Thursday, May 15, 2014

Mr. Sandman, Bring Me A Dream: Using Vintage and Retro-style Clothing to Bolster Your Lolita Wardrobe

I'm rather an offbrand girl when it comes to Lolita, and one of my favorite ways to bring offbrand into an outfit is with vintage or vintage-inspired pieces. Because a lot of people I've met don't know what to look for when adding vintage and vintage-style clothing to their wardrobe (and even more so incorporating vintage into their Lolita looks), I wanted to write a quick and dirty guide to using beautiful vintage pieces in Lolita.


1950s blouses (and blouses from the 1950s revival in the 1980s) are a great way to bolster a Lolita wardrobe with some offbrand. Blouses from the 1950s tend to be cut shorter, making them ideal for pairing with high waisted skirts. 1950s blouses also feature details that can sometimes be hard to find now: ruffles, detailed fabric, and peter pan collars.


Because of the western and prairie trends of the 1970s, blouses inspired by Victoriana were very common. Lace, high necklines with stand collars, and full sleeves were all common. If you’re a fan of lace yoke blouses, this is the time period to look for.


Another item to look for is the "pussy bow" or "pussycat bow" blouse. Usually featuring a high neckline with attached ties for a bow, this neckline got its start in the 1930s and was worn throughout the 20th century. As a result, these bow neck blouses can be found in a variety of different cuts and sleeve styles and many different fabrics. I love wearing them under JSKs because the fact that they aren't very detailed doesn't matter.



When you're looking at skirts to use with Lolita, the best place to start is the New Look era that extended from the late 1940s to the early 1960s. Full skirts are the way to go here. Keep an eye out for length, though; the skirts from these time periods often fell to mid-calf, which isn't always the best length for Lolita. However, many recent dresses made in a vintage style keep their skirts a little shorter, which is a boon for shorter ladies.My rule of thumb, in terms of length, is to know your measurements. If you can't try an item on, make sure you know which range of skirt lengths looks best on you.

It's also important to look at the make of the skirt. A full circle skirt or wide a-line will look good with Lolita when worn with an a-line petticoat. Full gathered skirts (or dirndl skirts) will look best with a cupcake-shaped petticoat.


Sun Dresses

Obviously, with sun dresses, you're looking for a lot of the same things you're looking for in your skirts. You want a full skirt that will hit your waist at a Loli-able place and be the right length.

Another thing to look for is the sleeves. It is possible to find dresses with just the right sleeves Small puffed cap sleeves or long, fuller sleeves are good options if you can find them.

One option for a Lolita-appropriate vintage dress.

A lot of retro dresses, though, are either sleeveless or have close-fitted cap sleeves, which are charming but don't really do well with Lolita. However, sleeveless sundresses with lower, more open necklines make ideal JSKs, and can be worn for a basic retro style when it is simply too hot for layering. If you fall in love with a sundress with a higher neckline, however, fear not; layered over a high neck blouse or under a cardigan, they can still be used to make a beautiful Lolita look.


Not Frilly Enough?

Sometimes, your vintage or vintage-style pieces will not look detailed enough for Lolita, but never fear. There are plenty of ways you can add frills to your finds without completely remaking them.

Mixing vintage pieces with "approved" lolita pieces is a good way to keep your outfit from looking too far toward the vintage side. Lolita blouses, cardigans, and boleros can be worn with dresses and skirts alike to add more frills and make the whole look blend together harmoniously.

My favorite way to add frills to a simpler vintage items is to add an underskirt. I have a stock of neutral-colored ruffled underskirts, both a-line and cupcake-shaped, that hit me at just the right length. They're a quick and easy way to add a ruffle to the hem of most of the skirts in my wardrobe and can be used again and again.

I hope this has helped you know a little better what to look for and how to use it.

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