The Lolita Style- the trend of fashion matching

Lolita style originated in the city of Harajuku and is a subset of Japanese street fashion. It has roots in the culture of the seventies, but truly bloomed in the late eighties and early nineties. Harajuku is known for its youthful exuberance and creativity. The city would close certain streets to traffic so that the locals could enjoy walking freely among the shops, and that created the perfect environment to be seen in outlandish and artistic outfits.

Although Lolita Style is a fashion movement that originated in Japan, it has become popular throughout the world. It is a common site at Cons that celebrate Japanese culture. The style draws inspiration from Victorian and Rococo fashions. The most common elements of Lolita Style are fluffy skirts and extreme cuteness. Layers of crinolines and bloomers allow the skirts to poof, while the rest of the dress is somewhat close fitting. Some dresses even use structured hoops to maintain the gravity defying poofiness. If there are sleeves, they are either puffed or draped. Some styles are even based on kimonos. Lolita style is characterized by a childish innocence combined with rich elegance in many outfits, with bows and ruffles accenting the dresses. Alice from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and French Queen Marie Antionette influence the fashion heavily. The former lends itself to girlish charm and daydreaming styles, while the latter evokes luxury and richness. The outfits are completed with sweet accessories such as ruffled bonnets, wigs, and bowed footwear. Many dresses features numerous flourishes such as ribbon lacing in contrasting colors or delicate lace stitched into seams.

There are several substyles to Lolita fashion, including classic or sweet, manga inspirations, royal sister, punk and goth, , princess and steampunk. Although punk and gothic are not generally considered “cute,” the Lolita versions are very cute in a dark and feminine manner. Although manga can influence Lolita, and Lolita can influence manga, Lolita style should not be confused with cosplay, where people dress as specific characters. Many manga characters dress in Lolita styles, and are designed to be exceptionally cute.

Alice themes

These dresses have a strong Alice aesthetic. Alice, as the heroine of Alice in Wonderland, is the eternal Victorian child that visits an imaginative dream world. The dresses are appropriately fluffy and innocent, reminiscent of a pinafore over a day dress that would have been worn by children contemporary to Alice. The hearts on the skirt reference the Queen of Hearts, and the ruffles and bows give the impression of girlishness. The pointed bib collar with a tie bow adds a sweetness and breaks up the solid color of the dress. A sugary Alice dress like this is perfect for an afternoon strolling through town, or meeting friends for tea, a central theme in the story. The pink version is the girliest, while the black has a slight goth edge and the red is quite bold. Coordinating stockings, perhaps with hearts, and Mary Jane shoes with little hearts or bows would complete the outfit.

Falbala

This example, shows the intersection of Lolita style and cosplay. The outfit is inspired by the characters from the manga and anime Cardcaptor Sakura. The characters and their cosplayers mainly wear school uniforms, but in different adventures, they do wear creative and imaginative Lolita style fashions. This particular piece is an excellent example of falbala- specifically a puckered flounce that decorated women’s dresses in the eighteenth century, and generally any ruffles or flounces on ladies’ clothing. The dress is outfitted with bows and ribbons with scalloped edges, as well as soft, dreamy pink and blue sky hues. The bottom of the skirt is scooped into flounces, exposing the delicate fabric beneath, and the sleeves are flouncy, sheer puffs. It is the epitome of sweet, feminine cuteness. It is accessorized with matching ruffled stockings, a charming ruffled bonnet with ribbon embroidery and a delicate anklet and bracelet. The choker necklace is made of similar fabric to the dress. A small matching purse and delicate shoes would complete the look, possibly with a pastel wig and soft pink lips. A Lolita dress like this would make a splash at any event, day or evening.

Royal Sister

The Royal sister Lolita style is inspired by the court of Marie Antoinette and the manga, The Rose of Versaille. These gowns are flowing full dresses in the style of the eighteenth century Rococo period. It is a bit more elegant than cute, and the fabrics are more luxurious. The sweet Lolita styles use softer chiffon and cotton type fabrics while the Royal sister uses satins and silks.

The epitome of the Royal style is a gown fit for a royal court appearance. The floor length skirt is decorated with flounces and drapes, as well as ruffles, bows and ribbons. Jacquard patterns in gold on vibrant, jewel tones look regal. The addition of a handsome sun hat made with ruffled fabric beneath the brim and long flowing ribbon ties looks like something a lady would wear to an afternoon audience with the queen in her garden. Some shorter versions have the heavier satin fabrics, but instead of a gown, they feature a print that references the Rococo style, such as panels of period appropriate art or cultural references such as nutcrackers. The bows and lace edges give a feminine elegance, while the paneled skirts give a more direct nod to the art and pop culture of earlier times. As always the detailed accessories make the ensemble even prettier, with dramatic hats or delicate bonnets.

As with all Lolita styles, the fashion lies with the creativity of the wearer. Simply wearing a fluffy dress may be cute, but is not necessarily Lolita. The true Lolita fashionista uses fabulous accessories to create a complete outfit and atmosphere. The hair or wig, the bonnet, Sweet bags for lolita girls and the socks must also coordinate and accentuate the sweetness of the wearer. From the classically sweet Alice style that evokes youth and eternal innocence to the formal and elegant Royal style that reminds one of the French court before the revolution.

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