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.
For me, personally, having two or three JSKs at the expense of skirts is not going to work. My shape simply doesn't suit many JSKs. Because my body shape is an exaggerated hourglass figure, I have a difficult time finding clothes, and dresses in particular, that fit both bust and waist properly. Even corset lacing doesn't always help. Therefore, JSKs (and most OPs, for that matter), are largely out the window.

The way I do my hair is also different. As previously mentioned, I'm a bit of a hair accessory junkie. Because I like to combine and recombine hair accessories, the bigger hair accessories like corsages and rectangle headdresses just don't suit my style. They are too defined, too singular.

As a result, my list is a bit different.
  • 1 good petticoat in a color that works with your wardrobe.
  • 1 special skirt. This could be a skirt with a fancier fabric, more ruffles, a more intricate pattern, etc.
  • 4 skirts in various designs.
    • At least one skirt of a different cut, ie high-waisted, a-line, etc.
    • At least one solid, neutral-colored skirt that matches the rest, preferably one that is slightly longer than the rest of the skirts and could double as an underskirt as needed.
  • 5 tops of various designs. These should be primarily neutral colors.
  • 1 vest, corseted bodice, or other piece specifically meant for layering.
  • 2 pieces of outerwear
  • 1 pair of shoes that matches everything. This should be something that works well with both a casual and dressy tone to the outfits.
  • 1 purse that matches everything.
  • Lots of legwear. For me, that's mostly tights. They're cheap and can be found in all sorts of colors.
  • Lots of accessories. Jewelry of all types, gloves if that's your thing, shoe clips to fancy up a plain pair of Mary Janes, maybe a parasol or an extra-cute umbrella.
  • Lots of hair accessories.
    • This mostly consists of basic barrettes and hair clips. Flowers and bows especially, but also a few more out-there pieces like birds, bats, tiny hats, deer, etc. The best way to do this, I have found, is either to get a lot of multi-colored flowers online and make your own or to load up the next time Claire's has a sale.
    • Make sure to have a few lace headbands or berets to change things up.
The focus is still on recombination and doing as much as possible with a limited number of items, obviously, but it's also on my personal style. The idea here is to make a list that works for me and my body, not to stick to the letter of the law.

Now, if I take it to the memetic level that it has acquired, I'm going to take this idea of a complete lolita wardrobe as a challenge and create my own sets of outfits.

My sets are based off wardrobe elements that I either have or want to have. The style is distinctly classic because the lingering Minnesota winter has made me long for color.

Wardrobe Elements: Tops

The blouses I chose were chosen for very particular reasons. The off the shoulder ruffle blouse is simultaneously classy and suitable for summer. The blouse with ruffles that resemble a jabot is good for more menswear-inspired outfits. The tan adds a bit of depth. The two bow-neck blouses have different feels in different colors, and the tealy-green one adds a splash of color that we don't always see in lolita blouses.

Wardrobe Elements: Skirts


Again, these are pretty basic. A chiffon skirt from a Taobao shop (which comes in a 68 cm length perfect for layering under things) serves as a neutral base. A simple Bodyline skirt, floral skirt from Metamorphose, and solid brown a-line skirt from Mary Magdalene serve as simple and versatile workhorses.

For my special skirt, I picked Lady Sloth's silk cherubim skirt. The image, unfortunately, is a cropped picture of the JSK because I couldn't find a good picture of the skirt that Polyvore would let me import. In any case, this skirt is extra fancy both because of the intricate pattern, the rich color scheme, and the material.

Wardrobe Elements: Outerwear

For this, I chose one heavy winter coat because winter is cold and I would need one. This particular coat is vintage and rather expensive due to the mink along the collar and hem, but it's the right color and shape. Essentially, I really just needed a winter coat that had a full enough skirt to accommodate at least a modest petticoat.

I also chose a cardigan. Not much to say about it. It's a ruffly cardigan, useful for adding a cozy extra layer to one's outfit.

Wardrobe Elements: Accessories I

This is really the accessories for the outfit. I decided to go with a vest for this experiment, but a corset could work just as nicely. The point is to have a layering piece for the torso. This lets you have a similar look to a JSK without having to worry about fit.

I also decided to add a wide belt. It kind of seems like cheating, almost like I've added a corset, but it's mostly there because wide belts are a staple of my wardrobe and it would seem wrong not to include one.

The shoes were chosen for versatility. They will dress up and dress down equally well.

Now, these are not the only accessories I am going to be using. However, the other accessories I am going to be using are cheaper. Tights and socks can be purchased for fairly cheap in a variety of colors. Jewelry and hair accessories are similar. These are just the central accessories: one hat, one purse, a belt, layering piece, and shoes.

I also wanted to highlight how easy it is to make everything match. These accessories are all approximately the same shade of brown, making it really easy to make the outfit look well coordinated.

On to the outfits!

I'm not going to be showing you every possible combination of the clothes I have shown you. There are easily over 200 combinations to be made just with these skirts, tops, outerwear items, and the vest. That is not counting what you can do with accessories and adding other details. I'm just going to show you a few of my favorite combinations.

Wardrobe: Mori Inspired

Wardrobe: Brown in Winter

Wardrobe: Turquoise and Brown

Wardrobe: Gallery Opening

Wardrobe: Cherubim

Wardrobe: Vintage Lady

Wardrobe: The Reporter

Wardrobe: Lady in Teal

For me, this is the sort of wardrobe that I will get the most use out of: a series of skirts and blouses that work well together, can be layered, and work for a few different looks (in this case, vintage and a brief swerve into mori girl).

I'd like to encourage you to look at your wardrobe (or your wish list, or both) and bring together the elements you think work well together as a limited but complete wardrobe. Don't worry about creating something that suits lolita or another girl. Create something that suits you.

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