Weird Things We Love: Lolita Fashion

two gothlolitas

Two Goth Lolitas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, as mentioned on my Monday post, the car trip to Chicago didn’t start out with The Worst. Fanfic. Ever. The girls spent the first hour or so on the 3G tablet, surfing the web for com sales and checking out fashion.

I heard enough of my daughter and her one friend’s conversations during our France trip to know that this specifically refers to community sales – of Lolita fashions put up for sale by individuals, usually on LiveJournal pages.

I would never have heard of “Lolita fashion” if my daughter weren’t into it. To start with, it has nothing to do with Nabokov’s novel or creepy pedophiles with  schoolgirl fantasies. If anything, it’s on the opposite end of the spectrum in that Lolita fashions are very modest, Victorian-inspired dresses, skirts, blouses and accessories.

And let me point out here that the “weird” in “Weird Things We Love” should not be taken negatively, but rather in the spirit of things that are unusual or not mainstream. Originating in Japan, and popular with anime fans, Lolita fashions are (depending on one’s taste) beautiful, elegant garments, often hand-made, and made with high quality lace and trims. The fabric prints are a big deal, as many are custom-designed, limited editions. As someone who sews, it’s easy to see the care taken in the construction of the dresses, skirts and blouses – these won’t come apart in the wash (not that I’d put them in a regular washer!).

Sweet Lolitas em Harajuku

Sweet Lolitas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are three major sub-styles of Lolita fashion: goth, sweet, and classic.

Goth is, as one might guess, mostly black or dark colors, and is a blending of the overall Lolita look with goth. However, people who dress goth Lolita don’t do the extreme cosmetics, but keep toward a more mainstream look as far as makeup is concerned. The character Taylor Gressman in my books Time’s Enemy and Time’s Fugitive dresses in goth Lolita style.

Sweet Lolita is probably the most widely-recognized form of Lolita fashion. Its emphasis is on being not only pretty, but cute – and I mean extreme, saccharine cute in some cases. Sweet Lolita prints are typically stuff like cakes, cupcakes, and candy or puppies, kittens and unicorns. Pink is, of course, the quintessential sweet Lolita color; peach, baby blue, and mint green are also popular. Think cotton candy. A LOT of it.

Classic Lolita is somewhat of a cross between Goth and Sweet, with a more “mature” look and less in-your-face cuteness. I would consider the dress my daughter bought in Paris to be classic Loli, although the maker is technically considered sweet. Hence, one stop on our France trip that my daughter and her friend were most excited about: shopping at Baby the Stars Shine Bright.

BtSSB is one of the premier brands of Loli fashion, and like the others, is based in Tokyo, with stores in San Francisco and Paris. Going to the BtSSB store was a big highlight of the trip for my daughter and her friend, who’s also into Loli clothes.

Arriving at Baby, the Stars Shine Bright

What was even more exciting was when we went in the store, and she found a limited-edition print she’d seen online and was hoping she’d find: the Romeo and Juliet print.

Of course, she had to try it on.

The blouse was perfect – no small feat for my daughter, who’s pretty curvy. One thing nice about Lolita blouses and dresses is that they usually have a lot of shirring (or gathers), so that they’ll fit a wide range of sizes. Even cooler, many of the blouses – this one included – feature detachable sleeves, so they can be worn long- or short-sleeved.

The jumper was a bit tight around the bust, so we loosened the corset ribbons in the back and managed to zip it. Then one of the other girls in our group pulled the ribbons to tie them, and disaster struck: a tiny, delicate strip of lace broke.

The Romeo and Juliet dress

We had to buy the dress. At full price. Did I mention these are limited-edition, custom designed prints (and therefore, designer clothes)? My daughter assured me that if I could fix the lace (I could), she could re-sell it at home for at least what we paid for it, if not more. So she planned to get online with her own community page and find a buyer for her own “com sale.” We bought the dress with that plan, along with the blouse, which I said she could keep since she could wear it with anything.

The print features scenes and quotes from the play

When we got home, she tried on the dress again to show her dad. This time, she took the ribbons out altogether… and the dress fit!

He took one look and said “you’re not selling that.”

That dress was more than I’d paid for any dress before besides my wedding dress. But it turned out to be a happy accident, and hopefully something she’ll enjoy for many years. Just hope she doesn’t gain the Freshman 15 when she goes off to college!

Had you ever heard of Lolita fashions? What do you think of them?

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15 Responses to \

  1. Never heard of Lolita fashion (while they are pretty, I have no idea where someone would wear that style to). My daughter would gag at seeing all that pink (the black, she would probably gag at the ruffles and lace!). But hey, everyone has their own taste in clothes.

  2. I’ve never heard of this fashion trend, but I like it! Gonna do me some on-line surfing now to see what else I can find.

    Thanks for sharing. Maybe your daughter can get married in the dress? Kill 2 birds with one stone sort of thing? Just a thought. I mean you’ve already paid for an expensive, hand-made, designer dress right?

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  3. Stacy, my daughter gags at all the pink too. 🙂 But she loves the ruffles! Not my thing either, but it sure looks cute on her.

    Patricia, LOL and good idea – although I can’t imagine her going for that. I hope it’s a while before we have a wedding, seeing as she’s still in high school. 🙂

  4. I would gag at all the ruffles. LOL. But to each their own – right? I wore some pretty ruffly stuff in my day. I may again. Who knows. I’ve seen this style somewhere before. Thanks for sharing. I had no idea what it was called.

  5. i’m late to this post, Jenn but I’m glad. I was at a small local conference today and one of the young attendees was dressed in this fashion! Now I know what to call it (Goth Lolita) and why. too cool

  6. So funny, Louise! I knew how my character Taylor dressed, but didn’t know what to call it since she doesn’t do the vampish makeup like Goths. After reading up on my daughter’s fashion interest, I found out!

  7. Isn’t it great the way our kids’ interests propel us into adventures like tracking down the Baby, the Stars Shine Bright store in Paris? So glad to hear the dress, like Cinderella’s glass slipper, fit.

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  9. Hey, I randomly happened to come across this post – I’m a Gothic Lolita in my 20s and attending college. I also run my own blog dedicated (in part) to my own Lolita adventures in the world. I make a lot of my own clothing too!

    I might have to give your books a go, simply to see how a Gothic Lolita character fairs in great fiction. ^_^

  10. Roze, glad you enjoyed the blog! I will tell you that Taylor is not a major character in the novels. I suggest you give my free short story “Time’s Holiday” a try – that’s Taylor’s story.