Saturday, August 14, 2021

Lolita Survey ~memories~

One of the best parts of going to a lolita fashion meetup is hearing all of the interesting stories of meets past, and little tidbits of advice that people have come across or discovered over time. For this article, I have asked a couple of the lolitas behind Quills and Frills to share some of their lolita memories, so come settle in and bring your favorite beverage and snack.


What is your favorite lolita fashion-related memory?

Milk Tea: It was hot, and we nearly died hiking down a mountain in Lolita, but I absolutely loved my time at Traumerei. We basically had a lolita village for the weekend and I got to hang out with lots of friends that I only knew from the online communities.

Rooibos: Setting an alarm to wake up for a brand release for the first time. My friends walked me through it and it kind of felt like a rite of passage, as well as exciting.

Chai: Meeting Mocha at Paradiso! I didn't know anyone, but she and her friends adopted me and made me feel so welcome!

Vodka: Gosh, that's so hard to pick! I went with my friend group to an AP Paris tea party and that was super fun. We all spent way too much at the store, got crepes and it was just a super fun weekend. Oh, and here's a recent one: My friend is coming by to visit soon, and she is bringing my last wishlist dress with her, and when she said she'd bring it, I was just vibrating with joy, she's such a sweet person!





Lady Grey: I don’t have any big ones in particular yet, but I’m just happy about the compliments I’ve gotten when I wear it. People so far have been really kind.

Mocha: I was getting gas for my car and a black guy told me that he liked my "swagger".

Cappuccino: Seeing a drunk man get turned away from a lolita fashion show. He then exclaimed “I thought this was a fashion show not a fascist show!”

Croissant: Any of the tea parties I've been to. Whether it was new friends or old friends, It's always fun to get dressed up and eat with lolita friends

Have you had any dreams about lolita fashion?

Milk Tea: Quite a few. Usually, it's about trying to wear lolita or putting together a coord and missing some important elements like my petticoat.

Rooibos: I've had a lot of different ones, but the ones where I'm living in a cottage with the friends I've made in the fashion are my favourites.

Vodka: Yes! I've dreamt I found stuff at a secondhand store and about getting my dream dress. I've also dreamt about arriving at a huge event only to notice I'm wearing my home socks and slippers!

Lady Grey: Yes definitely. Although they were usually at least a little bit of a nightmare. Some would involve people I knew in the online community, while others were about having a bad discovery involving a dress.

Mocha: Oh, yes. Some good, some bad. The ones that stick out to me are when I dreamt about going to the mall and learning that there was a lolita meetup, but I had no lolita to wear. The lolita I met at the elevators told me I could come. We wound up inside the back of a station wagon with a circle of other lolitas, lol. I took off my jacket and lo-and-behold! I had on a lolita coord! 

My least favorite dream was when I was at the grocery store and I saw a tall lolita in a shiro lolita coord. I followed her out and saw a bunch of other old school lolitas in the entrance, and told them that I liked their coords and if they'd want to hang out with my comm. I tried to explain that I was the admin (which is true), but they didn't believe me because I was in normie clothes. 
I'm still sad about that.

Croissant: Definitely. They are mostly nightmares about losing out on a dream dress or finding it and not being able to purchase it.

Chamomile: Several! Once I had a dream where I found an ancient Angelic Pretty dress in the back of my closet, but had no idea where it would have come from or why I would have bought it since it was way too small.

What is the strangest thing you have done in lolita?

Milk Tea: Probably washing the dishes after a meetup while still in my coord.


(Pinterest)

Rooibos: This isn't that weird, but driving my partner to pick up some secondhand video games from a stranger. Lolita chauffeur! I feel like it might have been amusing to see.

Chai: I walk my dogs in lolita all the time!

Vodka: Hm, since I'm pretty much daily it's hard to think of something I haven't done in lolita...
But I do think sitting with my comm at an Australian sports bar getting absolutely smashed takes the take. It's just the combo of a big lolita group + sports bar + really drunk after screaming for a couple hours at the karaoke that makes it quite odd and funny.
I've also... showered in lolita. Mainly because it rained so hard and I was so soaked it didn't matter anymore, so I was like better have it be clean shower water than nasty city rain. I threw them in the wash immediately after!

Lady Grey: I honestly don’t think I’ve done anything that strange in it yet haha

Mocha: Doing light household chores (including taking out the garbage) and digging my car out of the snow after a meetup.

Cappuccino: Set up a tea party picnic in a historic cemetery.

Croissant: I had to move an industrial fan that got delivered, in full lolita including RHS. The box weighed like 60 pounds and was almost as big as me!


What is your lolita lifestyle (i.e. what hobbies do you personally associate with when you wear lolita) ?

Milk Tea: I wear a small headbow every day. It's not a burando one, but it's become associated with me.

Rooibos: Definitely going to concerts, since my first impression of lolita was through visual kei music. On the quieter side, sewing, embroidery and playing the piano count I think! As well as making desserts and, depending on the book, reading too.

Chai: Baking always feels like my most lolita hobby because I can eat the results with my tea afterwards!




Vodka: For me it's small things! I've recently picked up altering my own things, so that feels very lifestyle to me. Just me and my sewing machine making sure my pretty dresses fit better. Taking care of my plants and baking also feel really lolita to me. Reading GLBs and watching Shimotsuma Monogatari for the umpteenth time while drinking tea are absolutely top tier for me also.

Lady Grey: I have a lot of creative hobbies since I like to try things out. I think, if I had to pick from the bunch, it’d be scrapbooking, cross-stitching, embroidery, and knitting.

Mocha: Probably antiquing, occasionally embroidering, and reading classic novels (I've been in a Regency kick lately).

Cappuccino: I just like leaving the house

Croissant: Tea and brunch with friends, sewing, and picnics. Mostly just time to catch up with friends.

Chamomile: In my mind, I associate sewing and baking with lolita, and feel extra aesthetic when I do these things while wearing lolita. Another thing that kind of makes me feel extra aesthetic is walking to the train station while wearing lolita, because it reminds me of Momoko from Kamikaze Girls.


What sort of lolita advice would you give to your younger self?

Milk Tea: Think about if you actually need something before you buy it! Also don't just buy the thing because it's cheap and it fits. Save your money for something you really love.

Rooibos: Learn how to buy second hand sooner and don't be afraid of shopping services! Make sure to always keep in mind what overall aesthetic you’re going for, so you don’t accidentally buy something that’s beautiful but doesn’t feel like you.

Chai: Don't be afraid to like the things you like! It's ok to have both gothic and sweet in your wardrobe!

Vodka: Please accept that you don't actually like brown, it's not for you. Invest in white shoes and better socks! Main pieces are not everything, accessories are the best, and stop being scared of someone hating your coord.

Lady Grey: I’d tell her not to rush so much at getting a bunch of dresses. I know it’s tempting to wanna make a new outfit, but it would be more helpful to get different accessories to change up a coord for a dress. It really helps when you do buy a new dress too.

Mocha: Stop using crappy cheap petticoats and be willing to save/spend on a higher quality lolita specific petticoat! Also, don't buy too much Bodyline - you'll end up getting rid of most of it.

Cappuccino: Don’t buy things just because they’re cheap and available, buy to match your aesthetic.

Croissant: Buy cohesive items, don't get things you can only use for one outfit, and get good staples.

Chamomile: Before buying something, think about why you want to buy it. Is that dress something you will actually wear, or does it just look pretty on the model? Do you really want it, or is it just that everyone else around you wants it and you want to feel like you fit in?

Saturday, August 7, 2021

“Ero”? In MY lolita? It’s More Likely Than You Think!

The cover of GLB 02, featuring art by illustrator Mitsukazu Miharu

Of all of the different themes and substyles in lolita fashion, ero lolita is probably one of the most uncommon and misunderstood. This, in my opinion, is tied to two misconceptions about lolita and women’s fashion in general. The first is that lolita is an inherently modest or conservative fashion, which is an easy enough mistake to make, since that is often how lolita has been described in Western media, even by lolitas themselves. The second, more complicated misconception, is the idea that female sexuality and eroticism in fashion is always connected to attracting men and the male gaze -- two elements of modern society that the fashion has always shunned and avoided.

In this post, we’re going to deconstruct these notions by exploring the world of ero lolita and its relationship to lolita fashion more generally. We’ll be covering the nature of “ero” within the history and philosophy of lolita fashion, some common themes and inspirations behind ero lolita, as well as the basic dos and don’ts of a good ero coordinate. Let’s put on our garters and cage-skirts and get started!


What is “Ero Lolita”?


The “ero” in ero lolita is short for “erotic”. Thus, “ero lolita” is a style of lolita that is more mature and risque than other iterations of the fashion, which often incorporates elements of burlesque costumes, historical undergarments, and even fetish wear. In this sense, ero lolita draws strongly from the goth and punk roots of lolita fashion. Its focus is on showcasing female sexuality and in a way that is elegant and feminine, but can also be dark and sometimes even shocking.

Moon Kana in a photoshoot for Baby, the Stars Shine Bright in GLB 03
At first glance, this might seem antithetical to the nature of lolita, since the fashion is often described as using modest clothing to reject the impositions of sexuality and the male gaze. This description, however, is not entirely correct. For while lolita certainly does reject the patriarchal idea that women should be sexualised and pressured to dress for male approval, it isn’t exactly a modest fashion. The average lolita might show less skin than someone dressed in more mainstream women’s fashion, but voluminous skirts covered in ruffles, lace, and colourful prints are still a rebellious fashion statement. In fact, far from being demure or conservative, the whole point of lolita fashion is unabashed and unapologetic femininity. And while in some cases this means completely shunning motifs or design elements that might be seen as sexy or provocative; in the case of ero lolita, it means celebrating a kind of feminine eroticism that makes the wearer feel confident and beautiful.

This does not, of course, mean that ero lolita revolves around sex or being attractive to men. Like all of lolita fashion, ero lolita follows a philosophy of prioritising the wearer’s enjoyment and aesthetic sensibilities above all else. The most important aspect of ero lolita is not appealing to the male gaze, but highlighting the wearer’s sexuality in a manner that is ornate, beautiful, and, above all, enjoyable and empowering to the wearer themselves
"Milk" from Sakizo's Girl meets Sweets  (リュエルコミックス) artbook, released 2017.
I like to compare the styles and aesthetics of ero lolita to the work of prominent Japanese artist Sakizo, whose art has been a source of inspiration for lolitas of all styles and subgenres. Many of Sakizo’s works feature women in provocative costumes, often including items such as garters, stockings, short skirts, and high heeled shoes. The outfits in their art can easily be considered “erotic” or “sexy”.  However, attractiveness and sex appeal is clearly not the main point of these illustrations -- instead, it is Sakizo’s ornate designs and incredible attention details that draws the viewer’s eyes, as well as the artwork’s decadent, over-the-top sense of femininity. Ero lolita is similar in that it incorporates elements of eroticism or provocativeness not to be sexually inviting, but to express the wearer’s sense of aesthetics and taste. 


The Do’s and Don’ts of Ero Lolita


As a part of lolita fashion, a successful ero lolita outfit should follow the same basic tenets of any other kind of lolita coordinate. Materials should be of high quality, there should be a good balance of colours and motifs, a sense of femininity should be maintained, and, perhaps most importantly, the distinctive lolita silhouette must be visible. If you’re a complete beginner looking for a place to start, keep these simple “Do's and “Don’t”s in mind. They are far from definitive, but will provide a useful guideline for anyone interested in putting together an ero coord.

DO:

  • Pick an aesthetic, colour palette, or substyle
An ero lolita photoshoot by Japanese brand Triple Fortune featured in GLB 37. Historically inspired, the model has been styled with ringlets, a corset, and an elaborate cage skirt, similar to the undergarments of the 18th and 19th centuries.
As with any other coordinate, it is important to have an idea of what kind of mood or image you want to portray when you start making an ero coordinate. Are you going for a dark and mysterious look, something bright and angelic, or a more historically inspired outfit? This can help you decide what kind of accessories, motifs, and materials you want to incorporate in your coord. For example, gothic ero coordinates tend to include darker colours and mature details, especially lace, roses, and fishnet stockings; while more youthful looks inspired by the Rococo period are more likely to include pastel colours, candy motifs, and bows. 

If you need ideas, there are a wide variety of sources that you can take inspiration from. Historical undergarments, ballet, burlesque performances, punk rock, and gothic romance have all influenced elements of ero in the past. Once you’ve settled on a look that you like, you can use it as the foundation for your coordinate. 

  • Maintain the lolita silhouette
A lolita named Ameko photographed by Tokyo Fashion in 2014. Her corset and cage skirt help to create a defined silhouette, even though the underskirt is shorter than a lot of lolita skirts usually are. 
A voluminous silhouette with a wide skirt is one of the core elements of what makes a coordinate lolita, and ero lolita is no different. While the length of the skirt may be shorter and the hemlines more dramatic, it is important that the characteristic “poof” of the lolita silhouette still dominates the lower half of your outfit. This may be achieved with the traditional combination of a petticoat and an outer garment, or, for a more daring look, through the use of a crinoline or cage skirt. 

Cage skirts and crinolines harken back to 18th- and 19th-century women’s undergarments, and can be a great way to give your outfit a sense of historical flair. They maintain the shape and silhouette of a lolita coordinate, without providing as much of the usual coverage. Of course, this might make the bottom half of your outfit look quite plain, so many lolitas will add interest by layering over their cage skirts with corsets, belts, or overdresses, and might even decorate them with ribbons, lace, and flowers. 

  • Be a little provocative
An ero coordinate from the instagram account of Japanese brand Atelier Pierrot. Note how the lace gloves have been used to add a layer of interest and elegance that really ties the whole outfit together.
It is ero lolita, after all. A lot of elements which might usually be considered too scandalous or inappropriate for lolita can work in an ero outfit, provided that they coordinated correctly. These include things like lower necklines, shorter skirts, corsets, garters, and stockings. And don’t underestimate the power that subtle changes and well-placed accessories can have in making your coordinate look a little more daring. Statement necklaces, for example, can help draw attention to the neck and decolletage; if you’re going for a sleeveless look, long gloves can help add interest to bare arms; while higher heels give a more mature and elegant edge to almost every outfit. As with any other lolita coordinate, no matter what you add, the most important thing is just to make sure that the different elements come together in a cohesive and well-balanced manner. 

DON'T:

  • Show your actual underwear
The “Magician of the Stars” set by Souffle Song is sold as “ero lolita”, but even though the silhouette matches that of lolita fashion, the types of materials and incredibly revealing nature of the garment does not. You should not be able to mistake ero lolita for lingerie.
Even if ero lolita is more daring and provocative, it still meant to be worn in public. While you may incorporate historical or lolita-style undergarments in your coordinate, like corsets, bloomers, and crinolines; modern, mainstream underwear like thongs, panties, and bodysuits should stay under your outfit and not feature as a main part of it. At the end of the day, it’s meant to be a lolita coordinate, not lingerie. 

Also, don’t expose any parts of your body that might get you arrested for public indecency. Just… don’t. 

  • Let it get too costume-y
No.
Ensuring that your clothes look like clothes and not simply a costume is a big part of lolita fashion, and that is especially important when it comes to ero lolita. While taking a bit of inspiration from things like uniforms or theatrical costuming is alright, be mindful that your coordinate is merely being inspired by these outfits, and not turning into a “sexy halloween costume”. This goes double for anyone who might be attempting to incorporate elements of cultural clothing into your ero coordinate -- the last thing you want to do is cause offense to people by turning important cultural touchstones into hypersexual costumes. 

For this reason, I would seriously advise that beginner lolitas (and even experienced lolitas who are not familiar with the ins and outs of ero) think twice before trying to make an ero lolita coordinate that is strongly based on either particular uniforms, characters, or cultural clothing. It’s always best to learn to walk before you run. 

  • Force yourself to wear anything that you aren’t comfortable in
An outfit featuring a corset from the brand Abilletage. Corsets can be beautiful and elegant additions to a lolita coord, but it is important to wear them safely and responsibly.
Both physically and emotionally, you should be comfortable with your outfit. This means that you should never wear anything that you personally find too revealing, provocative, or sexual, and you should definitely not wear anything that physically restricts you or impedes your movement too much just for the “aesthetic”. If you’re planning on wearing things like corsets, waist-cinchers, or very high heels, do your research so that you know how to wear them safely. It’s also a good idea to bring a back-up outfit in case you need to change, especially if you know you’re going to be out of the house for a long period of time. 

Always remember: in lolita, the most important thing is that you feel happy and confident with yourself. You can’t achieve that if you’re wearing clothes that you either don’t like, or might seriously endanger your health. 

I hope this post has helped clear up some misconceptions and provided useful tips to anyone interested in ero lolita as a theme or substyle of lolita fashion. For more inspiration, I highly recommend going through artwork from artists such as Yoh (of Yoh’s Monochrome World), Lulu Hashimoto, and Minori in addition to Sakizo -- although not all of their artwork is lolita related, each of these artists portray the decadent and sumptuous style that ero lolita tries to capture in beautiful and unique ways. If you want more direct inspiration, you could also look up brands such as Marble, Atelier Pierrot, H. Naoto and Triple Fortune, who regularly produce clothing suitable for ero lolita; as well more obvious sources such as Kera Magazine and the Gothic & Lolita Bible.

The world of ero lolita is open before you, so go forth and explore!
~Bubble Tea~