Thursday, November 21, 2013

Inspired Coords Part I: Characters

I'm back! After doing the play and having the kids ask me to come to their concerts the next week, I'm finally back on the blogging train. And all the costuming I've been doing has given me ideas.

Inspiration for Lolita coords comes from everywhere, but it can sometimes be hard to figure out how to take that inspiration and translate it into a completed coord. And, since I like a good challenge and am hot off the heels of taking a script and making written characters a reality, I'm going to take on media-inspired coords.

I'll be covering three different types of outfit inspiration over the course of two posts:
  1. Characters that are already visually represented
  2. Characters that are not visually represented
  3. Non-characters
The first two will be in this post, and the final type will be given its own post.

Let's get started, shall we?

Type 1: The visual character

You’re in luck! You have actually seen your character. You have a clear set of guidelines to follow in terms of color and feel.

Honestly, I can’t explain this particular type of coordinate creation better than the lovely lady who runs Make Lovely, so here is a video from a panel she ran that explains the process of creating a Lolita outfit inspired by an anime character:


Here's an example that I put together, inspired by Rosalind Lutece from Bioshock: Infinite.

Bioshock Infinite: Rosalind Lutece

 Type 2: The literary character

All characters start somewhere: books, plays, songs. However, when the characters don’t have an agreed-upon image, it can sometimes be tricky to create an outfit based on them. Sometimes, the story will give you a good description to go off. For example:
“Galinda didn’t see the verdant world through the glass of the carriage; she saw her own reflection instead. She had the nearsightedness of youth. She reasoned that because she was beautiful she was significant, though what she signified, and to whom, was not clear to her yet. The sway of her head made her creamy ringlets swing, catching the light, like so many jostling stacks of coins. Her lips were perfect, as pouted as an opening maya flower, and colored as brilliantly red. Her green traveling gown with its inset panels of ochre musset suggested wealth, while the black shawl draping just so about the shoulders was a nod to her academic inclinations. She was, after all, on her way to Shiz because she was smart.”
– Gregory Maguire, Wicked: the Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
I’m almost certain that you could base an outfit off that description without any problems at all.

Other times, though, you will be given very little along the lines of concrete description, whether that is because the character is from a play or myth or other medium that doesn’t describe its characters in complete detail, or simply because that character’s physical description is vague. This is when your passion for the character really comes in handy. When I do this sort of inspired outfit, I look at motifs, colors, and general vibes that surround the character. I then use the impressions I have of them to guide my wardrobe choices.

I’ll break this down for you with a quick list of what I see in Ophelia from Hamlet.
  • Colors and Motifs
    • Off-white
      • Emphasis on youth and innocence, but not pure white, because her innocence has been damaged/stained
      • White is the traditional color for the character.
    • Flowers 
    • Water 
    • Delicate 
    • Asymmetry
      • Asymmetry gets across an idea of damage or “off-ness” without actually having damaged fabric.
Once I have that list done, I can go through and create a list of items for the outfit, selected with these traits in mind.
  • Clothing
    • High waisted off-white OP
      • High waisted both to emphasize youthful look and to look renaissance-y, though the waistline is more Italian renaissance than English.
    • Minimalist shoes
      • Ballet flats with ribbons, etc. – to maintain the look of delicacy.
    • Tights
      • Socks are too visually heavy.
      • Light colored with either light designs or texture
  • Hair and makeup
    • Hair
      • Worn down: “about her ears.”
        • Artfully messy if possible, curly and natural looking for sure
      • Flower clips everywhere, not just in the headband zone
        • Miniature claw hair clips as backs for these clips
    • Makeup
      • Slightly hollow-eyed
        • Light smudged eyeliner
        • No clean lines
      • Fresh
        • Clean skin
        • Peachy/pink lips
So, applying that to an example outfit, I got this Lolita outfit inspired by Ophelia from Hamlet.

"There's rosemary, that's for remembrance"

While it might not be obviously Ophelia-y at first glance, the character allusions are there. Wavy, slightly wild hair tangled all-through with flowers, what could have once been a white dress darkened to ivory, a vial of water.

Look for the third type next week.


  1. I'm in love with your Ophelia interpretation :D

    1. It's so pretty when you just look at it.. but your explanation why you choose the different items and details makes it so much lovelier ^^"

  2. I also love your Ophelia interpretation - I would gladly wear outfit like that :)