Monday, 18 May 2015

Falling In (and Out) of Love with Lolita

I first discovered lolita fashion around 2005-ish (I think? That was a while ago), when I was a fledgling weeaboo babybat and LiveJournal was still cool. I was looking up stuff about Mana and Malice Mizer when I stumbled across EGL on LJ. I was immediately hooked.

I'm not sure what attracted me to lolita fashion in the first place. I loved seeing the street snaps of Japanese girls in these antique gothic doll clothes, while talking on their cellphones and hanging out on the sidewalks. I was so fascinated by the idea that lolita fashion was rebellious just by being extremely feminine - on our side of the pond, it seemed that rebellious fashions always involved spiked battlejackets and mohawks. It opened up my world a little bit.

For the next decade or so, I scoured EGL and snapped up any photos and tidbits of information I could get. Grainy scans of GLB, Fruits, and Kera, and a few fansites were all I had to go on - social media other than blogs wasn't really a thing yet.This was when lolita was slowly beginning to take hold in the west. I just remember the excitement of finding something new and unusual, and sharing that excitement with others.  

I was a teenager working crappy odd jobs in the summer at the time, so I contented myself with just admiring the photos and chatting with all sorts of people about everything lolita. I figured if I couldn't be a lolita now, I could in a couple of years when I had money.

I couldn't afford to put together a proper wardrobe until quite recently...by recently, I mean this year. I bought my first piece in April, and finished buying pieces for my first full coordinate a few weeks ago. Thank goodness, because I would have looked ita as all hell if I'd bought all the things I thought were ~* KAWAII DESU ~* at age 13.  

The first time I put lolita clothes on was awesome. After wrestling with my petticoat for a bit before managing to jam it into my skirt, I looked myself up and down in the mirror. I'd never felt so elegant and pretty in my life. Slightly ridiculous and a bit itchy, but pretty. So, I was finally ready to dive headfirst into lolita for real! But...

I hadn't really noticed it so much until I started wearing the clothing, but over the years there'd been a shift in the subculture (can we call it that?). Lolita was moving away from being a wearable daily fashion and was steadily becoming more costumey and OTT. Social media emphasizes pictures over content, and that community spirit I got from reading blogs and EGL posts was largely replaced by posting photos to get likes and Tumblr notes. Fighting over who has what brand and how much. It feels like a lot of lolitas treat it as a costume for conventions and photoshoots

I miss reading blogs about lolitas who let their style bleed over into the other aspects of life. I miss the talented people who sewed their own dresses. I miss the days when people didn't feel afraid to post their lolita outfits for fear of being nitpicked to death. I miss simple coordinates!

Was it always this much of a popularity contest? It seems like earlier lolitas wore the fashion for themselves, because it was fun and appealing to them, instead of worrying about being gossiped about online. They had less focus on having insanely OTT outfits that looked photoshoot-ready and more emphasis on wearing the clothing as daily fashion. People didn't seem so anal about following a strict set of style rules instead of just following the general guidelines to the fashion.

There is just so much damn pressure to be perfect. Don't people enjoy the fashion for the sake of fashion anymore? Maybe I'm getting nostalgic for something that never existed...


It sounds silly, right? How could I have fallen out of love with a community that I wasn't truly a part of until...well, now? But even though I didn't actually wear the fashion until later, there's no doubt in my mind that it helped to shape who I am. Before then I had a passing interest in fashion, but lolita turned that interest into a strong passion - fashion is my hobby. My artwork was inspired by the artists I saw in GLB. Through EGL on LJ I made so many friends and discovered music that I still enjoy.

I realized I'd kind of lost touch with what attracted me to lolita in the first place. I loved how elegant and frilly I felt when I put on my lolita clothing, that carefree feeling of being able to wear stuff without caring what other people thought or if anyone else liked it. I wore it for myself because it made me happy, and I loved injecting little lolita touches into my everyday life. And ultimately being happy is way more important than getting lots of notes on Tumblr or being validated by strangers on the internet.

4 comments:

  1. I got into it around the same time as you, and although I never left, I'm starting to appreciate the "oldschool" stuff more now and try to wear more simple things. There are both positive and negative aspects in the old and new incarnations of lolita I think.

    { sparklesideup.com }

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    1. Definitely. I have a serious love for oldschool and the simplicity of it, but I feel like there was a lot less differentiation between the brands. And I love how much easier it is to get into lolita now with the rise of indie brands and shops that cater to English-speaking customers. I gripe a lot about the current state of the lolita community but like you said, it's definitely a mix of good and bad.

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  2. I got into lolita a bit later on than you, around 2008-9. The community has shifted so much, and a lot of it is definitely due to how visible the fashion has become through places like tumblr. It sets a precedent for the newer lolitas, who believe everything they wear has to look like the ott coordinates in photoshoots with thousands of notes.

    I do miss how much simpler things used to be, and I liked that I used to feel like I was part of an actual subculture. The accessibility lolita has achieved over the years has been good for building up wardrobes more easily, but on the other hand, so many people are into lolita now that the community is so fragmented, and the things that used to unite us are slowly fading away, like egl and daily_lolita. People crave a level of exposure to the world at large that those sites don't offer. But anyway...

    I'm loving all these blogs springing up and I hope this return to longform lolita blogging will gain some momentum! At the very least, I'm glad to see there are still some like-minded lolitas and old school lovers still about!

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    1. I'm hoping to see more traditional bloggers too! I'd be so sad if blogging died for good. It's nice to just be able to ramble on and on forever!

      I like tumblr, but I feel like it's hurting the community atmosphere because it promotes endless likes/reblogs without any meaningful discussion or connection between people.

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