A coord inspired by a period in history


This was actually meant to be another one of the Lolita Blog Carnival posts, however, I think I misread the title (the original one said to "Pick a historical era and design a dress based on it (30)"), but by the time I realised that I already had the entire post done. Oops! :P Still, it's a nice little challenge, so here it is.

As a fashion Lolita brilliantly lends itself to historical inspirations – I mean, it’s already heavily inspired by the Rococco and Victorian eras! And I believe that with just a little imagination you can make up a perfectly Lolita coord paying an homage to whatever period in history you want. Predominantly European history, but I’m sure there are creative people out there who could whip out something very much Mughal India or Tang China.

Unfortunately, I’m not one of those people (though I’d very much love to see someone do this challenge with a non-European country’s history in mind!), by the virtue of being European I find it easier to think within that framework. And for this challenge I decided to create a coordinate inspired by Italian Renaissance, specifically the middle renaissance of around 1490s-1510s – or, if you prefer, Juliet from the 1968 Romeo and Juliet film adaptation.

The key points about fashion in that period are silhouette, fabric and colours (which I guess comes under fabric anyway).

Women’s fashion in Italy at that time seems rather simple, especially in comparison to later periods, when decorations and embroidery became more and more fashionable. However, we must remember that this is a time when fashion is still transitioning from the medieval styles, a period when religion dominated the nations and along with it – its views, particularly that of modesty for women. So the dresses in the 1490s-1510s in Italy are still loose and simple, though not shapeless, but we see some accentuation of the bust area through the empire line waist and tighter bust areas, as well as more decorative and puffed up sleeves alongside straight ones.

As for the fabric, the technology then still wasn’t quite advanced enough to produce many of the lightweight fabrics, and lace was only just about invented and not yet very popularised, even amongst the upper classes, which creates a dominance of heavier fabrics being used for clothing. Moreover, while we see some embroidery and decorations on the fabric of the dresses, a lot of it remains block colours, with jewel tones like red, blue, green and yellow appearing frequently (and, depending on how easy or difficult it was to produce them, they would likely mark the wearer as belonging to a certain social and economic class).

| Moi-même-Moitié Rose Print JSK (navy) | Victorian Maiden Giulietta Blouse (ivory) | offbrand opaque tights (navy) | Bodyline s523 shoes (matte black) | rosary (black and silver) | offbrand drop earrings (black and silver) | Angelic Pretty Sister Veil Headdress (navy) |

Whilst creating the above coordinate, I tried my best to incorporate those three key points as best as I could. Obviously, not everything could be done authentically in terms of the period I’ve chosen, but because it still has to be a Lolita outfit, I have taken this as permission for some leeway in terms of accuracy. This historical period is definitely one that lends itself best for Classical and Gothic Lolitas, with some emphasis on the former due to colours. To retain some authenticity, I went for the Classic look here. As usual, the JSK is the focal point here, and while I tried to find something in a block colour and all in one fabric, I couldn’t quite go past this MMM one. The empire line/babydoll shape was a must, but what I like about this one is that whilst it is printed, the tulle overlay keeps most of it hidden, which I think nicely hints at the transition period between block and embroidered in Italian Renaissance fashion; the split going down the tulle overlay is one of my Lolita leeways of dodging full historical accuracy.

As nicely as this would go with a black blouse, for a more Gothic look, I picked an ivory one, and for two good reasons as well. First, an ivory blouse is more Classic Lolita, which is what I’m aiming for here, but second and more important – at that time black was still reserved for mourning and as far as we can tell it wasn’t present it everyday womenswear. What’s more, pure white like we see nowadays wasn’t really present, as the natural cottons produced a slightly creamier thread and, therefore, material. I like how the blouse has some puffs on the shoulder and how it puffs up when moving, this also adds to the Italian renaissance look, where sleeves would often have a split through which underdresses peeked and puffed a bit. Neckline is also important – at that time women tended to keep necks and collarbone exposed, which the blouse’s square neck manages to achieve with the neckline on this dress.

With everything else, I’d say simplicity is key. An understated coord with fewer accessories will make for a more renaissance-esque outfit, although more accessories (or bigger/flashier ones) will make it even more Lolita. I decided that it was best paired with plain navy tights, which give the illusion of the dress continuing on (dresses reached the floor for Italian women back then, but for Lolita the hem only goes down to the knees); low Mary Jane heels in navy or black would work best, although tea parties would be great too. Pearl, black or blue stone earrings add refinement, while the rosary creates an aura of someone going out or showing off their material status.

However, it is the hair accessory that I have the biggest problem deciding on. A replica of a renaissance headdress in a matching colour seems a bit match, although quite a fair few of them seem easy to make and would look great with Classic Lolita. But I feel like there was so much attention paid to historical authenticity everywhere else, that picking a more Lolita headdress is justified – yet I still had a hard time picking just one. In the end I went for this AP veil, but something like maybe IW’s headbow with a veil would work just as well, be an even more Lolita option, or one of those classic square headdresses. In the end I picked the AP veil because of it OTT qualities, but also because it probably best represents the kind of things renaissance Italian women wore on their heads whilst still being incredibly Lolita.

And there it is, my Lolita outfit inspired by mid-renaissance Italy. I hope you enjoy it and maybe it’ll inspire some of you as well, especially now, in the New Year.

* Whilst creating this coord, I used the RenaissanceItaly.net’s Italian Renaissance Wardrobe page as a reference.

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