Thursday, January 31, 2013

Mozarabic Chant: Something a Little Different in Lolita

I admit, like many a lolita enthusiast, I've gone a bit mad for the Mozarabic Chant print by Krad Lanrete. It's just so darn pretty!

This dark ages inspired print had me when I saw the rune detail along the waistband of the dress and incorporated into the details of the manuscript, but there's so much more to it. From the Byzantine image of Mary and Jesus to lace and the faded handwriting of a manuscript used as background texture, the print is rich with detail. And, since I'm thoroughly obsessed with the look of the skirt in particular, I thought I'd do a few coordinates on Polyvore. Get ready for a LOT of outfits based on the same skirt.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

To Fur or Not to Fur

I'm just going to get this out of the way right away: dolly kei involves a fair bit of fur. So does lolita. So does much of retro style. So do a lot of alternative fashions. So does mainstream fashion, couture and otherwise.

And I'm just one person giving an opinion, so take it with a grain of salt.

The subject of fur is something that most people, at some point in time, will form an opinion about, and fur is one of those things that people disagree wildly on. Some people would never wear any fur, real or fake. Others will wear faux fur but not real. Others will wear both. Still others eschew faux fur entirely, preferring real fur.

There are many articles floating about online on the subject of how to wear fur, how to tell real fur from faux fur, how you can't tell real fur from faux fur, and many more subjects.

It's a lot for a girl to sort out when she's looking for some warm winter wear and, strangely enough, there are rarely articles that talk about the decision of whether or not to wear fur.

So I'm going to share my opinion.

Personally, I'm not a really fan of real fur. I don't like the idea that the creatures whose pelts I would be wearing died solely for their skins to be worn by people like me. I own many pieces that feature faux fur as an alternative, from a warm stole I purchased recently to boots with faux fur accents.

However, I do own two pieces of real fur. Both are vintage, secondhand items that have been around at least since the 1950s. I have one fur collar, given to me by my aunt from her vintage collection. I also have one fur coat, the story of which I must tell you another day because it makes me feel connected to something much larger than myself.


Both of these pieces are items that I frequently think about when I consider the ethics of fashion. On the one hand, I do not, as a rule, wear fur. However, these items both have special meaning to me. They are more than just clothing; they are mementos of particular occasions, of people I love in the case of the collar and of a story I uncovered in the case of the coat. They are my connection, physical and tangible, to someone else. They are also one form of recycling. Rather than just throwing them out or leaving them to languish in dusty corners of storerooms or antique shops, they are being used. For those reasons, I am willing to make an exception.

But that's me.

The truth is, though, that I cannot decide for you what you do on this issue. I can only give you a few things to consider as you try to decide.
  • Cost. Real fur tends to be much costlier. Vintage coats can be purchased for reasonable prices, but in general it is far and away cheaper to buy faux fur.
  • Weight. Faux fur, by the nature of the process by which it was made, tends to be very different in terms of texture. Faux fur often has a very heavy base fabric holding the individual hairs together. Real fur, on the other hand, has leather, which tends to be softer and more flexible.
  • Origin. Yes, real fur comes from animals. If you have issues with animal products, that's something you will need to wrestle with when it comes to real fur. You can always bypass the issue with faux fur.
  • New or vintage. This is a big factor in my decision. New fur bothers me. Vintage fur does not, because I am not supporting the fur industry. Instead, I am recycling.
If you make a decision that is different from mine, that's fine. I understand. This is something that we each need to weigh out for ourselves. It's something, though, that we do need to weigh out, to consider thoroughly before we act.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sweet Skirt, Classic Eye: A Few More Examples

After last week's clothing sets based on the skirt I gave my cousin, I was inspired to break out of the limited wardrobe I used and do a few more. It's a challenge for me, being so much on the gothic and classic end of things, to play in the sugary world of sweet Lolita. So, in light of the fun I had making a few outfits for my cousin, here are a few more.

Sweet Skirt, Classic Eye III

This first outfit is, obviously, a winter outfit. I wanted to create something that would be just as adorable outdoors as it was indoors and, living in the upper midwest, that means warm accessories. Fur boots, a wool coat, a hat, gloves, a scarf. They're all pretty necessary. So are a nice thick set of tights or leggings (layered if it's really chilly) and a warm layer of actual clothing underneath. It's pretty simple, but it's adorable and in keeping with the style of the skirt.

Sweet Skirt, Classic Eye II

Another nice, simple outfit. I wanted this one to pick up on the green in the skirt. I was hoping for green flats, a blouse, or tights that matched that particular green, but I couldn't find any. Instead, I went with some accessories that will add touches of the same color.

Sweet Skirt, Classic Eye I

And, finally, the one that looks most like me. It's vintage-inspired with deep, rich shades. It's got a ruffled umbrella/parasol. It takes its cue from the early 20th century.

It's very me, and that surprises me.

What I've loved most about this project is that it got me out of my aesthetic and dumped me straight into a style that I know very little about and have a very tough time connecting with. Does this mean I'll be adding sweet skirts to my wardrobe? Probably not. Does it mean I have a much greater appreciation for girls who wear this on a regular basis? Yes, indeed.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

"What do I wear with this thing?": One Skirt, Many Outfits

As a very early graduation present, I got my cousin a skirt from Bodyline. It's sweet lolita, full tilt, but my cousin is not a lolita. She asked me, after trying on the skirt, what I thought she should wear with it.

So, of course, I made a blog post.

I limited the store choices to Target, Wal Mart, Maurice's, Claire's, J.C. Penney, and Kohl's. They're all stores my cousins shop at and all sell their wares at fairly reasonable prices. Megan, I know you're into cheap. I tried to reflect that in my choices.

The outfits are all lolita-ish. I wouldn't classify most as lolita. My cousin, as I said, is not a lolita. However, I tried to make them cute and fun, which is really all that matters. Also, most of them are simple. I wanted to make sure they reflected the need to throw it on and go that I know my cousins have sometimes.

One Skirt, Many Outfits: Wardrobe I

This is really just a basic accessory wardrobe. Three different colors of shoes to choose from, one plain pair of tights, one wild pair of tights, a couple of hats, a headband, a sparkly hairbow, and a pair of suspenders for fun. I kept everything to a very basic color scheme so it will pretty much all match.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Styles to Seek: Otome-Kei

Otome-kei is one of the next big things. A lot of Lolitas are turning to otome for their fix of frills when the rules of Lolita become too rigid. Some Lolitas are taking otome items and using them for Lolita. Some Lolitas are taking their Lolita items and using them for otome.

So, what the heck is otome?

Otome-kei is a Japanese style that focuses on dressing like a young lady, or otome, for lack of a better term. There really isn’t a clear definition for the style. Outfits are generally cute, elegant, and feminine. You could say that it is a mixture of styles, and that is technically true. You could say that it is inspired by the clothing of the 20th century, and that's often true but not necessarily so. Each outfit can be completely unique to the wearer, and the style is more about the feel you get than from the actual clothes.

That doesn't mean there aren't brands that cater to otome style, of course. The big three are MILK, Emily Temple Cute, and Shirly Temple. But even these aren't necessary; otome is pretty easily found from offbrand sources.

Now, otome can look like a lot of things. Here are just a few examples:

Pixie-late looking adorable and ladylike.

As you can see, they're all girly, but past that there isn't really much in terms of a hard line set of rules. Skirts are usually shortish, knee length or shorter, but that isn't a hard rule. Prints can vary from quirky silverware to bunnies to polka dots to old-fashioned florals. Sleeves or sleeveless work. From a-lines that flow from the shoulders to dropped-waist dresses, there isn't a defined silhouette. The style is just... ladylike.

And that's a large part of the draw. There aren't really rules. There's just a feel of girliness, of youth.

And you know? I can't say it doesn't appeal to me.