Friends of Long Hill Tea
Back in November of 2022, I was looking for local "high tea" events to attend with my community. A high tea would consist of a picturesque venue with at least 3 courses; one of scones with lemon curd, fresh whipped cream and jam, light sandwiches, desserts, and of course a tea pairing with all of the food items. A Google search brought up the "Friends of Long Hill Tea", which is an annual fundraiser at the end of March for the mostly volunteer organization that runs Wadsworth Mansion in Middletown, CT. It's an extremely popular event and sells out VERY QUICKLY. In fact, you have to buy tickets sometime in January or early February. A few members of my community were also able to get tickets. The organizer of the event was very gracious and put us together in "open seating". I spent a lot of time emailing the organizer back and forth, but apparently the way it's supposed to work is that there's a host who gets 10-12 of their friends to buy tickets to fill out at table. The host brings all the tea serving wear (cups and saucers and little plates) and decorates the table for their guests. I mean that's cool and all, but if I'm gonna go out of my way to dress in lolita and wear my nice clothes, I also don't want to be responsible for doing the dishes afterwards.
Once I knew I had gotten tickets, I pre-ordered the Alice Girl Camellia Blooms Elegant Lolita JSK/Dress in Purple, size L from 42 Lolita.com. The dress includes the white overskirt (which is beautiful in its own right and could probably be used with other dresses). 42 Lolita emailed me right away reminding me that this was a pre-order that would take 1-2 months to make. I told them about the tea event I would be attending and asked if they thought it would arrive to my house in time to wear it to the event. They said yes and the dress came in the beginning of March, giving me a few weeks to try it on and figure out which petticoat to wear with it.
The sizing on this dress is very accommodating because there's shirring in the back as well as a lace up in the back so it will stretch and conform. It was a little challenging for me to close the opening under the armpit, but that's because the fabric is a little flimsy and there isn't a hook to hold it shut while you zip. (These types of things can be added later for more mobility if necessary). I didn't buy the matching high neck translucent shirt or matching bow with this dress because I just felt it was too...distracting for an already gorgeous piece. Instead I got a different translucent ivory shirt that was more of a low off the shoulder neck (which allowed me to wear a lace choker with as an accessory). My other accessories like my KC (headband) socks, and purse are accessories you buy that are meant to go with a lot of different outfits. The shoes are MODO brand and are very comfortable. I wore a very large petticoat (60cm length, 25 cm poof) with this dress. That level of poof probably isn't necessary, but it made for some fun photos, especially channeling Alice from Alice in Wonderland (I'm assuming who the brand is named after).
Everyone in the group absolutely nailed the assignment "elegant classic lolita". I mentioned that I was wearing a purple dress in our community forum, and I guess Jenna and Crystal saw that and incorporated some lavender into their outfits as well. Barbara's skirt (which you can't see), actually incorporates both purple and green, complementing the blue-green in Crystal's dress and the purple in mine. Clover stuck mainly to white and gold, which is very classic. Sarah's dress in different shades of pink just kind of helps us round out the whole color spectrum in an early spring kind of way. I always love to see how everyone puts together their coordinates from head to toe. After a meet, I always feel like I could use one more necklace, or maybe some rings or something to make my outfit more complete.
We got a lot of attention from some of the other guests. A lot of people took our photos, especially when we were leaving as a group. I had a lot of fun, but I don't think I'm going to take on the role of host for their event in following years. I already know it would be too much for me to dress up like this AND set a table for 12 AND pay $45.00 a ticket. Boundaries man, they're important.
A Story of Alter-caution
One day in February 2023, one of the people in my community put up a couple of Angelic Pretty dresses in the community marketplace channel on our Discord. I looked through the options. I fell in love with an ivory and brown with gold accents chocolate themed dress. It looked like classic colors with a (literally) sweet design of chocolate cakes and frosting. I didn't know much about the brand Angelic Pretty, except for that it was very famous in the lolita fashion community, and that all of the dresses pretty much resell at original value (no matter what the year).
Now I am accustomed to purchasing dresses, blouses and accessories from the Chinese Indie market where they have size charts and different sizes to choose from. I asked the person in the community for the sizing and they sent me this link from Lolilibrary. In the original listing it says that this dress was designed in 2013, it was originally sold for approximately $180, that the bust is somewhere between 92-110cm, the waist is between 72-92cm, and the length is 84cm. Now I know my bust is about 98cm, but according to the measurements in this listing I thought I was in the clear. It turns out that I wasn't.
As soon as the dress arrived, I was distraught. I could not zip it up around my chest area for the life of me. A friend of mine who is a seamstress said to let out some of the shirring in the back. At this point I did not know what exactly shirring was, but for those who don't know or realize it's the puckered up section of fabric that is SUPPOSED to stretch enough to give room for the bust. I messaged the seller of the garment back and said, hey this measurement wasn't accurate. And they said, that's Lolilibrary for you.
So the first thing I learned was that Lolilibrary sizing isn't to be trusted. And that Angelic Pretty dresses only come in ONE SIZE and if you're not that size, then you probably shouldn't be buying them. I was in a bit of a predicament. Should I just try to resell the dress myself or have alterations done? Would the alterations decrease the resale price if I were to resell it later?
I asked the seller about alterations and reselling the item and they seemed to imply that alterations would actually improve the sale as Angelic Pretty is known for that whole one size non-inclusivity thing, so ACTUALLY making it bigger would improve the chances of reselling it at full price.
Okay, so now I was invested. I found a local tailor and I was able to zip it up when she let out some of the shirring. But then she went ahead and took my measurements and removed all of the original shirring, while making the garment just a tad wider on both sides. She had to carefully sew back the lining and the main fabric. I don't know what the going rate for a job of this degree is, but it wasn't inexpensive. She didn't seem to believe me that the dress was actually worth $180.00. When I went to put it on after the alteration, it fit A LOT better though. However, the back part that you lace up by hand didn't work. She said that the brown cord that was provided with the dress was too short for me, and that I needed to buy some 20 yards of 3/4" brown ribbon at a fabric store to use instead. OKAY. Luckily milk chocolate brown is a common color available.
Coordinating Musee du Chocolat
It turns out that Angelic Pretty releases some kind of chocolate print at least once a year, sometimes twice per year. My friend Clover actually made a video about the history of their chocolate prints. It's a good watch and I learned a lot. In the photo above, I did a google image search of ivory print musee du chocolat and yes, it's not the same dress, but it is a similar cut and colorway to the one that I purchased. The one that I purchased is a low waist so it looks more like a salopette (overalls) than a traditional jumper skirt. It also has a relatively high yoke (again like a salopette not a jsk) so labeling a jsk IS ALSO MISLEADING. I honestly didn't realize this about the cut until I had talked with Clover more in person about this particular dress.
It all seemed simple enough to coordinate it until it wasn't. The person who sold it to me said that they never wore it because they didn't know how to coordinate it. The obvious answer is to stick with brown, white, cream and gold accents. However it got more complicated.
I ordered the shirt on the left in brown, thinking it would work. It didn't work for two reasons. Firstly, the shade of brown that actually came in the mail was a cool brown--DRAT color matching fail. YOU HAD ONE JOB (this was a lot easier with the lacing ribbon). Secondly though there was another problem with the collar of this shirt versus the collar of the dress. The dress collar is very high and actually needs a stand-collar (like the girl in the similar dress) is utilizing. All the things I could not fathom being a problem when I had first laid eyes on this dress were a valuable learning opportunity for me. It helped me learn not to chase down labels you don't know anything about, and to look very carefully at the collar of the dress compared to the shirt you might use. At this point I have a few options with coordinating this dress as I have two different colored stand collar shirts as well as different socks/tights and shoes to match.
[Yet I still can't find anything in my wardrobe to match the cool brown shirt so if you're looking for one, let me know].
Valentine's Day Sweet Lolita at my Local Library
I actually love Valentines Day. I think it's the romantic in me, or the chocoholic, but I love the carefree expression of love between friends, little kids, strangers and lovers alike. February 2023 I was as single as they come. I was on a self-love journey like no other. I woke up everyday with a spring in my step while listening to Darren Hayes new single, "Let's Try Being in Love".
My social calendar was packed. The first weekend I went to the Stupid Cupid Steampunk Convention with a few friends [see my last post]. Then the following weekend I went to a free program about aphrodisiac foods that my local library put on with my bestie. We had to register in advance, but we got to try apricots dipped in dark chocolate, a pomegranate raspberry spritzer, and other delicious chocolate treats while learning about the origins of Valentines Day and famous romantic duos. A week before the event, I had this feeling that I really wanted to dress in a pink love themed sweet lolita outfit.
I had purchased the skirt in the spring of 2022 (if you remember seeing this as part of my first meetup outfit-YOU'RE CORRECT!), but everything else was acquired later. The perfectly matching white shirt with the strawberry buttons was not even something you could purchase until summer 2022. By then it was way too hot to wear a long sleeve polyester shirt. I had bought the pink platform shoes with the metal hearts and bat wings from Amazon in the spring of 2022, but when I went to wear them in the summer my feet were swollen and they were too small. I purchased the cardigan sweater in July 2022 through Devil Inspired and I could not believe how incredibly warm this thing was...way too warm in fact for May-October in my climate. The beret I purchased from Amazon in the first week of January of 2023 and it took...a long time...maybe like 3-4 weeks to arrive, but it arrived just in time for the library program! The tights are from SNAG tights. You can get almost any fun or boring color you can think of. They have a pretty size inclusive platform and white tights are always available. [But if you do order from SNAG, order 3-6 pairs at once because not only will you get a discount, but also it takes 2-3 weeks to ship to you because they're coming directly from Scotland.] The Meowichi was originally a stuffed toy that I thought was a miniature size that could fit in an ita bag...but when it arrived it was obviously bigger than my hand. [This friendly and perfectly matching stuffed cat stayed home, but was used as a prop for these photos].
I actually only wore this outfit (without a coat) out to the program. Believe me, I was just as shocked as you are that it was the middle of February and warm enough (unless you stood still in the wind) to wear just this, without any snow or ice on the ground to slip on in pink platform shoes. My feet fit these shoes quite fine--there was no humidity to make them swell up. The polyester shirt was great insulation next to that super soft warm cardigan and the beret did keep my head warm. Casual and comfortable Valentines Coordinate achieved!
Point Manor Pre-Order & Steampunk Convention
Miss Point is an indie label Chinese lolita fashion brand that makes elegant lolita jsk, OP's, skirts, etc. Their range is Sweet to Classic to Gothic, but most designs primarily fall in the Classic category. According to the listing on 42lolita.com, they are "inspired by French elegance and pastoral style with unique prints". They are about a mid-range price when it comes to Chinese lolita brands ($65-200 USD), and all of their designs are made to order (which can take roughly 1-4 months to make).
I absolutely fell in love with this dress back in September 2022 when I saw it advertised as a pre-order on Devil Inspired. I was inspired to get this dress because it reminded me of the type of clothes that I saw my great aunts wearing in old family photos [and I've been wanting to connect with my ancestors]. The name of this design is Point Manor and it is very much inspired by Victorian fashion, in the Gothic lolita subcategory. I took a chance and did my very first pre-order. When I bought the dress, it said that it would take 4 months to make and that it would arrive sometime in December 2022. The dress also comes with the tie around the neck, additional ribbon waist ties in brown, skirt hooks, and an embroidered pin. The original pre-order listing had many more colorways; of course each of the 4 pin stripe colors as well as several different solid color options. The price is the same now as it was before, even though the solid colors are no longer available. I also purchased the matching veil/head accessory for this dress as well as the velvet cape. I figured that the cape could be utilized in many other gothic lolita looks so I splurged for the whole outfit. All in all I probably spent $180.00 but it wasn't actually a bad price through Devil Inspired, because of their free shipping promotion.
I was thinking about wearing this dress to the holiday tea meetup, but an even better opportunity showed up just a few months later. The annual Stupid Cupid Steampunk Convention was happening and I thought to myself, wow this dress is totally steampunk in style. I could EASILY wear lolita at a steampunk event and be a unique attendee. I asked my fashion group if anyone else wanted to wear lolita at the steampunk convention with me, and a few others also came along so I didn't have to be the only lolita.
I actually had a ton of fun at the event! I made some new friends, got to see a live musical performance and (speak to the performer afterwards about gear), shop around at the many vendors, and attend a couple of panels (I think my favorite being the one about DIY steampunk fashion). Wearing this dress to a non-lolita event actually opened up some doors for me, and now I'm very lightly involved with the local steampunk community as well.
Oh and as for the quality of Miss Point designs, let me just say I was impressed for the price point. If you're willing to wait (for it to be made), you are going to be pleasantly surprised by this Chinese indie brand.
My First (and maybe last) Lucky Bag
Sometimes when brands have a lot of an item that is not a popular sell, they will toss it in a mystery bag known as a "Lucky bag" by an approximate size ratio and offer it at a deep discount compared to the normal individual cost of the items. If you're one of those people that love mysteries or think they are particularly lucky, have a go at it! In the game of lolita fashion, I'm going to say Lucky Bags are good if you're not sure what you are going for with your wardrobe, or if you want the opportunity to plan a new coordinate that you might not necessarily have picked yourself. ALMOST like a mystery shopper. ALMOST. Except the only thing they have is the size you ordered and not any of your individual likes and dislikes. I ordered LUCKY PACK B, in size L/XL from 42 Lolita.com, which is supposed to include 2 JSK, a shirt, and accessory for $64.99.
Here we have the Little Red Riding Hood Jumper Skirt , a cream colored Chiffon cover shirt, and a variation of the Deep Sea Mermaid Jumper Dress (that's missing the rose embellishments). Not pictured is a textured medium size white bow that only comes with a pin fastener (that doesn't actually go with any of the other items in the bag).
Okay first of all, the Chiffon cover shirt threw me for a loop. It says it's one size, and it's completely open in the back. When I first put it on, I was wearing it backwards like a hospital gown before a pelvic exam. I asked members of my fashion Discord what was up. It stumped people for awhile. Some even said to just sew it up and make it into a bustle. Only after searching even harder on Google, did I realize it's actually a shirt that you put on over a usually sweet style OP that may have a busy design to make it more simple looking.
The Red Riding Hood JSK has an apron, but it's attached to the JSK, which is ODD, but it works. This JSK is completely pull over..there are no zippers, so you just have to loosen the apron part and put it over your head and hope that it stretches around your bust. Which it did, for me. But this garment is only in L, not XL, so if my waist was larger, it wouldn't have fit me.
The Deep Sea Mermaid Jumper Dress is quite gorgeous, despite the missing rose accents. You can't tell from the photo, but there also strands of silver within the navy blue parts of the bodice. This came in XL, and I found it to be particularly generous in the bust and waist as well.
The bow is a disappointing accessory. When I think accessory, I am expecting maybe a KC (headband), a choker, a ring, a brooch, an apron, socks, maybe a bonnet if they're feeling generous...but it was none of the above. And it can only be pinned to a dress basically...it's too big to add to most head accessories, and it lacks the alligator claw clip to be able to put it in your hair directly.
I ordered the Lucky Bag at the end of November and received it in the mail about the second week in January. We didn't have any community meetups going on at that time, but I decided (for the very first time), to just get dressed up in a coordinate for the fun of it while meeting friends in downtown New Haven. I paired the JSK with an apricot colored cotton short sleeve shirt from Tiny Garden, a very warm cardigan from the brand Strawberry Pineapple (that I had purchased in the middle of summer 2022), a brown beret that I ordered off of Amazon (which did take approximately 3 weeks to arrive and needed me to manually figure out how to pin the bows on), Roji Roji over the knee socks that I bought from a community member at the swap meet, and my first pair of MODO shoes (they are a GREAT BRAND btw). I wore an underskirt (the one I wore as a SKIRT at the lavender pond meetup) under the jsk as opposed to a full petticoat. It made things more casual, but since I wasn't with any other lolitas that day, I knew no one would notice.
I still got a tremendous amount of attention everywhere I went with my friends and then my friends unintentionally took me out to dinner...was it the power of cute?! I'm not sure, but it was a great day and it made me realize that I wanted to invest more in my lolita wardrobe as I would not just be using it for meetups in my community, but also in other fashion communities and just for fun! The lucky bag may not have felt like it was totally worth it, but it did push me out of my comfort zone and I'm happy about it!