Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Lolita Basics 2: Where to buy, where not to buy

Hello! ♡
Aww yes- we have reached 2,000 views! Thank you to everyone for contributing, and let's hope Lilac's Journal keeps growing ^^ I have something special planned for when we reach 5,000 views, we can do it! :D
Welcome to the second part of Lolita Basics! Last time, we covered the Lolita substyles, and this week- we will talk about where to buy Lolita clothes- as well as which shops to stay away from. So, without any further ado, let's go! :D

Lolita Basics 1: The Sub-Styles ✓
Lolita Basics 2: Where to buy, where not to buy ✓
Lolita Basics 3: Building a basic wardrobe
Lolita Basics 4: Mistakes to avoid
Lolita Basics 5: Lolita Terms

A common misconception among newer Lolitas is that all dresses are $200 big brand pieces. That's not always the case! Although Lolita isn't the cheapest hobby, it's much less expensive than you think. Also, you don't have to completely stay away from AliExpress and eBay. These sites don't have the best reputation in the community, but it's a matter of knowing where to look, checking store ratings and reviews- and you can hunt down gems for affordable prices. With so many shady shops all over the internet, how do you know where it's worth spending your money? Where do you look for lolita fashion for different needs, and which stores should you keep your credit card away from? Keep reading to find out! ^^

Where to buy
There are many many places to buy Lolita- from the big brands to small Indie brands.
The big brands are very expensive- but by buying from them, you are supporting the designers and brands! You also get your money's worth- the pieces are very beautiful and high quality. This isn't to say that you can't be a true lolita without having any brand- whether your wardrobe is all handmade or all brand, you're still a lolita! Brands, however, tend to have smaller sizing- but many dresses also have shirring and elastic to fit a much wider range of sizes.

Indie brands tend to be cheaper (but not always), and there are more and more of them. By buying from them, you are supporting independent designers, and many of them also offer custom sizing.

There are also many other places to buy from. TaoBao and Bodyline are more affordable options, and eBay and AliExpress can be good places to find hidden gems. Of course, I can't list all the places to buy from in this post- but I'll list as many as I can. Discovering more shops is up to you!

What are the big Lolita brands?
  • Angelic Pretty- best for Sweet Lolita, but some of their dresses are also good for Gothic and Classic. While new dresses directly from them will average around 30,000 Yen (250$), they are very beautiful, detailed and well made, making them worth every dollar. AP requires a shopping service (more on that later) as they don't ship internationally.
  • Baby, The Stars Shine Bright- Similar to AP, with most of their pieces being perfect for Sweet and Classic. They also ship worldwide!
  • Moi-meme-moitie A gothic lolita brand, with prices being a bit higher than AP and BtSSB. It was created by Mana, a very important and famous figure in the community. Colours are rich and deep and motifs include gothic architecture and crosses.
  • Innocent World A brand perfect for Classic Lolita. While their dresses aren't cheap, they tend to be cheaper than the above brands. 
  • Mary Magdalene Similar to IW- also a Classic Lolita brand. 
  • Metamorphose temps de fille- While most of their pieces tend to be classic/sweet, they also have some perfect for gothic.

Bodyline is the perfect place for Lolitas on a budget. Their dresses are very affordable, most are very pretty and quality is quite good. However- there are some worse pieces, so if a piece interests you, make sure you look up reviews beforehand. Don't go into the Cosplay section, and use your common sense- don't go buying a lace monster. If you look up 'ugly Bodyline dresses' or something similar, then you'll see which dresses are just not for lolita. When starting with the fashion it can be hard to tell what's good for lolita and what's not, so the Internet is your friend ^^ This is a very helpful place for all things Bodyline! (Oh, and I wouldn't reccomend their petticoats. It's best to invest in a good petti) Their shoes also go up to larger sizes.

TaoBao- the massive Chinese online marketplace, where there are LOTS of unique and lovely lolita brands. I will in the future write a separate post dedicated to TaoBao, but here I'll cover the basics. Dresses tend to be more affordable (though some brands are more expensive than others). The catches?

  • It's all in Chinese (I have a built-in translator in my browser)
  • You must search in Chinese
  • You must use a shopping service
When browsing TaoBao, I use this to help me search for what I need as well as Google Translate. As for shopping services- there are LOADS. I heard good things about TaoBaoNow and TaoBaoSpree, they basically buy from TaoBao for you. There is a service fee that's different for each SS, but it usually isn't much. There is also the question of shipping- every SS has different shipping options, but there are also shipping calculators online such as this one that will help you estimate how much you'll need to pay for shipping. Like any other online marketplace, TaoBao has its fair share of dodgy sellers. Make sure you check each seller's rating- TaoBao's rating system is explained here.
There are also some stores that are TaoBao resellers, such as GlitzyWonderland, which I love because FREE.SHIPPING. Here is a nice list of TaoBao shops.

eBay and AliExpress
Often, if you mention eBay or AliExpress to a lolita, they will tell you to steer clear. HOWEVER. Not all shops are bad! There are so many hidden gems you can find there, it's worth having a look. To avoid getting an ita piece, use common sense and check seller ratings. If anything, both eBay and AliExpress have buyer protection should you get anything weird. Make sure you also check feedback and reviews- if the store seems trustworthy, then go on ahead! If you see what looks like new brand pieces at very cheap prices- don't fall for it. They are either replicas or just rip-offs. The images are likely stolen and you definitely won't get the real thing. Seeing the same dress sold in many stores is a different thing- it's probably a TaoBao reseller, and should be fine to buy as long as you check feedback. Check the materials- does the lace look cheap? Is it shiny polyester? Is this labelled as Cosplay? Does this piece look cheap? Answer these questions in your head before taking the plunge. I would reccomend looking into eBay and AliExpress only when you have been into the fashion for a bit, so you can tell the good pieces from the bad. AliExpress is much better for lolita than eBay, as quite a few things on there are from TaoBao, and almost everything has free shipping. There's also no need to go through a shopping service, which is a plus. This thread is very useful for shopping on eBay ^^

Indie and Western brands
There are many smaller Lolita brands, with lots of them being in the West, with very pretty and original designs. Prices differ- some cost around the same as a big Japanese brand, others are much more affordable. One plus of Indie brands is that some of them offer custom sizing. While there are looooads of them, I'll list just a few nice Indie brands, as well as their price range and general style.

Wear It Cuter- Adorable sweet lolita skirts- each one costs around 80$, there are some accessories too ^^ Everything is made-to-order for your size.

Porcelain Doll- They have a physical store in the Czech Republic and the style is mostly classic, with some gothic and sweet-classic pieces. Skirts go for $40-60, and dresses are around $80.

Haenuli- A Korean brand with mostly Gothic, dresses are expensive- around the same as brand, perhaps even more sometimes, but very unique designs.

Lady Sloth- An Indie brand based in Poland, with a range of styles- I'd say mostly classic. A dress would be around $150.

Anna House- Based in China, with the style being classic and sweet. Although there are some more lace monster pieces out there, it's generally a good brand with almost all dresses being under $100.

For more Indie brands, click here!

Buying second-hand is the best way to get brand at much cheaper prices. Although some sellers like to overprice their pieces, if you look around a bit, you can find some great deals! It's also a good way to find pieces that are not available anymore.
There are quite a few places to buy second-hand lolita, including...

Lace Market- the international lolita marketplace. Some sellers overprice their pieces, but it's a great place to buy second hand lolita nonetheless ^^
Closet Child- Japanese site, prices tend to be cheaper than LM, there is a little guide for placing overseas orders (you must message them).
Yahoo! Japan- Auction site, but Japanese brands are easy to find at good prices. I'm not a fan of auctions in general, but I know plenty of lolitas who swear by this. Requires a shopping service such as Buyee.
Lolita Desu- Pretty website design,  good prices and a wide range of brands and styles.
Alice+Fururun- Also a Japanese site, similar to Closet Child. Here is their guide for overseas orders.
EGL Comm Sales- One of the best places to buy second hand lolita, it's hard to navigate at first, but a lot of lolitas swear by it!

Where not to buy
There may be plenty of places to buy lolita online, but as you discover more shops-not all of them can be trusted! Make sure you stay away from these stores ^^

Milanoo is notorious in the Lolita community for stolen photos, scams and hideous pieces that look nothing like the photos. DO NOT BUY FROM THEM!!! But it's not just Milanoo. It's also a bunch of other shops under different names that you should stay away from, a good list is here. There are also some helpful tips for identifying shady websites. Stay away from these sites and you'll be fine!

So, that's it for where to buy Lolita clothes! Of course, there are lots of stores out there and you'll discover many more while you're in the fashion, but I hope this guide was helpful! What is your favourite Lolita brand? Where do you tend to buy your Lolita clothes? Let me know in the comments!
Have a lovely day!

Friday, 12 May 2017

Lolita Basics 1: The Sub-Styles

Hello! ♡
I thought I'd write a series of guides made for Lolitas just getting into the fashion, because I know just how scary and intimidating it is at the start! All these different brands, terms, communities- where do you even begin?  There will be 5 parts- covering all the basics you need to know when you're a new Lolita! I hope my guides will help you out ^^

Lolita Basics 1: The Sub-Styles ✓
Lolita Basics 2: Where to buy, where not to buy
Lolita Basics 3: Building a basic wardrobe
Lolita Basics 4: Mistakes to avoid
Lolita Basics 5: Lolita Terms

The Sub-Styles
Lolita fashion has many, many sub-styles. The three main ones are Sweet, Gothic and Classic. First, I'll go over the three main styles, then I'll discuss some of the other styles. When starting out with Lolita, it is best to choose one of the three main styles first, and stick with it until you get more confident with the fashion. For instance, I chose Sweet, and I still stick with it. Take a look around and choose one that fits to your personality and style best- there's bound to be one!

Sweet Lolita

Sweet Lolita uses pastel colours, lots of frills and bows, and motifs including;

  • animals
  • toys
  • sweets
  • flowers
  • cupcakes and pastries
Old-school sweet, sometimes considered a sub-style of its own, has focus on ruffles, lace and details rather than the print. Currently, elaborate prints and border prints are very popular in sweet lolita. OTT Sweet tends to feature border prints, pastel wigs and lots and lots of accessories.
Usually, the silhouette in sweet lolita is bell-shaped- but in old-school lolita, A-line is seen a bit more. Of course, it all comes down to the dress itself and personal preference. Sometimes, sweet lolita is mixed in with darker colours- this is called Bittersweet, but it's not a style of its own. Sweet lolita is perfect for those with a cute, girly and feminine style, and lovers of pastels!
Gothic Lolita
Commonly seen in anime (though not necessarily accurately), gothic lolita makes use of rich and dark colours such as black, navy, deep red, dark purple and emerald. Popular colour combinations include red and black, purple and black and emerald and black. Black and white is also very popular- but it's very easy to get it wrong and look like an ita anime maid, so black and white isn't reccomended for new lolitas. The main rule is to use white details sparingly and in the right places. This style is perfect for those who love wearing black and dark colours, and love gothic motifs. It's also great for lovers of gothic architecture, as that's a popular motif on dresses!

Motifs in gothic lolita include;
  • crosses
  • skulls
  • clocks
  • roses
  • cathedrals
Classic Lolita
A more elegant and mature style, A-line petticoats are more common in classic lolita. Classic with a hint of sweet coords are quite popular, as the combination of elegance and sweetness is lovely. Skirts tend to be longer in this style, and colours are soft and muted- ivory, beige, brown, rose and wine red are common in classic lolita. This is a perfect style for those whose style is more mature, elegant and muted, but still feminine and cute.
Motifs include;
  • Elegant animals (birds, deer,etc.)
  • Books
  • Flowers
Other Sub-styles
Apart from the big three, there are many many more sub-styles in lolita! If you're new in the community, once you get comfortable with one of the big three, you can explore the other styles if you wish. Each has its own unique aesthetic, some bending the rules of lolita- but they still retain the signature aesthetics of the fashion- poofy skirt, modesty and elegance. There are hundreds of styles out there, but I'll go over just a few. ^^

Wa Lolita
'Wa' means Japanese. This sub-style can look like a bad anime cosplay if not done right, so it must be coordinated carefully. The dresses retain the lolita aesthetic, but with some elements inspired by Wafuku- or traditional Japanese clothing. Dresses may have elements of kimono, such as two crossed collars, a belt resembling an obi and wider sleeves. Prints are often inspired by kimono motifs, and kanzashi (Japanese hair accessories) can be used. I'm yet to see Nihongami, or traditional Japanese hairstyles (or something similar) worked into this style, but I think it'd look interesting.

Casual Lolita
I'd actually recommend beginners to start with this style. It's a good way to get your first Lolita items while getting used to wearing Lolita. Casual lolita is very toned down while keeping the signature elements of the fashion. A typical coord would be a blouse or cutsew, a skirt with a smaller petticoat and tea parties, as well as some accessories. Casual lolita is more comfortable, and attracts less attention- it's perfect for beginners, but also for more experienced lolitas who want to wear the fashion without dressing up too much.
Hime Lolita
Hime means princess in Japanese- and this style is the most elaborate and extravagant, and can be difficult and expensive to pull off. It features an abundance of frills and ruffles, as well as pearls and accessories like tiaras. Dresses are very elaborate. It is inspired by Rococo, with elaborate, curly hairstyles. Although it is most often seen in light colours such as pink and ivory, it can sometimes be seen in darker colours too.

Ero Lolita
The most risky style, bending some of the rules of lolita while still keeping the overall cute and modest aesthetic. While Ero is more mature and can be more revealing than usual- it must still retain the modesty! This means no boobs and no butts visible. It can't be too revealing. Skirts can be a bit shorter than usual, and blouses can have a lower cut. Fishnet tights and corsets are also popular. A difficult style to pull off, but if done right, it looks great!

I hope you found the first post of the Lolita Basics series helpful! If you're a lolita, what's your favourite style? The one you wear most? Or if are you looking to get into the fashion- which style will you try first? Let me know in the comments!
 Have a lovely day!

Thursday, 4 May 2017

The Death of Harajuku Fashion- Real Concern or BS?

Hello! ♡
I am a little late on this topic, as it seems like every other J-Fashion Blogger and YouTuber has already covered this topic, and then there's me...
If you're in the Japanese Fashion community, you've probably seen almost everyone panicking about the death of Harajuku fashion, but is this really something to be concerned about? Is this just BS, or should we start taking action?

Harajuku- a neighbourhood in Tokyo famous for its eccentric fashion scene, where young people could be seen wearing creative outfits ranging from enormous platform shoes to poofy petticoats and frilly parasols. Could, because Harajuku fashion in Harajuku itself is becoming rarer. Why is this, and does it mean the fashion is dying?

How did Harajuku even get famous in the first place? Harajuku is a place where creative youth could go out, showcase their outfits, and just have a nice time without feeling too out of place. The eccentric fashion there is bound to get attention- especially from Westerners, who have never even heard of such a thing! And so, media coverage of the district started- for both the good and the bad. Good, because this meant that word spread and the fashion gained new fans abroad- thus, helping the fashion grow. Bad, because this meant an increase of tourists in Harajuku, treating the people like attractions. You wouldn't like it if tourists kept taking photos you while you're trying to enjoy a day out, wearing different clothes that make you happy. Because of that, less Harajuku fashion wearers would go out to avoid the tourists- or, they'd go to different places.
However, that's not the only reason Harajuku fashion is 'dying'. The district itself is changing- more mainstream stores such as H&M and Forever21 are opening there, thus making Harajuku lose some of its charm. Don't get me wrong- I've seen that there are still plenty of unique stores there, but the more mainstream stores open up- the more charm Harajuku loses. The closure of certain iconic shops in Harajuku has also been a cause of alarm- such as the Milklim store. However... Milklim is still an online shop. Still- it is sad news for many of us, as it's lovely to just buy an item from a physical store, without the hassle of shipping. On the other hand- many new Harajuku fashion brands are launching, but online- especially in the West. One could argue that while Harajuku fashion might be declining in Japan, it is sharply growing in the West. While I can agree that is is growing in the West, I'm not sure about the situation in Japan. To me, while it's not rapidly growing there, it still seems quite strong.

It is also important to note that times are changing- why go out to showcase your outfit when you can just take a picture, post it on Instagram, and stay at home? Just because there seem to be less people in Harajuku wearing the iconic fashion styles (as I've heard from many who have actually been there recently), doesn't mean it's dying out. Just search Instagram hashtags such as "HarajukuFashion" and you'll see that Harajuku Fashion most certainly isn't dying out.


The event that has caused a lot of panic is the fact that KERA, FRUiTS and Gothic Lolita Bible, the biggest J-Fashion magazines, have announced they're going out of print. Is the situation really that bad, however? FRUiTS is going out of publication because it has been said that there are no more cool kids to photograph- this is quite concerning. However, remember when I mentioned that times are changing? This could be because of that. Or perhaps, the photographers are being too picky. Who knows? However, the other two magazines are going to continue digitally. Print magazines are dying out everywhere. It's quite sad, because I prefer physical magazines. On the other hand, it means that they will be more accessible around the world, so they can reach a bigger audience! It's not because Harajuku fashion is dying- this is happening to adjust to the changing times.

So, do I think that Harajuku fashion is dying? No. If anything, it's growing! Rest assured that even despite the changes, you do you and wear what you love, even if it seems like nobody else is! Fashion is there to have fun with it, and it grows, changes and evolves. Things go in and out of fashion. Does that mean you can't wear them? NO! The panic around the 'death' of Harajuku Fashion is unnecessary, because as long as we keep loving and wearing it- it's not going anywhere! Keep Harajuku Fashion alive by wearing and sharing it- and it'll keep growing. 

What do you think? Is Harajuku fashion dying, or is it just a false alarm! Feel free to leave your opinions in the comments!
Have a lovely day!

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Sheer Blouses in Lolita Fashion?

Hello! ♡
Sheer blouses in Lolita fashion are a controversial topic because Lolita fashion is all about the modesty- and sheer clothing isn't exactly modest. I was inspired to write this post when I went thrifting and found this ADORABLE blouse that could easily be worn with Lolita, and it had short sleeves- I needed a short sleeved blouse. Without hesitation, I bought it. After washing it, I tried it on and saw that it was sheer! (I somehow didn't see this at first... .-.) I panicked and thought... how on earth would I coordinate this? What if I wanted to wear it with a skirt? Would I get called an Ita? So, I quickly researched the topic and found lots of lovely coords with sheer blouses, and lots of gorgeous sheer blouses from the big brands- that was a huge relief knowing that it could be done. Sheer blouses are actually very cute and elegant, and can be worn in pretty much every Lolita style.

Wearing a sheer blouse with a JSK is easy- no need to put anything under, as the bodice of the JSK is covering everything. But, with a skirt, it gets harder. The solution is simple- wear a vest under it! But what colour? You have two options- match the colour of the blouse (best done with white and black blouses, which are almost always used, but with other colours this works too! Of course, no need to be an exact match), or you can use a nude colour that matches your skin tone as closely as possible. This is all down to personal preference! I prefer to use a vest matching the blouse's colour.

What if it's hot, though? Honestly- there's hardly any difference with a vest underneath. I haven't felt any hotter when wearing a vest underneath my sheer blouse, so the heat shouldn't be a problem.

A simple Google search will get you so many beautiful coords ranging from Gothic to Sweet that you can use for inspiration.
Below is my own (sweet with a hint of classic) strawberry themed coord featuring the blouse, as well as accessories from my shop (the necklace has been sold, but the bracelet is still available! Just click here), then a picture of me wearing it with a white vest underneath. Very cute, right?  (Excuse the less than perfect background)
It's more sheer than it looks... that's why I didn't see it was sheer in the store!

I hope this post has helped you out if you have a sheer blouse you're not sure if you can use, or don't know how to coordinate. Do you have any sheer blouses? Are you perhaps planning to buy one after seeing this post?
Have a lovely day!