Do Comms Affect My Outfit Choices?


There are only a few times in the year when you might attend similarly themed meetups hosted by different comms. One that always takes place in our comms is Halloween, though Valentine’s Day, Christmas and Easter also happen. In particular this February’s meets (1 and 2) stopped me in my tracks, as I was struck by an unusual thought. Does the comm I’m attending the meet with influence my choice of coordinate? Do I wear certain things, substyles or looks more when going to meetups hosted by particular groups and with certain people in attendance? This seemed like an interesting thing to explore in a blog post, so let’s do it together!
At the moment I am a member of like 10 different communities across the UK. But let’s not kid ourselves, in many cases it’s just a Facebook group membership, as I keep tabs on what’s happening in case I’m interested and/or decide to visit my friends there. As far as active membership goes, i.e. attending meetups hosted by those communities or even hosting my own, there are only 4: Leeds (who I’m also an admin for), Sheffield, North-West or CLAM, and York. Having said this, York is very quiet as a comm – the city ends up being a location for many Leeds and Sheffield meets, and as they are more active, people from York often travel to those meets instead of hosting themselves. So for this post we’re looking at only the first three: Leeds, Sheffield and CLAM.

Meet the Comms

Let’s start off by getting to know what these comms are like. If you’re a regular reader, you might have an idea based on my posts, although I don’t always go into details about other people’s coords or anything too personal, so as to respect other people’s privacy. All of the group pictures here are from the comms Facebook pages.

Sheffield is the easiest for me to define an aesthetic for: Docs and berets. Pretty much every comm member there has done a Docs and beret kind of coord there, or something very similar. Of course, when the occasion calls for it, Frills of Steel know how to go OTT, but I feel that this is generally the most chill comm that I’m a part of. Whether you want to dress up or be casual, everyone will welcome you just the same, and the community spirit is strong and cultivated through Instagram, as well as on the Facebook group itself.

Frills of Steel Facebook group photo, taken in December 2018.
When I think of the Leeds comm, my first thoughts are “large”, followed by “Leeds! Leeds! Leeds! Lads! Lads! Lads!”. Because of how big we are as a comm (it’s not uncommon for our casual meetup to be about 20 people), we can probably represent every substyle. By and large I feel that whatever the substyle people wear, the common theme is a more mature take on it. Of course, we have your typical pastel sweet lolitas, but I think more often I see Leeds people wearing sweet in non-pastel colours (ekhm, that might be me) or generally see something more elegant, be it casual or fancy, whatever the substyle. On the other hand, as you may have gathered from the comm chant, we also have our less polished side. Pub meets are great and encouraged, and many drinking meets have ended up in stories told to newer comm members over time.

Lolitas of Leeds Facebook group photo, taken in August 2017.
Some of these people no longer wear lolita, but they're still one of us.
As for CLAM – when I joined, it was much sweeter than it is now. In comparison to Leeds (and despite the overlap of members) it still is, as more of the regular members wear pastels. CLAM is also a large comm, though I feel like they have more students amidst their attendees (both regular and casual drop-ins), and in my experience the younger/newer lolitas tend to lean sweet. Of these three CLAM is the only one that explicitly describes itself as being a J-fashion community, not just lolita, and I feel like this can be seen too. We have people attend meets in other J-fashions, and I see coords influenced by other kinds of styles, from otome and more to Western alternative styles. This makes for a very style-inclusive community, though I also feel like I’ve never really seen CLAM do casual. Or more like, what’s casual for CLAM can be either not-lolita/other J-fashion or what the online community would call a just regular coordinate that’s not OTT. Or to put it in yet another way, maybe the expression I’m looking for when thinking of CLAM is “Make It Fashion®”.  I generally think of CLAM members as stylish and enthusiastic about fashion overall, not just lolita, which means that people give that special level of polish to coordinates and which can translate a little bit like lack of casual outfits.

CLAM Facebook group photo, taken in April 2019.

Please, bear in mind that all of the above are subjective impressions based on the meetups that I’ve attended with these comms. They’re generalisations with plenty of exceptions that I could name myself and definitely reliant on what I’ve experienced in person. It’d be impossible to attend every single meetup by every one of these comms, so chances are that I’ve missed events and occasions where people have done something very different as a group. Moreover, lolita communities are living entities of their own, as members grow active and inactive, join and leave based on what happens in their lives. So the above is a snapshot of how I perceive these comms now, in 2020, based on the previous 4 years or so. I’m just as excited to see how this may change in the next few years as I am to look back at past photos.

The Outfits based on Comms

Given that Leeds is my primary community, I’ll leave it til last. There are simply too many outfits to compare, and I think it’d fall more into the ‘dressing for the meet theme’ category. Don’t worry, I’ll still include it in this post, I’m just going to talk about the other two comms, which I’ve attended a fewer meetups with, first.

Let’s start off by comparing my Frills of Steel meetup coords with CLAM ones. When looking for outfits, I specifically selected meetups hosted by those groups, regardless of location. In cases where I was the host, I looked at which facebook group I posted the event to in order to distinguish between the comms. All of these outfits are posted in the order of most recent to oldest for the sake of my laziness.

At a glance I think the difference seems pretty obvious. When attending Sheffield comm meetups, my style gravitates towards somewhat more casual looks, preferring skirts over JSKs. They are also almost exclusively sweet looks, which I find particularly interesting. During the earlier coords my style certainly was more sweet than classic, but it seems that regardless of where I was at that time with my overall style, for Sheffield meets I’ve been leaning sweet regardless. Let’s give an honourable mention to the Magic Tea Party skirt, which I’ve worn for half of those meets.

Only six FoS meetups that I've been to? And only one where I've worn a JSK? That's... both
what I expected and not what I expected.
Click to enlarge.
In comparison, with my CLAM looks you can clearly see the trajectory of change, as I transitioned from sweeter looks to classic ones. Looking at those outfits, there’s maybe one that I’d call casual on there. Now, I wouldn’t necessarily call any of them particularly OTT either, to me these are just outfits. However, this time its very much dominated by JSKs, with 2 OPs and 1 skirt looks in here for good measure. As I already said, you can very much see my style shifting towards classic and despite my continuing love for retro lolita and retro-inspired looks, there’s only one like this in this lot. My CLAM outfits definitely prioritised elegance, sometimes at the price of comfort, which I haven’t done for Sheffield meets at all. That in itself is an interesting thing to note and something to think about: am I more willing to suffer for a look because Im trying to be more polished and elegant at CLAM meets? Or were the meets simply more forgiving and not requiring practical adjustments options (like comfortable shoes or an extra layer)?

Part 1, very conveniently all from after I've moved.
Click to enlarge.

And part 2, all from before I've moved to Manchester.
Click to Enlarge.

Maybe lets look real quick at my Leeds meets coords before jumping to any conclusions. And oh boy, was there a lot of coords to pick out! My very first lolita meet was with Leeds, so not only is this a snapshot of what I wore to those meets, but also a true lolita evolution journey between 2016 and 2020. And as you can see, this is a right mix. The only main substyle I havent worn to a Leeds meet yet is gothic. Other than this theres pretty much everything here: sweet, classic and even ouji, OTT, regular and casual coords, themed and non-themed, ones where I tried to match the meetup and ones where I just wore what I liked. Although with Leeds meets the priority definitely is on matching the meet theme, it is interesting how even despite my style shift towards classic there are still so many sweet outfits here, both more typical and mature-looking sweet, as well as my signature retro looks. The typical classic coordinates, that have dominated my CLAM meet looks, are actually the minority here. Yet even then I think that it's easy to spot where I started to go more classic.

Leeds meet coords, part 1.
Click to enlarge.

Leeds meet coords, part 2.
Click to enlarge.

Leeds meet coords, part 3.
Click to enlarge.

Leeds meet coords, part 4.
Click to enlarge.

Leeds meet coords, part 5, the earliest of days and the beginning of it all.
Click to enlarge.

Verdict: Do Comms Affect My Outfit Choices?

What is it then? Does the comm I attend a meetup with affect my coord choices? After having gone through all this, collaged all the photos (and as my laptop is currently slow AF, this was a pretty painful process, so I’m sure I missed some out by accident) and mulled this over, I think that the answer is yes. At least a little, though not quite in the way I thought it would. Going into this post I thought that it was the general vibe of the comm and their overall style that would influence my own choices. Now I think that its not about what the generalised comm style is, but about the people who are there at the meetup.

Despite what it may seem, CLAM is the comm that I feel like I know the least. Leeds comm is my family, theyve seen me go from my very first meetup when my wardrobe was still an all-over mess all the way to now and letting me be their mod. Even though Ive attended only six Frills of Steel meetups, many of the Yorkshire comms visit each other regularly. Ive met majority of the Sheffield people during Leeds meets (as well as some CLAM ones) and even if I wasnt attending Frills of Steel meetups, I often hung out with the Frills of Steel people at tea parties etc. On the other hand, every time I went to a CLAM meetup I felt like there were new people to meet. And although I have gotten to know a few fairly well by now, its not to the same extent as I do with my Yorkshire frillies. Now that I am based in Manchester (and still reel with excitement over how Im a short tram trip away from meetups instead of a bus and a train at the very least), Im bound to attend more CLAM meetups, which will mean getting to know the comm much better. It will be interesting to see how my coord choices will change as I get more comfortable with this comm.

And then on the flipside of all that, what Ive captured here is just meetup outfits. What this doesnt account for is how over that 4-year period I started to wear lolita more often, more casually and for lesser occasions. Lolita fashion is no longer my fancy getup, its now something that I wear maybe once a week on average. My boundaries of whats casual have shifted as I wear simple coordinates just to go shopping or even just to lounge at home. As the comms that Ive attended the most meets with, Leeds and CLAM have seen that change in the sense that I no longer feel like attending a meetup is my only chance to wear lolita. This means that my meetup outfits became more dressed up, leaving casual ones for other occasions. And as classic lolita can feel like it requires less emotional energy than sweet, as well as could blend a bit better into the crowd, I guess I mustve left my more classic outfits for general weekend-wear, whilst sticking to sweeter ones for meetups where being in a group allows me to borrow a bit of extra strength to deal with the public.

So in a TL;DR version, yes, the comms I attend meetups with have a partial effect on my coordinate choices, but equally so do my lolita-wearing habits. Is it inherently a good or bad thing? Absolutely not! As long as I dont feel under pressure to look a certain way, which I never did, and as long as every outfit is something I like and is within my comfort zone (both physically and emotionally), then all is good.

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.