29 Dec 2017

Things You Have Learned About Yourself While in the Fashion This Year



This is a deceptively difficult Lolita Blog Carnival topic – it takes a lot of serious reflection to figure out what one has learnt about oneself, let alone within a specific time frame. But at the same time it’s a topic that ties so well with the end of the year sentiments, so I wanted to give it a go. It will be a hard look back at myself, but hopefully it will bring with it some enlightenment and ideas on how to improve.



It’s OK to Like Pink

This has probably been the biggest lesson for me. For so long, even before discovering Lolita fashion, I was conflicted and thought that being a girly girl or liking girly things was at odds with who I wanted to be (in short: strong, independent, respected for my accomplishments and feminist) and pink was a colour that epitomised everything girly girl-like. Through greater understanding of feminism as it is in 2017, as well as thanks to the overall changing culture that encourages being yourself and breaking away from stereotypes, I slowly came to terms that liking pink things didn’t and wouldn’t make me a lesser person or a lesser feminist and that it wouldn’t negate my achievements. Lolita fashion is already extremely feminist to me, as it promotes the idea of doing what you love and projecting the image of yourself that you want regardless of societal or gender expectations, and in Sweet Lolita pink can really dominate the picture. So whilst I am yet to own a pink main piece (purely because I haven’t found one I like yet), I accepted that I like pink, feel good wearing it (which I discovered to my utter shock during Dream Masquerade Carnival) and that it doesn’t take anything away from me, neither my achievements nor sense of empowerment and strong feminist ideas. If anything, accepting that I like and feel good in pink will probably make me feel even more empowered by boosting my confidence and allowing me to stick yet another middle finger at societal expectations.

Just some of the (smaller) pink things I acquired. Notice how
they don't really match each other - another tragedy video might
be brewing...

Sweet-Classic is My Jam

For a long time I have considered myself a Sweet Lolita and that’s it. And if we pedantically stuck to just the three main substyles of Sweet, Classic and Gothic, then the majority of my outfits and main pieces do fall into the Sweet Lolita category. However, looking at how I coordinate things and what sort of colours and themes I’m most drawn to, you wouldn’t say that I’m the typical Sweet Lolita. Gradually I have found myself drawn more into Classic as a substyle in itself, but it has also been a major inspiration on my Sweet coords together with retro/vintage and military themes. This resulted in a mix that some might call Mature Sweet, while others would call it Sweet-Classic (or Classic-Sweet). And that’s cool. That’s what I feel is most me. Yes, labels can be helpful, especially when you’re starting out and need additional guidance or help finding your own feet. But once you figure that out and get your head round all those Lolita rules, labels can become a hindrance, even cause an existential crisis. This year I learnt to stop caring about the label and dress how I feel my best in – or, if you prefer, I have found ‘my own’ style.
These two coords are the best examples of what I mean by
Sweet-Classic. And they're amongst my favourite outfits
from this year too

I Have a Brand Whore Mentality

While I actually would call myself a brand whore, what I mean by that is that I have the mentality of one. For example, if I find a gap in my wardrobe, my immediate instinct is to fill it in with a brand item. Or I will be quicker to decide to buy an item when it’s brand than when it’s indie or Taobao, even if the latter can offer something just as good if not even better. I don’t judge where other people get their items from because ultimately what matters is that we put together good coords and have fun in the fashion. Yet personally I have grown to think that I’d rather get something from brand than not. Some of it has grown out of needs created by Dream Masquerade Carnival (i.e. no replica shoes when many Lolita specific shoes are replicas of brand designs – I was lucky to get some cheap brand shoes for the event despite all the intent to go offbrand), some of it I think has always been there, proably stemming from things rooted in my childhood which I wont go into now. It’s petty that having a certain label makes me feel better about myself, when what I should be feeling good about is putting together an outfit I’m happy with, but I can’t help it. But my take on it is that as long as this mentality doesn’t hurt anyone and doesn’t cause me any emotional harm, then I’ll just roll along with it.

From zero brand shoes to three pairs. Left to right is Angelic
Pretty, Innocent World and Metamorphose - only BtSSB/AatP
pair missing to complete The Big Four Brands. And I am looking...

Crafting is Easier Than it Seems

Last year all I (thought I) could do was admire all these creative, talented people who have crafted pieces for their coordinates or even entire outfits. Crafting seemed to me like some mysterious art that only the few have mastered and that you needed superior proficiency to create anything decent. However, this year I surprised myself in how many pieces I crafted or modified myself and liked the result! Given that I am a total beginner, none of these projects required any sort of advanced skills, yet the results have impressed myself and others alike. Turns out that where there’s a will, there genuinely is a way. Yes, it’s useful to know the ‘proper’ way of doing things, even if only to figure out a shortcut that’ll produce the result without getting frustrated that you can’t do something. This is how I ended up making not only simple bits of jewellery, but also upcycled some cardigans, created a pirate hat, a fancy sash with a matching rosette and a human-sized straw. I’m still amazed that these came to be through my very own two hands and it has inspired me to try more. For anyone out there who thinks they can’t craft: I thought that too. Don’t let the ‘cant do’ mindset stop you, just read/watch as many tutorials as you can, find the one you think looks easiest to do and have a go. And remember that when you’re up close things can look worse than they do to others! All I could see on that straw was how weird the plastic tube looked and all the tape that held it together – it wasn’t until I saw the photos that I saw what others did.

The biggest projects from 2017 - hopefully 2018 will bring
even bigger, better ones.

The Lolita Community is Incredibly Important to Me

Without veering towards the dramatic, but Lolita fashion has become a major part of my life and the community is an inseparable part of that. At a time when I felt really lonely, having moved back home from university and realising that every single one of my friends is anywhere but the same city as me, getting into the Lolita community was a godsend. This year my feelings on that have only gotten stronger, although as I am now in a much better place emotionally I don’t necessarily cling to the Lolita community for dear life as I may have at first. And I mean the whole community, not just the local one. From interacting with people online via this blog, Lolita Amino, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook to actually meeting people at various meets and events, all these relationships are incredibly dear to my heart. So much so that while I can be a somewhat socially awkward person and realise that I could do more to stay in touch with people, I make the effort to engage, to interact and to build and sustain those relationships. Yes, I wish that there was someone from the Lolita community whom I’d consider a best friend who lived locally enough for us to regularly meet and hang out (and I envy every single one of you who has such a person – let them know you love them!). Yet I also know that when I finally do move, and that will involve moving into an entirely different city, I won’t be so alone because there will be a local Lolita community to connect with. And knowing my plans and how small the UK is in comparison to some places, I will probably already know someone there.

Just some of the wonderful people I've met - and the nearest
one is still a good 70-odd miles away.


I will stop right there. This is already quite deep and very reflective, anything more and something could go wrong. Besides, I want to end on a high note – and what better high note than knowing that no matter where you are in the world, you’re not alone with Lolita fashion and the Lolita community?

What did you learn about your Lolita self in 2017? Have you surprised yourself in any way? Made any profound discoveries? Whatever you’ve learnt, I sincerely hope that none of these were negative realisations that needed an intervention of any kind, that they were all positive experiences. Check out what kinds of things the other bloggers have discovered about themselves too! I found simply reflecting on myself eye-opening, no doubt reading about other people’s experiences will only enlighten me further.


8 comments:

  1. Woah those items you crafted are amazing! And pink is very nice indeed ^_^! I feel you with the community, every time I have a meet I feel so happy and more complete than just online interaction, but it's hard when the people you like are far away, so I sort of accepted that it is okay to frequently wear lolita on my own too :P but it's still nice to meet up. Sounds like you had a good year!

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    1. It definitely was a good year, probably one of the best ones I've had. :) I have been wearing Lolita a lot more this year, not just for meets but on my own too, but it's always more fun with someone else. And it's so, so reassuring to know that you could go pretty much anywhere and find like-minded people there.

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  2. Your first point really resonated with me - I went back and read your original post on being a pink lolita. I used to feel very similarly about wearing such girly makeup and such a frilly femme look in the first place. I assumed that being into an overtly femme fashion like lolita was only going to hurt and be at odds with who I wanted to be and be seen and respected as, especially as a woman in tech. It wasn't until after I learned a lot about fashion history (for both men and women, and how the style aspects that we consider masculine vs feminine, or conformity vs rebellion have changed so much over time) that I got over it. After all, makeup has been a symbol of power over the ages for men and women, pink was once a boy color, and stacked heels were for men to show off their calves!

    Sweet classic looks great on you! That's probably the same kind of thing I go for in sweet - as cute as bright pastel candy colors are, I feel way more at home in some neutral pastry and jam colors.

    Aaaah, making items is one of my favorite parts of street fashion, the parts you get to DIY yourself, really really show your inner style, (and by virtue, no one else will have one just like it!) Yours are so cute, please keep crafting, I want to see more!

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    1. I'm so glad that someone understands where I was coming from. And you're right, fashion and the ideas of what's masculine or feminine has changed so much since people first covered up their bodies that it can make your head spin. Feminism is very complex because patriarchy is complex and has permeated through so many layers of our daily lives, so there's still a lot to learn there. But if I can take one thing that patriarchy has used to suggest that feminine equals inferior or weak and turn it into a source of personal empowerment and joy, then I think I'm doing something right there.

      Thank you! ^^ It's also a lot easier to go out of the house in. Bright pastels are, well, bright, so while I wouldn't mind increasing my collection, I feel like I stand out that miniscule bit less when I go out in something with e.g. 1950s influences or something a little more toned down, even if it still has cutesy themes.

      I will, definitely want to keep on crafting. I've alreay (finally!) started practising doing straight stitches on the mini sewing machine my Mum got me, so hopefully I'll be able to up my crafting game in 2018. Ready, set, CRAFT!

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  3. Finding your own style is so imported to me, it gives you so much more freedom within the style. The labels are very helpful for those who are starting out but it is just like you said, they can be such a burden when people see you with a specific label. I really like the 'mature-sweet' look on you, it has the best of both styles. And is still very wearable for everyday use.

    Your crafts look so good! I'm still in the fase of can't do it even though I can make my own dresses and such. But somehow the fear of starting with a DIY project and failing in the end scares me so much that it prevents me from starting in the first place. Unless I sew things, I feel really comfortable with that skill. But seeing how you up cycled your red cardigan gives me so much inspiration to tackle my own mountain of cardigans. I have so many plain one laying around and I could really use some frilly cardigans in my wardrobe. So I will try to take this hurdle in 2018 and do more DIY's and up cycling. Thank you so much for giving me some inspiration ❤︎

    Having a close friend nearby is so lovely. My friends don't live that close to me either, most of them live in a two hour car drive from my place or even further. But we plan our next day trip and weekends on the day we see each other this way we have a fail proof system and see each other very regularly.
    Hopefully you will find some awesome lolita friends when you move to a different place in the future. I'll cherish my online friends as well as the one in real life. And it is like you said, you need to invest in keeping up with connecting with them on all platforms you share together. This way they are still close to you!

    Love reading your reflection btw, it was really inspirational for me!

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    1. That's so true. Once you find something that feels truly 'you', that's when the fashion becomes most fun and you gain even more confidence to wear it as often as possible. As much as I enjoy doing looks that are 'just' Sweet or 'just' Classic, mixing the two is my sweet spot :P

      I totally understand that. I have a massive fear of failure, which is why in the past I wouldn't even try new stuff. That fear is still there, but I manage it as best I can and try to ease it by, for example, reading a whole bunch of tutorials to reassure myself that I can't fail in that craft project or that if something goes wrong I'll be able to undo it. I'm glad this has inspired you to upcycle your cardigans - maybe you could organise a casual meetup to do crafts together with friends? Good company and having someone to help if you get stuck is very encouraging. :)

      I didn't realise that they weren't quite that local. You manage to organise something so often that I just assumed you can't be too fat apart. Now that inspires me to try harder to do something casual on a more regular basis with my friends. :D

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  4. YES! Another classic/sweet hybrid! I'm also very much down for a fusion of the two styles and sometimes toe that line, depending on the coord. And I get the odd feeling you had once about pink, I shared in that feeling and wasn't as fond when I started the fashion either.

    The online community is a wonderful world, indeed. If it weren't for that I believe a lot of us would never have found the friends we have made through this fashion nor the experiences it has given us. It is something that I'm also thankful for, for sure. ^_^

    I hope your new year is wonderful and brings you so many good things in the future!

    Happy New Year!

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    1. I think hybrid coords are generally great, as long as they're done right, of course. Sweet-Classic and Classic-Gothic are probably the easiest ones to do/most common, but I'm up for more (Sweet Steampunk or Sweet Ero anyone? They'd be hard as hell to pull off, but wow would that be worth seeing done well!). And I'm glad that I'm not the only one who felt iffy about pink. When you go for Sweet Lolita, it can feel like pink is literally everywhere and everything tries to force it on you.

      I hope you have a wonderful New Year as well. :D

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