Branching Into Multiple Styles

As promised in my last post, here is the presentation I made at Rufflecon! Big thank you and lots of love to those who attended. It was my first time hosting a panel ever, so thank you for sharing that moment with me.

Now without further adieu, here is my guide to managing multiple fashions!

Seek Out Similar Aesthetics

If you haven’t figured out what style you want to add to your wardrobe yet or need swaying one way or the other, consider that choosing a style with a similar aesthetic to your current one will give you a much greater advantage over choosing one that is drastically different. Not to say that you should only stick to similar styles- I’ll get to that in a bit- but if you’re looking to bring in another look with minimal effort this is the way to go.

We all know how much time and expense it took to get our first wardrobe where it is, and I doubt most of us want to go through that again if we don’t have to. With this technique you won’t be starting from scratch. You will be utilizing as much from the first wardrobe as you can.

Going clockwise from the left: Sweet Lolita, Otome Kei, Cult Party Kei, Classic Lolita, Dolly Kei, Aristocrat, Gothic Lolita, Creepy Cute, Aomoji Kei (which could be in several spots on the map as it’s such a broad term), Decora, and Fairy Kei.

This is a quick graph I made showing how some of the popular Jfashion styles relate to each other according to aesthetic. It’s fairly noninclusive as there are just too many styles to cover and not enough room- gyaru alone could fill up its own circle! But I think it gives a pretty good framework.

The idea is that picking the style to the left or right of your current one will maximize the amount of looks you can get right away. For example, Sweet lolitas tend to have a good amount of pastel accessories that would go great in a Fairy Kei look, and some Sweet lolita dresses can be worn without a petticoat to suit the more casual Otome style and vice versa. It isn’t the most perfect graph- I could have had arrows connecting several styles to each other across the map but I think you get the idea.

Utilizing your current aesthetic in a new style has more to do with how you choose to use your current pieces rather than how many new style-specific additions you bring in. Of course, there will be some style-specific items you will want to get along the way to really immerse yourself in the new look, and branching into some styles such as lolita require extra work, but at the very least some of the basics like accessories, blouses, legwear, and headwear should transfer over.

Fairy Kei + Lolita + Otome Kei

Here is an example of this concept at work using the aforementioned sweet lolita wardrobe. Just by swapping out a few items I was able to branch off into two different styles that share a close aesthetic. This lolita skirt was given new life by ignoring the fact that a lolita brand made it and by pairing it in more casual and quirky ways.

The blouse was replaced by a cartoon t-shirt for the more casual and 80s pop culture feel of fairy kei, and two different bright patterns were brought into the mix for this quirky otome look. It’s pretty remarkable how little had to be changed to consider it a new style, and the majority of the items used are shared between all three of these sets.

It takes a bit of creative thinking and getting out of the mindset that certain articles of clothing belong to just one fashion. This leads me to my second point:

Don’t Treat Them Separate!

I run into this habit all the time. My lolita wardrobe is in it’s own habitat in another room apart from everything else and to be perfectly honest it stifles some of the creativity in my ensembles because when I go to wear lolita, I’m only looking at that sampling of my wardrobe. If we remember that clothing is fluid in their use there is a lot more to be gained from them!

Not only does this save you money because the pieces you need are already there, but think about how much less closet space you will take up by getting more versatility out of your stuff. Put your clothing to work and don’t let them fall under one style label.

Here are three different blouses all from different brands that cater to different styles. The first one is from Classic Lolita brand Victorian Maiden, the second is by Otome brand Milk, and the last is by roma-gyaru brand Liz Lisa. There are slight differences in the way they were made but you could use them interchangeably between those three styles because they are so similar.

I need to remember this bit of information myself next time I’m looking for a blouse to go with liz lisa bottoms because I constantly forget there are plenty of suitable ones over in lolita land!

Don’t forget that you aren’t limited to just what big fashion brands are putting out, either. Offbrand finds with similar style aesthetics are all around you in shops and malls as long as you know what to look for. I personally have a blouse or two from regular shops that I use with lolita, and I can’t even enumerate the amount of printed tights and socks I’ve bought around town that compliment these looks.

So what about those of us who are interested in multiple looks that may not correspond with each other?

For The Eclectics

If you already have a look- or few- in mind and they are nothing like your current one, there are still a few ways to ease in without completely starting from nothing.

For one, picking a color scheme and using it across styles will be a tremendous help. You will be able to utilize most of your basics across the board even if other items may need to be style-specific. These three darker looks would be able to share some items even though they are nothing like each other just because they feature a lot of the same color. In general, buying items in basic colors such as black, white, or off-white will go far across multiple styles.

However, just because something matches color-wise doesn’t always mean it will match the theme. This gyaru’s black hoodie would look terrible on that gothic lolita because it does not adhere to the lolita silhouette. Items like tights, socks, shoes, accessories, and some blouses would have better luck- it just depends on the items and the styles.

It also helps to figure out what the styles you are drawn to have in common and start from there. Stocking those items in your wardrobe before buying anything else will ensure you’re maximizing the potential of all your outfits.

Lets refer to the graph of styles again to give you an idea of how I managed my eclectic wardrobe. I like to dress in Sweet, Classic and Gothic Lolita, as well as roma-gyaru (which is floating on the top left there as I didn’t give it a place on the map), and aomoji-kei. As you can see that just puts me all over the place, so I sympathize with anyone who has diverse taste. I’ll be the first to admit that maintaining all of those different styles isn’t easy.

I was able to manage this by spreading out to the ones closest to my original look first, and then spreading out some more from there. This is a much simpler transition than jumping around the board, and your wardrobe will be a little bit more unified because of it. I started out with sweet lolita and shortly dabbled in fairy kei before I decided it wasn’t for me, so then I jumped over to aomoji-kei using cute clothing I had sitting around from my everyday wardrobe. After this I started getting interested in more mature sweet looks so I took things in this direction with roma-gyaru, which eventually lead me to introduce some classic lolita pieces into my wardrobe. Branching into gothic lolita is a funny story because as it turned out, I already had a gothic lolita piece I’d been dressing up as sweet lolita the whole time because it was pure white.

While I may not be able to share most things with every style across the map, I was very careful in making sure my purchases would be useable for more than one aspect of my wardrobe which eliminated the need to buy a lot. I also suggest supplementing with offbrand purchases, or items that can be found in local shops as they are typically cheaper than buying from style-specific brands.

Prioritize

Another tactic that has been truly helpful in keeping all those styles under control is prioritizing which ones to give the most effort to. For some of us who like a little bit of everything, there are the styles we want to wear most days and then there are the styles we want to wear every once in a while.

For my wardrobe I tend to wear a lot of Sweet or Classic Lolita and gyaru on days I want to feel extra comfortable, so my closet is brimming with items to match those styles, while Gothic lolita is more of an ‘every now and then’ thing for me so I have maybe four pieces I can mix and match.

Figure out how often you want to wear the styles you’re interested in and put your time into them accordingly. You don’t need a huge wardrobe for each to prove that you like all these styles. There is nothing wrong with having that one decora outfit for those rare times you feel like putting every clip you own in your hair. It makes sense to scale things down for those ‘once in a while styles’ so that most of your focus is on the fashion you tend to wear more often. And if you find yourself tiring of the same looks from the fashions you wear less often don’t just add more to the rack- swap your items out to save money and space.

Take A Good Look

Lastly, I’m willing to bet that most of us already have more than one fashion we could be wearing right now based on the current contents of our closets, we just need to be looking at them differently. The more you familiarize yourself with different styles, the easier it will be to shatter the limits of your collection.

Here’s a challenge for you at home: go through your entire wardrobe and try to come up with at least three outfits in a style you didn’t think you owned the right material for. It’s ok if they aren’t complete, this is just to give you an idea of how versatile your current clothing items are.

I took this challenge for myself a few months ago when I tried to figure out if my lolita pieces could be used in outfits other than what they were meant for. The results were pretty exciting and it gave me a new found appreciation for what I already had laying in wait.Taking advantage of what’s already there is your best money-saving option.

Have a sugar-sweet day and thanks for reading!