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.