As I may have mentioned in my last post, it can be incredibly difficult to acquire or purchase pieces for a lolita fashion wardrobe. Some of it can be costs and budgeting, but a lot of is WAITING or waiting for the right moment. Even on a resale site like Lacemarket, you'll be checking frequently or waiting for a bid that you registered for to end, and if you're the "winner" you'll still wait at least 2 weeks for an item to be shipped out to you (or more if you bought it from someone outside of your country). If you are buying new from a Chinese shopping service, you're also going to be waiting a week or two for them to inquire about the availability of the item, then the item needs to be made (MTO=Made to Order), which can take as little as 2 weeks to several months (OR UP TO A YEAR), and then of course whatever shipping you selected when you paid for the item originally (I usually choose the cheapest option so that's another 3 weeks).
The very next best thing to choosing your own clothes and waiting for them to be made and shipped to you is to attend a clothing selling meetup in your EGL community. Usually there are folks that have been in the fashion for awhile and they are letting go of pieces that are no longer their style or don't fit anymore at deep discounts.
Which brings me to my beloved Meta shirt. (Meta is short for Metamorphose Temps de Fille). Now at the time...I didn't know hardly any of the brands except for Bodyline and Baby The Stars Shine Bright (and I only knew the latter because a friend of mine from college bought a lot of their beautiful designs when she was teaching english in Japan probably around 2008 ish. That stuff that she bought is considered 'vintage' Baby now because it is from the earlier days of lolita fashion. I asked her if it's for sale and she said it's rotting somewhere in her parents attic...so I'm gonna take that as a no.)
The reason I was drawn to the Meta shirt was simply because of its color and the fact that it fit me--I didn't think it was possible for me to fit into anything Japanese fashion (I was still in disbelief...and for good reason) but I tried it on at the swap meet and it fit!
Now you know from my previous post all I had in my lolita wardrobe so far was the Rose Stripe Bustle JSK from Bodyline that I purchased in February of 2022. I knew I needed an off-white or ivory colored shirt to go with it, so I just went for it. I also purchased a couple of socks from another seller and some jewelry. However, when I got home I just felt like the Meta shirt was way too fancy for the rose stripe bustle jsk and that all the accessories that I purchased were meant for a sweet coordinate...not the classic one that I was half heartedly trying to build.
However, knowing what I know now about the fashion and brand loyalty, it is not uncommon for people to purchase used brand clothing that is stained, slightly altered, or missing buttons. I still can't get behind this mindset to be honest brand or not. I want all my pieces to have all their parts and if there's a stain, it ought to be somewhere I can't see it. There are some EGL communities that are very exclusive where you can only be a member if you're wearing a coordinate from your "brand" or an an amalgam of "brand" items. Luckily my local community isn't like that. People are always open to discussion, are incredibly creative with their choices, and some members even make their own clothes in the fashion! But let's be honest, if my community ever changed their mindset, I would absolutely just go on wearing the clothes without them.
When you build a lolita coordinate, every outfit will consist of the following:
A lot of times when you're starting out you can find or make a lot of the accessories you might need, can find bags at TJ Maxx or Marshalls, and add things like lace or bows to socks that you already own to make your outfit appear more lolita. Sometimes you can find normie blouses that will work under a jsk or salopette. But you just can't make/ take normie cut dresses or petticoats into lolita fashion.
My first dress, which is actually a Jumper Skirt, I was able to try on in person at a local Anime/Gaming shop called Akiba Underground. The owner, Carolyn, is really into lolita fashion and the lolita clothing and accessories that she has for sale in the shop she purchased IN JAPAN [before the pandemic of course]. I fell in love with Rose Stripe Bustle right away. (Bodyline is one of the budget friendly brands. I think this piece cost me about $50). It reminded me of something that Melora Creager would wear onstage in her act Rasputina. (Rasputina is one of the reasons I started learning the cello-another expensive hobby of mine).
Of course, when I started my lolita journey, I pretty much just wanted to get on the ground running and creating outfits that "passed" for lolita fashion to the untrained eye. My first JSK, a size large, fit me (at least without a blouse and petticoat and all that under it). It was love at first sight and I bought it immediately, without regret, but also without a whole lot of knowledge. I did not have a matching lolita style shirt [yet] or a petticoat [yet]. But I thought I could put something together that would pass on my first try and news flash...it didn't read as lolita...but still read as an alternative fashion, specifically "mori girl". So why isn't the photo above lolita? Well quite frankly it's all wrong from the waist down. I'm not wearing a petticoat, I have bare legs and I'm wearing close toed sandals.
When you first get into lolita fashion, a lot of people will tell you that it takes awhile to build your outfits and that you should figure out what styles you lean most towards (Sweet, Gothic, or Classic) so you can narrow down your choices in color (especially) when you build your wardrobe. (This particular JSK says that it is Sweet, but to me reads more as Classic). Then you shop at second hand fashion places like Lace Market , Wunderwelt, or your own local community. It's also INTEGRAL to know all of your measurements like your full bust, waist, and hip sizes in inches as well as centimeters to really know if something is going to fit you. Do not assume anything with sizing.
Oh and you might have realized that if you're buying most of the Japanese fashion brands, they're expensive, like $250-500 for a dress or jumperskirt. The resale value on pieces is still high, so that's what you will see for both new and second hand. However, if you're looking for more budget friendly options, (like an entire outfit for $85-100) look no further than Chinese Indie brands. There are a lot of choices here, but you have to be careful with what sites you shop with and check their customer service rating. Not all sites are trustworthy and there can be errors in communication about your items..more on that in a future post.
In the end, I realized I was lucky to still pass for alt fashion with my choices in my coordinate, but I needed to make some more serious attempts at shopping within the fashion to create a true lolita look with this piece.
Let's get this over with ASAP!
Lolita fashion is a fashion subculture from Japan that is highly influenced by Victorian clothing and styles from the Rococo period. It has three main subcategories that are referred to as "Sweet", "Classic" and "Gothic". There are even more subcategories from there such as 'country', 'sailor', 'hime (princess)', 'ero', 'shiro (white)', 'kuro (black)', 'punk', 'wa and qi (inspired by traditional Japanese and Chinese dress), 'pirate', 'old-school', 'steampunk', etc.
Within Japanese culture the name lolita refers to cuteness and elegance rather than to sexual attractiveness. Many lolitas in Japan are not aware that the word lolita is associated with Nabokov's book, or the multiple western films "Lolita" [that show grooming and sexualization of underage persons] and they are disgusted by it when they discover such relations.
You can read more about the origins of lolita fashion here.
So now that we've got that out of the way, my main emphasis on this blog will be my journey of building my lolita wardrobe, how I figured out my favorite substyles, brands that I enjoy, how I acquired pieces, community meetings, etc.