National Dress in Lolita


First there was Lolita. Then somewhere along the line Wa Lolita became a thing. Now it appears like Lolitas everywhere are trying their hand at merging Lolita fashion with the traditional dress and costumes from their own countries, some with more success than others.

Not too long ago I started thinking about all the different national dresses that we see merged with Lolita already and which are already established substyles. An idea of my own has been wandering round my head for a bit before that, but before I get there, let’s explore some of the national substyles of Lolita and what makes that combination of styles work.

Wa Lolita

Whilst very difficult to pull off well, Wa Lolita has been popular for quite a while. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not that both of these are from Japan that makes them work together. Traditional Japanese kimono and yukata come with just as long a list of rules and guidelines, some even stricter than those applied to Lolita fashion, and getting these wrong at best makes you look bad, but at worst could be a social faux pas. However, the shapes of the two merge well together, since the important part of Lolita is the cupcake skirt, but the majority of focus of a kimono is in the top half: the sleeves, the obi, the layers… Plus you could really play with Japanese style prints for a slightly safer version of this substyle. Yes, balancing the colours, often unusual in Lolita, is a lot trickier with like a dozen more rules to be kept in mind, but isn’t that what makes it exciting?

Qi Lolita

Given the popularity of Taobao and of Lolita fashion in Japan it doesn’t really surprise me that Qi Lolita became a thing. Similarly to Wa Lolita you can either have Chinese influences in the print on a typically cut Lolita JSK, but my favourites are the ones that merge the traditional dresses with the Lolita shape. Again, because a lot of focus of a qipao is at the neckline it’s easier to combine with the Lolita shape, however there are dresses with incorporate the classic qipao side cut too and layer something underneath to preserve modesty. During Chinese New Year season there were quite a few posts on Closet of Frills of Lolitas wearing Qi Lolita style dresses during the celebrations, which I thought was such a great equivalent of Western Lolitas wearing their beloved frills on Christmas – or any other special occasion, really.  

Han Lolita

I don’t think that this is an official substyle yet, although I have seen some examples, mostly drawings and a couple of handmade examples. Yet when you think about it, it’s not such an unusual idea. Again, we’re playing with the shape which shouldn’t be too difficult to merge with Lolita fashion: hanbok is high waisted (like sooo many Lolita dresses), can resemble a sack dress a little (quite a divider within the Lolita community), could be considered sort of A-line (already present, especially in Classic Lolita) and its other most iconic part is concentrated in the top half of the body. Some so called ‘modern hanboks’ already feature a shorter skirt, so we’re only one step away from making it into a proper Lolita substyle – that step being the addition of a flattering petticoat.

Dirndl Lolita

Whilst not officialised, there are so many dresses that seem either inspired by dirndl or like actual dirndl dresses that it might as well be a substyle of its own. In fact, the only thing about dirndl that isn’t Lolita is the cleavage – but that doesn’t apply to all kinds of dirndl and can be very easily remedied. But other than that? It already features a puffy-sleeve blouse worn under a dress, plenty of them are already knee-length, many have skirts gathered enough to accommodate a petticoat, you can wear a cute apron with Lolita dresses if you want (and if it fits the theme/style)… And let’s not forget the flowery theme and cute colours! I suspect that the only reason why Dirndl Lolita isn’t officially a thing is because people get blurry vision when seeing just this singular vowel surrounded by consonants; dumping it under Country Lolita is simply a lot easier.

That’s it for the styles that we know of already, but I don’t think that it should end here. There are a couple more national costumes that I believe would work well with Lolita. The first of these, and the one which I’d love to do, is the traditional Polish dress. There are so many regional variations of this, but this is the one that’s generally accepted as the Polish national dress. I’ve seen a few brands, most recently Lief, do something very similar already, just hopping around the various popular themes in traditional Slavic costumes, which tells you that pretty much any of them is a potential Lolita dress waiting to happen, but I’d love to have this one in particular. As a child in pre-school we had to wear these for various special occasions and performances (which btw isn’t a common thing in Poland, I just apparently went to a fancy pre-school) and wearing a lolified version of this would be a very personal and amazing experience. However I suspect that unless I learn to sew or get someone to sew one for me, it might not happen.

Irish dresses, especially those worn for Irish dancing performances and competitions, could be fairly loliable too! Yes, nowadays they’ve gone quite short, but it’s not like that can’t be changed. I guess they’d be a bit more Classic/Country Lolita with the A-line shape of Irish dresses, but I think that this would have a lot of charm. Having said that, you could do the same thing that many Wa an Qi Lolita dresses do and instead of merging the shapes go for incorporating traditional motifs into the print. There are tonnes of gorgeous Celtic motifs, all coming with their own meaning as well, which could really make the dresses unique. Besides, as much as I like poodle socks that they wear in Irish dancing, I think that Lolita socks could really spice up an Irish Lolita dress (and maybe bring under-the-knee socks back more into fashion?).

Last but not least, I’d love to believe that merging Indian saree with Lolita isn’t an impossible task. It’s certainly on the challenging end of the scale, considering that a saree is just metres upon metres of gorgeous fabric wrapped around the body, but I think it could be doable. You could take the motifs and designs again to incorporate into the print on an otherwise standard Lolita dress – although that’s the easy approach. I can totally imagine a blouse sewn in such a way as to imitate the top half of a saree, i.e. the choli (short blouse worn underneath it) with the pallu (the part draped over the arm) on top of it. This would have to be worn with a skirt, though creating an OP would allow for sewing on some faux pleats at the front to really make this look like a saree with a Lolita cupcake shape. I can totally see this in my head, but I’m rubbish at drawing, so won’t even attempt it. I hope the photos I’m including here are triggering your imagination enough to see what I’m seeing here.

What are your thoughts on all these Lolita meets national costume styles? Is there anything that you’d like to see or do? Let me know in the comments, with so many countries there are bound to be national costumes that I haven’t even considered that could work brilliantly here!


  1. I have seen a few a examples of drindl lolita before. Secondly Ergi and piratessan has released a Swedish national dress set.
    I actually would love to try it out, but I have to make it myself. A bit of work, because the dresses has literally inspiration from allover Europe. Dutch headdresses with bonnets over and slavic style aprons over german style skirt and bustier set over blouse over a underdress(or more) with maybe a pannier under. I don't think my ancestors knew less is more... Secondly the Danish national dresses has huge variation from area to area.

    1. I like it when indie brands try to do a take on national dresses, that's pretty much the only time when it's done and makes it so unique. There's loads of regional variations with the Polish dress as well - I remember being in a museum that focused on only one geographical area and even there, on a relatively small space, there were so many different regional dresses! :O From your description of it I think I'd like Danish Lolita. It could be a little mad, but the fact that there is so much variation could make for many interesting designs and outfits.

    2. I just think it has lot of ott-potiental. Also matrials, there is traditional used a lot of wool, linen in summer of course. Details like embroidery, silk trims, tonder lace.

      Another thing I love to see is african fabrics, those pattterns and colours.

    3. Definitely! Different patterns, textures, trims, details, they all make for some amazing Lolita outfits. Although while I think things like wax printed fabrics, which are very popular especially in I think West Africa, are great and with them being great for structural things could make for some nice exaggerated Lolita silhouette or poof without petticoats, the selection of prints would have to be quite careful to avoid the whole thing looking garish.

    4. I own a tote bag in wax fabric, the great thing is the fabric is waterproof.
      I think for use of pattern, jetj might be good inspiration. However colourwise many are good for 80s inspired sweet.
      Even with no pastels...

    5. Having said that, wouldn't a pastel wax printed fabric be totally amazing? *.*

    6. I have never seen one. But in a metamorphose vibrant pastel version would totally rocks.

  2. I live in Germany and sometimes ppl actually think that I'm wearing a Dirndl, especially when I bring my classical JSKs to the professional cleaning.
    I can totally imagine an indian Lolita outfit as well, I love the lavish fabrics! When I can sew, I want to try such an outfit!

    1. Oh really? Now that is interesting. How do you usually respond? Do you correct these people or just roll with it to avoid having to explain Lolita fashion?
      Yay, I'm glad you can imagine it too! It could be such a lovely and unique design. If I ever do learn how to sew, I'd love to give it a go too - maybe even find a cheap second hand saree and make it out of that (because that's a lot of cheap fabric!).


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