Lolita is a Japanese street fashion inspired primarily by the clothing and general aesthetics of the Rococo and Victorian periods. This fashion movement started in Japan in the 1980's and has evolved greatly since. Nowadays Lolita Fashion has grown to be relatively popular all over the world. Relatively popular for an obscure Japanese street fashion, that is.
While it is true that most fashions are open to various interpretations, the term Lolita is used exclusively to describe a very specific (one could say narrow) look that is created by abiding by a number of strict guidelines and principles. The "rules" of Lolita fashion don't exist to limit the wearer but are rather qualifiers of what makes an outfit Lolita. Within these rules however there are a variety of styles.
Gothic Lolita is probably the style associated most with Lolita Fashion outside of Japan. Lolita Fashion is often referred to as GothLoli or EGL. While GothLoli can be a correct term it only applies to the specific Gothic subset and not Lolita fashion as a whole (see Lolita Styles for more information on the different subsets). However EGL is an abbreviation of the term Elegant Gothic Lolita, which was coined by the Japanese musician Mana to describe his specific Lolita clothing line.
The term "Lolita" may be off-putting to those who first hear about the fashion because of the connotation it holds from Vladimir Nabokov's novel, "Lolita", which changed the meaning of the name for most people in the Western world. It is generally assumed though that the name of the fashion comes from a distortion of the meaning while word-borrowing from English. In the case of the fashion the term "Lolita" only refers to the child-like nature of some of the clothes and is also used because of the beauty or cuteness of the name. Lolita Fashion is emphatically not about looking sexy and is instead about looking cute or elegant.
In addition to being a fashion, some people enjoy living a "Lolita Lifestyle" in which one sees Lolita as more of a philosophy of living beautifully rather than just dressing it. Someone living a Lolita Lifestyle may try and live like a princess, surrounding themselves with things of beauty, and taking part in a number of ‘proper’ feminine activities such as baking, embroidery, sewing and other old-fashioned "women's" activ
style of LOLITA dresses
i love this pink design
-LITTLE CUTIE BAGS-
From Cosplay Lolita to Elegant Lolita in 7 Steps
A quality Lolita outfit can be difficult to create: Many girls, especially those who have just started in Lolita fashion, confuse what is often called “Cosplay Lolita” with Lolita. There are key differences between the two.
Cosplay Lolita and Lolita are not the same. Cosplay Lolita is worn by those who wish to dress in Lolita as more of a costume, usually only at anime or game conventions. This type of Lolita outfit is normally crudely put together. A dress in this style is usually created from a sort of satin, adorned with oodles of scratchy lace, and is not very fitting to the Lolita fashion as a whole. A majority of dresses in this style are either too short and show far too much skin for any proper Lolita or are very reminiscent of a maid or nurse. This could be due to the fact that some associate Lolita with maid or nurse characters in anime.
A proper Lolita outfit represents elegance and modesty. Think of a porcelain doll. The Lolita style is just as delicate. A quality Lolita dress is normally created from a nice cotton fabric with cotton lace, and the Lolita fashion is mainly representative of the Victorian and Rococo eras in elegance and beauty.
By using the following steps, you can learn to tell the difference between a Cosplay Lolita outfit and a proper Lolita outfit.
- Material: The fabric your dress is made from is a huge sign of quality and type. Cosplay Lolita has been known to be made from costume satin. Any kind of shine to the fabric of the dress is a tell-tale sign that the dress is Cosplay Lolita. Look for more of a lightweight cotton of higher quality.
- Balance: Cosplay Lolita is normally “drowning” in lace. A proper Lolita outfit must have balance between the amount of lace and open space. Many quality dresses don’t even have lace on them! Use your judgement to think of what looks the best. If you cannot decide, ask for help!
- Elegance: It isn’t called “Elegant Gothic Lolita” for nothing. Make sure you look elegant in your dress. Modesty is incredibly important. If the neckline is too low, wear a blouse underneath. If the skirt is too short, make another or wear bloomers.
- Undergarments: Another sign that the dress is cosplay is that it lacks proper undergarments. A Cosplay Lolita will either wear no petticoat, a square-dance petticoat or a hoop skirt. A square dance petticoat gives an outward flare shape, which normally does not flow well with the shape of the skirt that is attempting to “poof.” Hoop skirts can be worn in Lolita, but very rarely is it seen worn well. Even while wearing a hoop skirt, you must wear a petticoat or some sort of padding over the hoop. If nothing is worn over it, the bars of the hoop will be seen through the skirt.
Lolitas normally wear a style of petticoat called a pannier. This style of petticoat gives the skirt portion a cupcake-like shape.
Panniers are usually created from two or three layers of crinoline netting. If you are unsure if a petticoat can be considered a pannier, put it on under a skirt. If it looks like you’re wearing cupcake around your waist, you have the right one! Another important aspect of undergarments is bloomers. Bloomers are lace-trimmed short pants, traditionally worn for warmth or modesty. Bloomers do not have to be worn for a Lolita outfit, but it is important to know what length is proper if you do wear them. Bloomers should be worn above the knee. You can have them peek from under your skirt, but try to keep them hidden from view as much as you can.
- Shoes: Sneakers and stiletto platform mary-janes are considered Cosplay Lolita. A proper Lolita can be found wearing mary-janes, normally with a low heel or platform, or a cute pair of sandals. Again, if you cannot decide if a shoe is suitable for Lolita, ask for opinions
- Hair: There is no specific style of hair for proper Lolita, but normally a ponytail is frowned upon. Lolitas can wear their hair in buns, pigtails, straight, curly, puffy, with bangs, or without. A key element to keep in mind is to remain elegant.
- Research: This is the single most important step to obtaining a proper look. Look through Lolita magazines or online for various examples of the style. Do not be afraid to ask questions. After a while, you should be able to tell the difference between what is generally considered Lolita and what is not.