wardrobe. You've gotten rid of the old and now you're looking to start adding ne. However, before you start adding things higglety-pigglety to your closet, get a more defined idea of what will work for you. Start off by looking for inspiration. Find bloggers, models, and YouTubers that have a defined wardrobe in the style you want. Look at what they have and how they put it together to get a better idea of what you want in your wardrobe. Look up pictures for inspiration, be it through google, pinterest, or your favorite search engine, do it. Get as much inspiration as you can so you know what to work with to achieve the look you want. Pay attention to details and find transformation or instructional videos for your style. While I was looking into the Gothic style, I looked for outfit videos as well as beginner suggestions to better define what I wanted. In one such video the author talked about how when you dress up in all black you have to make use of different textures and materials to get a good look. This helped me a lot when looking for clothes. Rather than just get all black clothing, I looked for knits, mesh, sheer detailing, and similar things to add variety. The same is true with any other style. Find out the basics of the style that really make an outfit pop and stand out. Maybe it's a distinct print in Lolita or a milti-colored tutu for Fairy Kei. Whatever your style is, figure out what it is that helps make that style what it is.

 Once you have an idea of what your looking for, it's time to figure out what works for you. Go to a local mall of thrift store and try on EVERYTHING. Alright, that may be a little much, but try on different pieces. See how different cuts and colors look on you so you know what to look for and what to avoid while shopping. This is especially helpful if you mostly buy items online due to their rarity in your local area. We can't all be Lolitas living near a Baby the Stars Shine Bright store. If you have a friend with a more defined wardrobe than you, see if you can try on some of their clothing and see how it works for you. This step has been helpful for me so I can see what sort of cuts are flattering on me and which just make me look like a Fatty-chan or a hobo.

Step Three: More research
 Once you know what looks good on you, look for that sort of clothing. Find brands that sell flattering pieces for you in sizes that work for you and start shopping around. Look for colors, cuts, and prices. There's a lot of Storenvy stores that sell similar items, so sometimes you have to dig around through other sites to find where articles originally came from and what sort of prices they have. Find out how much those sorts of items go for second hand and document some of your favorite "must-haves" in a notebook so you know what sort of price range they have for future buying excursions. This is the time to set up wishlists, not buy everything in sight. Take advantage of promotions and desperate sales later, you're just window shopping right now.

More to come next week!
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Saturday, June 20, 2015

Building a Wardrobe: Part one

Hello everyone! So despite my rather extensive research into many different alternative styles, I've recently come to terms with the fact that I'm not really happy with my wardrobe. I have a lot of pieces, but not a lot of things that I wear or that work well together to build outfits in a particular style. So because of that, I'm going to go over some things I'm doing to rebuild my wardrobe to be more how I want it to be. This will be a multiple part series due to the amount of (hopefully) helpful rambling I tend to do as well as the number of points I wish to cover on each topic. Enjoy and feel free to let me know how you get your wardrobe to be more what you wear!

Step 1: Clear out the old
 As with any good wardrobe revamp, it's best to start by getting rid of what you don't like, don't wear, and don't need. Take it in pieces so you don't get overwhelmed. I started by going through my dresses a drawer at a time, then through my armoire (I don't have a built in closet) and the drawers on my armoire. If you have a bunch of accessories or jewelry, go through these too. It's a good idea to try on clothing you aren't sure about and decide if you like how it looks on you. Sometimes we all buy things that we like the look of, but that don't look good on us. If you just aren't liking it, get rid of it. It might be a good time to mention that it's best not to do this if you're having a really bad day as you might just get rid of everything you own because it all makes you look fat. This can be a good thing if done properly though (re-evaluate things on a better day). This part of your closet revamp is not the time to get all sentimental and clingy. if you really do have a sentimental attachment to something, such as an old high school tee that all your buddies signed, put it aside somewhere or turn that ish into a quilt. I'm serious. Make your memory tees into a quilt that you can hang on your wall, use in winter when your heater isn't cutting it, or shove unceremoniously into a box. If you have heirloom pieces of jewelry that don't go with your style, put them in a box somewhere where it won't be taking up space that you could be using for things you DO use. This is what attics are good for as well as hidden corners in your room.

 While going through clothing, you should take into account four main things: Fit, style, compatibility, and quality. Fit is essentially just does it fit and does it look good on your particular figure. If it's too small or makes your hips look ten times bigger than they really are, get rid of it. Style is whether it works with the style or styles you wear. Does that super pastel shirt really work with the Gothic wardrobe you want? Are you really going to be wearing a chartreuse tube top with a mostly faded pastel wardrobe? Things like that. Compatability is similar to style, but more "does this work with what I have" than "Does this work with my style." Are you really going to wear a floral mini skirt even if you have a Classic Lolita themed wardrobe? Do you really want those studded belts, or are they just going to hang around unused all the time? Last of all: quality. If you have an item in disrepair or that's just really poorly made (for Lolita this could be a Lace Monster or "ita" dress), get rid of it. Unless you have a grunge sort of style where all of your clothes are intentionally shredded or faded, you shouldn't be hanging on to shirts with holes in them. I have a hard time remembering that a lot of clothing isn't made to last and eventually has to be replaced, sometimes sooner rather than later. If you can't fix it or make it work, scrap it. Turn it into something new, donate it if it's still useable, or just chuck it. While there are places where one can donate old clothing to be repurposed, not everyone has them locally available. If you can, find a new use for something before throwing it away though.

 Once you've decided what to keep, neatly fold, hang, and organize the pieces so you can easily see what you have. Anything you aren't keeping should be sorted into one of the following categories: Store, repurpose, donate, sell, trash. First up, store. If you have items of sentimental value that you don't use for your style, find a way to store them that will prevent them from taking up space that could be used for items you'll actually be wearing. Put that necklace from Great Grandma's aunt into a box with other such items, use vacuum bags to minimize space taken by sentimental clothes. Next up, repurpose. If you can find a new use for old clothes, do it. Turn your old jeans into a bag, make potholders out of that worn out sweater, turn useable pieces into scraps of useable cloth for that one friend who got into quilting, etc. This is more for clothing that is damaged to the point of not being useful anymore. You could also give fixable items to a crafty friend to fix for their own use if you know someone like that. Donate and sell are both somewhat close for me. If you want to try selling your clothes online or in a commission store, do it. But set a limit for yourself. If they aren't gone soon, donate them. The last thing you need is ghosts of clothing past crowding up your room and being useless. Alternatively, you can shove everything in paper bags and take them straight to the thrift store or a clothing donation box. Lastly, trash. If something's worn to the point of being unfixable or unwearable, just throw it away. If you want to be conscientious and have them recycled, go for it. Just don't throw them at the thrift store because then they have to throw it away after sorting through all the donations they receive.

 Stay tuned next week for the next step in remaking your wardrobe!

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Saturday, June 13, 2015

How to Respond to Negative Lolita Views

Hello everyone! So I recently read a blog article about Lolita that was written by someone who has not done proper research into the style and was bashing it based on her very limited, very skewed perspective of it. This prompted me to make this article about some of the more common misconceptions with Lolita and the reality behind them.

Lolita... Isn't that a book?

 First, let's talk about comparison of the Lolita style to the book Lolita. First of all, while they share a name, these two things are in no way related. I have watched and read interviews about the Lolita style over the course of many years and not once have I seen it compared to Lolita from the book. The orgins of the name are unconfirmed based on my researh, but if you look at it in the Romanized spelling of it's Japanese name, it's rorita. In Japanese, there's no real distinction between "r" and "l" sounds, so the Lolita style could easily have been called Rorita, Lorita, Rolita, or Lolita in English. Why it's Lolita, I'm unsure, but it is possible that particular r-to-l translation could have been chosen because an English speaker mistook the name of the style for the name of the book, or just automatically turned "r"s in Japanese into "l"s and it stuck. I couldn't say for sure. Back to the comparison of the Lolita style with the style of Lolita from the book. The Lolita style is based, not off of children's clothing as some might suggest, but the Victorian and Rococo styles of old. While not as closely resembling it as in days past, there are still some common elements such as petticoats or other padding under skirts to give them a distinct shape, use of lace detailing and other adornments on the dresses, and modesty. While the type of modesty is different ("Your ankles are showing! How preposterous!"), they still have this in common.

Are you trying to look like a doll?

 Let's move on to the next presumption people make about Lolita: The dolly look. While many Lolitas tend to go for a dollier look, it's mainly due to wanting to look similar to a porcelain doll or Japanese doll dressed in a similar style since they tend to be dressed in Victorian-like clothes. I myself have a very pretty porcelain doll (you can see her here) with curly blonde hair, a fair complexion, and a pretty, lacy white dress that I have always loved the look of. While I may not intentionally try and copy her appearance, I do like to enhance my features in similar ways to hers. One big note on this: I "doll" myself up similar to this whether I'm in Lolita, Fairy Kei, or just a graphic tee and jeans sometimes. My interest in the dolly look is not related at all to my love for the Lolita fashion, they just overlap at times. Even if I sold off all of my Lolita clothing and never wore it again (or went back to when I didn't own any), I'd still be using my white eyeliner to make my eyes appear bigger and contouring to make my nose look smaller. Some people correlate Venus Angelic, or Venus Palermo, who on multiple occasions has worn the Lolita fashion, both in her videos and in interviews, with Lolita fashion, even though a lot of Lolitas I've known don't. I have followed Venus on YouTube and Facebook for quite a long time and in one of her older videos where she's showing some of her cute outfits (this one), she specifically comments in the description that the style she's wearing isn't really Lolita. It's a mix-up she calls Dollita (doll-Lolita) because it doesn't follow the "rules" of Lolita, but uses similar pieces and themes to achieve a dolly look.

Is this an ageplay thing? Are you trying to look like a little girl? Don't you know you could attract pedophiles?

 One thing a good number of people seem to think is that Lolita is related to ageplay or attracting pedophiles. Again, I can not stress how incorrect this statement is. While Sweet Lolita, one of the most popular sub-styles in Lolita, can appear very little girl like with it's huge bows, pastel color, and sometimes toy related prints, there are MANY different sub-styles that have very different looks. Elegant Gothic Lolita, for example, makes use of long flowing skirts, black and dark colors, and a more refined appearance to create a mature look. Pirate Lolita is dressing to look like a pirate, not a child. Ouji Lolita takes a left turn and creates a more mature, masculine look rather than a youthful, feminine look. There is way more to Lolita than just the main Sweet, Classic, and Gothic sub-styles that everyone sees because they're the most common. And saying that it's also a porn thing because similar styles appear in porn is about the same as saying rabbits are a porn thing because there's Playboy Bunnies.

You'll never get a job looking like that! What do your parents think!? If my child dressed like that [insert overly concerned mother rant here].

 One last thing I'd like to touch on here before I wrap things up. There are people who, due to the alternative dressing style, believe that people who wear Lolita will never get a job, have disapproving parents, and so on. First of all, let me say that for some people, "normal" clothing feels weird. I feel out of place sometimes if I try to dress like a fashionable normal person. It's weird. I don't feel like my usual self. I feel like I'm putting on a mask and saying "I'm normal guys, I swear!" Then when I put on Lolita, Gothic clothing, Fairy Kei, or some other alternative style, I feel normal, at ease, completely in my element. I don't care if people stare, because I feel good in my skin. I'm happy and free. But when I'm not in those styles, I feel awkward. Like I'm trying to be someone I'm not. It's not fun. If I put on a suit (which I do own a few) and walked around in it all day, I'd feel weird. I'm not alone in this. There are plenty of people who dress alternatively that would just feel out of place if they tried dressing in regular fashions. And while some of us like to dress in an alternative style all the time, some of us also like to dress alternatively only on occasion and are usually found in sweatpants, jeans, or just a slightly eccentric style on a day to day basis.

 A typical response to the "How are you going to get a job looking like that!?" question that I've seen is "How do you think I afford this stuff?" For younger alternative dressers, such as teens, this can be a more practical question especially since the majority of their money is likely to come from family and parents. This is not to say that there aren't teens out there that go around mowing peoples lawns, walking dogs, or doing similar tasks to earn some extra money outside of their allowance (or lack there of) to buy clothing they enjoy. For many young adults and older alternative dressers, they already have some sort of income or are working through college so they can get a good job to provide an income. I personally already have a stable day job that I can progress in no matter what I wear (I dress differently for work though due to the nature of my job though) and I am able to take on side jobs such as commissions or sales as well if I so choose. The only real reason I keep a button up shirt and a suit around is in case I decide to go a different route with my life as showing up to a job interview in full on Lolita is not the best of ideas unless you're applying for a fashion related job. Even then, you want to dress appropriately for the type of job. However, I'd feel just as uncomfortable wearing a full suit with minimal makeup as a regular person might feel in a pink wig and dolly makeup.

You'll never be successful looking like that!
 This, my friends, is where many people are wrong. Success is an individual thing and based off of what YOU want to do. Sure, having a college degree certainly helps get a regular job, but is that all success is? For some people, traveling the world and becoming essentially a gypsy of sorts is success. For others being able to get married and raise a family is success. Yet others might say that walking down that catwalk in the latest designs from talented designers is success. Success is up to you and your dreams. If you want to make a living off of your outward doll-like appearance because many find you inspirational, do it. If you want to travel and never settle down, do it. If you want to dominate the world and have total control over everyone, too bad. That's my job. All hail me and go back to utilizing your free, high speed internet and cable. (Someday....)

 Enjoy what you love, and don't let others tell you it's wrong because they have different interests and perspectives on life. You are ultimately responsible for you and if you aren't happy it's up to you to decide how you want to pursue that.

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Saturday, June 6, 2015

Lolita Level up!

Hello everyone! While I'm not as much into Lolita on a day-to-day basis, I still very much enjoy the style and enjoy wearing it for meetups and a toned down version of it for church. Because of this, I've been trying to build my Lolita wardrobe up a bit and have been learning mostly by trial and error, but also through some guides and suggestions I've found online. One of these resources was a "Leveling up in Lolita" video I watched. Unfortunately, I didn't really agree with a lot of the choices (my pink and blue based wardrobe does not need a red beret), so I decided to do my own version! (Read: This is going to be a rather long post.) You can see the original video here.

Level 1 Lolita!

 As a beginner to Lolita, you may not wear Lolita very often or just not have the money to make a full wardrobe yet. This is a good time to experiment with different pieces to see what you like better. I would suggest going with Bodyline or a Taobao brand at this point, especially if you aren't sure it's something you'll be sticking with. Second hand brand is always a good choice if that's what you want though. I think having one full outfit with the basics of a Lolita wardrobe is the best choice at this point. This includes:

  • Blouse
    • Something simple and white is a good first choice, especially if you don't know what substyle you want to wear yet. Try to find one that has convertible sleeves so you can wear the same blouse in warmer and cooler weather.
  • Main piece
    • This can be a JSK (strapped dress), OP (sleeved dress), or skirt. A simple JSK is a good idea so you can have more styling options without having to worry about putting puffed sleeves under other items such as cardigans. Skirts can also be good for more options, but JSKs can also hide a flawed, short, or not entirely Lolita blouse more. (My first blouse was a handmade one that was too short to wear by itself, so I could only wear it under my JSK since it covered the shortness.)
  • Petticoat
    • Most of the common substyles in Lolita require a certain silhouette that is obtained by wearing a petticoat underneath your dress or skirt. Make sure to get one in the right shape (usually bell or A-line) as well as length. Ideally, a petticoat should be an inch or so shorter than the hem of your skirt to avoid it poking out anywhere as well as an oddly shaped skirt from a too-short petti. Try to get a higher quality petticoat if you can afford it rather than several cheaper ones that will "deflate" or loose their poof over a short period of time. Also be careful to not get too poofy of a petti as it can make a skirt look odd. Make sure to take into account your figure as well as if you're curvier like me, you won't need as much floof as someone with more petite hips.
  • Bloomers
    • For me, bloomers is an absolute must because if I just wear a skirt, I will get a nasty rash from my legs rubbing together as I walk. Even if you don't get official bloomers, I'd recommend some light shorts or spandex shorts to wear under your skirt in case it gets blown up or something similar.
  • Loliable Accessories
    • When first getting into Lolita, I'd recommend getting shoes, socks, head accessories, and bags from non-Lolita sellers as they will be easier to work into your daily outfits and not so over the top. (This is presuming you're starting from T-shirts and Jeans or a similar "regular" style as opposed to an alternative style. If you already have an alternative style such as Fairy Kei or Gothic, you can by all means get items that suit both styles. Alternatively, if you're changing your daily wardrobe to a more elaborate look like Fairy Kei, you can get more over the top accessories as well.)
While in Level 1, I'd highly recommend doing lots of experimentation with cheaper brands such as Bodyline, especially if you're still defining your style. Even with a lot of virtual research, you can't entirely determine if a certain cut will lay oddly on you or if a certain piece will still look good on you even if you're just 2 cm under the max. If you can, find friends or shops who will let you try on pieces they have so you can get a better idea of how different pieces will look on you. I began tending more towards Gothic Lolita, but over time I've realized that I really like Sweet Lolita and prefer the Old School look over more current trends which tend to be more over the top than I personally like.

Level 2~

 In level two, you've got a basic coordinate down and want to add more Lolita pieces to your wardrobe to mix things up more and maybe add another main piece or two to your wardrobe so you can have more outfits to wear.

  • Second main piece
    • This can, again, be a JSK, OP, or skirt. I would recommend getting something different from your first piece for more variety. For example, if you got a skirt originally, get a JSK or OP, a JSK, a OP or skirt, etc. You can, of course, stick with whatever your original main piece choice was if you like it, but at Level 2 you still have room to experiment a lot since you're still defining your style. You can always sell or trade a piece if you end up not liking the style.
  • Weather specific wear
    • This can vary depending on what sort of an environment you live in. If you live somewhere cold, you might want to get a jacket or coat. It can also be a parasol and sunglasses if it's constantly sunny or umbrella and boots if you live somewhere with lots of rain.
  • Lolita specific bag and shoes
    • By this point, you've probably gotten an idea of what sort of shoes and bag you like with Lolita, so it's time to invest in a bag and shoes! I personally like heels with Lolita, so I plan on getting some heeled Tea Parties (I'm still kinda in Level 2...). You can also get a cute purse in a shape of your choosing, such as a heart, candy, bat wings, or a book that goes with your Lolita style. Emphasis on matching your Lolita style. You don't want to have the starts of a Gothic wardrobe and get a pastel candy shaped bag, unless you intend to build a more Bittersweet wardrobe (a mix of pastels and black, usually pastel prints in black colorways).
  • Lolita specific headgear
    • Be it the matching headbow, that tricorn hat to complete your Pirate ensemble, or an Old School rectangular headdress to complete your transformation into Momoko from Kamikaze (biker friend not included), a Lolita specific head piece is a great next step in building your wardrobe. If you already have one from level one, try to get one or two more pieces to complement your style. So if you got the matching headbow on Lacemarket with your first JSK, get a piece that goes with your print, like a rose with some little crystals on a  head clip for Angelic Pretty's Rose Toilette. Alternatively, get a different type of head accessory like a winter hat or beret.
  • More Lolita specific Accessories
    • This can include Lolita specific socks and tights, wrist cuffs, that Doki Doki 6% star clip you've seen everyone wearing, or gloves. Depending on weather and your style, these can vary significantly. I personally don't like how regular knee highs look on me (the traditional Lolita socks that end just under the knee), so I mostly stick to over-the-knee socks (OTKs) or tight.
Level 3!

 By this point, you're looking to add some more pieces to your wardrobe to add more variety or to add some more special pieces. You should be able to wear Lolita in colder weather or warmer weather without much problem. You likely have decided on the substyle or styles you like the best by this point as well as what sort of pieces you like.

  • Special occasion piece
    • Now that you're fairly settled in your style, you can get a fancier piece, maybe a dream dress, that's too luxurious to wear on a day to day basis, but great for special meetups and events. It may be something chiffon with lots of layers and delicate lace, or it could be a very noticeable print like Sugary Carnival (one of the more notable prints from Angelic Pretty that just about every Sweet Lolita wants) that tends to run more expensive than other prints due to its rareness.
  • Wigs
    • While I personally tend to wear my natural hair with Lolita, many Lolitas opt for wigs. If you don't have any, I would recommend getting at least one high quality Lolita wig that's a different cut and color from your natural hair. For example, I have short blonde hair currently (why did I ever cut it!) and I recently wore a long, curly black wig with a Old School Gothic coordinate. I also have several other wigs, but mostly for day-to-day fashions and cosplays rather than Lolita.
  • Not your style piece
    • Why would I want a piece that's not in my style? You ask. I personally recommend having at least one piece that's not your regular style just to add variety to your wardrobe. It's also nice to have different styles for days you just aren't feeling like wearing your typical style. For this reason, I have several Gothic pieces in a mainly Sweet wardrobe, but you can also go for something less everyday such as Guro or Ero Lolita. Also, if you mostly wear dresses, maybe try out Kodona or Ouji Lolita, both of which are more elegant, masculine styles.
Level Momoko

 If you've watched Kamikaze girl, you know exactly what this means.
  • Baby the Stars Shine Bright EVERYTHING
    • Momoko's wardrobe is completely Baby. If you're like me, this is your ultimate goal. If you don't like Baby, there's something wrong with you. This includes your socks. No off-brand socks for you.
  • Biker gang friend
    • If you don't have a biker friend already, find one now. She'll think you're really weird and boring, but no matter how you try, she won't leave you alone.
  • Everything must be cute and feminine
    • No hockey for you. You'd much rather go to a tea house and read your book on Victorian maidens.
Level Off-Brand Princess

 This is the truly cheapskate Lolita. One that saves money and has a huge, off-brand wardrobe full of Bodyline, Taobao, and the dreaded replica. You could buy that one Brand dress, or you could buy three Bodyline dresses and a replica purse instead for the same price.

  • No Brand allowed
    • Unless you consider Bodyline and Taobao to be brand. You won't pay more than $60 for a JSK or OP, and chances are you'll buy it second hand off of Lacemarket or wait for Bodyline to have a sale with free shipping and use the yen trick to save even more money.
  • Replicas are money savers
    • You call it art theft, I call it building my wardrobe with custom sized pieces at reasonable prices.
  • Bodyline is love, Bodyline is life
    • Need I say any more? You worship Mr. Yan, but that pillow case is still weird. And no, you won't marry him.

Well everyone, I hope enjoyed my version of Lolita levels! If you didn't already figure it out, the last two levels are jokes. I've never seen anyone who's as obsessed with the lifestyle and fashion as much as Momoko in real life and even folks who tend towards off-brand pieces such as myself or Princess Peachy on YouTube are still interested in Angelic Pretty and Baby the Stars Shine Bright and either own or want to own Brand pieces, just may not be able to afford them for the time being.

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