Thursday, August 20, 2015

Subtlety and Wa Lolita?

My taste in Lolita is, I find, sometimes very different from what the style would invite from me.  I tend to prefer subtle coordinates over flashy ones, and I find that in my own life many prints are just a little too out-there. Perhaps it's the fact that I favor classic and perhaps it's my love of using the pieces I buy in as many outfits as possible, but I simply don't gravitate toward louder coordinates.

As a result, Wa Lolita is a bit of a sore spot for me. I’ve seen a lot of tips and tricks on how to select and wear elements of wa Lolita – my favorites are these from Make Lovely and Les Fleurs Noires – but the style, even with these tips, is still rather loud for my taste. As a result, I started asking a question that I find really important:

Is it possible for this style to be subtle?

I think it is possible.It might seem like rather a challenge to add wa Lolita influence to coordinates without having them look loud, but in my reading and my own exploration I've found a few ways to create wa Lolita looks that are very subtle.

Themed Prints and Basic Shapes

Meta has made some very pretty pieces with kimono print fabric, and they are lovely. In fact, they are my personal favorite way to add kimono-inspired elements to a coordinate. Of course, some people argue that it's not really wa Lolita, but I patently disagree. JSKs with a wrap detail (like this one) are very reminiscent of a kimono and still get the influence across without the sleeves.

Solid Colors or Subtle Prints

Ah, subtlety. Sometimes it's woven into the very fabric of a garment, and I mean that literally here. Solid colored kimonos or kimonos with subtle prints - pinstripes, small florals, etc. - will keep a wa Lolita outfit from shouting.

One beautiful example of wa Lolita (and a tutorial for how to get the look) by a young lady who goes by Kagome Bara can be found here, and I love her interpretation. By keeping things simple and solid-colored, she really does avoid the costumey look that sometimes comes with wa Lolita and its floral prints.

Tuck it In

This is another thing that made Kagome Bara's post really helpful for me: tuck in the kimono. I find that the layering usually present in wa Lolita is part of what adds to the loudness. The obi and the tails of the kimono add extra sections of color that, to my eye, seem a little overwhelming.

Going for a more hakama look really does make coordinates a lot more subtle. A solid-colored skirt gives a hakama-like appearance, keeps you from having to cut the kimono or get one that is flared and ruffly, and makes everything about the line look cleaner.

Keep the Loudness to One Element

This goes along with all the other points, but keeping the loudness to a single element of the coordinate can help keep it subtle. Are you in love with enormous sleeves? Tone absolutely everything else down, including the color of the kimono. Is the kimono very detailed? stick to solids everywhere else and keep additional ruffles to a minimum. By sticking to a single loud element and keeping everything else subtle, the entire outfit averages out.


Finishing touches are important in every Lolita coordinate, and I find that this is where something a little louder and more traditional is going to shine through. This is a great place to add kanzashi accessories, do an elaborate updo, or both! Pull in a more traditional look here and even a subtle coord will be clearly wa Lolita.

I know wa Lolita is notoriously hard to pull off, and I hope these little tips have been helpful for those of you who are looking to try it.


  1. I have this Bodyline JSK which reminds me a bit of Wa Lolita and I really want to wear it Wa inspired some day. Rocking horse shoes should look so good with it. They're not exactly "wa" but I guess they're used often for this substyle because they're so exotic. And I would go for these puffy balls for my hair combined with a flowercrown, so all in all sort of subtle. But I wouldn't have any use for pink rocking horses otherwise, it's just an idea for now ^^

    1. I love that JSK! You're definitely right about the print being reminiscent of wa lolita.