Sunday, 19 January 2014

☆ Lolita Tips Part I: Prologue ☆

  I asked on my tumblr blog if anyone would be interested in my advice for new lolitas, and I had a lot of positive responses. The parts I said I'd do were on outfit building (i.e. a bit more than just "wear something pink and a petti, DON'T FORGET THE PETTI, the end") and one on meet etiquette. This will only be a "mini part" and you should think of it as advice, not as rules; you can take it or leave it, or you can take parts and leave others.

  I'm tossing this one into the mix as well because I think what you do before you get into lolita is equally as important as what you do after; the impression you give to your comm and how well you get on with other lolitas will rely massively on the preparation you've done beforehand, and it's a huge source of concern for new lolitas. That doesn't mean you have to do homework before every meet you go to! It just means that there are some simple things you can do before joining the scene that will help you avoid common pitfalls. I apologise if any of it sounds patronising; some people will come to lolita knowing more than others! Much of this post will fall under etiquette, so be sure to read Part III if this part interests you.


  I can't emphasise this enough. Nothing will put people off you faster than you not knowing what it is you're actually trying to join; it'd be like waltzing into Games Workshop mid-game and yelling "WOW GUYS, WHAT ARE THE LITTLE MEN FOR, THOSE ARE GREAT!". It will put you off as well if you're the type to feel silly when corrected. I met a girl once who I was happily chatting away to and I mentioned that I had seen some complaints about that year's Meta lucky pack. She said, "What's Meta?" and I corrected myself (it was a bit thoughtless of me to shorten it like that when I knew she was new) and told her, "Sorry, I meant Metamorphose!". She eyed me warily and repeated "What's that?". I had to explain to her that Metamorphose is one of the main lolita brands. I did it kindly, as she was obviously a bit put out, but she gave me the filthiest look I've ever received from another lolita and started banging on about how Bodyline is superior. In my opinion, this reaction was caused more by embarrassment than an actual anti-brand mission she was on.
  Things you should research beforehand are:

  • Brands (especially the ones you like best! It'll really help you when you come to build your wardrobe.)
  • Sub styles (ditto above!)
  • Lolita outfit rules (this will be the best thing you can do, and we'll cover it better in Part II)
  • A little background on the style
  Places you can do this:
  EGL is the main one. I'd really recommend you go to their memories and read any entry that interests you. Read as much as you can! I think doing this was really the key for me; you can start off with a much higher than average pool of lolita knowledge.
 There are tons of blogs you can go to as well as street snap sites such as TokyoFashion; these will be good for reading others' outlooks, as an addition to the pre-existing rules of the lolita aesthetic; you should never take a blogger's opinion as hard fact - not even mine! - as it may steer you wrong.

2. Stay Away From Drama Sites.

  This one is going to get heavy, and I apologise in advance.
  Not going to lie, one of the first sites I started browsing was Lolita Secrets (back in the days before it became Behind the Bows). Whilst it did help me decide what was a good and what was a bad idea within the fashion, it also tinted my outlook of its participants with suspicion. That, twinned with the fact I was on medication for severe depression at the time, made me act like the biggest asslamp in the world towards a couple of people. At least one of them didn't deserve it; she wasn't actually doing anything to put me down, but having spent so long soaking in this strange sense of "all lolitas are secretly out to get each other" from sites like LS, I thought she was. I did apologise to her, and she said she's fine about it, but I doubt it; I wouldn't blame her if she still wanted to mince me.
  Having said that; everyone's number one fear when it comes to the internet is cgl on 4chan, and it shouldn't be. Bullying and drama threads have been banned and are actively deleted when they occur; not that they occur often at all anymore, since the ban has attracted more calm, less bitchy users. You can now go there for genuine advice, but be warned; it's anonymous, and that means people will give you honest criticism with no sugar coating.
  The sites to avoid the most are dedicated gossip sites that allow you to make an account; these ones tend to attract not solely, but a significant amount of people who want to be recognised for the things they say, and what kind of person wants to be recognised for their membership on a gossip or hate site? Hmm. 
  If you want to engage in online lolita chats, facebook comms, tumblr and EGL are your best friends. Lacebook is also slowly gaining in members, but you'll need an invite code to join and you're unlikely to get one until you've been participating a while, as someone will need to refer you. Outside of that, try to stick to sites where the risk of people having an ulterior motive for befriending you is low. Pre-ban, 4chan used to have a lot of people who gave themselves names (there's no need to draw attention to yourself on a site made for anonymous posting if no one has any reason to refer to you specifically) and created a clique-y, negative, high school atmosphere and this is still a thing on other sites. Just be aware of who you're talking to and what kind of person they are - as much as you can without being able to meet/see them. There are asses in every hobby.

3. Plan ahead!

  This is a fun one - plan the type of wardrobe you eventually want to own, now! Save pictures, get a sketchbook, make a tumblr, pinterest, anything. You'll soak up information on brands and other details as you go along and build up preferences as well. So when you come to buy your first dress, you might well have a colour combo in mind already - I love pink and mint, I don't think you see that enough. So for example, I might buy a pink or mint dress ready for the accessories to go with it, rather than buying anything I liked the look of.
  I found lolita when I was 13/14 and studying textiles, so my first loli sketchbook was done by the end of Year 9. I really think it helped!

4. Manage Your Expectations.

  This will be covered properly in Part III but for now, all I'll say is this; be aware that other people aren't you. Lolitas aren't clones, no matter how many pictures you've seen with "AP CLONES" typed on them in Impact. Don't go in like a bull at a gate expecting everyone to share your fandom/interests/mannerisms/sense of humour. We're thousands and thousands of people, and whilst you will definitely find some who get you, not all of them will. 

5. Remember: It's supposed to be fun!

  The best piece of advice I can give you is to treat lolita like as you would any other hobby; know your stuff but don't take it too seriously! As long as you've got your bases covered, no one can criticise you.

  Next up: The Anatomy of an Outfit. With about 80% less implication that a petticoat makes anything lolita and, hopefully, a hell of a lot more practical advice.

Vivi xoxo

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