Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Are "C" Rank Dresses Really That Bad?

 

Hmm… (Image by Closet Child)


At some point in your secondhand buying of Lolita clothing, you may come across a desirable item that has stains and/or minor damage that seems either reversible or negligible on first glance, which will leave you with a few of options:

(A) Hold off and wait to buy it in better condition
(B) Buy it, and take it to the dry cleaners
(C) Buy it, and try to deal with it yourself

A has been a diminishing luxury for me for a few years now as most classical lolitas seem to be holding onto their items for life, so these days I bounce between B and C depending on the severity of the problem.

For the purposes of this article, here’s how I define the following terms:
  • Stains: Everything that isn’t supposed to be part of the original fabric color/pattern/print is a stain until proven otherwise. Comes from a variety of sources. Could be removable, might be set-in already, or may turn out to be fabric discoloration.
  • Minor damage: Loose/missing buttons, broken belt loops/lining tacks, missing ribbon/accessories, anything that can be fixed by amateur sewing repair or replaced with easily-sourced notions is covered by this term.
  • Major damage: Alterations, shrinkage, rips/tears, fabric discoloration from fading/bleaching/sun damage/set-in color runs/etc. - anything that requires advanced knowledge or professional services to reverse/repair or may be irreversible permanent damage. Not covered in this article.
And some very bold disclaimers:

Disclaimer 1: Try these tips when you have nothing to lose. Everything in this article is intended to be used on hardy non-print cotton dresses because that’s what I have experience with, and they tend to yield the best results. Dresses with known problems like color run possibilities, print fading, delicate materials/finishes, etc. should be taken to professionals unless you know exactly what you’re getting into, which brings me to the next disclaimer — 

Disclaimer 2: Try at your own risk. Don’t try this at home unless you are prepared to (possibly) cause more damage to the dress/spend more money on fixing new problems/settle for a dress that may have permanent damage/worst case, wreck the dress yourself beyond professional repair

Disclaimer 3: Do your research! There are lots of great washing and care guides for lolita clothing out there, take the time to find them and read through them thoroughly. My personal favorite is Raine Dragon’s Brand Washing Directory + cleaning tips page.

Where this all started:
I saw this 2009 version of VM’s Antique Rose Doll OP available for sale at Closet Child with the following description (via Google Translate):

Above: Photo from Closet Child


“Fabric fluffy/wrinkled, brooch missing, slightly yellowed inside sleeve tip/inside collar, many fine light stains on skirt, hem lining, thread cut on one side” for 15400 yen (roughly $133 USD at time of purchase). Not exactly a bargain per se, but still better priced than other Antique Rose Doll OPs; plus I couldn’t see any of the stains mentioned in the description in the photograph. So I bought it, and then set off to look for replacement Petersham ribbon for the “brooch missing” part of the description. 

Above: $11 for 3 yards of 15mm wide 026 Brunette Petersham ribbon at http://thesewingplace.com.


Note: This version of Antique Rose Doll OP has the advantage of having a very busy floral pattern, plus a background color that can mask a variety of stains - even if I’m not successful at completely removing everything, it’s likely that the damage won’t show in pictures as seen in the initial Closet Child photo even if it is blown out. 

Arrival of the Dress
After the dress arrived, I took a few pictures outside before tossing it into the machine for an initial wash. I didn’t bother to get a full shot of the dress because the stains really don’t show up when zoomed out, so I took close up shots instead to show the staining:

Above: Stains are circled + lining tack detachment


The sweat stains were barely noticeable if there were any, and it was difficult to tell if something was a wrinkle or a stain. If I were to summarize what had happened, it looks like one of the former owners of this dress got into a fight with a soy sauce bottle down the entire left side of the dress, while somehow missing all of the light colored parts except for the 2 small dots on the left sleeve. Also, Closet Child very conveniently covered the side where most of the stains were with the left sleeve in the sales photo.

Things to Do:
  • Treat the soy sauce stains
  • Re-attach the lining to the dress
  • Replace missing ribbon
Treating the Soy Sauce Stains Part 1:
I initially tried a citrus-based stain remover (Grandma’s Secret Spot Remover) for the soy sauce stains, but it didn’t do much for lifting the stains. These photos do show how many small stains there are on the dress as well as how hard it can be to tell where the wet spots are if the lighting conditions aren’t right:

Above: Left side is the dress shortly after the first launder, middle and right pictures show how much spotting is in the floral part of the dress via Grandma’s.


Treating the Soy Sauce Stains Part 2:
Since Grandma didn’t do much, I opted for my preferred method of stain treatment - mixing baking soda with Shout Set-In Stain Remover to make a paste for each spot, then soaking everything in vinegar. Photo below shows roughly how much liquid to paste ratio works best for this:

Above: For this treatment, I leave it in the wash bucket because I know it’ll need to be soaked in vinegar after. Vinegar can act as a bleaching/lightening agent, so it usually works best on whites/ivories for sweat stains and isn’t recommended for colors that can fade easily.


I left it like this for about an hour or so, then filled the wash bucket with water and vinegar, specifically pouring the vinegar on the baking soda parts, and left it to soak for a day or so outside before putting it back through the laundry machine with cold water on gentle setting.

The stains were lifted a bit, but are still visible if you look closely. Definitely not visible from far away though. I’m sure if I went through a few more cycles of this removal procedure I’d be able to get most of it out, but this is good enough for now. Plus the two dots on the sleeve are nowhere to be seen.

Above: A couple of up close shots with some remaining stains circled.


Re-attaching the lining to the dress:
The other side of the lining ended up detaching itself in the initial wash, so I now had two sides to fix. To determine the length of the repair thread, I measured the broken tacking which came out to be around 7cm/2.75”. Any polyester thread is fine for this, and the technical term is a “french tack”. This is the tutorial I used (specifically the hand crochet chain stitch). 

Above: Lining reattached to the dress. This method can also be used to repair those pesky belt loops so many brands like to use for ribbon belts.


Replacing the Missing Ribbon:
The color of the ribbon turned out to be darker than the existing trim on the dress; I may look at getting a closer match in the future, but this is good enough for now. I ended up measuring the needed length for it it off another neck ribbon I had for a different item, which came out to 132cm/52” including a bit of extra ribbon for finishing the ends via clumsy whip stitch:

Above: Color comparison and finished ends.

Final Result:

Above: Lightly steamed C rank dress after a bit of treatment - which in photos, isn’t actually that different from where it started.

As it turns out, this particular C rank dress is both as bad as advertised, and not that bad at all. The C ranking at Closet Child can encompass a whole range of issues with an item, so as a final disclaimer, try this when you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain (and when the design happens to be in your favor). 

Best of luck in your secondhand shopping endeavors, and thanks for reading!

Hojicha 

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Lolita in Winter

 Hello again!

The winter season is over, but for some people, it’s still quite cold out there. I know where I am, it often fluctuates between cold and warm. 


Lolita for the cold can often be easy to do since it’s already a fashion with a lot of layers. Layering is going to be the key to keeping warm, as well as the type of fabric you’re wearing. What you wear will also be based on your cold tolerance. For some people, they just need more or less layers than someone else.



Under Layers


Thermals


When it’s particularly cold out, one option to wear under your clothes, lolita or not, is thermals!

Thermal shirts or leggings are great for keeping you warm under a blouse, bloomers, etc. 


Heattech by UNIQLO


Thermals aren’t really seen, but you can always match the color to your coords. Maybe if your blouse is a little more sheer, you can find a thermal that matches it so it’s not as obvious.



Fleece Bloomers


One time, I had to wait in line in the cold for a whole four hours while wearing lolita. It was really bad, but I wasn’t as cold as I could have been. One of the reasons I ended up staying so comfortable was from wearing bloomers made of fleece! Fleece is an excellent fabric for keeping warm.



I really like these ones since they have such cute bunnies. And pockets!! They’re also very soft, and this kind of bloomer, in particular, was much longer and went down to my knees.


Legwear


Your legwear can certainly protect you from the cold. I have found that knit OTKs were fine alone to wear and keep my legs warm in 40 degrees Fahrenheit weather. However, if that isn’t enough, knit tights are the ones to go. I wouldn’t recommend using thinner socks made of polyester, at least not alone.



These fleece lined tights aren’t exactly the cutest or have a design, but they will keep you warm. Sometimes, it’s more important to have comfort! You could even layer cuter OTKs over this for both warmth, and cuteness.



Long Sleeves


Long sleeves are often the best choice for winter, for obvious reasons. They can keep you warm, no matter what dress you’re wearing! For OPs with short sleeves, you can wear boleros or cardigans on top to add that extra warmth/




This is even warmer when paired with thermals underneath. Not only that, but cardigans are a great accessory for a coord!



Coats/Jackets





Coats and jackets are pretty much a given for the winter! There are a lot of options for coats, and you’ll start to see them pop up around the summer, or fall. Wool would be an ideal fabric since it can keep you the warmest.


The majority of lolita coats are designed to work with the silhouette of your dress, so you still have your poof. Some are also short coats that stop right at where the poof of your dress begins.

There are also hoodies like this (also known as Parkas) for when the weather is just chilly! I’ve found these can be just as warm if I’m already wearing something long-sleeved underneath.


Ponchos and Capes



Ponchos and capes can also work in winter, but probably best when you’ve got a good amount of layers underneath. Some ponchos/capes work by trapping heat in a sort of bubble inside, but it doesn’t always have the same security as something like a coat or jacket.


Warm Accessories


Just like with regular outfits, these accessories can be paired with your coord. They’re both practical, and decorative!


You can add things like:

Gloves

Scarves or Muffler

Earmuffs

Hats





Shoes


Shoes are a little tougher to find for winter.

In general, if it is not snowing, regular lolita shoes are perfectly fine to wear. Personally, I don’t find my feet get cold at all since I’m already wearing something warm for legwear.


However, if there is snow, it is more suitable to wear boots, both to protect your feet from getting wet and cold and for easier walking through snow.

Style-wise, it’s easy to find cute, wintery boots that work perfectly for lolita!



But these kinds of shoes are not always the best for snow. I’m sure they would be fine for light snow, however. They’re just unlikely to keep your feet as warm, especially if they get wet.


Some non-lolita shoes would work out really well for lolita, and still be suitable for winter. For classic or gothic, it may be a bit easier to find things suitable for lolita since neutral colors are more common. Just be careful about wearing real leather boots in snow, as snow or salt may damage them.


Sweet may have a harder time, but I find that white can be a good neutral if one is wearing pastels. Otherwise, sweet coords with brown, black, or jewel tones can still benefit.


Staying warm is key


Sometimes, it’s just too cold. It’s not always possible to wear something perfectly matching with your coord, while also keeping you warm. Not everyone is able to get a lolita specific coat either. Personally, I didn’t get a lolita specific coat until quite recently. I’ve always managed with just a regular coat since I would take it off once I got indoors again anyway!


If you have a cute coord, but don’t have the perfectly matching jacket, or snow boots, that is totally okay. Some things are just purely utilitarian and don’t have to be part of your coord.

Also, if you’re going to a meet or somewhere where you still want your coord to look good, you could always simply take off your coat (assuming you’re indoors) or bring nicer shoes to change into.


I hope this article helped you during the colder seasons!


Lady Grey




Friday, April 15, 2022

A Little Bit of Fluff ~Part 1: My Princess~

 

My name’s Sara.

I’m a sweet lolita and I work part time at the Ang☆lic Pr☆tty store in ☆☆☆☆ City.

I’ve been a member of the ☆☆☆☆ branch staff for about two years and usually work four days a week, but recently I’ve been thinking about quitting. For the past two months or so, I’ve been feeling the sparkle of the fashion being worn away from my soul, like someone rubbing the glitter off of M☆lky Pl☆net with a scouring pad. The colours of our releases seem duller each week, and the giggle of joy I used to feel at trying on a new dress has turned into a sigh of obligation.

It’s hard to put into words why I’ve been feeling this way these last few months. Most people would think I’m the luckiest lolita in the world, getting to work at my favourite brand. Plus, our customers are really nice, and even the tourists we sometimes see are polite. The problem is deeper than that. There’s a lot of pressure recently from above to push sales numbers higher and higher. No matter how busy we are, we never seem to meet the ever-increasing sales goals.

We’re doing our best, though. Our customer service is on point. Polite. Professional. Perfect, even. When I see our latest customers to the door and thank them for their visit, they always wave. My co-worker and I bow. They depart. It’s an interaction that happens dozens of times a day, and one I can perform blindfolded. But one day, as I hung the dresses our customers decided not to buy back on the rack, I found myself thinking about that morning’s staff meeting: We can’t let B☆by win.

Our shop manager thinks that the nearby B☆by, the St☆rs Sh☆ne Br☆ght is stealing our fans away.

Is that where the sparkle I used to feel for lolita has gone, too? Is B☆by stealing my shine?

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Kumya Sizes and You - Finding the Perfect Companion

After getting a Usakumya Rucksack Mini (40-ish cm), when I thought I bought a Usakumya Rucksack (50-ish cm), I decided that I wanted to try and collect all the different sizes of Usakumya bags. While working on this endeavour, I realised how often sellers would list the Rucksack Minis as "Rucksack", and the Rucksacks as "big(/large) Rucksack" (70-ish cm). Pair that with the fact that there are 2 sizes of purses, both of which are named “mini purse”, and the confusion is complete.

I’ve now managed to collect all sizes of Usakumya full body bags (there are also a few face/head bags) and I wanted to share the knowledge I’ve gained in the process! Knowing what differentiates all the different types of Kumya and how they look will help you make sure the second hand listing you’re looking at actually has the one you want. Also, it will help you know if a listing is wildly overpriced or not, making it much easier to bring home the Kumya of your dreams.
 

So first of all, how many different sizes are there? When I ended up with a Rucksack Mini, rather than a Rucksack, I went looking and came across a very handy chart compiled by Azuki, in her post So You Want to Buy a Kumya


I also checked Lolibrary and added one size that is Kuma Kumya only, so this chart now should have more or less all the different sizes of full body Usakumya/Kuma Kumya bags:

Type

Approx length (cm)

Approx retail price inc tax (JPY)

Little Rucksack (Usakumya only)

13

3600

Mini Purse (Usakumya only)

16

2500

Mini Mini/Bag Mini-Mini (Kuma Kumya only)

20

4000 - 4300

Rucksack Mini-Mini

21

4400 - 5500

Smart Phone Pouch

22

6500

Purse/Mini Purse

25 - 27

7800

Pochette

33

10500 - 26200

Rucksack Mini

40 - 42

9500 - 14100

Rucksack

50 - 56

15500 - 16300

Big Rucksack

70

30300 - 36300


The retail price paired with the approximate size can be a good starting point to make sure you’re getting the correct size, and not overpaying. However, be aware that some of these sizes have only been released once, many years ago. The most notable one being the Usakumya Rucksack Mini, which was (as far as I know) only released once, in 2007. For some sizes, you will find that Usakumya is much more common than Kuma Kumya, and vice versa.

The most common mislabeling of sizes that I see, is people selling a Rucksack and calling it a “Big (or Large) Rucksack”. This in part may stem from the fact that before the Big Rucksack was released in 2017, the Rucksack would often be labelled “large” by the Western lolita community (see these two Livejournal posts). I also have a pet theory that it might in part stem from the fact that the Big Rucksack is ridiculously huge and that people who don’t own one or haven't seen one in person have difficulty understanding just how big it actually is.


This picture compares the Big Rucksack (at the back), Rucksack (second from the back), Rucksack Mini (third from the back), Pochette (left front) and Rucksack Mini-Mini (right front).



And this picture has the Big Rucksack on the left, and the Rucksack on the right:


As you can see, the Big Rucksack is substantially bigger than the Rucksack!

So! Outside of the size, what differentiates all these Kumya bags? Below is a list of the defining characteristics of all of them:
  • Little Usakumya Rucksack
    • Can't actually be used as a bag; the zipper is just embroidery
    • Posable arms and legs
    • "Smooth fur"
  • Usakumya-chan Mini Purse
    • Coin purse opening at the back
    • "Smooth" fur
  • Kuma Kumya Bag Mini-Mini/Kuma Kumya Mini
    • 1 strap that fastens in 2 points on the head
  • Rucksack Mini-Mini
    • 2 detachable rucksack straps that fasten at the neck and hips
  • Smart Phone Pouch
    • Vinyl window at the back
    • 1 detachable purse chain that fastens in 2 points on the head
  • Purse/Mini Purse
    • Coin purse opening in the back of the head
    • 1 detachable purse chain that fastens in 2 points on coin purse metal frame
  • Pochette
    • Zipper in the head, underneath the hood
  • Rucksack Mini
    • 2 detachable rucksack straps that fasten either at the neck and hips, or in 2 points on top of the head
  • Rucksack
    • Usakumya version has stuffed ears
    • For Kuma Kumya, you'll have to look for the absence of the hallmarks of the other sizes
  • Big Rucksack
    • Has a BTSSB heart logo charm on the neck bow
For more details on the characteristics of these bags, consult this handy table!

A couple of notes for the table:
  • * I don’t own any of these, hence the “probably”/”probably not”, based on lolibrary and the seemingly similar Rucksack Mini-Mini.
  • ** Pochettes are sometimes released with special outfits, or a pochette outfit is released on its own. I’ll cover these more extensively in another article
The three largest rucksack sizes are the ones that are most often confused for each other, so in the table I’ve marked the main characteristic of each one in italics. These three points are the ones that have helped me most of all in my journey to collect all sizes of full body Usakumya bags, so they’re worth repeating on their own:
  • Rucksack Mini has 5 points where the straps can fasten, as opposed to 2 for the Rucksack and Big Rucksack
  • Rucksack Usakumya version has stuffed ears.
    • Kuma Kumya has the same ears all over, so you’ll have to check for the absence of the hallmarks of the Rucksack Mini and Big Rucksack if Kuma Kumya Rucksack is what you’re looking for
  • Big Rucksack has a BTSSB heart logo charm on the neckbow
    • Because of the size of the Big Rucksacks, the charm can sometimes be hidden by their chin or their neck bow
    • The Big Kuma Kumya Rucksack has also (as far as I know) only been released twice. A Sapporo limited white one, and a regular release that only came with the classic brown ribbon. So if anyone is claiming to have a Big Kuma Kumya Rucksack, but the ribbon is a different type, they’ve switched the ribbon or they’re confused about what size they actually have.

And there you have it! The main differences between all the Kumya full body bags! Although before we go, I’d like to remind you that Usakumya took a while to find their final form. There are a few versions out there that differ from the “modern” version that is most common. There is the Usakumya ancestor, that was released in 2001 and 2002, of which there are patterns you can use to make your own (GLB 3 and GLB Extra 1)!


And in 2005, Baby released the Usakumya Rucksack and the Boy Usakumya Backpack, which are much closer to how Usakumya looks today. Although It would still take a couple of more years for Usakumya to get the “modern look”; that happened with the release of Embroidery Usakumya Rucksack in 2007. Older versions of the “modern” Usakumya will also differ in that they had embroidered noses for a while, and shorter fur than the more recent ones do.



Newer Usakumya, with a felt nose, on the left. Older Usakumya, with a embroidered nose, on the right.

Newer Usakumya with longer fur on the left. Older Usakumya with shorter fur on the right.

Kuma Kumya did not appear until 2013, but when they did, they already had the look we all know and love. In later years, Usakumya and Kuma Kumya have had a few more members added to the Kumya family, namely Neko Kumya and Panda Kumya. And in 2020, Alice and the Pirates got their own mascot, Captain Chris.


Thank you for reading, and please look forward to my next article, where I’ll go more in depth on the different special Kumya editions, Kumya clothing and the “Sweet Mates”: Sophie, Judy and Lillian (and Michelle).



~Green Tea



Thursday, March 31, 2022

ARIZONA ICE TEA BUILDS A HOT TOPIC COORD

KONNICHIA MY CUTE FRILLIES ♡(ෆ˙ᵕ˙ෆ)♡ it is I, the beloved and notorious Arizona Ice Tea! Idol to some, enemy to some others, but I am HERE and am back again because it is APRIL the most kawaii month. Duh.

Some of my fans and I were having high tea (the most aesthetic of meals!!! ૮₍  ˶•⤙•˶ ₎ა
./づ~ 🍓) and one of them said to me “Arizona-hime, I bet you can’t make a coord using only (whispering)(looks around with great concern) Hot Topic items. You are the most hoity-toity brand ho on this side of the Mississippi”.  


THE ABSOLUTE audacity, of course I can.  After all, I am the most sugoi rorichan! (๑ᵔ⤙ᵔ๑)

First, we need a main piece.


Heart aprons are very kawaii (๑ > ᴗ < ๑) and there’s at least a ruffle on the heart.  I would rather get something from AP how-ev-er this is a challenge I want to WIN ok. Also it is gingham, which is a very popular theme so far this year and if I can't follow the hot new trends then why am I even HERE?!


૮₍˶Ó﹏Ò ⑅₎ა  Miss Misako would appear out of thin air and beat me if I dared bare my arms (what do you mean that’s not accurate anymore, I am the most knowledgeable and cute lolita ever…) so I gotta get a blouse. This is pink and has a bow so it is good enough uwu

NEXT is legwear.  


Oh em gee these are so kyuuuute!! Lace makes everything 1000% extra kawaii!!!! And these look wonderfully scratchy. PERFECT.


They have lace on them…LACE omg. Angelic Pretty eat ur heart out. Also since they are black, this means they can be goth too.    

Now that we have the boooring stuff out of the way, we can get to the fun and important accessories required to make this totemo kawaii!!!


A RAINBY WIG. It will match every coord and it looks super high quality uwu.  


All those gatekeeper meanie-litas (。•ˇ‸ˇ•。) who don’t like the lace parasols like this are just a bunch of big old meanies who are afraid of the sun.  but also dont 4get sunscreen if u use this one cause you will get a sunburn. This is the perfect item of rorita, a totally over the top tacky useless item for the low low cost of...it doesn't matter !!

oH you are now saying “but Arizona-sama, u forgot your headwear, how the hell can you think about a parasol before that?!?!?” be not afraid, my little fluffle-puffs, Hot Topic has that covered too.


I can tie some more craft ribbon on here (PINK) and it will match even better uwu.  The meanies say cat ears are never lolita and other gatekeepers say they can be lolita but ONLY if u get nice ones....tnhey aren't the boss of me u3u. 

U gotta have jewelry accessories too


Mymelo is the best and she is a lolita ok, she has a bow on her head on this necklace/.

Now last is the bag. I kno what you’re thinking “Arizona-hime, Hot Topic actually has a decent bag for lolita available right now but it may have questionable quality, but it could work in a pinch”


THIS IS WHJERE YOU ARE WRONG! This is what people would expect a lolita to buy, but I am above that!! I didn’t get to be as famous as I am now by doing what normal lolitas do!! I am cooler and more special and unique than the average rorichan. I do not wanna be like other lolitas, I want other lolitas to wanna be like MEE ok!


So I would get this



Unlike those overpriced Kumakymas, I can add my own ribbon to customize this ₍ᐢ•ﻌ•ᐢ₎ bear ₍ᐢ•ﻌ•ᐢ₎ so it matches every coord perfectly.  

Wowowowowowwww its actually cuter than I expected. My fans will be surprised when I show them this coord at the next tea. It may not be Angelic Pretty (;´༎ຶٹ༎ຶ`)  (the only brands that matters to meeee) but I guess I can get away with this since I am so kawaii 

are u ready to see it!!!












ok here it is!!

I HOPE U HAVE A LOVELY APRIL 1ST (*ᴗ͈ˬᴗ͈)ꕤ*.゚




☆( ᴗ ̫ ᴗ ) ☆ ╔uu═════════════════════╗☆ ❝ 𝓐𝓻𝓲𝔃𝓸𝓷𝓪 𝓘𝓬𝓮 𝓣𝓮𝓪-𝓱𝓲𝓶𝓮 𝓬𝓱𝓪𝓷♡ ❞ ╚══════nn═══════════════╝