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
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 won’t 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 SeemsLast 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 ‘can’t 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.
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.