My Formative Lolita Years


Every lolita has a year (or several) that has really shaped their style. For most people that’s the time when they first discovered the fashion and started looking into it more – with exceptions, of course. As others started reminiscing about their ‘lolita youth’ and the ‘back in my days’, I started thinking about what my formative years and nostalgia time might be. And I think I’ve finally hit the nail on the head.

Whilst I bought my first lolita dresses back in 2011, I have in fact missed the OTT Sweet craze altogether. My awareness of the fashion back then was very poor, I was happy with the two Bodyline dresses I had and didn’t bother looking into it more. Although I have a vague recollection of a friend trying on a lolita dress during my first study abroad trip which probably fitted that OTT Sweet mould*, my own personal nostalgia time frame is 2013-2015.
* All I remember is that it was yellow, very possibly printed, expensive and in a shop upstairs somewhere in Sannomiya, Kobe. Trying to retrace it with Lolibrary’s help, it may have been either Honey Cake or Milky Planet – and given exact release dates and my trip dates, Honey Cake sounds more plausible.

From 2013 to 2014 I was on my second study abroad trip in Japan. By that point my interest in lolita fashion was much stonger than in 2011 and both that and my knowledge of the fashion continued growing over those 12 months. I had finally gained some understanding of brands, as well as learned more about the fashion and the elements needed to make an actual coord rather than just wearing the dresses. It was also when I had bought my first brand items, both dresses and smaller bits. And then, from 2014 to 2015, throughout my final year of university and by the first month of working full-time, I had learnt enough to actually know what I’m doing and began seriously building my collection.

At the moment releases from 2014 and 2015 are the most numerous in my collection – I currently own 5 from each year and also had 1 from each year that I had sold since. That makes 10 dresses out of my current total of 42, just under a quarter. As for 2013, I have only 3 main pieces from that year at the moment. Having said this, 2016 releases are represented in exactly the same proportions as 2014 and 2015 in my collection (5 kept and 1 sold), while at the moment I have 6 main pieces from 2018 in my possession. So why am I not talking about those years as crucial for me?

Screenshot of the spreadsheet where I keep all my dress information. Here you have all the main pieces I own that were released between 2013 and 2015, including those I have since sold.
Because it’s about more than just what I own – it’s also about what I want(ed) to have. 2018 was only last year, so I remember that very few new releases really excited me and most of what did I bought pretty much straight away. Having already gotten all my dream dresses allowed me to focus my energy and funds on getting new things I liked instead of hunting older releases. The situation is a little bit more complicated with 2016: I was still very new to the idea of having disposable income and preferred to concentrate on getting those dream dresses. However, whilst there were some releases in 2016 that have caught my eye and even made it to my wishlist at some point or another, they don’t evoke those same nostalgic feelings that 2013-2015 things do.

What did I want then, back in those 2014-ish days? My style was still mostly developing, so my wishlist was all over the place. Majority of it was, of course, Angelic Pretty and I still remember those final year of university days when AP sent e-mail updates of new releases and I pined over almost every one of them. Not all of the dresses below were my wishlist items when they were first released, but they all were on it at least at some point between 2013 and 2015. For the purpose of brevity, I will single out only a few of these that deserve a special mention. 

Roughly sorted by brand and then colour. All stock images from, I do not own.
  • Labyrinth of Rose is so much nicer in person than the stock photos make it out to be. It was genuinely so lovely that I struggled whether to spend my hard-earned and saved cash on Fantasy Theater or this. (Fantasy Theater won by virtue of being more unique – Labyrinth of Rose feels like something vintage reproduction companies do a lot of.)
  • Soirée of the Beginning of My Memories was also something I had seen in person and it reminded me of Gone with the Wind so hard. It was on my wishlist for a long time, before I decided that everything I had was tricolour and what on Earth would I do with something green. I still wouldn’t mind having it though…
  • It’s a bit of a stretch to call Ball at Versailles a wishlist dress. However, the first time I went to Innocent World in Kanazawa, this print stood out to me. I remember the colourways and I feel like the high waist cut was the one I was looking at, but later it faded from my memory. Still, I thought it deserved an honourable mention.
  • Pastoral in the Grass Green captured me upon release and I remember even putting it on my Christmas wishlist in vain hope that someone would actually drop this kind of money for me. It later shared the same fate as Soirée of the Beginning of My Memories (i.e. I don’t have any other green, what the hell you thinking) and just like that one I wouldn’t mind having it now. Though won’t go out of my way to get it.
  • Wonder Carousel and Royal Ornament were the releases that finally made me notice Meta as a brand. Up until then they were just that weird one that was much cheaper second hand on Closet Child etc. and their designs seemed too much for me then. I have since seen the light and wholeheartedly love Meta now – all thanks to these two lovelies.
  • Oh, how I pined over Krad’s The Venice Carnival! However, it seemed stupidly expensive at the time (for a brand I hadn’t heard of) and even the largest size was a bit too small for me then, so I had to say no. That and it was so OTT that I thought I wouldn’t wear it anywhere – because where would you wear it? Not a problem now, definitely a problem back then.

What’s more, looking at my current wishlist, there are still some releases from those 2013-2015 years. Those I covet the most right now, which I would buy in a heartbeat, are Metas Gold Braid Tuck Pinafore (a 2013 release), Mary Magdalene’s Arabesque Rose (a 2014 release) and Marchen die Prinzessin’s Nutcracker (a 2014 release). As much as I’d love to get Sleepless Masquerade, the cut I want is not shirred, so this is a forever unattainable dream dress. Well, and Meta's Bubble Bath is something I really want right now, however, somehow I feel more likely to find that than the three below, which puts them at more dream dress level.

My current top tier wishlist dresses are all 2013/2014 releases (and, coincidentally, all wine red-based).
Stock pictures from, I do not own.
And even now, as I looked through all the releases from those years in order to find the right pictures, there were many others that piqued my interest. Some were double takes at releases that I remember from that time, but decided against them. Some (especially the non-printed things) were completely new discoveries that would fit my current style. And some were pieces that I have had on my wishlist or thought of getting at one point or another and simply did not realise that they were released in that time frame.

I can see the influences of those 2013-2015 years on my style in lolita too. Like I said, I had missed out on the OTT Sweet thing entirely. But 2013-2014 were the years of sweet prints in jewel tones (Crystal Dream Carnival, Mercator Antique Shop, Elisabeth Unicorn etc.) and a bridge to OTT Classic (which, while I never went down the gazillion underskirts route, I do admire and love). From some other ‘serious research’ that I’ve done we can pinpoint 2013-ish as the time when sweet-classic started to become a thing of its own, blending the two styles versus them existing as separate entities. And if you follow this blog, then you know that I’m all about those sweet-classic vibes, especially via sweet prints in not-so-sweet colourways.

If I had to sum up that period of lolita fashion in one dress, it would be through Crystal Dream Carnival. It's a sweet print in a non-typical sweet colourway, with detachable parts that blended the boundary between OTT Sweet and OTT Classic.

Thinking about what the future might bring, my gut tells me that I will continue to return to pieces from 2013-2015, adding them to my wishlist and wardrobe. With the current trend for high waist and sack cuts in sweet lolita, which I dislike, fewer new releases grab my attention. Compared to those years, when every e-mail from AP about new releases brought with it that ‘oooh!’ sensation of excitement, I am not getting that so much these days. Certainly not from AP at least. But even though Meta continues to deliver it for me and BtSSB has its moments, it’s not quite to the same intensity as AP in 2013-2015 days. Right now I might think that some of those releases are not for me – this might change in a year, two or five, as the fashion develops and changes. Maybe one day I too will be one of those lolitas grumpily muttering about ‘back in my day’. Hopefully not. Yet at the same time, I’m not holding my breath that those trends that I’m nostalgic about will come back. And that’s ok too. I will simply cherish the memories – and see you all on the second hand market.

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