Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Little More Polyvore: Edwardian Inspiration

After last week's feature on Edwardian inspiration in lolita, I decided to pull some of that inspiration out myself and create a few outfits that take their cue from the early 1900s.

A very simple, very-nearly-shiro lolita outfit. For this one, I pulled influence from Edwardian hats and blouses. The high neckline and yoke of the dress mimic the blouses popular at the time, and the straw boater hat is a perfect hat for a day at the beach. The shoes are another favorite element: recreations by The American Duchess.

The parasol keeps the whole look delicate and ladylike while adding a very practical sun shade to the style.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Channeling The Gibson Girl: Edwardian Inspiration in Lolita

The Gibson Girl, avatar of Edwardian beauty.
The Edwardian era is often cited as an influence in lolita, but you don't often hear lolitas referencing the era when they talk about lolita fashion.

Rococo is ever-popular, with most lolitas including Momoko in Shimotsuma Monogatari (Kamikaze Girls) citing it as an influence. The Victorian era is less common but still commonly cited. But the Edwardian era? Rarely. Which is silly, because the era is rather a wealth of ideas.

Wikipedia summarizes the general look quite well:

Fashion in the period 1900–1909 in European and European-influenced countries continued the long elegant lines of the 1890s. Tall, stiff collars characterize the period, as do women's broad hats and full "Gibson Girl" hairstyles. A new, columnar silhouette introduced by the couturiers of Paris late in the decade signaled the approaching abandonment of the corset as an indispensable garment of fashionable women. [...] Blouses and dresses were full in front and puffed into a "pigeon breast" shape of the early 20th century that looked over the narrow waist, which sloped from back to front and was often accented with a sash or belt. Necklines were supported by very high boned collars.

Personally, I love this look. Whether that love is a result of watching too much Mr. Selfridge or being a bit too fond of The Importance of Being Earnest isn't something I'm comfortable speculating on. What I can say is that I really enjoy the clothing of the Edwardian era. And, because it's not something I commonly see cited as an inspiration for lolitas, here are my tips and tricks for adding a bit of 1900 charm to your frills.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Polyvore Coord for Les Fleurs Noires

The lovely lady who runs Les Fleurs Noires recently got the Silent Moon OP from Moi Meme Moitie, and I am... coveting it more than a little. I can't help it; it's gorgeous. So, to stave off my covetous feels, I made a polyvore coordinate using the dress.

Silent Moon I: Starry Masquerade

Because the dress is, as she put it, lush, I went full tilt with this coordinate. The tights are, obviously, taking their cue from the name of the print itself. The sparkly mask just matches, as do the wrist cuffs. The flower adds a bit of detail to the neckline of the blouse without putting too much detail near the face.

I hope you have fun coordinating the dress in real life, because I certainly had fun throwing this together.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Inspiring Films: The Importance of Being Earnest

Okay, I'm not really one for the whole "comedy of manners" genre, but for this I make an exception: 

The Importance of Being Earnest.

Any literature or theater geek worth their salt will know of Oscar Wilde's play. The 2002 film version is a fun jaunt through the script, if not the world's best production. The main complaint that may be made of it is that it fails to walk the line between prettiness and wit; it veers too far toward the trappings of film and the jokes we favor in modern times and, along the way, loses some of the wit.

But, oh, is this a pretty film.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

On Girl Hate, Jealous Relationships, and Frills

Femmes are people who see another feminine person and purposefully ignore the culturally prescribed girl hate and learn to say, ”God, you are beautiful and I want to be your friend,” rather than, “She’s so much prettier than me, I hate her.” My femme friendships are a mutual celebration of our brilliance, beauty, strength, power, heart and soul. Ultimately feminist, we heal through loving each other in a world that teaches us to mistrust each other.
--Melissa Heckman, Body Image: I'm a Femme

I'm going to take a moment to discuss just a small part of Melissa Heckman's beautiful essay, which you should read in full for its discussion of sexuality, gender variance, and body image. She mentions the "culturally prescribed girl hate," this idea that we as women are supposed to treat people we think are feminine or pretty like the enemy. I think this is something that we have to take into consideration in the lolita community.

I'll use my own life as an example.

I have a non-lolita friend who has taken her body insecurities out on me. She has policed my wardrobe, telling me that I should wear sweats when we hang out so she "doesn't feel so inferior." She has spent long hours telling me how I shouldn't seek to improve my outfits or enjoy my wardrobe because of how my physical appearance makes her feel.

On the other side of that same coin, this same friend insists on picking out which details of my outfit she does not agree with. Every time I break a fashion "rule," she mentions it. Every time something else might look better, she mentions it. There is a clear tone of superiority to such statements, as if I was not well-educated enough to have heard of such rules. She takes her moments of superiority wherever she can grasp them.

This only got worse when I started dressing in frills.

Suddenly I was not only someone who she thought was cute. I was someone who threatened her because I had found clothing that flattered me and that I enjoyed. I was suddenly more feminine and more confident and actively doing something to make myself that way. My beloved creative outlet was her nightmare.

Eventually, I did snap at her for this, of course, but in hindsight I cannot say it's a surprise that it happened.

This sort of negativity and "girl hate" is something we are encouraged to do as women in our society, this petty pursuit of superiority at any cost. We are encouraged to compete with each other until upon seeing a girl we think is cute or well-dressed we are supposed to be jealous and think mean, hateful thoughts. I think that this is particularly a danger that we face when we take up a hobby that is, by its very nature, about appearance. When we become the canvas for our own creativity, a vessel for the hyper-feminine, girl hate kicks in. Whether this is coming from someone outside the community like my friend or from fellow lolitas does not matter.

What matters is that it shouldn't happen.

I will admit that I have had my moments of girl hate, and it is very difficult to remove the cultural influences telling me to dislike other women, but I do actively try to get past them. I've learned in my life the importance of looking at someone else who I admire and guiding my thoughts toward "Teach me your ways!" The way I see it, we can all learn from the cute people around us.

I think that we should all take our cue from Melissa Heckman and her femme friendships. We should learn to say "God, you are beautiful and I want to be your friend."

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Making it Your Own: The Complete Lolita Wardrobe and You

A while back, Caro of F Yeah Lolita did a beautiful post about creating a complete lolita wardrobe with intent to wear lolita fairly often and create as many different outfits as possible from a limited collection of clothes. The post is a really good primer for what lolitas should look for when they're initially building a wardrobe, and I highly recommend that you take a look at it. Especially the section on colors.

In that post, she created a list of basic items that can be combined and recombined for a wide variety of different outfits. This list included:
  • 1 good petticoat in a color that works with your wardrobe. 
  • 1 piece of "special wear" 
  • 2 easy to coordinate dresses (probably JSKs) 
  •  2 skirts in 2 different designs. 
  • 5 tops of various designs, some of which are cutsews, and one of which is a "statement" top in either a contrasting color or of a fancier design. 
  • Headwear that matches each of your skirts or dresses. 
  • 2 pieces of outerwear, such as boleros, cardigans, or light jackets. 
  • 1 pair of shoes that matches everything. 
  • 1 purse that matches everything. 
  •  As many different pieces of legwear as you can accumulate. 
  • Lots of different accessories.
What I love about this is that the focus is on recombination, on having pieces that work together rather than complete outfits that are distinctly separated by style.

However, this list isn't going to work for everyone.

Lolita is often seen as a subcultural fashion of capital-r Rules. Skirts must be so long, layering must be done in this specific way, you must wear these things in order to be a lolita. But Caro's list isn't RULES. Her list is guidelines, and you can easily adapt it to suit your personal style and, perhaps more importantly, your body shape.