A girl dressed in frills could nowadays be mistaken for a Hime Gyaru or even a Mori Girl, if it were not for Lolita’s signature silhouette. Indeed the petticoat is the Lolita’s best friend. It does not merely give the “poof” of a Lolita’s dress as more than that, it makes the style distinguishable from all its other sister styles. While this piece has remained a must in the Lolita ensemble, it seems to be most important to the new breed. Comparing all the Gothic and Lolita Bible volumes, it is evident that the silhouette is now more round and pronounced, especially for the Sweet Lolita style. The Angelic Pretty brand tends to do more cupcake shape while Baby, The Stars Shine Bright boasts of its bell silhouette.
While the style of skirt has a lot to do with the resulting shape, it is important to note that the petticoat contributes to this as well. Take Angelic Pretty for example. The line produces a somewhat empire waist style. The skirt begins around 2 to 3 inches after the bust. To get the cupcake shape, the petticoat must be already full or poofy around the waistband, matching were thebust and waist of the dress meet. Obviously, it would look odd to wear this style with a petticoat that poofs near the hips or lower. However, such a petticoat would work well for Baby’s bell-shaped dresses. The skirt of this style begins at the waist and partially flares. Having the petticoat poof near the hips makes for a curved silhouette. While Sweet Lolitas have been digging the bigger, rounder dress shape, petticoats are still favored by those who wear the more mature Classic style too. Dresses from Victorian Maiden and Innocent World are of this variety. As these are usually of the a-line cut, the waist being tighter and the skirt being more flared and angled, a petticoat that poofs minimally and evenly then increases as it nears the bottom is preferred.
Indeed, for a Lolita, a dress without a petticoat is a dead dress. However, it is important to remember that not all petticoats are the same. It is vital to know the proper poof your dress needs to get the best silhouette.
Tip: To maintain and extend the life of your petticoat (its poofiness and fluffiness), hang it upside down.
Trick: Layering petticoats is a good practice if you are going for a more round shape. Layering ruffled skirts is a good, though rather uncomfortable substitute for Lolitas on a budget.
In the past, girls were acknowledged as Lolitas only because of what they wore. Now, there is such a thing as Lolita hair. By hair, I mean wigs. Just like what I’ve said above, it is the reign of the Afro Lolita, the Lolita who has cotton candy for her hair. The Lolitas of old, those with their tender ringlets, classic curls or simple straight locks, (be it real hair or wig), might condemn their current reincarnation as rather cosplayish but color and volume is clearly the trend of the times.
This movement is, again, led by the Sweet Lolitas. They are the ones to blame or thank for (I choose a little bit of both). Browse the pages of KERA and GLB, and you see these ladies sporting an elegant Marie Antoinette-inspired bouffant or these gals wearing candy-colored clouds for their hair. Now I am starting to think that aside from bunnies and ponies, the sheep should definitely become one of the fashion’s favorite critters.
Perhaps what has further fueled this craze is the availability of such wigs. GothicLolitaWigs.com is a American-based company that has allowed for the creation of Lolita hair. They began with a batch for the Sweet Lolita style then moved to making Gothic and Classic ones as well. Aside from catering to the different Lolita tastes, their wigs are released as series. Their first series were the Miwako-type, tight curls, and wavey styles. Their popular ones are the split and blended series. The split series are two-tone wigs while the blends are, true to the name, a combination of colors. These are all 3-piece wig set: either a bob or long base plus two clip-on ponytails. Their newest series are a diversion as they are sold as one-piece. The classic series can be best described as Rapunzel’s hair (though not as long), as there are delicate ripples on the wig. The other series borrows the look of the traditional Japanese princess, straight and long – the hime cut. This Lolita currently owns three wigs from the said company and is satisfied not only with the quality of the wigs but also with the excellence of their customer service.
While the shop already offers a variety of wigs to choose from, they also do special commission where a client could customize the colors of an existing design. The current cost of this is only 10$ more. However, if you really want your own wig dream to come true, you could always ask them to experiment for you. That is if you are still not satisfied restyling their high temperature fiber wigs which you could curl or straighten with a low-set iron.
All this is made possible by the open communication between the company and its clients. The company has its own page (facebook.com/GothicLolitaWigs) where clients could purchase and post photos of themselves wearing the wigs. More than that, it is the place to contribute to the creative process of either improving existing pieces or coming up with new designs. Needless to say, GothicLolitaWigs.com has become more than a company as it is now a community in itself.
While bigger hair does not necessarily require bigger hair accessories (though most Sweet Lolitas do prefer the big bow), the art of adorning one’s hair has become more important now than ever. Again, we have the Sweet Lolitas to look up to. Not only do they wear their hair big and colorful, but they also decorate it with clips of equally colorful ribbons, candies, and other such sweetness. This is, of course, borrowed from decora kei, a separate style of Japanese streetfashion. While Lolitas of old might have been content with their monochromatic mini tophats and most of all, their maxipad headdresses, the Deco Lolita boasts of having the best of both Lolita and Decora worlds.
Tip: Wigs mounted on a stand last longer than those kept in containers.
Trick: If you want thicker hair but could not afford a wig, curl, tease (backcomb), and spray your hair.
Indeed, big hair has become so much part of the Lolita look that it almost resembles its sister style, the Hime Gyaru. That does not stop with the hair as Lolitas also prefer bigger eyes now, another signature of the said fashion. If early Lolitas generally went for a clean face, as that depicted youth and innocence, and left make-up to their Gothic cousin, the new breed favors eyes that pop, and that is done by Gyaru make-up. Interestingly, the dark eyes make for a dramatic contrast to the overall pastel perfection of the Sweet Lolita.
Achieving such eyes is now as easy as typing Gyaru in Youtube. While you are at it, you could also take a look at Michelle Phan’s Gothic Lolita make-up tutorial, that is, if you prefer to look like a Pullip doll. Of course, there would always be those who look down upon the Gyaru Lolita hybrid, as there are those who dislike the OTT accessories of Deco Lolita. However, it should be understood that Lolita exists alongside other streetfashion styles. It is only natural that borrowing of certain elements from one style to another should happen.
Tip: For bigger-looking eyes, take note of the eye shape before applying eyeliner. Round or almond shaped eyes would benefit more from additional length. Achieve this by doing the “wing”, eyeliner applied to the sides of the eyes. Conversely, long, slanted eyes need more width. Eyeliner should be applied to the upper lid (you could do the lower too, for a more Gothic touch), to get rounder, bigger eyes.
Trick: For eyes that pop, apply white eyeliner from the waterline up to part of the eyes nearest the nose bridge.
Admittedly, much of the discussion has been about the changes in Lolita fashion, as represented by the Sweet substyle. This is because the brands that cater to this style have been the ones constantly updating their designs. One simply needs to revisit old GLB volumes to see how huge the change is. For one, solid colors such as black, white, blue, and red have given way to softer pastels. And then there is the issue with OTT prints. However, the change is not limited to the dresses just as the Lolita hybrids demonstrate. Bigger hair and eyes and an entire stash of accessories have come to complete the Lolita look.
While Sweet Lolita is the fashion’s icon of change, Punk Lolita maintains its reputation as being the hardest to pull-off among all the other substyles. Why is this so? One reason is the belief that Punk Lolita, per se, does not exist. To some, the style belongs more to the side of visual kei, rather than Lolita. To the purists, it just is not Lolita as it deviates from the supposedly demure and dainty character of the fashion and is sometimes reduced to club wear. Another more obvious and somewhat silly reason is that this is what the style has come to be defined – difficult to do and do right. With such a stigma attached to the style, it is not surprising that only few should want to try it. Moreover, even if there are willing ones, they are more likely to be labeled as Lol-Itas, a pun on the original name which is synonymous to epic fail. This Lolita, however, believes that the problem of the style lies in its perceived difficulty. It is hard to do because the style is made to conform to the fashion’s rules when its other half, punk, is all about breaking rules. Indeed, for this substyle, it is best to be open-minded, not to mention, creative.
Whether Punk Lolita is Lolita or visual kei or just punk, we could all agree to disagree. What makes this substyle worth mentioning in our discussion of trends is that, out of all the substyles, Punk Lolita remains loyal to what was once esteemed as one of the Lolita shoes (that is, aside from the rocking horse) – the huge and chunky platform Mary Janes. These were the Lolita shoes of long ago, especially of the Gothic ones, which have been recently argued as the shoes of Cosplay Lolita. Unlike the rest of the Lolita ensemble that has gotten bigger, the new breed prefers their shoes in low heels and, as expected, in rainbow pastel colors. Why this happened, this Lolita could only infer. It could be likened to the growing distaste for lacey Lolita. If lavish lace was once a statement of elegance, any Lolita caught wearing the style now risks being branded as a lace monster, or even worse, an Ita.
Certainly, much has changed in Lolita fashion. Its marriage with other styles has not only made the look more creative but has also kept it updated. It is interesting and intriguing because it evolves. Needless to say, Lolita boasts of two things: its diversity as represented by its various substyles and its flexibility as a hybrid fashion. What Lolita needs now is an open-minded community that celebrates creativity over conformity to rules.
Disclaimer: What is written here is based on the author’s personal observation of Lolita culture on the Internet. While a comparative and historical analysis of Gothic and Lolita Bible and KERA magazines has been made, this should not be treated as an academic discussion of the said fashion.