Seeing as I've been a lolita for a while now, and have been more active in the lolita community since I last updated this, I figured I'd completely redo some parts of my Lolita Guide! There will be some parts that will stay the same, but there will also be a new section, and some modifications here and there. Hope you enjoy!
Quick little disclaimer: I found all the images off of Google (except for Fahr's picture)! It should be pretty easy to find the sources by googling the url of the image.
Another little disclaimer: Several mentions of fetishes, as well as ( )ief mentions of blood.
So, to start off, I'll state a little about myself. My name is Austin, I've been a lolita for four or five years, and I post my coords on @chessinchocolate on Instagram! My main themes are cake and ballet, but I also love vintage diner and cherry prints. My color scheme is blue, pink, offwhite, and some lavender here and there. I currently have eight main pieces and only three headbows (shame on me, but I'm more focused on getting main pieces first and then finding things to match them, lol).
This guide will give newcomers to the style a quick run down of all you need to know before getting into the fashion. Or, if you're new but already a part of the fashion, it'll give you an idea of where to go next. What will be covered in this guide: basic rules, lolita myths, common lolita terms and slang, styles and themes of lolita, styles vs. themes, good sites to buy lolita on, tips for buying lolita on a budget, coordination tips, and probably some other things I'm forgetting at the moment!
Part One: The Rules of Lolita
♔ Rules are more important to lolita than they are to casual "normie" fashion, and even other jfashions like fairy kei or larme, which are more focused on evoking a feeling than sticking to a silhouette. You wouldn't call an all-pink, frilly ensemble "goth," so you wouldn't call an outfit that ( )eaks the lolita rules "lolita." When a lolita is able to build beautiful, rule-following coords, she may want to experiment with ( )eaking the rules. But beginners should never attempt rule( )eaking coords, because of their lack of experience.
1. Wear a good petticoat! This is, undoubtedly, the single most important rule of lolita. Lolita has an incredibly specific set of silhouettes, the bell shaped skirt, the a-line skirt, and the lovingly-nicknamed "potato sack" silhouette. They can be long or short, full or a toned down, but they're all sad and droopy without petticoats to fluff them up. Taobao resellers like Glitzy Wonderland have plenty of petticoats to choose from. If you want an a-line skirt, get an a-line petti. Bell shaped? Get a bell shaped petti! To my knowledge, the potato sack cut works with both kinds, although now there's petticoats made for that shape as well. And here's a hint: ( )and petticoats are never your best bet! You'd have to layer a ton of those bad boys to get a decent amount of poof.
2. Wear a blouse with skirts and JSKs! Lolita's ideals of modesty come from the Victorian era, so the showing of shoulders is (mostly) prohibited. In very certain instances, such as within Ero or Punk lolita, the more gyaru side of Hime, or bustier JSKs, going blouseless is seen as ok (and even then, some lolitas will still turn up their noses). These certain instances aren't recommended for beginners at all, though, since they require exemplery coordinating skills. Some alternatives to wearing blouses are shrugs, capelets, and cardigans (with shrugs, wear something on your wrists to balance out your bare arms).
3. Stay modest! Yes, the fashion (unfortunately) shares the name of the novel and movie Lolita, but lolita fashion isn't supposed to be sexy! A little cleavage with a lower cut one piece is sometimes unavoidable for those of us with a little more of a bust, but you should try to stay covered up. Yes, even Ero lolita is modest. (Since the name is misleading, you'll see a lot of sexualized Ero still claiming to be lolita. It's not.) Skirts should only come a little above the knee, but if you happen to be taller, you can purchase underskirts to lengthen your dress, or just wear the darn dress anyway because you can't change your height. Be careful, though, if the dress is too short, you could end up looking like an adult version of a Toddlers and Tiaras star!
4. Invest in quality over quantity! An unspoken rule, but a rule nonetheless. Better to have three pieces of ( )and name or good Taobao clothing than 50 Bodyline, Fanplusfriend, or Milanoo lacemonsters (more on those later). If a dress looks like something you could buy at Party City, it's not worth buying or trying to coordinate.
5. NO. REPLICAS. This goes hand in hand with number four, but also addresses art theft. No matter how much you may want Angelic Pretty's Milky Planet, no one will take you seriously as a lolita if you show up in this replica instead of the actual dress. Replicas are art theft, don't support them. They also look terrible, pretty much no matter what. They've made some lolitas hate the original prints, for goodness' sake! There's a debate on whether this extends to accessories, blouses, purses, and shoes, but it's a popular opinion that design theft (which is a part of how fashion thrives) isn't nearly as bad as straight up print-snatching. So yeah, stay far, far away from Dream of Lolita and other replica makers.
♔ Those are the major rules, but there are a few smaller, just as important ones to remember as well. Here they are!
6. White face paint and black or blue lipstick with Gothic (or any other style) is usually tacky. It's a look rarely pulled off well, even though Mana is famous for wearing it. He's in a visual kei band, though, so crazy makeup is part of the deal. The people who can pull this look off are usually goth as well as a gothic lolita. Again, beginners should stay away from the combo.
7. Random animal ears/tails in coords should be avoided. Petplay fetishwear such as ”>this always looks cheap and tacky, not to mention that it's FETISHwear (seriously, fetishy things should stay a million miles away from lolita). Sturdy, built-for-lolita ears like the ones used in Misako's cat-themed coord https://78.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m85h50Kr831qad55j.jpg”>here are much more tasteful. If the print has a cute animal in it, feel free to wear cat/rabbit/bear ears. If not, stay FAR, FAR away from the ears!! As far as tails go, they pretty much always look tacky as well, even when ( )and does them. And fursuiting and lolita should be kept far apart, unless the fursuit is specifically made for lolita (like the absolutely adorable Luna).
8. Keep anime and lolita seperate! Lolita is not cosplay, and it didn't originate from anime. Maid/Cardcaptor Sakura/Mana/Misa Amane/Rozen Maiden/Show By Rock!!/Yoshiko Tsushima cosplay is not, and will never be lolita. Just because a character happens to dress in a lolita-inspired way doesn't mean that they're a lolita. If you show up to a lolita meetup in this, you'll be dismissed as a weeby ita. Same goes for things like this AOT fan design; it's not a coord, it's a costume.
9. Wear ALL the components of a lolita coordinate! That means main piece, blouse if required, headwear, lolita shoes, legwear, and wristwear (if you're wearing short sleeves). When something out of the above is missing, your outfit will look unfinished and unpolished.
♔ Seems like a lot of rules, huh? Well, fear not! These rules aren't really hard to follow at all, and they quickly become second nature. Again, with a very particular fashion comes a very specific ruleset.
Part Two: Mythbusters - Lolita Edition
♔ Alright, now it's time to debunk some stuff! There are countless rumors constantly flying around in regards to lolita, and most of them aren't that true at all. So, I'll take a little time to explain some stuff!
1. Lolita came from anime. Some people actually think this, weird as it sounds. Lolita's origins actually lie in Rococo, early Victorian, and natural kei clothing, as well as influences from Alice in Wonderland. Teens in early Harajuku combined these influences with their personal style, and thus lolita (well, old school lolita) came to be.
2. All lolitas are female. Well, no, but there must be some element of female passing to truly be considered lolita. Brolitas try their hardest to look just as cute as their female counterparts, and use wigs and makeup to conceal their more masculine features. Even Fahrsindram, a transman, does this. If you don't pass, /cgl/ is quick to label you either a fakeboi or a fetishist. I won't say my personal views on this subject, but the former sentence is the harsh reality.
3. All lolitas are lovelies. Some itas (and even genuine lolitas) out there believe that all lolitas must be ladylike, Pollyanna type girls who sit in fancy chairs eating sweets and sipping tea all day. Obviously, this isn't true. There isn't a certain "lolita personality," because every lolita is different!
4. All lolitas must be skinny. Angelic Pretty has actually become more accommodating to fuller body types over the years, and plenty of Taobao ( )ands offer custom sizing! There are quite a few adorable, plus-sized lolitas out there. Just beware that if you're bigger, certain ( )ands (especially classic ones like Innocent World) will be less likely to fit you. Don't squeeze yourself into dresses that are too small, find ones that flatter your body type!
5. All lolitas are catty, backstabbing ( )andwhore b----es! ABSOLUTELY not true. Some lolitas may like stirring up drama, but there are plenty of friendly lolitas out there as well. Again, everyone is different, and there will always be bad apples in every batch of good ones.
6. You have to stick to one style. Also untrue! When you first start out, you'll want to decide on a basic style and color palette, but you can always expand later. There are many, many lolitas who wear different styles and colors.
7. Lolita is ageplay/DDLG/adult baby/sissy/insert fetish here. NO. NO. Absolutely not. Just because the name of the fashion is associated with a book/movie about a pedophile (which, by the way, is supposed to be a story told from a monster's perspective) doesn't mean that lolitas are all kinky daddy's girls. If one of the above type of fetishists is found in the lolita community, they're shunned (that is, if they ( )ing their fetish outside the bedroom). Kinkshaming and lolita go hand in hand.
8. Brand can never be ita, or ( )and name items excuse you from being an ita. wrong, wrong, and WRONG! "Brand itas" are just as painful to look at as normal itas, sometimes even more so! Knowing how to wear the clothing is just as important as buying quality items. A bad coord is a bad coord, no exceptions. As you can see, even cele( )ities like Lil Mama and Lady Gaga can be massive itas.
Part Three: Lolita Dictionary
♔ Now, let's move on to common lolita terms that you'll hear a LOT. I've compiled a list of as many as I can, but please notify me if there are any I've missed!
Ana-chan: Derogatory term for lolitas deemed too skinny.
AatP or A/P: Alice and the Pirates, the sister ( )and of Baby the Stars Shine Bright. Known for gorgeous gothic prints like Vampire Requiem.
AP: Angelic Pretty, a ( )and famous for its sugary sweet prints, most notably its carousel and chocolate prints.
Alice Bow: a headband with a giant bow on it, also referred to as a head-eating bow.
A-Line Petticoat: A petti that flares out in a triangular shape, usually used in Classic lolita.
Bell-Shaped Petticoat: A petti that poofs out in a domed shape, like a bell. The standard lolita petticoat.
Bonnet: A headwear item that consists of a back and a large ( )im that can be either hard or floppy, used most commonly in Classic and Gothic lolita.
BTSSB: Baby the Stars Shine Bright, a ( )and famous for extravagent non-print dresses and its mascots Usakumya and Kumya-Kuma-Chan.
/cgl/: Stands for Cosplay and Gothic Lolita, the 4chan board for lolita and cosplay. Contrary to popular belief, most people who go on /cgl/ aren't jerks.
Comm: Short for community, a group of lolitas who meet and discuss the fashion together.
Conlita: Lolitas who only wear lolita to anime/comic conventions. There's a debate on whether or not they're real lolitas.
Coordinate: Usually shortened to coord, a coordinate is a complete lolita outfit.
Cutsew: A casual blouse made from jersey. Basically a lolita t-shirt.
Fatty-chan: Derogatory term for lolitas deemed too fat.
Half-bonnet: A bonnet without the back.
Headdress: This is normally referring to rectangle headdresses, cloth rectangles covered in lace and ribbons that were popular when lolita first started out.
Ita: From the Japanese "itai" meaning painful. So, a lolita who's so bad at being a lolita that it hurts to look at her. Most people go through an ita stage, and a few stay ita for life. The latter are usually weeaboos as well.
IW: Innocent World, one of the most popular Classic lolita ( )ands.
Jet-J: Juliette et Justine, a Classic lolita ( )and famous for its painting dresses.
JSK: Short for Jumperskirt. A dress without sleeves.
Lonelita: A lolita with no comm or lolita friend group.
Mana-sama: Joke referring to Mana of Malice Mizer, who popularized lolita and is the idol of Gothic lolitas. He runs the ( )and Moi Meme Moitie.
Meetup: An organized event where a bunch of lolitas go out and have fun.
Metamorphose Temps de Fille, or Meta: A mainly sweet lolita ( )and known for being a little on the crazy side, as well as making fantastic wa lolita clothing.
Milanoo: A site famous for stealing photos from indie ( )ands and claiming to sell lolita for cheap. Then, when you buy from them, they ship you a really crappy, costume quality dress. Not surprisingly, itas love to buy from them. They have what seems like millions of doppelganger websites.
Misako Aoki: The most famous lolita model, also a nurse and Kawaii Ambassador.
MM: Mary Magdalene, the most expensive classic lolita ( )and, if I'm correct.
Moitie: Moi-meme-Moitie, Mana-sama's ( )and of Gothic lolita clothing.
OP: One piece. A dress with sleeves. Requires no blouse underneath.
OTKs: Over-the-knee socks.
Pannier: Fancier term for petticoat.
Print: Specially drawn patterns that decorate a dress. Usually have pretty, strange, or long names.
Rocking Horse Shoes: Lace up platform shoes with wooden soles and a notch at the heel, pioneered by Vivian Westwood. Also ab( )eviated to RHS.
Seagull/Gull: A lolita who goes on /cgl/. Comes from the prononciation of the three letters as one word. This is why there are so many seagull memes in lolita.
Shirring: Rows of bunched up, elasticated fa( )ic that allow for an easier fit. (Often misspelled/mispronounced as "shearing.")
Shopping Service: A tool used to buy from official ( )and websites and Taobao. Cost money, but they're worth it.
Taobao: A Chinese website where you can purchase from different Chinese lolita indie ( )ands.
Taobao Resellers: Sites where you can find Taobao items easier, although the prices are marked up a bit.
Teaparties: Referring to teaparty shoes, lolita flatwear.
UTKs: Under-the-knee socks.
VM: Victorian Maiden, another Classic lolita ( )and. Known for having subtle but gorgeous detailing.
Weeaboos: If you don't know this term already, it refers to people who do one or more of the following: want to be Japanese, despise their own culture, love anime and manga to the point where their love for it is their defining personality trait, and/or sometimes wear cosplay in public/throw random Japanese words into their everyday talk. (Like, "Do you like anime? I love it, it's so kawaii!". They usually pronounce "kawaii" "kowaii", which, unbeknownst to them, means scary.) The more stubborn itas are usually weebs.
Wristcuffs: Lace gathered onto an elastic band, making a sort of ( )acelet. Always worn in pairs. Kind of like garters, but for your wrists.
Part Four: Styles and Themes
♔ Before going through the many, many styles, here's a quick note on styles vs. themes! There's a very fine line between the two, but styles have enough unique elements to stand alone, while themes use the different styles as bases. Again, the lines are pretty blurred, so here's what's generally accepted (as far as I can tell).
♔ When you first start out in lolita, you'll want to stick to one of these three styles until you have the basics down and can coordinate outfits well. It may seem constricting, but it'll save you from a more embarrassing ita period. You may not even have an ita period at all!
Gothic Lolita: The darker style of lolita, pioneered by Mana and his fans. Gothic is characterized by religious themes, gothic architecture, and motifs pertaining to gothic horror. Elegance is prized over edginess, although there are more visual kei influenced gothic coords. Common gothic accessories are feathered hairpieces, cross necklaces, and big, stompy boots. Keep in mind, gothic doesn't have to be all black! Other common colors include ( )ight blue, white, wine, and deep purple. Examples of gothic done well: ♔, ♔, and ♔. Examples of gothic done poorly: ♔, ♔, and ♔.
Sweet Lolita: The most traditionally cutesy style of lolita, pioneered by ( )ands like Angelic Pretty and BTSSB. Sweet is characterized by sugary themes like cute animals, cakes, sweets, cheerful florals, fairytales, and other such motifs. Lace usually is shaped in some cute manner, and colors stay pretty strictly in the pastel zone. As lolita has evolved, sweet's taken on a more classic-like slant, but it's still as sugary as always. Common sweet accessories are fun-shaped purses, giant bows, fluffy wristcuffs, and teaparty shoes. Common colors include pink, sax blue, mint green, red, light yellow, white, lavender, and even navy and black occassionally! Keep in mind, sweet is pretty much never neon colored; the color palette normally looks like this. Examples of sweet done well: ♔, ♔, and ♔. Examples of sweet done poorly: ♔, ♔, and ♔.
Classic Lolita: The most Victorian/Rococo inspired style of lolita, ( )ought into the spotlight by the ( )ands Innocent World, Victorian Maiden, and Mary Magdalene. Classic is characterized mainly by its simplicity compared to the other styles (although OTT classic is something to behold!). It's a lot more demure, and many dresses could easily be worn as vintage sundresses. Usual motifs are Victorian-style florals, antiques (such as antique letters, china, or teddy bears), stripes, elegant architecture, and plaid. Common accessories are flower crowns, berets, simple necklaces, pearls, and antique jewelry. Common colors are wine, forest green, all shades of ( )own, ivory, navy, antique gold, antique silver, and muted pastels. Examples of classic done well: ♔, ♔, and ♔. Examples of classic done poorly: ♔, ♔, and ♔.
♔ Once a newbie (or babylita, if you will) has mastered their chosen basic style, they may choose to try and coord in one of these more difficult styles. The reason these styles aren't reccommended to beginners is because of their more specific, more intricate nature. Some require prior, extensive knowledge of other styles, and some require a lot of different, expensive pieces to put together a good outfit. These styles aren't really ones you'll hear other lolitas identify themselves with, and are mainly worn for themed events. You'll hear a lot more "I'm a sweet lolita who wears hime occasionally," than "oh, I'm a hime lolita." Old school and punk seem to be exceptions to this unspoken rule.
Wa Lolita: Wa mixes aspects of traditional Japanese clothing with the silhouette and aesthetic of lolita. This makes it pretty dang hard to wear. If you don't know how to wear a kimono/hakama/yukata properly, you probably won't pull off wa. It takes a bit of creativity as well. Thankfully, wa has become much easier to wear due to Metamorphose Temps de Fille releasing several wa-styled collections over the past year! Colors and motifs are similar to traditional Japanese kimono patterns. Examples of wa done well: ♔, ♔, and ♔. Examples of wa done poorly (pretty much infinite if you search "wa lolita"): ♔, ♔, and ♔.
Qi Lolita: Similar to wa, but it takes its inspiration from traditional Chinese qipao and hanfu (the former more than the latter). Unlike wa, there are plenty of qi dresses available on Taobao. It's just a matter of finding ones that are good quality, not tacky, and coording them well. Qi tends to be pastel or jewel toned, with traditional Chinese motifs like lanterns, clouds, flowers, and even dragons. Qi can easily look costumey, though, which is something to look out for. Examples of qi done well (note that two of these use the same dress!): ♔, ♔, and ♔. Examples of qi done poorly (like wa, there are MANY): ♔, ♔, and ♔.
Old School Lolita: Compared to the others in this list, old school seems pretty simple. Just wear old school clothing, right? Well...no. There's a whole aesthetic to get down, too. See this picture? That's what you're going for. Sausage curls, kind of frumpy, no harsh makeup, looking like you give no craps about anything, natural hair, stompy shoes...yeah. It's all too easy to make old school look too polished, something almost unachievable with other styles. Simple motifs, like music notes and crowns, paired with simple but elegant lace and pintucks, as well as simple colors, are only one part of old school. Keep in mind, there are differences between old school sweet, classic, and gothic. Examples of old school done well: ♔, ♔, and ♔. Examples of old school done poorly: ♔, ♔, and ♔.
Hime Lolita: Ah, hime. The two-faced style. Hime has two options: take influence from Marie Antoinette, Queen Victoria, and other historical rulers, or be inspired by the gorgeously tacky hime gyaru. What hime substyle you take usually depends on whether you're going for a sweet or classic take on the style. Nevertheless, hime is always extravagent, with plenty of pearls, crown motifs, gloves, tiaras, Rococo inspiration, and gowns absolutely dripping with lace. Colors are all over the place, from pastels to jewel tones to darker colors. It's the aesthetic, like old school, that matters the most. You have to sell "royalty" to other lolitas, as well as the outside world. Hair and makeup are even more important than they are to other styles, with hairstyles often being insanely huge and makeup being heavier than normal. Hime can easily look like a costume because of the tiara element, which also makes it more difficult to pull off. So, quality is incredibly important in this style. Toy store tiaras and cheap satin gloves are not an option! You should look like a professional princess, not a little girl playing dress-up. Myrreli is a fantastic lolita who does hime coords pretty frequently, in an incredibly non-costumey way. To me, she's got both hime substyles down pat! Examples of hime done well (aside from a few dozen ones of Myrreli's): ♔, ♔, and ♔.<( ) /> Examples of hime done poorly: ♔, ♔, and ♔.
Punk Lolita: More hardcore than gothic, but still with a touch of sweetness, punk is the rebel of the lolita styles. It requires knowledge of punk fashion as well as lolita, and is a hard balance to get right. Do it right, and you look like an awesome band member. Do it wrong, and you look like an early 2000s nightmare! Common themes and accessories are chains, studs, cute animals with a punk twist, distressed or asymmetrical fa( )ics, thorns, and plaids. Common colors are black, red, and silver, although greys, purples, blues, and even yellows are used occassionally as well. Punk hairstyles, like hime's, are often huge, and teased to perfection. Punk makeup is also heavier around the eyes. Like gothic, punk tends to like big, stompy boots! Another thing to note is that in punk, showing a bit more skin is usually acceptable. Examples of punk done well: ♔, ♔, and ♔. Examples of punk done poorly: ♔, ♔, and ♔.
Ero Lolita: The most misunderstood style of lolita, by far. It allows hemlines to go a little higher, and blouses are usually nixed, but it's not sexy in the traditional manner. Ero (short for erotic) focuses on hinting at what's underneath the frills, not showing off your goods to the world. Deep cleavage is still very much avoided, and skirts are never short enough to barely cover your butt. This is a style where expertise in the fashion is very much needed, or else you may end up looking like a hooker (Victorian prostitute is more acceptable, but still). Fetish elements like leather, cage skirts, tights printed with rope, garters, and thigh highs are all integrated into the style, but tastefully. The key word to avoid here is trashy. Metamorphose Temps de Fille has even put out full leather JSKs in the past! Another interpretation of ero involves what was considered underwear in the Victorian era. So, the elements usually kept hidden, like bloomers, corsets, petticoats, and cage skirts, will be exposed.Examples of ero done well and tastefully: ♔, ♔, and ♔. Examples of ero done very, very poorly: ♔, ♔, and ♔.
Sailor Lolita: Exactly what it says on the tin, sailor is inspired by old navy uniforms and seifuku. A lot of ( )ands release sailor-style dresses during the summer, since the only defining factor of a sailor-style dress is the signature sailor collar (nautical themed prints are optional). Common colors are navy, white, black, red, and sax blue, although there have been pink and lavender sailor dresses released by Angelic Pretty! Pretty much the only nautical themes that get ( )ought in are anchors and steering wheels, but Alice and the Pirates has released ship prints before. Quality is pretty much the only factor seperating good sailor coords from bad ones. That makes sailor pretty dang easy to pull off! Examples of sailor done well: ♔, ♔, and ♔. Examples of sailor done poorly: ♔, ♔, and ♔.
Pirate Lolita: The Hard Mode version of its sailor sister, pirate is also a fairly straightforward style. However, all the different piratey elements make it similar to hime, in the fact that it can look incredibly costumey if not worn correctly. Pirate incorporates lots of high waisted skirts, bustling, jabots, elaborate tricorn hats, feathers, tailored jackets, antique gold/silver accessories, and piratey boots. The nautical themes that seem to disappear in sailor come out in full force in pirate. Eye patches are sometimes worn for fashion shows and special events, but are never worn as dailywear. As with hime, cheap party store accessories are to be strictly avoided. Common colors are dark wines, ( )owns, black, navy, and gold. Examples of pirate done well: ♔, ♔, and ♔. Examples of pirate done poorly: ♔, ♔, and ♔.
Country Lolita: A style that doesn't get enough love! If you love the outfits from classics like Pollyanna, Little House on the Prairie, and Anne of Green Gables, this style's for you. Like old school, it's more about the aesthetic than specific parts. Ginghams, florals, calico fa( )ic, and plenty of fruit prints define the fa( )ic of country, while dusty colors dominate the color palette. Reds, blues, ivories, and greens are common choices, as well as the typical sweet lolita colors. Straw hats and boater hats, adorned with fake flowers and fruits, are the defining headwear choice, and hair is usually ( )aided. Makeup is very natural and muted, and it makes country pretty easy to pull off. Examples of country done well: ♔, ♔, and ♔. Examples of country done poorly: ♔, ♔, and ♔.
Guro Lolita: Another incredibly misunderstood style. Guro, short for グロテスク/gurotesuku, or grotesque, focuses on an "injured doll" or "evil nurse" type look (at least, typically). With the rise of menhera, medical themed guro coords have risen in popularity. This is not a look to be worn casually, and is usually seen in the wild at Halloween meets. Otherwise, it's usually worn for themed photoshoots. Some guro looks are incredibly subtle, while others go more crazy. Common guro accessories are bandages, fake blood splattered across a white dress, medical-themed jewelry, eyepatches, and nurse headdresses. It's a very hard style to keep fashionable and not costumey, even moreso than pirate or hime. The color scheme is usually white and red, but there are some black and red ones out there as well. Examples of guro done well (these were SUPER hard to find): ♔, ♔, and ♔. Examples of guro done poorly: ♔, ♔, and ♔.
Military Lolita: One of the edgier looking lolita styles, military is based off of various old army uniforms, mostly ones from the 1800s. There are some more recent-styled ones as well, though, even ones with camo print! Military is usually done in dusty greens and jewel tones, and utilizes sharper design elements, like lapels instead of rounded Peter Pan collars. Military hats, lolita-styled combat boots, and gloves are a few common accessories. Again, it shouldn't look like a Party City-bought uniform. Military done well (including a few ouji looks): ♔, ♔, and ♔. Military done poorly: ♔, ♔, and ♔.
Casual Lolita: The most toned down style, but surprisingly the most controversial. Lolitas have been arguing since the birth of the style what is and isn't casual, with some using casual to refer to any non-OTT look, and others stating that it's its own unique style. Still others refer to it as "what lolitas wear on their day off." Some include ( )ands like Leur Getter and Emily Temple Cute under the casual um( )ella, and others hate calling "otome ( )ands" lolita. The general consensus is that it involves very toned down jewelry (maybe a simple pendant and some ( )acelets), utilizes cutsews, and that it isn't band tee + lolita skirt. That's...that's all the community can agree on. Colors and motifs depend on what style you're going for. Sweaters are actually really freaking cute with casual, provided that you tuck them in and that they fit the style. Examples of casual done well (I apologize for one of them being me, but I couldn't find my favorite sweater coord!): ♔, ♔, and ♔. Examples of casual done poorly: ♔, ♔, and ♔.
♔ Themes, as previously stated, use either sweet, classic, or gothic as a base before adding in a gimmick. Meetups often have specific themes to follow! Themes are very susceptible to looking costumey, so quality is especially important. They're pretty much unlimited, but here are some of the common ones.
Alice Lolita: Naturally, an Alice in Wonderland themed coordinate, specifically for Alice herself! It usually utilizes sweet as a base, but there are quite a few classic Alice prints (and coords!) out there as well. There's even some gothic and military styled Alice prints, so take your pick! The most common way to create an Alice themed coordinate is to wear a solid colored, pastel dress and put on a white, frilly apron. Dresses with card suit prints are also utilized. Examples of Alice themed coords done well (with bonus Queen of Hearts coord!): ♔, ♔, and ♔. Examples of Alice themed coords done poorly: ♔, ♔, and ♔.
Harry Potter Lolita (Potterlita?): Yes, this is a super common theme! If you're a potterhead lolita, oh boy is there a theme for you! Potterlita (referring to it as this because of the shorter name) is done by wearing your house colors or, alternatively, theming a coordinate after one of the characters. Classic is almost always the base style, although there have been some gothic themed potterlita coords as well. School motifs, like plaids, pinstripes, and bits of military detailing, are extremely common. Colors, unsurprisingly, are black, gold, silver, red, yellow, green, blue, and occasionally ( )onze. Potterlita meetups are often held in autumn. Examples of potterlita coords done well: ♔, ♔, and ♔. Examples of potterlita coords done poorly: ♔, ♔, and ♔.
OTT Lolita: OTT, the ab( )eviated form of Over-The-Top, refers to any coordinate that is extraordinarily fancy. OTT usually involves piling accessory after accessory onto the wearer, and sometimes wearing things that would be considered costumey in normal lolita. Makeup tends to be heavier, and leans further towards the more colorful or smoky side. Any style can be OTT, but the most common style to be given the treatment right now is classic. Unsurprisingly, there's hot debates over how costumey is too costumey. Again, quality and a good eye for coordination are the key components of good OTT. Examples of OTT coords done well: ♔, ♔, and ♔. Example of OTT coords done poorly: ♔, ♔, and ♔.
Kuro/Shiro/Sax/Pinku/Aka/etc. Lolita: If a coordinate features a single color or a single color with a white base, it's one of the above (black/white/sax blue/pink/red). It often uses old school as a base, unsurprisingly. The single color gimmick is all there is to it, really. Not going to give examples here, since you can see some in the old school section and it's that simple.
Circus Lolita: Newer than the other themes, but just as flashy, circus tends to use sweet, sweet-styled military, or military as a base. The key is to look like a ringmaster, and any circus-themed print will do. Occassionally, you will find some clown coords, but the ringmaster theme is by far the most prevalent. You see a lot of crazy, curly, teased wigs in this theme, as well as tiny top hats and even mini carousels on people's heads! Examples of circus themed coords done well: ♔, ♔, and ♔. Examples of circus themed coords done poorly: ♔, ♔, and ♔.
Witch Lolita: Only seen around Halloween, witch themed lolita is exactly what it sounds like. Basically, it's lolita with a witch hat. It normally uses sweet or gothic as a base, and the usual colors are black, purple, and silver. Sometimes you see a little bit of blue or white in there, too. Bats and pumpkins, as well as moons, are the most common motifs. Witch themed lolita usually utilizes lots of sheer layers, to add to that mysterious feel. Examples of witch themed coords done well: ♔, ♔, and ♔. Examples of witch themed coords done poorly: ♔, ♔, and ♔.
Nurse/Medical Lolita: Like guro, nurse themed coordinates have become quite common with the rise of menhera, a medical-cute fashion. Its only requirement is to look like you came from an old-timey hospital...as a nurse or doctor, not a patient! Sweet or classic is used as a base. Common colors are red, white, black, and muted pastels. Crosses, bandaids, bandages, angel wings, syringes, and nurse headdresses are all common accessories. Like with its guro sister, it needs to be fashion, and not a costume. Examples of nurse themed coords done well: ♔, ♔, and ♔. Example of nurse themed coords done poorly: ♔, ♔, and ♔.
Maid Lolita: Too often butchered by weeaboos and itas alike, maid themed lolita can be really cute if pulled off right! Maid is usually based in sweet, unless the wearer is aiming for a classic Victorian housekeeper sort of look. Maid utilizes a lot of parfait and sweet motifs, and is always topped with a cute apron! It uses the sweet color palette, and is easily confused for Alice themed lolita. Maid headdresses are sometimes utilized, but not always. Alice bows are just as common! Remember, any random maid uniform isn't lolita. Examples of maid themed lolita done well: ♔, ♔, and ♔. Examples of maid themed lolita done poorly: ♔, ♔, and ♔.
Religious/Nun Lolita: Weird as it sounds, religious motifs have been a staple of lolita, in all three styles, for quite a while now. Who knows what started it, but you can be sure that it'll be here for a little while longer (and in gothic for eternity). Colors can be pretty much anything, and paintings are pretty popular for dresses as well. Motifs are pretty much any Christian symbol you can think of, there's even an infamous Jesus JSK. Speaking as a Christian and a lolita, I don't consider it appropriation. I do, however, consider it offensive and rude to hold prayer/confession/communion photoshoots inside churches when you're not of the faith. I'm sure other Christians would agree with me! Wear religious dresses, but don't be disrespectful, please <3. Examples of religious themed coords done well: ♔, ♔, and ♔. Examples of religious themed coords done poorly: I actually couldn't find any eyebleedingly terrible religious themed coords, to my complete and utter surprise!
(If anyone remembers any other common themes, tell me on the cover doll! I'd love to add to this list!)
♔ Fusions combine one or more fashion styles, but aren't considered one of the main or secondary style groups, mostly due to infighting about whether they're real or not. I won't use examples here, since they're easily searchable.
Bittersweet Lolita: If the arguments surrounding casual lolita have been going on since the start of the fashion, the arguments about bittersweet have been going on since the beginning of time itself. It's a fusion of sweet and gothic, and ranges from sweet dresses in black colorways to creepy-cute coordinates. It often looks like something a pastel goth would wear as a lolita.
Sweet-Classic Lolita: Exactly what it sounds like! This has a sort of double meaning. First, it can mean classic dresses with sweeter prints, like Innocent World's Revival Sweet Teddybear. On the other hand, it can mean more mature looking sweet lolita. That means no blinding pastels, and floral prints instead of sugar overloads. Try Sugar Pansy instead of Sugar Hearts, or Princess Cat instead of Dolly Cat.
Retro Lolita: Retro is simply a combination of rockabilly/pin up fashion and sweet or classic lolita. It comes out looking like this! As with all other lolita styles, cleavage should be adequately covered. Hair is put in victory rolls, and a-line dresses (usually from Victorian Maiden) are almost exclusively worn. Common accessories and motifs include birdcage veils, cherries (and cherry prints!), poodles, pearls, winged eyeliner, elegant gloves, and cherry red lipstick. Kitschy 50s prints are to be avoided, replaced with cute lolita motifs instead. Legwear should still be worn, although it's allowed to be a bit more sheer than the average lolita legwear.
Steampunk/Steam Lolita: Hoo boy. This one's a doozy. To pull off steam lolita, one must have a thorough knowledge of what exactly steampunk is (hint: not ( )own clothing with random gears stuck to it and goggles and a mini top hat on top). You've also got to know about the fashion of the Victorian era, where steampunk settings take place. All in all, you need to do a LOT of research to not end up looking like this. Steam lolita utilizes jewel tone fa( )ics, high waisted skirts, bustles, corsets, and lots of neutrals. When looking for a good example of steam lolita, this was pretty much the only thing I found. Most "steam lolita" ends up looking like a cheap costume, an embarrassment to both people who wear steampunk and lolitas. Tread carefully.
Fandom Lolita: "Cosplay lolita's" legit older sister. It's extremely, extremely rare to find a good fandom lolita coord. Too many girls custom-make lolita-style versions of their favorite character's outfit, which makes their outfit cross the line seperating fandom lolita from cosplay lolita. To pull off fandom lolita, you have to stop and think about what your inspiration would wear in lolita. Maybe Link would wear that nice green AATP jacket, or maybe Cinderella would love wearing Baby. Whoever your inspiration is, try to create a coord that ( )ings out their personality and aesthetic, but stays firmly in the lolita category. Think Disneybounding, not Halloween costume. Lolita-Tips's Tumblr has some fantastic examples of fandom-inspired coords; she even managed to create a good-looking ensemble based off of Deadpool! Some good examples: a super cute Anna, her matching Elsa, and an adorable Sherlock Holmes.
♔ Whether confusing two frilly things, or simply misunderstanding, people think lolita is a lot of things it isn't. Here are just a few confusions. (Warning: harsh truths and opinions ahead!)
Cosplay Lolita (Type One): You heard me, Type One. I consider there to be two types, and those two types are pretty different. The first kind of cosplay lolita refers to people who try and cosplay...as a lolita. Honey, you can't cosplay as a fashion style. The Lolita Guide Livejournal said it the best, "Cosplay lolita is to lolita fashion as schoolgirl costumes are to real schoolgirls." Lolita fashion, like other hobbies, is something an individual works hard at and practices. When someone shows up in a 40 dollar, revealing satin dress with costume lace and corset lacing up the wazoo and says it's a lolita costume, it's kind of offensive...just like slutty schoolgirl costumes. Cosplay lolita usually looks a little something like this: cheap, hideous, tacky, and something an actual lolita would never wear. Bad, oddly-colored wigs are a staple, as well as mini top hats, cat ears, and maid headdresses.
Cosplay Lolita (Type Two): Type two are the people who throw "inspired coord" out the window and end up with stuff like these three...outfits. It doesn't match, it doesn't look like lolita, and it's just plain ugly. You wouldn't believe all the ita Superwholock coords out there, it's truly astounding.
Ouji (NOT Kodona): Ouji is often seen as "the lolita substyle with pants." That's not true, ouji developed as its own, seperate fashion. It just happens to share some aspects of lolita, and some lolita ( )ands, such as AATP, design for both fashion styles. It's also not gothic aristocrat, another similar fashion. All you need to know to differentiate the three is in this triangle. You may also hear ouji referred to as boystyle, or mistakenly called kodona. Kodona is a term made up by the Western community, and ouji don't really like being referred to as that. Ouji also has its own substyles, but I don't have the expertise to really delve into that area.
Otome Kei: I don't know that much about otome, but it's definitely its own seperate style! Otome has a wide variety of silhouettes to lolita's two, and pants/shorts are acceptable. Jane Marple and Shirley Temple Cute are the two biggest ( )ands, and they also put out some loliable pieces...so otome tends to get lumped in with casual lolita.
Nymphet Fashion/DDLG: This is a style based off of the other type of lolita. It has a sexy, feminine, tomboyish feel, and is DEFINITELY not this kind of lolita. Lolita also has nothing to do with the DDLG community.
Sissy: Sissies are men who get off on crossdressing like a little girl. Lolita wants to stay FAR away from that image.
Part Five: the Ita Aversion Plan
♔ Most beginner lolitas worry a lot about being seen as itas. Well, most lolitas go through an ita stage, whether online or in real life. Mine consisted of thinking everything remotely frilly and cute could be lolita as long as it was modest. I nearly fell for Milanoo. Lots of lolitas end up documenting this stage, and we all love to laugh at out past selves. Don't worry, though! Most of the time, you don't know you're an ita until you improve. Here are some tips to avoid itadom.
1. Follow the rules...at least until you have a great grasp on the fashion! Rule( )eaking in favor of "creativity" is an ita hallmark. They love to say things like "But lolita iz a fashun! fashun dusent hav rools!!!1" It's true, lolita has more rules than, say, goth, but an all pink ensemble isn't goth. So why should a coord that consists of a 20 dollar costume, poorly made cat ears, mismatched socks, and converse sneakers be considered lolita?
2. Be polite! Sometimes a lolita is more ita personalitywise than clothingwise...although the two go hand in hand rather frequently. This tip is rather simple, but will carry you a long way and seperate you from the weeaboos. Pay attention to how your behavior is affecting others, and adapt to suit your environment. Don't put on a fake personality, either! Just be the best version of yourself.
3. Learn how to do decent hair and makeup...or get a wig! Most lolitas won't care if you show up with just a bit of mascara and some lip gloss, but sometimes the makeup can make a big difference. Hair and makeup can make or ( )eak a coord, and most of the time a coord won't look complete without them!
4. GOOGLE. EVERYTHING. Some lolitas love complaining about how noobs could just do a quick Google search and BAM, there's the info they're looking for. My advice is to Google your question first, and if you can't find what you're looking for, THEN ask. :)
5. Take concrit into consideration! Like it or not, you will get constructive critiscism on your coordinates. But don't worry! The critics are trying to help, not insult your outfit (most of the time). You don't have to follow what they say 100% of the time, but it's worth it to take their advice to heart; it might help you grow as a lolita.
Part Six: Tips for Budgetlitas
♔ Sometimes, you have a tight budget. But what if you want to buy pretty dresses that normally cost 200-500 USD? Well, you find a way! Here are a few tips for those of us short on cash.
1. My number one tip, ever, is to shop secondhand! Sites like Wunderwelt, Lacemarket, Lolitadesu, Maiden Clothing, Alice Fururun, Yahoo Japan Auctions, and Closet Child always have great deals on used ( )and name clothing. Some, like Wunderwelt and Lolitadesu, even have reward point systems! I bought a JSK recently from Wunderwelt for 70 USD before, instead of the original 246 or so (and it was a dream print! Score!).
2. Ask for clothing or lolita gift cards for any event where gifts are given! You have to guide people to the right sites, and it's not a guarenteed way to get lolita, but it's always worth a shot.
3. Find ways to earn money! This one's for the younger lolitas like myself. It's hard to earn money when you can't get a job, but there are plenty of things you can do besides babysitting! (Or you can babysit!) Yardwork, online surveys, bake sales, lemonade stands, yard sales, making and selling things, and housework are all just a few of your options. They may not pay as well as a job, but all that cash stacks up.
4. Search thrift stores for quality blouses! Chances are, you're not going to find a lolita dress at your local Salvation Army. But always check the blouse section for items that can be worn with your coords. Look for puffy sleeves, non-garish colors, ruffles, pintucks, no v-necks, and rounded collars. It shouldn't look like an office blouse. One of my daily blouses is from the thrift store, and I couldn't be any happier with it.
5. Buy skirts! Skirts, especially secondhand, are WAY less expensive than JSKs and OPs. Just make sure you have good blouses to go with them, since you can't hide any mistakes on the front of a blouse like you can with JSKs.
(If anyone has any other tips, let me know. This section's in MAJOR need of expansion!)
Part Seven: Trustworthy Sites
♔ If you're new to lolita, you probably don't know just how many sites are out there for you to ( )owse. You also probably don't know just how many scams there are out there! So, here are some definitely NOT scam websites for you to view at your leisure! (Note: I'm not really including shopping services right now, since they're super confusing for beginners to use.)
♔ Sells some pretty ita things, but there are some gems in there as well. Plus sizes are available, and their shoes are actually pretty decent.
My Lolita Dress
♔ Taobao reseller. Warns you when you see a replica. Marked up prices, but not as expensive as Clobba. I've placed orders there before, and they've done a good job getting the items to me, and fast!
♔ Taobao reseller. Expensive, but worth it (from what I've heard). Only stocks quality ( )ands.
♔ Taobao reseller. INCLUDES SHIPPING PRICE IN THE COST OF THE ITEM, HALLELUJAH! Also functions as an incredibly easy to use shopping service. Pretty sure they don't sell print replicas, either.
♔ Secondhand ( )and site. A little confusing to order from, but you can Google "closet child order guide" and you'll be all set! Usually have a good variety, and it's funny to see what things keep getting put on bigger and bigger sales.
♔ Always very friendly and helpful! Personally, they're my favorite place to shop. They always have some sort of big sale going on, and you can snag stuff for dirt cheap! They also have an English version of their site, which is a big plus.
♔ REALLY confusing layout if you don't speak Japanese, but there are some really good deals on here! Saw a pair of socks for a dollar on a quick look-through, and a JSK for 60 USD!
♔ The friendliest, most accessible site for English speakers! Free shipping over 150 USD, which is great. They're famous for their customizable lucky packs, where you can input your size, personal style, and preferences and recieve a box of surprises in the mail! I have gotten a medium size lucky pack before, and I got three head bows, a PURSE, a necklace, a Lyrical Bunny pin, and two pairs of socks. The lucky packs are AWESOME.
This is where I would put some lolita blogs, but there aren't enough that are active anymore. If anyone has suggestions, I welcome them with open arms!
Part Eight: Coordination Tips
♔ So, say you have a basic wardrobe put together. You've decided on a style and a color theme, maybe even some motifs. But now, how to put it all together? I'll give you some tips on how to ( )ing an outfit to life!
1. Balance your colors and elements properly! Spreading colors and motifs evenly throughout a coord is the first rule of coordination. You never want to have a block of pink, then a block of black, and a little bit of white at the bottom! Instead, maybe try some black and pink at the top of the coord, a white blouse under your black JSK, white and pink socks, and black shoes. You also don't want to have a huge mass of flowers on your head and a floral OP, but nothing on your legs or wrists that matches the theme. Unbalanced coords always look off, no exceptions.
2. MATCH. YOUR. COLORS. Seriously. Learn about color undertones, learn basic color theory, and learn how to apply the two to lolita. Don't be an ita who goes out wearing three different purples and ( )ight orange because it's Halloween. This is an example of bad pastel vomit. The colors match, but are eye-searing together because all of them scream BRIGHT! BRIGHT! It doesn't help that the print is super cluttered and busy as well, with a ( )ight border print on almost neon harlequin. This is an example of good pastel vomit.. There's a rainbow of colors present, but they're mostly present at the bottom, like a good border print should be. The colors are ( )ight, but not to the point where they're unbearable. All the colors are balanced out well, too, with both light and dark shades.
3. Make sure all your pieces look quality! I don't know how many coords I've seen where the makeup, hair, and dress look gorgeous, but then the girl has on dollar store knee socks and ratty sneakers. Lolita's a commitment to quality, and if you can't commit from head to toe, your coord is going to look a little worse than it should.
4. Don't forget hair and makeup! Picture a girl going to her senior prom in a gorgeous ballgown, along with an equally gorgeous rhinestone headdress and some cute-to-boot shoes. Now imagine that she's left last night's makeup on and didn't even do so much as ( )ush her hair before going out. Suddenly, that outfit seems a lot more incomplete. Seriously, doing hair and makeup can shift a coord from adequate to gorgeous in minutes! (Well, not minutes, but you know.) Even just some mascara, lipstick, and a quick bun can change the entire look of your coord for the better.
♔ That's all I can think to add for now, if you have any questions or want me to add something, comment under the cover image of this photo! I love feedback, either good or bad, and would love for this to become a good resource for lolitas everywhere!<( ) />