calembredaines said: I just found your blog and I'm glad I did: it is extremely interesting. Keep up the good work!

Thank you! This is my least updated blog but it is definitely something I have a long term interest in. 

The Exclusivity of Lolita - extending to your own motivations

This very long Q&A is from October, 2010. Lolitas often admit that this subculture can be one of the most…er, let’s just say “exclusive.”  This isn’t just in the sense that the clothing is very different from “main stream” clothing but that there are levels of exclusivity within the subculture that police and monitor the users as well.  There are right ways to look lolita and wrong ways to look lolita and the rules are too many to count.  Partly, this is from the intense desire to make Lolita a lifestyle choice and not “just” a fashion or cosplay one. 

But, are there right and wrong ways to want to be lolita? 

Q:

Is it wrong that ordinary people wear lolita to look fashionable?  

I read a magazine recently and saw this submission in the advice section, “Slight loli (choi-loli) is trendy but,  to just put it on as a trend is an insult to those of us who put our lives into wearing Lolita. Gyaru and stuff are fashion but Lolita is a lifestyle!”  The responder said, “Wearing clothes just because they are cute or trendy is pretty lame isn’t it. Rock isn’t just about the appearance but because you’ve properly learned about the background and stuff for how these clothes were born.”

I thought, Er? Wha? but then I asked a lolita friend it seems there are lolitas who think like that…

But, what is the difference between people who put their life into it and people who wear it to look nice?

Is worshipping Takemoto Nobara or loving visual-kei bands, or *only* wearing Baby clothing to be “putting your life into it”? And to those people, is someone like me - who is merely a extended Liz Lisa type - a heretic?  And if I was called that, then I wonder if you can say the same for Gyaru who read “Tsubasa-ISM” and study to be Amura… 

A: 

I am someone who wears Gothic, and Gothic And Lolita.  

There are many varying opinions among lolitas too but, the thing we can agree on is “lolita is about loving [western style] clothes.”

It isn’t that lolita fashion isn’t allowed to be just about “cute!”. However, most people think that the idea “As long as it is cute then anything is OK” may unfortunately turn into =  ”It doesn’t matter how I wear lolita as long as it is cute.”  In actuality, people who cannot wear lolita properly - in other words “ita-loli” (not including those who cannot due to their skin)*, who don’t wear makeup, don’t groom their brows, have messy hair, don’t wear paniers or drawers and make their skirts fall flat and those with visible under-clothes, those who mix with cosplay or some kind of character, etc etc. If that person thinks they are just fine then I have no right to say a thing but, unfortunately other lolitas will be embarrassed and think it is shameful. (According to the medieval clothes that lolita is modeled on, paniers and drawers are the same as underwear so not having them would be the same as not wearing panties or bras.  Furthermore, dressing up is partly for the soul and being like adorable things is our motto so not wearing makeup is breaking away from from the spirit of it all.   They are “heavy” clothing so you’ll stand out in a bad way if you don’t wear makeup.  

The kind of trend that came out of  ”cute!” is Gyaru-loli (Gyaru fashion + lolita, which is ageha-like makeup, poofy hair, super exposed cleavage and legs, and even now, taken lolita’s wa-jumper skirts etc).  Lots of people think gyaru-loli is like “split from Lolita’s spirit (to be girlish)”  ”Hm, gyaru or lolita? I’ll do both!” and many orthodox lolita try to keep their distance.  In truth, even without heels, thick makeup, poofy hair, blouses or tights, the exposed cleavage and legs is incredibly different from “clothing for an aristocratic child.”

Wearing something because you think, “Cute!” isn’t wrong in itself.  No one would wear it if they didn’t think “cute” after all.

Just, the lolita opinion is more like “Now that I wear it, I want to understand the spirit behind it and get the right knowledge.” In other words, lolita isn’t anything more than a fashion genre either. It isn’t heresy to say that it is extended Liz Lisa.  However, the only condition is that you don’t mix it up with “ane” or gyaru fashion.  

Here are some good reference pages.   
http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%82%B4%E3%82%B9%E3%83%AD%E3%83%AA
http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%83%AD%E3%83%AA%E3%83%BC%E3%82%BF%E…
http://www15.atwiki.jp/hisuzusia/pages/1.html

Ideas like “If you don’t worship Nobara-san, you’re not a lolita” or like “If you’re not a Visual groupie, you’re not a lolita” or like “Lolitas HAVE to wear only lolita brands” are wrong. You have to start with “I like lolita fashion” “I want to understand the spirit of lolita.”  Even if you join lolita fashion because you like the appearance, it would be better if you learned the proper way to wear it, conform to the spirit, and picked up a lady’s behavior.  

Although it “Lolita is life” is a lovely thought, that isn’t something you can force onto others. Even gothic and gothiclolita me, who spends my free cash all on clothes, doesn’t think they are my entire life. I just think they are things for me to enjoy my life. People who wear it in order to be fashionable and those who do it as their life - they might differ in terms of money or passion but fundamentally they are the same.  Or in other words, lolitas are just normal people.  

*(お肌の関係で出来ない方を除き) I think this is referring to, say, a skin condition that makes it hard for you to wear makeup.

(Source: Yahoo! Japan)

one2stepyou said: Your blog just got shared on EGL in a big post full of translated articles. I love what I've read so far - please continue as you have time!! :D The Japanese POV is something we rarely get to see, at least in a casual sense ie Yahoo Answers

Oh that is wonderful! I am not live-journal savvy so I have never really gotten involved with the larger lolita world in English.  But yes, I always was curious about the day-to-day kind of dialogue on lolita in Japan so I started the translation blog.  I hope people find it interesting :) 

I will continue to translate sporadically, when I have time.  

honeyed said: Just so you know, this is pretty much exactly the sort of site I've been looking for :D Thank you! I hope to see more translations in the future!

Oh I’m relieved! Most lolitas are on live journal (which I hardly use) and there just doesn’t seem to be much of a big community on tumblr.

 I only get a chance to translate when I’m not busy with school, work, my other tumblrs (haha), but it makes me really happy to read up on it.  Thanks for sending me the note! I’m happy we can all be excited about fashion :)   

Can I wear lolita to a costume party?

This is an older question from around 2007 but I thought it was interesting, again, how lolita fashionistas really try to keep the boundaries between themselves and costume/cosplay.   I don’t think Western lolitas are like this at all (could be wrong) because it is already linked to cosplay culture. 

Q:

I was invited to a Halloween party by a friend and I am set to go. 

I was considering wearing lolita fashion (goth loli) to the party but,

what do you think?

I asked a friend who knew a bit about lolita fashion, and she said, wearing lolita fashion as a kind of costume is rude to the people who wear it normally. 

It sure seems that way I suppose…

I would like to hear your opinions please. 

 A:

Hello.

If is is a party like “absolutely must be in costume” where you have to change your clothes, then I think people would be uncomfortable. That’s what I think (if there are lolitas there).  

If it is a “Okay to dress stylish but people will also be wearing costumes” kind of party, then you’ll be okay.  

I don’t care either way but ….there are a lot of people among lolitas who really hate to be seen as cosplayers.   

(Source: oshiete.goo.ne.jp)

Race, nationality, and fashion

I’m fascinated with this topic: the mutual historical ignorance of Japanese lolita and Western lolita haha. Both keep attributing the style to each other because the style is really, really not based in any historical reality.  And yet, Japanese lolita again complain that Westerners have misunderstood lolita because it is linked to cosplay…even while confirming that lolita is itself costume like and an artificial assessment of (fetishized whiteness and) European-ness.  It is a huge clusterfuck that is nicely encapsulated here. 

As a note, I would strongly suggest you NOT take the respondant’s bizarre rewriting of European fashion history as anything authoritative. It is akin to that girl we all know from school who puts on a cheap qipao from Chinatown, sticks a chopstick in her hair under a Vietnamese non la hat, smears on bright red lipstick and call herself a geisha for Halloween.

This question is from Feb 2009 but is always relevant.

Question:

This is a question about lolita fashion.

Right now, lolita fashion is popular in America and Europe but, lolita fashion is originally based on the motif of a European noblewoman.  So, does that mean that Europe did not have this kind of lolita fashion? If they were not interested in that kind of fashion, why are they now interested in Japanese lolita?  

Best Answer: 

Just as you wrote, lolita fashion is a Japanese fashion based on English and French motifs from the gothic era (<—中世の).  

However, clothes like Japanese lolita is primarily based on clothes for aristocrats or high level people so perhaps Europeans were not able to wear them so easily?  
They likely would not have imagined themselves wearing aristocratic clothing that only fell at the knee, Japanese lolita-style.  
On the other hand, in Japan it is also popular to wear the classical kuro-loli styles that the European masses wore.

It seems like, originally, foreigners grew interested in Japan’s cosplay and interest in lolita grew after they saw Japanese lolita and thought, aah that cosplay is cute!  In particular, Americans and Europeans liked this.  It seems like Americans and Europeans don’t have many opportunities to dress like this and so, perhaps it caught their attention. It is the first time I heard that this fashion has caught on in Europe.  

As a lolita myself, I don’t like that cosplay and lolita are seen as part of the same thing… 
But if Europeans end up wearing lolita fashion, it just ends up feeling like native outfits (本場の衣装) so it ends up pretty pointless (あまり意味がない)…lol 

(Source: Yahoo! Japan)

Lolita hair - length?

Personally, I’m confused by the use of wigs. Maybe girls feel like they have to have long spirally curls in order to fit the fashion?  

This question from last week (July 2012) was about hair length.  There is no best answer chosen yet but I translated the longer one.

Question:

I’d like to try lolita fashion.  When wearing lolita though, would having short hair be strange?

I don’t mean a bob but, a short hair style like Gouriki Ayame's or like, the center girl in Nogizaka 46 would not really suit lolita, huh?  I wonder if I am limited to a bob… By the way, I’m thinking about wearing BABY’s chic looking black jumper skirt.  

Best Answer (For now):

A super short hair style like Gouriki’s would be OK if, for example, you were in the shonen-style or prince-style coordinates like from ALICE and the PIRATES.  But, I think it might be a little too boyish for sweet-lolita.  

In the end, a bob is more girly so if you are drawn to sweet-lolita, it might be better to go get a bob.
It takes some time for hair to grow out. But for other circumstances when you can’t grow your hair long, you can always use a fashion wig.  

(Source: Yahoo! Japan)

Lolita fashion in manga

A much easier, less judgy-judgy informative Q & A from late January 2012.

Question:

Are there any comic books or publications where I can study lolita and punk fashion? I want to study that type of fashion so, I appreciate your help. 

Best Answer:

For manga 
Lolita fashion: 

Mihara Mitsukazu  
Poison Princess (doku-hime)DOLL etc. Mr. Mihara himself wears lolita fashion after all.  Pretty much all of his characters are lolita-characters.  

Yazawa Ai 
Nana, Paradise Kiss.  Punk-wearing characters come out in NANA. Paradise Kiss is a manga about fashion.  

As for magazines 
KERA comes out every month on the 15th and is lolita and punk magazine for girls

KERA maniacs

KERA special issue (I think)  

Gothic & Lolita Bible.  Mihara Mitsukazu, who I introduced earlier, used to be in charge of the art on the front cover for this magazine.  

Fat Lolitas

There is a snobbery here that betrays the “fashion is for everyone ra ra!” initial response.  There seems to be a contradictory dialogue here about lolita as being hand-made, home-grown kind of fashion and lolita as being brand-conscious. 

By the way, this reminds me how seriously important hand-made clothing is important.  If brands dictate who and what is fashionable, then we would not even have subcultures like lolita to develop.  So why does the size limitations of certain brands limit who can access this world?

Also, oddly enough, the responding person suggests bodyline which I just translated a q&a about.

Anyway, this question is from March 2012. 

Question: 

Are fat lolitas no good?

By the way, I am 141 cm and 55 kilos and people say I look like Yanagihara Kanako.

Top Answer:

I am someone who wears lolita.

I think it is fine. It isn’t as if there is a rule that “you can only wear lolita if you’re thin.” 

In fact, I think that if Yanagihara Kanako wore lolita clothes too, she’d look cute.  

However…can you fit into the clothes?

Lolita brands come in only 1 size, not in S, M, L sizes.  They also have lace-up types that allow you to adjust the size but, you can only adjust them so far and if you tie yourself too tight it would be very uncomfortable. I think lolita clothes choose those who have the build to wear them. 

By the way, there is a cosplay maker called BODYLINE that sells things under the name of “lolita.” You can freely choose the size so, to give an extreme example, even hugely buff men could wear them.  

And so, when I saw that you wrote “fat lolita” I was actually nervous and wondered if you were wearing BODYLINE cosplay… 

If you can wear something from a proper maison, then I don’t think there is a problem.  

(Source: Yahoo! Japan)

The bottom line on Bodyline: no one respects it

Since lolita fashion is really hard to get outside of Japan, I see a lot of American girls buying lolita goods online from whatever sources are reputable.  In other words, many people are ordering bodyline shoes and other goods - which is, as you all know, a brand that a lot of Japanese lolitas seem to look down on.  It was also interesting to learn about a native Japanese cosplayer’s attitude towards mass-produced costume wear (which is now significant in Western fandom as well).  So this Q&A from May 2012 was VERY interesting to me.

Question:

Bodyline seems to be known as for low quality goods, like a shop for lolitas plastered in mud (<—ロリータの泥塗りみたいなショップ)  

But to call it cosplay goods, I’m not so sure.  

Is it truly just for cosplay goods?  Like maid clothes or anime style.

Just seeing the photos for vocaloid goods, I kind of thought “wow how cheap looking” but, for other anime I think they looked nice and beautiful.  

In reality, what are they like?  

What impression would a cosplayer have of a cosplayer using bodyline goods? And, like how it feels when you use it and stuff.  

From the view point of a lolita, 
even if you use those so called cosplay goods for cosplay, would you be looked down on just for wearing body line?  

Top Answer:

Although I am not in the lolita genre, I do have a taste for the gothic and have cosplayed so perhaps I can be of some reference.   

»regarding quality  

You get what you pay for (<—値段相違のお品) 

In the past, I did not buy character goods but a sailor uniform. However, 
・thin fabric = see through
・the skirt was short
・the top was also short (if I lifted my arms, my stomach would show) 
・I personally found the fabric scratchy 

In the end, they really do feel like cosplay goods.
I already made preparations to deal with the transparency issue so there was no problem.  

»Impression from a cosplayer

Right now, the reality is that there is an overwhelming amount of cosplayers that use mass produced goods and because of that countless shops are selling these goods.  
Even among pre-made goods, you have a range of terrible to great and all kinds of makers so I can’t criticize. But, it has really drifted away from being an original work so I can feel the difference.   

» Impression from a lolita 

 
There is no criticism if you wear these complete cosplay goods to an event.  
The criticism comes if you wear it and call it “fashion.”  

(Source: Yahoo! Japan)