How to Coordinate OPs?


This is something that I have struggled with since the beginning of my journey with Lolita fashion. As someone looking for versatility and who enjoys making it look like they’re wearing a new outfit through clever coordinating, OPs were problematic for me. However, I also recognise that they’re comfortable pieces and would like to get more of them for lazier days. Some people have simply accepted that you can’t do as much with them as you can with a JSK or a skirt. But for those more like me, who would like to get into OPs, but want to avoid always wearing it the same way, here are some tips that I’ve picked up through my trials and errors, as well as observing how other people do it.



Over (and under) layers

That’s the most obvious way to instantly change up an OP. These can be as fancy or as casual as you want, but by covering a part of the dress up, they can transform it completely. Boleros, cardigans, overskirts, peignoirs, overblouses, aprons, capes, vests, belts, even underskirts or blouses – your options are limited only by your imagination and the OP’s cut. You can use them to break up prints with blocks of contrasting colour, change the silhouette, add length or volume, pick up on an accent colour or even alter the theme and colour scheme of the dress altogether with the right pieces. You could say this is easy-mode OP transformation since comparably it requires the least amount of bending over backwards and effort, but at the same time if you lack in those pieces, it will take some building up to do first.

Not necessarily the best this coord could be,
but the bolero really changes up the OP.

Switching colours

As tempting as it is to stick to one colour that definitely works (and then you will only get a new coord if you have new items in that shade), a dress can be coorded with more than one colour, whether it’s plain or printed. The trick is to know which colour to pick and how to build coords with them at the forefront of the coord. This seems like it would upset the colour balance, but not if you do it right and know how to expertly balance these things out. It will require having plenty of smaller bits to distribute the colour evenly across the body and avoid being top or bottom heavy, but it opens up a whole load of options when it comes to OPs.  

Almost every time I wore this, I coordinated it with blue.
Most other coords I've seen focused on the pinks or used
a neutral off-white base.

Playing with accessories

This can tie in with the switching of colours, but can work even with the same colour scheme, it would just be a bit harder to pull off. Most OPs will have more than one theme that you could use when picking accessories. They might not always be obvious, for example the background print could also be made into a theme. However, figuring out what these other motifs are will pay off if you want to coord the dress in more than one way. Non-printed dresses are easier to apply a theme to, so you could do crown accessories one day, sea theme the next and then finish things off with something holiday inspired (whatever the holiday), but try it with your printed dresses too.

Tights, heels and bonnet make for a different look
than what I wore in Florida.
Photo by Emily Valentine Photography.

Hair and makeup

Sometimes just changing your hairstyle/wig and makeup will have an impact on how the dress looks. Granted that most of the time these will be subtle changes, but since they are also part of the outfit swapping long luscious curls for an up-do might be enough to set a new tone for the OP and the coord. Stronger makeup or even more costume-like makeup (good for coordinates with a very specific theme or specific intended look) can also affect the overall appearance and transform the OP into something you’ve not worn before. (And yes, I know that comparing selfies doesn’t show off how hair and makeup affect the look of the coord as a whole, but it gets the point across. Hopefully.)

May 2017: light makeup and pigtails.
October 2017: no makep and pinned up braids.

Lolita fashion veterans will probably be quite familiar with all of these, since they apply to cording pretty much any kind of Lolita outfit. However, I hope that they have been helpful to anyone who’s still not quite as confident with OPs or coording in general.

How do you like to wear OPs? Do you like them or do you prefer other kinds of clothing? Have you accepted that they come with more restrictions compared to JSKs or skirts or are you trying to fight that and make all your OPs as versatile as possible?

* Thumbnail image by Angelic Pretty. Features Risa Nakamura (wondering how to coordinate her OPs :P) in an upcoming release called Jewelry Snow.



  1. Good tips here! I like OPs because they're so easy to wear, and in something like loltia where there are so many different elements in an outfit things like changing accessories and personal styling (like you say) can really make the same dress look very different.

    1. OPs are so easy to wear, but I know that I've fallen for the trap of wearing them the same way. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, not every time at least, but on the other hand it isn't always easy to get out of that rut if you get stuck in it. I'd love to get more OPs, but it's not easy finding the right combination of style I like which would fit me in a design I'd like at a price I'd be willing to pay. :P

  2. Ohhh I recently started to look at OPs and wanted to get more of them so that was an interesting read! Thanks for sharing! I'm especially looking for British Crown OP right now, so I'm glad to see it can also look good with a bolero on!

    1. No problem, I'm glad it was useful! ^^ With British Crown I'd suggest trying it on first if you can. I trusted AP's measurements blindly and almost had a heart attack - the bust is definitely nowhere near 103cm advertised. I'm 94cm bust and I have to wear a sports bra to do it up and even then it's quite snug on my chest.

  3. Nice article! I only have one (short sleeve) OP for the reason that I find it hard to wear matching stuff under it. I do like the idea of wearing a blouse under it, so that could work and definitely see the possibility of a bolero over it, but I think that still will be too cold for autumn/winter-days so then you'd maybe have to wear a shirt under it, but most shirts have high necklines and thus are visible then ;_; it's hard. I never had /worn an OP with long sleeves though, I wonder how that must feel seeing as they are quite tight indeed.

    1. I guess that would depend on how thick the bolero/blouse are, as well as necklines etc. Some thermal underwear has lower necklines, so won't show under the OP or blouse (Uniqlo's HeatTech has a wide range of cuts and is decently priced for what it does). I only have the one long sleeve OP and it works ok with boleros/cardigans etc. I'd say it's the Rococo inspired OP's that are tricky to work with because there's no way to stuff that bell sleeve anywhere, but with other ones as long as the cuff isn't too big on your wrist and the sleeves aren't too puffy, it will work fine with something over it. The problem for me is finding long sleeve OP's that will fit me, as well as look nice and not cost a fortune. :P


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