The Tragedy of Finding the Right Floral

This one goes out to my classic lolitas out there who will be able to relate to the pain of this post. Because believe it or not, at this point I have been looking for a floral fabric that I like for pretty much four months, I’ve scoured fabric shops, I searched for vintage curtains, looked at used bedding, even tried searching for floral sarees - nothing even came close! Although rather than wallowing in sorrow, which isn’t as fun to read (maybe it’s more fun to listen to given that people like a rant video?), I will instead endeavour to describe that perfect grandma couch floral that seems to be eluding me.

Photo by maadhuri g on


It is worth first setting the scene and explaining why I am on such a quest. Regular readers of this blog will notice that a red-based floral JSK has been on my wishlist for a good part of 5 years now. Yeah, ever since that Cool Rose JSK escaped me on Wunderwelt back in 2016 my psyche has not recovered. And it’s not like our fashion lacks in florals, it’s not even that I had picked a particularly unusual colour combination (ivory or beige base with wine red flowers is pretty common), but between classic lolita brands struggling the most with size inclusivity and my pickiness about the exact floral fabric, I realised that the best way to get what I want is to have it commissioned. The cut I have narrowed down to a T, I even know which creator I would ask to make this - however, unless I provide the fabric, I might not get exactly what I want.

Fast forward by four months, when I genuinely have searched far and wide (even if not necessarily every day) and I did not get any closer to that goal than I was. It is perfectly possible that some of my criteria was too restrictive and led to me missing out on something that would’ve ticked my boxes. At the same time, if I’m going to the effort of having my perfect floral dress commissioned, then it’s not that unreasonable to be choosy about what you get to make sure it really is the perfect floral dress of my dreams that I could only have gotten made bespoke. A thought occurred to me that there are such things as fabric preferences between different nations and that the reason I wasn’t finding anything was because it’s not the sort of style that appeals to Western European shoppers. However, I’m not really in a position to search through marketplaces and shops in languages that I do not navigate in - but the person working on my commission could. But only if I could be as specific in my description of that perfect floral as possible. And this is where my quest began.

The Perfect Floral

One evening of browsing through dresses under the “floral” and “roses” tags on Lolibrary later I was able to distill an essence of what it is that I am looking for. Not all of the pictures to a good job of showing that - but then if any of them did, I would likely be searching for that particular dress instead.


But Paulina, I hear you say, surely you’ve been descriptive enough about that from the start? Sort of, but this is the sort of mentality that falls under the “tell me you’re not a classic lolita without telling me you’re not a classic lolita” umbrella. As anyone who has been in lolita fashion for at least a year will know, colours are very important. Not just to get them to match, but to understand how they work so that you can coordinate them well. And there is more to my requirements. There are loads of shades of ivory and beige, the spectrum can range from basically white, through pretty vibrant yellows, all the way down to pretty much brown or grey. I want my dress’ base to lean cool-toned to begin with and stick to a lighter, less dusty shade. It doesn’t have to be an entirely clean colour or entirely cool-toned, as long as it’s light and doesn’t read as straight-up yellow either in person or on photos. A cooler undertone would in turn amp the contrast between the warm shades of the wine flowers. And I want that to be a saturated wine red. Not purple, not deep pink - red. There can, of course, be a range of shades of it, darker and lighter, some a little warmer or cooler, as long as they’re within a same tonal family. And if you’ve not searched for that perfect floral fabric, you’d be surprised how often you get either one or the other with something line “an ivory or beige with wine red flowers”.

Millefleurs Basque Over Corset JSK fabrics. Photo from


Specifically talking here about the size of the florals. The word that describes it best is: prominent. I don’t want tiny flowers, since those can all too easily look like bedding and besides, they would not compliment the cut design that I have in mind. But the flowers can’t be too big either. By this I mean that I do want some of that ivory/beige base fabric to peek in between the flowers, as well that a floral that’s too big becomes a novelty print rather than a timeless classic that is a grandma’s couch or a Victorian wallpaper that I am after. There is a balance to be had here between something that’s identifiable at a glance not just as a flower, but as to what kind of flower it might be, that simultaneously doesn’t become comically large. In that same breath, the florals that I have gravitated towards actually include a range of sizes, bigger flowers or bigger bunches of them interspersed with smaller ones, creating a pattern that is not too uniform or schematic, as if it were drawn on graph paper, but a pleasing composition.

Victorian Maiden Lady Bloom JSK. Photo from


Once the shades are right and the flowers are a good size, it’s their placement or arrangement that often becomes the deciding factor. This is about more than just whether some of the base colour is showing through or whether there are smaller flowers in between the bigger ones. In big part because this is the stage where the overall dress design will be impacted by the fabric choice, but not just because of that. See, you have your all-over florals that are scattered seemingly willy nilly and yet still they don’t all feel the same. As I already mentioned, I don’t want anything too obviously symmetrical or uniform where a naked eye can instantly identify where the pattern starts to repeat itself. If nothing else, it just doesn’t feel elegant or imaginative enough. At the same time, mindful of how many boxes my perfect floral fabric already has to tick for me to like it, I’m not restricting myself to just that kind of arrangement. A keen eye might notice that both amongst the florals that I own and those on my wishlist there is a small running theme of vertical stripes made out of rows of florals. This is the sort of composition that reminds me a lot of Victorian curtains or wallpapers and it is incredibly pleasing to my eye. Moreover, it would compliment the kind of design that I have in mind beautifully, elongating the silhouette of the wearer. In case this didn’t give it away, this would be for an A-line kind of design, where vertical stripes accentuate that sort of skirt cut. And failing all that, though still staying within home decor territory - if it looks like an 18th or 19th century wallpaper that could be in some state manor, then I would also probably be into that. The subtle diamond pattern like the one on Innocent World’s Innocent World series is the sort that comes to mind first here, but truth be told, provided that everything else about the floral matched the expectations outlined already, chances are that I’d find enough room for compromise here to make something work.

Mary Magdalene Valeria JSK. Photo from


Without getting too much into the actual dress design here (I have noticed in myself a tendency to prefer JSKs without lace at the hem, compensated by other structural details instead), those are to be agreed on with the seamstress doing the commission. Strictly fabric-wise, sometimes a perfect floral isn’t just a floral. There may be a secondary theme present in the pattern and indeed, a lot of floral fabrics I have found include all sorts of things, from ribbons to birdcages, to small critters, to angels, to books, to music notes, to crosses - you name it, there’s probably a floral with it. My ideal is to stick to a floral-only sort of fabric. But if push comes to shove, I’d be willing to compromise on something that includes a secondary motif as long as it truly is secondary and not too obvious. And as long as that’s not animals. I’m not fond of butterfly motifs (post-2000s aversion), I’m not keen on birds, for all my love of cats I want a floral print and not a cat print. This is where I draw the line. Everything else? I’m open to considering it. After all, one of my favourite floral prints that I still wouldn’t mind owning if it would only fit is Innocent World’s Angel Rose - those cherubs blend in really well and don’t try to steal the spotlight from the roses. This is what I mean. Oh, and whilst every floral that I picked out is roses, it’s not that I’m totally against any other kind of flowers. It’s just that once you narrow things down by colour, there aren’t that many other fabrics with red flowers being produced that aren’t poinsettias for Christmas.

Innocent World Angel Rose Cross Ribbon JSK. Photo from


It may seem odd to list the actual material last when talking about searching for the perfect fabric. This is me realising that I can’t be too hard set on this if the other elements are what makes me like the floral versus not and those are the priorities here. Yes, I would prefer a natural fibre, cotton or linen, but that issue can be solved with the inclusion of a natural fibre lining. It is important to me for the fabric to be sustainable: either ethically made or even better, reclaimed in some way - vintage curtains and bedding fit that bill perfectly and often have more of the sort of floral patterns that I like - but if the perfect floral turns out to be something mass produced, I will have to make peace with that (and can work with the seamstress to mitigate its impact as much as possible). I would love the dress to be made out of something textured, like gobelin or a brocade, yet that might drive the price up to more than I would be willing to pay, so I’ll be happy as long as the fabric is matte. These are all things that I have considered so far and which I would still like to pay attention to. Ultimately though, sometimes compromises have to be made and this is where I’d be willing to make them.

Surface Spell Classical Brocade JSK. Photo from

Final Word

Funnily enough, in all this searching through Lolibrary I have actually come the closest to finding the perfect fabric that I ever have: on Millefleur’s Basque Over Corset JSK. Of course, typically of life, this is not the kind of cut or design that I have in mind at all, but the ivory colourway of it is damn near perfect in ticking off the various boxes above. Life simply be that way. What this entire exercise has enabled me to do is to really specify and verbalise my preferences so that even if I couldn’t send someone a picture and say “find me a fabric like this, please”, it gives a very good idea of what I’m after. Obviously, a commission, once it is actually underway, is a collaborative process and no reputable maker would take even as detailed a list/description as this whole post and just buy a fabric blindly. But hopefully going to such lengths to describe what I want would enable the creator working on such a commission to do most of the vetting of fabrics themselves simply based on this and thus save me from looking like a right picky and frustrating nightmare customer who just says “no” to everything.


  1. I love how much thought you've put into this! <3 I really hope your sewist is able to find the perfect fabric for you - I really look forward to seeing your dress eventually!

    1. Overthinking relatively straightforward things is my brand! I still haven't committed to doing the thing because I really would prefer to find my own fabric, but equally I'd love to have this dress to wear. Let's see which gives in first :P

    2. Also I don't wish to alarm you but Victorian Maiden is releasing a bunch of new florals including...the Pauline...

    3. Ok, but that's rude of Victorian Maiden to not only release another floral that doesn't quite fit what I'm after, BUT ALSO basically make it my namesake, make it within my size range, AND make it cost 42k JPY. It feels like an "eff you in particular" from VM to me.


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