Friday, April 30, 2021

Things Brands Should Be Making

Man, I just love lolita fashion. 

I love it so much that I want to surround myself with all kinds of things made by brands as an aesthetic reminder of how much of a lolita I am without always needing to wear the clothes. But sometimes I have complaints on what the fashion has fallen short on. Here’s my list of things I think brands could and should be making. 

1.) Printed Leggings and Workout Clothes

Sometimes I wonder how much more enthusiastic about working out if I were the most kawaii person at the gym (or rather, working out at home these days). Just imagine a pair of black joggers with the Moitie’s signature blue candelabra instead of the Nike sign, or an obnoxiously 2000s velour track suit with BABY foil printed on the butt. 

Leggings are an inescapable facet of fast fashion, especially in the era of stay-at-home orders. It’s sometimes really hard to get in the kawaii mood when you’re in boring leggings all day. To combat the monotony of normie leisurewear, I’d love to see popular AP prints in leggings form to throw on with a matching oversized t-shirt that’s meant to be worn together. 

Until then, I’ll settle for joggers by indie kawaii fashion creators

2.) Fully Shirred Skirts 

People who’ve been around the fashion for some years and/or old school lolita enthusiasts know and love Meta’s Crown Label “mini” skirts, and it’s a real shame that comfy, fully shirred skirts are barely a thing anymore. 

3.) More Basics

I don’t mind purchasing workhorse pieces from indie Chinese brands, but I do miss the days when it was more common to find practical cardigans, versatile socks, other staples, and accessories from Japanese brands. I do enjoy seeing over-the-top princess dresses, unique prints, and floofy chiffon blouses, but sometimes I just want to tone down my coords with wearable every-day poly-cotton pieces for a Target run. 

4.) Matching Clothes and Accessories for Brand Mascots

I love my Kumakumyas, but I wish that they’d have separate clothes and accessories that I can easily buy and change them into like you could at Build-a-Bear instead of normally selling these as special edition kumyas. I bet brands would make a killing off of mascot enthusiasts. Or at least me. 

5.) Speaking of Kumyas: 

I require a proper Usakumya/Kumakumya kigurumi.  I need this:

But make it like this:

6.) Makeup Collabs

In an age of MUA youtubers and “influencers” pumping out Morphe collabs every month, I’d love to see things like a by lolitas-for lolitas eyeshadow palette. 

Imagine a heart shaped eyeshadow palette with this logo on it and inside includes a mirror and pretty colors inspired by famous prints or motifs (that’ll be ¥10,000). If AP can release a Misty Sky perfume, I require the red colorway of Fantasic Dolly in a lip stick.

AP,  just take this concept and run with it. 

7.) More Home Goods

I love browsing Japanese app stores and I often encounter random houseware goods and novelties there. While some items are available in the shops, most of them are novelties gifted to people who attended special brand run events. Whenever I see these, I can’t help wishing I could easily surround myself with my favorite brands on the daily without wearing the clothes all the time. 

8.) More Casual Lolita Pieces

In the same vein as #3, I miss casual lolita. I miss how easy it used to be to find cute cutsews, camisoles, and mini skirts to wear when I wanted to dress and feel cute without bumping things off surfaces with my petticoat. 

Reinstating point #2:  Considering the growth in popularity of the fashion worldwide, I'd love to see plus sized/fully shirred versions of mini skirts and cutsew tops and knit dresses that were once quite popular. Or at least salopettes that look more flattering for the plus sized lolita market.

9.) Fewer Empire-waist and more Just-waist and Long Bodices

Not everyone looks great in empire waist dresses. So why are brands still making so many of them? Not to mention that just-waist and long bodices generally fit better and look better on taller/plus sized lolitas. Brands, please bring back more regular and drop-waist bodice dresses and you can have my hard earned money. 

An example of a very flattering cut: Regimental Stripe JSK by Atelier Pierrot 

10.) Bring Back Bustiers

Yet another old-school piece I love and miss. Lolita bustiers were like stays meant to be worn over a blouse. They were great for making a plain skirt coordinate look fancy by giving an illusion of wearing a dress. Sometimes people would wear them in place of a blouse in warmer weather. I’m disappointed that they’ve fallen out of fashion for some time and hope that they’ll make a comeback soon. 

11.) Large Posters of Prints 

Because it’s not enough to just wear Honey Cake, but I want it on my wall next to my favorite band poster. 

12.) (More) Roomwear

Let’s face it, some of us are spending more time in our pajamas than usual. Why not make us spend ¥10,000 for some lolita brand PJs? Because we will. 

(From eBay)
(Liz Lisa)

Victorian Maiden released some nightgowns in 2020 that were very popular, but I wish other brands would make their own versions too. I think it’d be so cute to see nightgown versions of Angelic Pretty’s iconic prints! 

13.) (Tiny) Neckties

There once was a time when blouses and cutsews came along with detachable lace edged ties. It was kind of a goofy accessory, but they usually added a kind of girly and punk like coquettishness to a coord. 

14.) Scalloped Hemlines and Embroidery

As much as I love prints, it seems like all brands have to do these days is slap it onto a basic lolita dress and call it a day. I very much miss seeing all kinds of lovely sewing details that made lolita special, especially cute rounded edges and charming embroidered motifs. 

(Scallop Princess, BTSSB)
(Flower Cart Embroidery, BTSSB)

15.) Releases of very sought after 2000s-era Prints and Design

I’m very pleased that Baby made the move to launch their Classical Line where one could find re-releases of their iconic main pieces, like the Karami JSK and Elizabeth OP. I only wish that other brands would follow suit. I know AP’s has a history of re-releasing popular prints, but I’d be over the moon to see them bring back some iconic pieces like Puppet Circus and Marionette Girl; or if AATP brought back Vampire Requiem from the grave (lol) and (most importantly) Metamorphose collaborated with Kuniko Kato to revive Teddy Motors and the Rabbitchang and Punkuma collection. 

Meta can has coin if they has re-release (Teddy Motors OP, source: Lolibrary)

 Meta, please.
Meta, I beg of you. 

16.) Improving Old Ideas 

There are many dresses out there that brands have made with high expectations conceptually-wise, but fell very short upon release. It would be great if brands would go back to the drawing board to see what went wrong with the original ideas and made better versions of pieces, like Innocent World’s Mucha print. My wallet is ready. 

What do you think about this list? Do you want these things to make a comeback? What sort of stuff do you wish brands came up with? 

Thanks for reading!

Friday, April 23, 2021

How to Host a Lolita Meetup


(Image from @salonwonderteatime)

One thing we sometimes forget about lolita fashion is that it’s not only a fashion (though that is the main aspect) but there’s also a community behind it!  Lolita meetups are a great way to find inspiration for your own coords, talk about a hobby you enjoy with likeminded people and sometimes make good friends even out of the fashion. :)  At the moment, it is still not necessarily safe to have meetups in person yet, but here is a guide for hosting your own meetup once it is safe again.  

First, here are some things to consider before hosting a meetup:

    1.) Is there a certain person in charge of meetups in your community? Or can anyone plan and host a meetup?

    2.) Do you have the time and mental strength to host a meetup? If you feel like you aren’t up the challenge yourself, you can always ask more experienced lolitas for help co hosting! 

    3.) What are your meetup goals? Do you have a certain activity you would like to do such as seeing a certain movie or going to an event together?

The next step is actually planning the meetup!

See if there is any interest in a meetup at all.

Before putting in all the effort of hosting a meetup, see if anyone is actually interested in one. Meetups can be fun at any size but it’s always good to know how many people will be joining you. 

How can you see if there’s any interest? Simply ask on your community page! Something along the lines of “Hey, there’s this cool movie/event coming up soon. Would anyone like to go together?”

Remember that it’s easy to mark yourself as “Going” on a Facebook event and then forgetting about it, so don’t be shy about posting reminders about the event and even sending people a message to make sure that they plan on coming after they mark themselves as attending.

Set a date and a venue.

Now that you have some people interested in a meetup, it’s time to decide on a date and venue! If the event isn’t time sensitive, you have a lot of wiggle room in deciding when and where your meetup will be.

I advise on starting a poll with some date options and venue options about a month before when you want to hold the meetup, or even longer in advance if the meetup is planned around a popular event/holiday such as Halloween or a convention.

Make sure to choose dates that you yourself can attend, since after all, you want to be able to enjoy your own meetup, right?

(Image from @salonwonderteatime)

Always be sure to research the venue and see if a downpayment is required or if you will need to book tickets in advance. If the venue has an age requirement (such as 18+ or 21+) make sure that your guests meet those requirements! 

If the venue serves food, make sure that people with any special dietary requirements (such as allergies, vegan or religious diets) also have something they can enjoy. I recommend posting the venues menu and price range so people can prepare in advance.

I recommend scouting the venue area to find a suitable meeting place and taking note of landmarks so you can direct people to the meetup. If possible, add pictures of the area or a short video of how to arrive is always helpful.

When hosting a meetup outside, it is important to make sure that there are basic amenities such as shade, a place to sit and water fountains, or to ask whoever is attending to bring a blanket and bottle of water with them. Also make sure that you are prepared for any mishap that might happen, such as an umbrella if it may rain. Extra water and bandages are also a good idea to have on hand.

If your meetup is being hosted indoors, such as at a restaurant, make sure that the venue is aware that you will be arriving in a group and may need more space because it is a fashion meetup. If you feel uncomfortable, you do not need to mention which fashion outright. Saying 'vintage fashion' should give most places enough information to suit your needs. 

Another thing to always keep in mind is transportation! Remember that public transportation may be crowded or not available during certain dates and hours. Make sure to remind people to arrange transportation to and from your meetup so no one is stuck behind.

Set some meetup rules.

Rules are important to make sure that everyone can enjoy the meetup safely. Here are some basic rules I usually use, so feel free to use them yourself and add any additional rules that you feel are necessary!

1.Please wear lolita fashion (Or adjacent fashion such as ouji) to the meetup!

Not sure what you want to wear is considered lolita / ouji? Post your questions here or in the main community page and we will be happy to help.

This rule is important because unless you are hosting a meetup for newbies, you want actual lolitas at your meetups and not just curious onlookers who aren’t part of the fashion.

2. Please do not share the event outside of the community page.

This rule is another way to prevent people who don’t wear lolita from crashing your meetups.

3. Please address people politely using their pronouns. If you are not sure in which pronoun to use, please ask in a respectful manner, and from those who are asked, please also answer in a respectful manner.  Please remember that we all respect each other and if there is a mistake in speech it will not be something personal against someone.

Anyone of any gender can wear lolita and it is important to always be respectful of other people.

4. Please do not touch people or their clothes without permission! And do not harass them if they do not agree.

Lolita clothes can be expensive, and even if they weren’t, it is completely within your right to tell people not to touch you or your belongings.

5. Regarding photos - of course there is no obligation to be a part of the group photos and you can ask to not be photographed.

However, it is important to remind people that if they are in a public place, there is a high probability that people will take their pictures without asking. Unfortunately, it is not possible to always prevent this but it is your full right to comment to anyone who does so!

If only we could pixelate our faces IRL...

6. Be nice to other people, not just group members 🙂

Lolitas often get approached by people asking about our clothes, especially when there is a group of lolitas, since it looks pretty unusual to casual onlookers! So remember to be nice to curious people as long as they are respectful to you (You are more than welcome to ignore anyone being offensive of course!).

7. For events that require pre-registration, please notify the event host at least X days in advance if you cannot attend the meetup.

Last minute cancellations and flakes can create problems in organizing group events. I recommend setting up a small meetup reservation fee to make sure that only people who are serious about attending will sign up for the meetup. I usually set the reservation fee at around $3. You can then use this fee towards paying a tip if the meet is being hosted in a restaurant, or buying a small gift for each attendee. If you set a reservation fee, make sure to clearly state how this fee will be used!

If the venue requires a deposit you can split the amount between the attendees. Make sure to also clearly state a final date for cancellation/refunds.

Now that you have a date, a venue and some rules, what should you do during the meetup itself?

Remember that you are the host of the meetup, so make sure that people arrive at the meetup location safely and answer any questions they may have about directions. 

If a new member is joining the community, help them socialize and introduce them to people so they don’t feel alienated (Not sure what to talk about? Here are some great icebreakers!).

If you are hosting a meetup outside, please remind people to help you clean up after the meetup so you can leave the area as you found it.

Don’t be disheartened if the meetup isn’t huge, or if things don’t go exactly as planned. Hosting a meetup takes practice and work, so be proud of your efforts and remember to have fun!

Here’s hoping that face to face meetups are back again soon!

-Milk Tea

Friday, April 16, 2021

Are Taobao Resellers Worth It? (2021 Edition)

Sugar Cube is being crushed beneath her piles of schoolwork, so this week will be an update to RoseQuartzRoyalty’s 2019 post 'Taobao Resellers Are Ripping You Off'. This article has been referenced with permission and will act as an updated guide to Taobao Reseller comparisons in 2021.

It is recommended to go read that blog post first if you haven’t already, but a quick summary is that buying directly from Taobao with the use of a shopping service is much cheaper than going through a Taobao Reseller. Taobao Resellers can be useful if you are getting only a few items, or a friend or family member is trying to buy you a gift, but otherwise using a service like Spreenow or 42agent is much more affordable.

Two years ago, the general attitude towards Taobao Resellers was starkly different than it is today. Resellers were commonly regarded as being cheaper than using a shopping service, and the world of Taobao was lauded as a dark and scary website, full of scams and replicas.

Nowadays if you look in any comment section inquiring about Devil Inspired or similar overpriced resellers, you’ll see recommendations for shopping services and reseller horror stories from lolitas still waiting on six month old packages.

In 2019, Devil Inspired claimed they were working to lower their prices and provide customers with better quality service. A few months back, Like A Teacup wrote the article The Case Against Devilinspired.

A common comment in response to the original Taobao Resellers are Ripping You Off article was a desire to see actual results. Sure, we could theoretically purchase the OP from the original article and compare it with the price estimates, but would it ACTUALLY be cheaper in the long run?

Like any good experiment, it’s important that the results from a trial can be replicated time and time again.

I recently purchased CC Cat’s Rainbow Dollhouse JSK and the matching accessories and have located the exact same items on Devil Inspired and Clobba. The set was unfortunately not available on other reseller websites, as it seems there has been a large decrease in consistent stock between sites.

Just like in the original experiment, all controls have been kept the same. My personal Taobao order contained the JSK (size S, mint), the detachable apron, the wristcuffs, and the KC.

First up… Devil Inspired!

Purchasing all of the items from Devil Inspired (JSK, KC, wristcuffs, and apron) cost a total of $121.03. While not a bad price for a full set by any means, let’s see how it compares to our other options.

In 2019, Clobba was the second cheapest reseller to order from, so let’s see how they fare two years later.

Now, because this is a pre-order, Clobba cannot give us a shipping total. Fortunately for us, we can use other items on their website to get an idea of what that total MIGHT look like. By adding similar items to the cart, we get the following shipping quote.

As always, in the interest of keeping as many controls as possible, we will calculate the final total using the cheaper option.  The final total using Clobba comes out to $115.

Finally, let’s look at our real-life results!

I placed my order on January 30th, 2021 and paid ¥444.40 for my items.

On April 6th, 2021, all of my items were ready to ship. I selected the cheapest possible shipping, which cost me ¥155.52.

When I purchased all of the items myself using Spreenow, I paid approximately $92. I will also note that my shipping total does contain a pair of socks, although I will argue this is a negligible weight and does not skew my shipping.  As a broke college student, I’m happy to put in five extra minutes of work and save $23-$29 any day.

Of course, the case can always be argued that it is worth the money to purchase through a reseller due to the ease of access. And while yes, ordering through a reseller may be slightly more convenient, I personally prefer to make my money go as far as possible. This is $23-$29 on ONE SET. That adds up FAST.

Now that we know the actual results, let’s run some more theoretical results to compare across various platforms.

We will be using Infanta’s ‘Alice in the Dark Forest’ JSK for comparison this time.

Ordering this dress from My Lolita Dress would cost $66.42

Glitzy has free shipping, so your final cost would be $69.

Devil Inspired, true to its nature, is once again the most expensive of the lot. The dress alone will cost you $85.99.

Finally… Our wildcard...Loligals on Aliexpress.

By far the cheapest of any reseller we’ve seen so far, right? Almost seems too good to be true…

Forgive me for my tangent, but let’s talk about Loligals.

It seems that Loligals makes their profit through increasing the pricing on their cheapest (and most desirable) products. The Alice Girl OP pictured above is what one might call a ‘newbie magnet’. Beginners FLOCK to this dress. Loligals charges EIGHTY DOLLARS for it. $100 when it’s not on sale.

If we locate the same dress on Taobao, we’ll see the final total is 253 yuan, or about $39.

Sure, Loligals might be worth it if you need a VERY SPECIFIC ITEM that’s NOT scalped. Even Devil Inspired has the courtesy to only charge $44 pre-shipping (an extremely small profit by their standards). Loligals also sells replicas and extremely low quality mass produced pieces for heightened prices, so beginners BEWARE! Can you get items shipped cheaply via Loligals? Sure, but you might also accidentally pay out the teeth for a cheap dress.

Back to our original comparison dress!

Ordering the Infanta dress with the help of a shopping service comes out to $44 before shipping. MLD tells us the weight of this dress is approximately 0.8 kg, so just take that and plug it into SpreeNow's shipping calculator.

The Infanta dress, plus shipping within China, Spreenow's fees and the cheapest shipping (E Packet) would be a total of 420 yuan, or about $64.4 USD.

So to answer our initial question on whether or not Taobao resellers are worth it in 2021, I guess the answer is… “it depends”.
It seems like many resellers are selectively charging more for items that are in higher demand. This Infanta dress is not highly sought after and so it seems like companies are keeping lower profit margins on it so they can make more money with the more popular pieces. 
I definitely wouldn’t mind buying this specific piece off of MyLolitaDress, Loligals, or GlitzyWonderland since the markup on this specific piece is so insignificant. However, if you are planning to purchase an item via reseller, make sure to do your research first. If you plan to purchase multiple items, make sure to check them all since not all markups are equal, and a few extra dollars on each piece can add up fast. There’s no reason to pay a company $40 more than necessary for an item you can easily purchase using a shopping service. 
Stay Sweet!
~Sugar Cube

Friday, April 9, 2021

Magic Mutant Nightmare Girl, A Lolita Fashion Review

Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored. The novel was bought for the purposes of making an honest review. May contain spoilers.

Magic Mutant Nightmare Girl is a YA novel that has been posted a few times on the Lolita Updates Facebook group, so we decided to buy it and give it an honest review from the perspective of lolita fashion wearers. 

This post is a collaboration between a few members of this blog.


It begins with Holly Roads and her best friend Chi Ho leaving a restaurant on her birthday. She remembers a prophecy from Chi Ho’s Nai Nai about avoiding alleyways. When Holly parts ways with Chi Ho, she encounters a pair of mutants and ends up killing one of them before fleeing home. 

The next day, a man named Michael Brannon shows up to her apartment after confirming she was involved with the mutant incident the previous night. She is then introduced to Nunez and later to Kyle and Doctor Laura who, along with Brannon, are all part of a secret government organization called N.E.R.D. that is responsible for creating a serum for soldiers to make them stronger and faster.

It is revealed that someone had broken into their lab on the same day the mutants had attacked Holly. Holly realizes that she is no longer fully human and agrees to help N.E.R.D.
This leads to a search around the city for the second mutant, a few sleepovers with the members of N.E.R.D. as they planned what to do, and a grand finale at a big lolita tea party.

Lolita Fashion Excerpts

Since Holly wears lolita fashion, we get to see a few instances where she tries to explain it and the culture surrounding the fashion. Let’s take a look at a few snippets to review how well it explains lolita.

First chapter where Holly and Chi Ho leave the restaurant they are at.
Chrysanthemum: The reaction from other people every 5 minutes is greatly exaggerated. I guess it is a way to set up expectations for how outlandish lolita may look.

Milk Tea: To me this section reads like a cross between an NLOG (Not Like Other Girls) blogpost and a Wikipedia article. To those who know about lolita fashion, this is all information we know. To people who don’t know about lolita fashion,  this is being blasted by a lot of information all at once which makes it hard to digest. 

After the encounter with the mutants, Holly arrives home, realizing her dress is ruined.
Chrysanthemum: I’m not sure a non-lolita would understand or even care about Puppet Circus. Surely though, it could be washed?

Milk Tea: Also is knowing the dress is from 2006 really relevant? People who know what Puppet Circus is are already impressed by Holly flaunting it. To other people a dress from 2006 just isn’t impressive.

Holly realizes her eyelids are more lavender than red when crying
Chrysanthemum: Okay, why Japanese tourists specifically? Maybe because of the location. I don’t know if San Francisco has a high population of Japanese tourists. I laughed. It reminds me of weebs thinking that any Japanese person’s opinion is gold.

Milk Tea: Plus the sprinkling of the Japanese terminology out of nowhere is pretty typical weeb behavior. 

Brannon and Holly are in her apartment when he starts commenting on her fashion style.
Chrysanthemum: I really don’t think anyone talks like this in real life. It breaks the immersion and I don’t quite agree with this explanation of lolita either.

Milk Tea: Again the author spirals into a Wikipedia post. It reminds me of how newbies tend to react to these kinds of accusations.  I know it feels like you’re being attacked when this happens, but going on a rant like this just makes you seem unhinged.
I’d also like to add that Holly contradicts herself here when she says “I’m not a bubble headed escapist” after previously saying that she wore lolita "to keep the world at bay to shield my porcelain heart". There’s nothing wrong with using lolita as some escape from daily life, every person has their own reason to wear lolita. you don’t have to validate yourself to anyone.

Lastly, since when has sweet lolita been connected to rave aesthetics??

Brannon wants to come along to the tea party Holly wants to attend and lure Hugo to.
Chrysanthemum: I can see this as a result of Holly’s jealousy causing her to think irrationally. She doesn’t want people to fawn over Brannon because she thinks he’s hot. Really though, lolitas are not like this unless you subscribe to the stereotypes of lolitas being mean bullies. It could be her anxiety talking.

Description of the tea party.
Milk Tea: This whole chapter really makes me wonder if the author has ever participated in a lolita event. The whole chapter reads like a Deerstalkers inspired parody of the lolita community. 

Chrysanthemum: I am very convinced that Holly is an unreliable narrator now. This is all the stereotypes of mean lolitas rolled up into one event. Regardless, it paints lolitas in such a negative light. I almost choked on the water I was drinking when I first read this.

Chrysanthemum: EGL is not a formal name for lolita!

Milk Tea: I’m not sure all these terms were even mentioned in the book. Putting the glossary at the end also means that some of the terms have already been thoroughly explained while reading (Such as “Lolita Community”, “Headbow” or “Bonnet”.)

Reviews + Final Thoughts

Given that this is a Young Adult novel, what is everyone’s final thoughts on this novel? Would you recommend it to a non-lolita or a newbie? What age group would it be suitable for? Let’s take a look at what everyone thinks.

I read this novel with the expectation that it would involve magical girl elements, but I was wrong. Holly wears a fantastical fashion style and her Usakumya appears to talk sometimes, but there were rarely any things in it that made me think it included a sense of magic and whimsy that is often found in magical girl stories. It is just another fantasy YA novel, but it involves lolita as a way to gather an audience of readers.

Magical girl as a genre holds a special place in my heart as it embodies the idea that cuteness is not weakness. You can be strong while still looking cute and enjoying the things you love. It’s alright to be flawed and make mistakes. It’s important to have friends who can support each other and it’s okay to fall in love. 

Most notably, there should be a sense of justice that isn’t just based on the black and white thinking that all bad guys are bad and deserve it. This novel bothered me a lot because it seemed like Holly had little remorse for the people/mutant she killed. The random robber’s death in the first half was justified with a brief passage about his history of crime and fails to realize that he was human with so many other aspects to him.

Holly has her flaws, like most protagonists. However, she comes off as bratty and selfish without any redeeming qualities. She is completely unlikeable, often having moments that should make us want to sympathize with her, but ultimately failing and making it seem like she is going ‘woe is me’. While the mutant powers she has gave her physical strength, she doesn’t have any other strength besides being a complete asshole, especially to Brannon. She sexualizes him by thirsting over him throughout the book while also acting like a tsundere by denying her feelings for him. At no point did I see anything that seemed like she was nice to him. He comes off as mean because this story is told from her perspective and I got the impression that all these slights against her are in her head.

Her best friend Chi Ho also gave me a lot of pause. She is like the Asian best friend of the main character in a children’s cartoon. Her role in the story is to sit idly by while making sure her best friend is alright. I can’t help but think that her character is based on stereotypes. While some Chinese people do live in Chinatown, I find it a very odd location combined with her name. It gives off a fake Chinese name vibe much like Cho Chang. 

As for the lolita aspects, they are sprinkled in. It seemed like the lolita community and culture aspects are from the viewpoint of a newbie who still has negative stereotypes about lolitas as a group of mean girls who will gossip and compete with each other. These things are completely untrue based on my experience. I can see the appeal of this book towards a very young aspiring lolita who believes themselves to be special just like Holly, but overall I do not think it portrayed lolita in a positive light.

I can definitely see that this novel was a labour of love. No one who makes lolita content does it to get rich. They do so because of their love of the fashion. I’m a bit sad that it misses the mark for what I expected based on the marketing. I do appreciate that this was an effort to create another piece of lolita media for people to enjoy and that there is an audience who likes this type of story. I was a bit shocked at the negative Good Reads reviews for this book and had hoped to prove them wrong, but they were actually pretty reasonable criticisms after all.

Milk Tea
I haven’t read a young adult novel in years, but I used to enjoy them a lot when I was the target demographic. I was hoping to enjoy this novel as well but was sadly disappointed. The lolita aspect which is the “niche” the author chose to appeal to their audience is unfortunately lacking, be it the long winded explanations, overprotectiveness of the main character which makes every questioning of the fashion a direct attack or simply how our introduction to lolita is from a character who is very unlikeable.

While it appears that the author did attempt to investigate lolita fashion it does not feel like they have interacted with the community (And perhaps even actively dislike it like Holly seems to.) As someone who is a community admin and active in the community I have never encountered the “hierarchy” Holly mentions and only seen the level of cattiness she describes in anonymous online forums (Who’s participants may not even take part in the fashion.) I was hoping to see a novel that celebrates our fashion and which brings so many people together but I am afraid that a beginner lolita or someone unaware of the fashion at all will come away with an unbiased fear of our community after reading this novel.

As for the novel itself I found myself confused by descriptions and actions of the characters several times. From the unclear first sentence  "Chocolate icing stained my dress an hour before I got drenched in blue blood and a pinch of magic. When we stood to leave, I saw the blob and shrieked." to the time when Holly stops to describe her clothes while panicking and rushing out to find her phone to avoid being connected to a murder. The writing of the characters jumps between trying to act natural to speeches that are only heard on stage.

When it comes to the plot it feels like a generic “Teen gets superpowers and needs to save the world from an evil organization”. The one interesting plot twist is there for drama and not an actual plot twist, while the “true mastermind” is hardly introduced as a character (And even outright dismissed as a possibility.) until after their reveal. The “romantic drama” is compressed to an “Is he gay?” question and a crush which the author spoils before even beginning the story as part of their “trigger warnings”.

The novel also felt unnecessarily “woke” to a point of being slightly offensive. Every character's sexuality and race is described even if it has no connection to the plot (For example, do we really need to know that the mutant is of Pacific Island heritage?) and Holly's attraction to Brannon only seems to really bloom once she assumes his sexuality and decides he isn't straight, as if she can only allow herself to be attracted to LGBTQ+ people. I also feel like the amount of gore makes the novel inappropriate for a younger audience while older audiences might feel spoken down to. 

To add a nicer note, I really enjoyed the ending imagery of Usakumya falling out of the helicopter and reflecting the falling scene from Kamikaze Girls. This was the kind of wink to lolita fashion that I was hoping to see throughout the book and it’s a shame it only happens once towards the end.

In short, I did not find this novel enjoyable. The target audience is unclear. I would not recommend it to people who are unfamiliar or new to the fashion as it does not do a good job of introducing lolita or the community and veteran lolitas will find the long explanations tiring and the plot disconnected from the lolita aesthetic. 
We hope you enjoyed this honest review and please remember that this is just the opinions of some of the writers of this blog. We do encourage people to read it themselves!