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What makes a Lolita a Lolita? Her dress shape.
Lolita has many different subsets such as Sweet, Gothic, Punk, Sailor, Ero, Hime, Bittersweet, Shiro, Kuro, casual, Decora, Guro, Classical, otome, ouji, kodona/boystyle, and more but we’re going to focus on the basic Lolita shape and style. In the future we will discuss basic boystyle as well, since it has its own outfit anatomy.
Shirt: Blouses are the staple in Lolita look. The frillier, the better. There are many to choose from in various shades and fabrics; make sure you find the one that’s right for you. However, regular shirts can also be included as long as they are well fitted. Regular shirts are best in Punk, casual and Classical. There is also the modification of regular shirts to have a frilled bottom or modified sleeves and torso called cutsews. These shirts are designed to be worn over Lolita skirts since some have a flared or ruffled base. In the cooler weather, a bolero, cardigan or a jacket can be worn.
Skirt: The main distinction of Lolita, especially in the modern day, is the bell shaped skirt. The bell skirt is flared out with the help of a petticoat, preferably one made of crinoline and/or organza fabric. Bloomers are worn underneath for modesty (and cold benches!). Square dancing petticoats cannot provide the puff needed for most Lolita skirts as they are mainly too bottom heavy and need to be modified. The most recent modification of the skirt is the salopette, which we will touch on later. There are two silhouettes of the Lolita skirt: the A-line and the cupcake. A-line (which includes the salopette) is a skirt that has a straight A-line shape. Putumayo’s Trump Ribbon jumperskirt is considered to be an A-lined shaped dress. The cupcake has a poof at the top and falls over, like a cupcake. Angelic Pretty’s Carnival Cards dress is a great example of a cupcake dress.
Shoes: Shoes in Lolita are diverse. There are platform shoes such as the Mary Jane platforms and rocking horse shoes, which have the heel cut out in the back. There are also tea party shoes, which are flat and look somewhat similar to the Mary Jane, but with crossing at the instep. The best go-to shoes when starting out in the fashion are shoes appropriate to wear to formal events (not spike heel platforms, unless you’re doing ero Lolita). There are no flip flops in Lolita but formal sandals are perfectly fine. Converse/fishheads shoes are mainly seen in casual, decora and punk and are worn with dress socks. Socks in Lolita are at three particular lengths: ankle, calf and over-the-knee (otk). They are never athletic socks, always dress socks. Some socks have ruffled tops, but sock toppers can be bought or made. If wearing shoes that look well even without socks (such as ballet-style rocking horse shoes), wear skimmers, socks that are small enough to merely be the shoe’s lining and completely unseen.
Bag: Sadly, most dresses and skirts in Lolita fashion do not have pockets. So that means to carry around things like your keys, transportation passes, wallet, etc, you will need a bag. No big, burly bags that are in mainstream fashion magazines. Instead, go for bags and clutches with simple lines or designs. Popular options can be shaped like bears, coffins, bunnies, bodies of violins, books, and carousels, and can sometimes be worn as mini backpacks.
Now, that we have the basics of a creative Lolita outfit, play with your style! Next time we will discuss the best places to shop.