Historically Inspired: The Victorian Lolita

If there is one thing I love about history, it’s how lavishly the wealthy loved to dress. The well-to-do ladies of the Victorian Era were no stranger to this indulgence with their bell-shaped hoop skirts and bustles, parasols, bonnets, and other many accessories- sound familiar? The fashions of this period are a large contributor to the aesthetic of lolita, and with OTT Classic on the rise it’s a great inspiration for putting a little antiquity into your coordinates!

The 19th Century Silhouette

What dress makes the cut? The Victorian Era saw many changes in silhouette over the decades, but the two most iconic styles of dress were the hoop skirt and the bustle. The hoop skirt is the predecessor to the bell-shaped lolita skirts we wear today which make them easy to channel in coordinates, while the bustle has inspired a few modern interpretations on the lolita silhouette.

The bustle is my personal favorite from this period; I just love how it adds interest to every side on a lolita dress, and the design is very exclusive to the Victorians. There are several ways that lolita brands have alluded to the bustle in their designs, either by pinning the overskirt fabric so that it forms a swag, draping material on the rear, or just by placing ruffles on the back. Atelier Pierrot and Victorian Maiden in particular have made a large array of bustled skirts that can be adjusted up or down.

The necklines of the 1800s were high collared during the day and plunging in the evening. Classic lolita brands often put out cuts with standing collars that perfectly match the daytime look, and scoop necks draped with lace for the more elegant eveningwear will also sometimes appear. There were so many styles for sleeves in this era that you can get away with most anything, so just focus on where the neckline falls.

When it comes to brands heavily inspired by Victorian silhouettes, you can’t really go wrong with Victorian Maiden, Mary Magdelene, Atelier Pierrot, or Excentrique. Even Angelic Pretty will release their pastel version of a Victorian gown every now and then, which is a measurement of its broad appeal. No matter what your style, there is a Victorian-inspired dress for it!

While you can certainly get away with a Victorian-inspired dress featuring a fully illustrated print for a modern twist, the most common patterns at the time were florals and stripes. Jewel tones were very popular because artificial dyes had recently been invented, making it possible to get brighter colors than ever before, but they did wear more subdued colors as well. Wearing all black was considered mourning attire.

Outerwear & Shoes

When the weather turned cold, ladies would wear fitted jackets with high collars, or capes/cloaks long and short. These came in all different styles from minimal decor to lavish cuts and fabrics. Victorian Maiden and Innocent World are on the forefront of Victorian-inspired outerwear.

Lace-up ankle boots are the popular image of Victorian footwear, but they certainly didn’t wear that to the ballroom! Small satin slippers were also popular at the time, often decked out with little details. The heels for shoes were spool shaped (wider on the top and bottom) and the toe was pointed. Pleaser makes a few good Victorian-inspired boots, but American Duchess is about as accurate as it gets. Classic brands also release modern takes on the Victorian shoe.

Accessories

The Victorians had all sorts of accessories and embellishments they loved to add to their outfits.

  • Bonnets – Made from straw in the Summer, and decadent fabrics in the Winter. Ladies loved dressing them up much as we do with ribbons, flowers, plumes, and even real whole stuffed birds! Full bonnets that covered the back of the head were worn with a cute updo and ringlet curls.
  • Hats – Large wide brims topped with silk flowers and plumes and fake fruits were popular for ladies of wealth. Triple Fortune makes some that are mouth-watering, but you can find suitable ones fairly easy by searching for fancy hats. “Tea hats” like those you see old women wearing to tea rooms would work very well.
  • Stoles/Shawls – Delicate lace and fabric shawls would wrap around the elbows or shoulders of ladies day and night. Baby, the Stars Shine Bright has even started producing their own topped with fake flowers. You may be able to find these at thrift or antique stores.
  • Tights – Legwear was very basic, as the legs were not to be seen! I recommend solid or lacy tights, but nothing too flashy.
  • Parasols –  Already a lolita favorite! Ones dripping in lace are positively Victorian.
  • Bags – Pair your look with a small beaded bag held from a chain or thin strap with clasps, just like they used to. These can easily be found in everyday clothing and department stores.
  • Gloves – These were an absolute must for ladies. Long sleeved gloves reaching past the elbows were paired with short sleeved dresses for an exquisitely elegant look, while short gloves were worn with long sleeves. Try ruffled vintage gloves, or use a lacy pair for a soft look.
  • Fans – A hand fan was more than just a way to fight the heat, they were used to communicate across the room in a secret language! Lace or illustriously painted fans would pair fine with lolita.
  • Jewelry – Brooches, cameos, lockets, and intricately detailed yet bold pieces are a staple of this era. Jewelry brand 1928 exclusively makes antique-inspired accessories and many, many cameos and lockets can be found on etsy.

So there you have a basic (well, as basic as I could hold myself back to write) look on adding some Victorian era charm to your coordinate. Another approach you can take would be to wear a corset, or a dress with corset lacing, as that is an icon of the era even though it was never worn outside their clothing. Our beloved Alice was also brought to life in this period, making Wonderland coordinates a cute theme.

I put together a Victorian-inspired look so you can see these items together. This is the kind of look one would wear to a park on a sunny and breezy day I imagine. I picture a small picnic on the grass surrounded by dots of small flowers and little dogs playing.

Soft Victorian

As a last bit of advice, here are a few things to try and avoid:

  •  Square necklines – These are just too boxy for the period. If you don’t have any blouses with a high collar or scoop neck, I suggest sticking to a rounded neckline.
  • A row of bows down the bodice – This is more reminiscent of the Rococo era. A bow or two will be fine, but more than that will channel Marie Antoinette more than Queen Victoria.
  • Jabots/Cravats – By this time the cravat had evolved into a bow tie and lacy jabots were nowhere to be seen. This is such an extremely nit-picky detail though, so feel free to ignore it!

I hope you enjoyed this little look into the past! I would love to branch out to a few more eras of fashion this way, as I had so much fun with this one and there are quite a few to cover. Is the Victorian era your cup of tea, or do you have another that influences your look? I’d love to know in the comments, and it may influence which era I study next! Have a sugar-sweet day and thanks for reading!

Rufflecon Report 2014

I had the wonderful opportunity to be a part of Rufflecon’s first year and I’ve been so excited to share my experience with you all! It was a fun weekend of lolita activities and gorgeous coordinates in every direction.

Saturday: Shopping, Panels, and Runway

We arrived at the hotel very late the evening prior which meant I missed the Friday pre-meet, so I was up at an early hour on day one to meet the other attendees. Once I reached the event lobby I found many waiting for the marketplace to open, and among them a few familiar faces!

View the “Raspberry Chocolate” coordinate rundown on lookbook

My coordinate for the day was a Classic-Sweet affair featuring my new Melty Ribbon Chocolate Jumperskirt and Beret from Angelic Pretty with some very pretty chocolate accessories from Cute Moon Bunny.

As the doors opened I wasted no time searching for the Triple Fortune and Moss Märchen booths where I purchased a peachy pink bonnet and a pair of beautiful floral necklaces. The Marketplace was lined with amazing vendors all offering high quality items, most of which were marketed toward lolita fashion.

The other vendors were Angelic Pretty, Belladonna, Dame Darcy, Enchantlic Enchantilly, Harajuku Hearts, Lolita Collective, morrigan nyc, Sweet Mildred, The Snow Field, Redfield Designs, and Thy Matriarch’s Gothic Leather Accessories.

The Consignment Room was brimming with clothing and shoes and bags in good condition. Of the five items I brought two of them sold, though I spent double what I earned on secondhand items within the room.

My haul from this area consisted of a cream colored Innocent World blouse, a pair of brown IW knickers, and an Emily Temple Cute rabbit patterned romper that will probably soon be my most worn clothing item.

After running my haul up to the room it was time to give my panel “Branching Into Multiple Styles” which I have transcribed here on the blog so those who missed it can still check it out.

VIP seating for the fashion show began right after so I bustled over to claim a spot. I felt inspired watching the models trickle down the runway dressed up by the designers. Triple Fortune’s looks had my breath suspended the entire time and after the show a handful of us escaped over to their booth hopeful that the bonnets from the show might go for sale, which they did, and I was able to obtain one in cream.

I was so fixated on combing through the booths in the marketplace that I missed many panels, but I did show up to one of the last panels of the night, Lolita Bingo, hosted by Lolibrary where our memory of print names were put to the test and I ended up winning the grand prize Angelic Pretty umbrella.

Saturday Night: Masquerade

Switching into my Masquerade outfit took more time than I had anticipated (likely due to lack of sleep), so when I finally appeared in the convention lobby an hour later than the ball was expected to start I was surprised to find a sea of people occupying it.

View the “Royalty Rabbits” coordinate rundown on lookbook

The theme for my Masquerade look was crowns and rabbits featuring a favorite of my dresses, Juliette et Justine’s Le Cadre du Lapin. I used the cloth belt from the dress as a cravat and pinned jeweled bows along the bottom of the skirt and the cuffs of my blouse for a personal touch. My rabbit mask and the matching one my fiance wore were handmade by me.

Charles made his debut into ruffled fashion by matching up with me in his first brand item- an Alice and the Pirates blouse I’d bought him the weekend before at a swap meet.

I was informed that the hotel had issued faulty equipment which caused a delay. There ended up being no Masquerade that night, but the concert opened with Brilliant Kingdom which was a treat to see, and I was more than ready to change for bed not long after.

Sunday: Tea Party & Kabe-don

The next morning was the big tea party and everyone was decked in their finest. There were an abundance of Triple Fortune bonnets, and OTT Classic coordinates dominated the scene.

View the “Garden Wish” coord rundown on lookbook

How fortunate it was that my new bonnet matched my ensemble! My outfit was inspired by the pastels of a cottage garden in Spring, with many elegant Pizzicato Kei accessories covering it. The dress was exceedingly comfortable, and the Triple Fortune designers really loved the small gray bird I fixed to the bonnet.

The VIP tables were arranged closest to the guests and included a very adorable 2015 calendar produced by Harajuku Hearts featuring designs from both Enchantlic Enchantilly and Triple Fortune.

There was socializing, pictures, a buffet, and of course- tea!

After tea was over, I wandered around the Marketplace for a final look and noticed a small giggling group around KAIE and BABI. They were serving up some serious fan service with flirtatious poses on one another when they decided to take personal kabe-don (cornering on a wall) pictures with the attendees.

I still can’t help but giggle to see this photo! It was then all good-byes and packing, because the rest of the day would be spent on the road to my Aunt in Queens, New York.

My Haul

The VIP goodie bag was full of darling treats! I felt so spoiled by its contents. Not pictured are the Enchantlic Enchantilly bow inside the paper bag, and a plastic Triple Fortune folder.

My bonnets! I can’t believe I was able to snag two of these beauties! Unfortunately when I returned home I found that the pink did not match any of the pinks I owned, but I am still over the moon about owning such a versatile cream one.

And lastly, here are my consignment room finds. I’ve been trying to make good on my goal of bulking up on articles that aren’t dresses- though I wish I’d bought more blouses, there were so many. I could not avoid such a great deal for the knickers, they still had tags and were priced at $60 so I decided to start my boystyle wardrobe with them. And the ETC romper, well, I wavered on them for quite some time but it was brown with rabbits so that won me over eventually.

Overall I had an amazing time and was pleased at how smoothly it ran for its first year. I heartily enjoyed the benefits of snagging the VIP pass this year as it proved instrumental in securing a bonnet and allowed me to be seated closer to the runway, as well as providing a tea party ticket and a gift bag. I would highly recommend it for next year!

Would you go to a lolita convention if you had the chance? I’d love if something like this started on the west coast, though it’s nice to be given a reason to travel sometimes. Have a sugar-sweet day and thanks for reading!

Top 5 Creepiest Lolita Brand Items

kawaii creepy lolita coffin baby the stars shine bright

In the spirit of today’s holiday I took a look into the releases of past and present to compile a list of the five most creepy, morbid, and generally unsettling items created by the top lolita brands. So sit back and prepare yourself for some spooky articles of clothing!

alice and the pirates little red riding hood

Alice and the Pirates is no stranger to morbid fairy tales, so it comes with no surprise that one of these collections includes an item so gruesome that it ranks number five in morbid lolita goods. In the Grimm version of Little Red Cap, a pair of scissors are used to snip open the wolf’s belly and release the captives inside, where it is then filled with rocks to kill the beast. This ornate scissor-shaped necklace is a ghastly reflection of that wolf’s demise.

garden of earthly delights juliette et justine

Garden of Earthly Delights” by Hieronymous Bosch is very curious subject matter for a lolita dress print, as it depicts a very striking scene of shameless sensory pleasures in abundance. The debauchery and surrealistic interpretations of life without self-control make it a strange and almost uncomfortable piece of art to view, which is why this dress is at number four. It could have been worse though, as the triptych this artwork came from also contains a panel illustrating Hell.

innocent world doll museum

I’m not sure if this is based on any real doll museum, but if it is I’m sure it’s haunted! Antique (and even modern) dolls have always given me the chills for being dead-eyed interpretations of human beings. Coupled with the awkward proportions and mischievous expressions, the figurines on this vintage-inspired print take this dress to number three on the list. Nothing with those shifty eyes can be up to any good.

innocent world doll museum
juliette et justine gothic lolita bible collaboration

Juliette et Justine’s love for morbid classical art earns them two spots here on this list. This menagerie of clipped still-life paintings juxtapose a slain sheep with fresh peeled fruit and skulls for a scene bound to upset your stomach. The creature bound and lifeless taking center stage on the dress makes this the most disturbing print to be featured in lolita.

victorian maiden lolita coffin

And here we are at number one! At the very top of the list is the brand novelty item that still has people talking over a decade later. No list of creepy brand items should be without it, and nothing can top being literally buried in brand. Nowadays I’d expect a Victorian Maiden coffin to be constructed out of ivory painted wood and lined with dusty pastel satin, but this classic gothic combination is so very iconic.

Would you be caught dead in any of these garments? The juxtaposition of these themes on elegant pieces just captivates the morbid curiosity lover inside of me, and I hope for many more disturbing themes in lolita.

Happy Halloween dear readers!!! I wish you all a spooky, mischievous, treat-filled day!

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!

The Picture that Made Me Fall in Love with Lolita

My initial reaction to this week’s Lolita Blog Carnival topic was skepticism in my ability to accurately remember what picture it was that made me fall in love with the fashion- but there in the next instant the memory flashed before me.

Oh boy does this make me feel nostalgic

It was back in middle school and over the past year or two I had transitioned from the tomboy look of my childhood to a budding interest in makeup and femininity- which then developed into a dark brooding look complete with Tripp chain dresses and heavy eye makeup that couldn’t keep up with the Florida heat.

One night after school while I was looking up gothic inspiration I came across this image. It really struck me; her confident poise, her flawlessness, but most of all her outfit. I’d never seen anything like it before in modern culture and it drew me in. Being introduced to EGL opened up a whole new world for me, and I spent the rest of the night sucking in as much information as I could gather- which at the time was pretty minimal.

I can’t remember which I found first- Avant Guache or lolitafashion.org– but I remember the disappointment in discovering how expensive lolita was. I picked through the Metamorphose website lamenting that I wouldn’t spend $50 on a piece of clothing, let alone the $200 price tags I was seeing. Thoroughly discouraged, I would look up lolita from time to time but it wouldn’t really be back on my radar until I picked up a FRUiTS magazine for the first time in high school.

Delving into that memory has made me really nostalgic for neopets and cyberpet adoption sites and doll makers. How did you discover lolita? Have a sugar-sweet day and be sure to check out how the other bloggers in the Lolita Blog Carnival fell in love!

Other blogs talking about this:

A Heart’s Sound
Helado de Cereza
Classical Doll
Lolita Glamour
The Bloody Tea Party
The Electric Carousel
The Literary Lolita
Under the Parasol