Aristocrat: Lolita's Older, Quite Possibly Vampiric, Cousin

This is a post I put off writing for far too long! Aristocrat is a style often associated with Lolita, while not actually being Lolita. Much like boystyle, Aristocrat is something of a sister style to Lolita. It has a completely different set of "rules", but there is a lot of overlap in the aesthetics.

How is Aristocrat different from Lolita?
There are a few differences between Aristocrat and Lolita, the first one is that Aristocrat is a much more narrow style. While Lolita can refer to anything from pastel pink Hime Lolita to nearly neon hair-clip-encrusted Decora Lolita, to subdued and mature Classic Lolita, Aristocrat is strictly Gothic. The second difference is length and shape, Aristocrat outfits are often floor length, and don't always have to be cupcake shaped. The third difference is that Aristocrat is a much older, or more mature look than your average Lolita style.

When it comes to the difference between Gothic Lolita and Aristocrat the line is a bit more blurry, and you can usually safely say that the difference between those two is simply skirt length. You can wear two nearly identical outfits, one with a floor length skirt, and one with a knee length skirt, and the long skirt would be Aristocrat simply because it's longer. But, when it comes right down to it, you really shouldn't worry too much about labeling yourself, or the things you wear, one way or the other. This post isn't about which box to put yourself in, it's just a quick primer on Aristocrat, for those who are interested in trying it out.

What makes an Aristocrat outfit?
As I said above, length and general Gothicness are what makes an outfit Aristocrat, but there a few other themes and aesthetics that will work well when trying to make an Aristocrat outfit. Now, keep in mind, that a successful Aristocrat outfit doesn't need to have all of these things, but they are something to keep in mind.
  • A antique aesthetic- Most Aristocrat outfits are very antique in nature. They often look like a very romanticized version of exactly what the name implies, and aristocrat. Full skirts, bustles, jabots, long coats, the things you might think of when you typically think of a gloomy 19th century aristocrat are things you will find in the Aristocrat fashion.
  • You're still probably going to need a petticoat- To get your long skirts to look full you are still going to need to wear a petticoat. Of course, your regular Lolita petticoat is not going to work at all, you'll need to invest in a long one. Don't buy anything too poofy though, or anything with hoops, as most Aristocrat skirts aren't meant to be as poofy as a wedding or ball gown. They will still need a little lift so they don't look clingy or swishy, and a light, full length petticoat will do just that.
  • Modesty- Aristocrat outfits are a bit more modest than Lolita outfits. Besides the fact that Aristocrat skirts are often floor-sweepingly long, you are rarely going to see short sleeves with Aristocrat. While sleeve and skirt lengths are often much longer than Lolita, necklines are often lower. A square, open, neckline is much more frequent in Aristocrat than it is in Lolita.
  • Gothic motifs- Traditional gothic motifs are used in Aristocrat, often in the form of accessories since there are very few Aristocrat pieces with prints on them. Spiderwebs, coffins, bats, candelabras, Gothic architecture, and the like are often seen.
  • Jewelery- You're not going to load up on hair clips or matching themed injection molded plastic doodads with Aristocrat, instead, you should keep it relatively simple and rather gothic. A few rings with large dark stones, finger armor, rosary styled necklaces, or a delicate and gothic choker will do the trick. Silver is the most common metal tone to be found with Aristocrat, but brass or bronze will work well, bright gold might look a little bit weird unless you are making it a standout detail on your outfit. You can even completely skip the jewelery, as Aristocrat is often times much less accessory oriented than Lolita.
  • Headwear- Aristocrat headwear is a little different than Lolita headwear. You're going to want to skip the bows, and even the square headdresses and go for something a little less cute and more elegant. A circle headdress or rose corsage is a perfect Aristocrat headdress, but hats, bonnets, or even skipping a headdress completely is just as acceptable.
The best way to learn how to dress Aristocrat would be to look for examples, browse through the Gothic & Lolita Bibles and you are sure to find many good examples. In case you don't have a wide variety of G&LBs to look through, here are a few examples that I've collected from various volumes. Click for a larger picture.



So what is "Elegant Gothic Aristocrat"?
Elegant Gothic Aristocrat is a specific term, coined by Mana, to describe clothing from his own clothes line, Moi-même-Moitié. You wouldn't call an outfit, or your specific style, "Elegant Gothic Aristocrat" unless it is made up entirely of Moitie pieces, or Mana fans won't be entirely pleased with you.
Calling an outfit, or style, simply Aristocrat is perfectly fine though. When you hear people say "Elegant Gothic Aristocrat can only be made up of Moitie pieces," they don't mean that to wear Aristocrat you can only wear Moitie, but if you plan on adding the extra words "Elegant Gothic" to the style you are wearing, it had better Moitie. After all, you wouldn't call an OTT Sweet Lolita outfit "Angelic Pretty Lolita" if it didn't have any actual Angelic Pretty in it.

How to avoid looking like Elvira: Or the difference between Western Goth & Aristocrat.
Don't get me wrong, I love Elvria, she's quite possibly my favorite person ever, but there is a a world of difference between the Japanese Aristocrat fashion and Western vampy goth. I think the main difference is that Aristocrat is much more modest, you're really never going to show a lot of skin, and you're not going to be wearing any kind of form fitting, clinging skirts. Another important difference is in materials, most Aristocrat outfits are made out of a matte cotton and feature ruffles rather than lace. You aren't going to find nearly as much lace overlay, velvet, satin, or brocade as you would find in Western Gothic.

Despite how it looks on first glance, you might not be able to make a "proper" Aristocrat outfit out of typical Goth pieces. If you already have a Gothic wardrobe, and are interested in something more than just inspired-by-Aristocrat, you're probably going to have to go out and look for proper pieces, or get creative with what you have. Of course, this depends on what you have on hand, if you have a full Victorian mourning wardrobe, you're probably set, and are only going to need to accessorize a bit to get the look down from authentic Victorian to J-Fashion Aristocrat. Aristocrat is a style that is a bit freer than Lolita in regards to "rules", but, probably because of that, a bit more tricky to pin point, it's going to take some trial and error, especially if you're working with Western Goth pieces. My best advice would be to look at examples, and don't be afraid to experiment a bit. Even if you decide upon something that's not exactly Aristocrat, maybe it's a bit more Western Goth, or a bit more Gothic Lolita, go with it if it's something you like and something that lets you express yourself!

32 comments:

  1. As I'm *cough* slightly older, I do tend to dress EGA more than anything else - high necks, ruffled jabots, long/layered skirts, tailcoats, tophats... It IS an elegant look that one doesn't have to be under 25 to wear :)

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  2. photographerleiaJuly 2, 2010 at 9:30 PM

    I have adored this style ever since I found out about it a few years ago. It is classy, classic, appropriate for most ages, and beautiful. Prerhaps its greatest charm is its visual kinship with a romanticized, modernized Victorian mourning wardrobe. Say what you will about the Victorians (I personally love them) but it is undeniable that they has amazing taste when it came to mourning clothes.

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  3. I really wish there was a more classic/sweet version of Aristocrat. I think an aristo outfit in a dusty rose colour or olive green would be stunning.

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  4. I love EGA, but I think it's actually MORE expensive to coordinate than Gothic Lolita.

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  5. I have some serious respect for people that can pull off EGA

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  6. Awesome, thanks very much. [especially for the pics... Mmmmm, Atelier Boz.]

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  7. I really like this post, it's very informative for those who just don't know. It's condensed but not lacking information.

    I do disagree with a couple of points. One being that Aristocrat is strictly Gothic (though I'm not sure if I think this because I'm not all that experienced in Aristocrat, so I apologise if I'm totally wrong). I wouldn't dismiss an outfit just because it were made from cream and dusty rose as opposed to black and whathaveyou.

    Also mentioning rosaries in the jewelery section. It is generally pretty offensive to consider the rosary as an accessory. Maybe chuck in a "wear with caution"?.

    I do love this blog, so keep up the good work ^_^

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    Replies
    1. she /did/ say rosary-themed accessories opposed to just rosary.

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  8. I love aristocrat style. It sounds too darkling. But I've never wear like it. I feel encouraged to wear an aristocrat outfit now.

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  9. I wouldn't dismiss creams or dusty rose! It being Gothic isn't really about the color, but the style, you can creatively make an Aristocrat outfit with cream or dusty rose or blue or any color really, but it wouldn't really have bows all over it, bunny & strawberry prints, or any other Sweet Lolita details. I hope that makes sense XD

    I should maybe change that to "rosary styled necklace", as a lot of Gothic necklaces, while they aren't rosaries, are in a "Y" style like one. Wearing an actual rosary would be completely up to the judgment of the person wearing one as is wearing any religious motif.

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  10. Thank you for the comment btw ^^

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  11. Aristocrat style is awesome...i think im in love with the style~

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  12. I don't usually swear. But I feel compelled to note that the left person's shoes in the last Aristocrat example picture are FUCKING AWESOME. I want them so hard.

    I've already decided to go Aristo when I feel I don't suit in Lolita any more, since I don't think I ever want to go back to dressing normally (it would feel too weird!), and this is a wonderfully helpful article. Thank you!

    Could one perhaps say that one difference between Western gothic and Aristocrat is that Aristo tends to be a bit more 'done' in look? I mean, cleaner lines, a more natural but more finished makeup style, a generally more... classy air? (Not that Western goth can't be classy, and I love trashy vampire-goth as much as any other style!)
    Also maybe that shoes are a difference? Those super-huge 'witch boots' with the giant giant platform and heel that widens towards the bottom look popular in Aristocrat, and I'm sure I've seen rocking-horse boots and wooden platforms and the like in a few pictures too, whereas most of the western goths I see around tend to favour either simple rubber-soled platforms or Victorianesque lace-up boots.

    I'm sort of with Emma a bit on Aristocrat being only Gothic, since I've seen it done in other colourways and styles too in street snaps and such.

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  13. I think the Aristocrat style is amazing! It's elegant, dark and somewhat scary in a very positive way. And I adore the second outfit with the bonnet!

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  14. Happy to comment ^_^ Keep up the good work man.

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  15. Alt.fashion historyNovember 16, 2010 at 8:00 PM

    I normally do not make a comment. But Aristocrat is something that originated in the west not Japan. It was a western gothic and alternative style. There are pictures in music magazines in the early nineties it was rather popular in the alt-fashion community back then. I think it is one of the more mistaken opinions of folks into J-fashion is that aristocrat was a J-fashion. It was actually Japanese guys and girls who adopted western goth during the late 1990s, but the fashion itself was pre-existing. Goth by the early nineties already had several sub-fashions, aristocrat was one of them. This was pre-hot topic. I think one of the things that is lacking is an understanding of goth fashion in the Lolita community. Aristocrat is quite literally Lolita's much older Western cousin. I should know, I was one of those folks doing gothic aristocrat and neo-victorian during the early 1990s before it ever arrived in Japan. Just to note there was a classic aristocrat as well. The aristocrat style is great, but there is some major misconceptions about it. Western goths were doing it long before Malice Mizer or its appearance in Japan.

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  16. um, not to be odd but what about the romantic goths? you know the ones who literally dress like Victorians? or do you just get them in Britain? serious question because when i first saw these guys i thought they were romantic goths. (romantic Gothic literature first appeared in the Victorian period.)

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  17. No we have them too XD I think the difference would be that Aristocrats don't actually wear Victorian clothes. Aristocratic clothes are all Japanese designers and they have a certain look to them. Outside of Lolita I consider myself a Victorian/Romantigoth and I really can't create an Aristocratic look with my goth wardrobe, even though most of it is Victorian inspired. When it comes down to it the different styles just have such a different look.

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  18. I love EGA, but I think it's actually MORE expensive to coordinate than Gothic Lolita.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I have some serious respect for people that can pull off EGA

    ReplyDelete
  20. Awesome, thanks very much. [especially for the pics... Mmmmm, Atelier Boz.]

    ReplyDelete
  21. I love aristocrat style. It sounds too darkling. But I've never wear like it. I feel encouraged to wear an aristocrat outfit now.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Thank you for the comment btw ^^

    ReplyDelete
  23. I have adored this style ever since I found out about it a few years ago. It is classy, classic, appropriate for most ages, and beautiful. Prerhaps its greatest charm is its visual kinship with a romanticized, modernized Victorian mourning wardrobe. Say what you will about the Victorians (I personally love them) but it is undeniable that they has amazing taste when it came to mourning clothes.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Aristocrat style is awesome...i think im in love with the style~

    ReplyDelete
  25. I think the Aristocrat style is amazing! It's elegant, dark and somewhat scary in a very positive way. And I adore the second outfit with the bonnet!

    ReplyDelete
  26. I really wish there was a more classic/sweet version of Aristocrat. I think an aristo outfit in a dusty rose colour or olive green would be stunning.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I really like this post, it's very informative for those who just don't know. It's condensed but not lacking information.

    I do disagree with a couple of points. One being that Aristocrat is strictly Gothic (though I'm not sure if I think this because I'm not all that experienced in Aristocrat, so I apologise if I'm totally wrong). I wouldn't dismiss an outfit just because it were made from cream and dusty rose as opposed to black and whathaveyou.

    Also mentioning rosaries in the jewelery section. It is generally pretty offensive to consider the rosary as an accessory. Maybe chuck in a "wear with caution"?.

    I do love this blog, so keep up the good work ^_^

    ReplyDelete
  28. I don't usually swear. But I feel compelled to note that the left person's shoes in the last Aristocrat example picture are FUCKING AWESOME. I want them so hard.

    I've already decided to go Aristo when I feel I don't suit in Lolita any more, since I don't think I ever want to go back to dressing normally (it would feel too weird!), and this is a wonderfully helpful article. Thank you!

    Could one perhaps say that one difference between Western gothic and Aristocrat is that Aristo tends to be a bit more 'done' in look? I mean, cleaner lines, a more natural but more finished makeup style, a generally more... classy air? (Not that Western goth can't be classy, and I love trashy vampire-goth as much as any other style!)
    Also maybe that shoes are a difference? Those super-huge 'witch boots' with the giant giant platform and heel that widens towards the bottom look popular in Aristocrat, and I'm sure I've seen rocking-horse boots and wooden platforms and the like in a few pictures too, whereas most of the western goths I see around tend to favour either simple rubber-soled platforms or Victorianesque lace-up boots.

    I'm sort of with Emma a bit on Aristocrat being only Gothic, since I've seen it done in other colourways and styles too in street snaps and such.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I wouldn't dismiss creams or dusty rose! It being Gothic isn't really about the color, but the style, you can creatively make an Aristocrat outfit with cream or dusty rose or blue or any color really, but it wouldn't really have bows all over it, bunny & strawberry prints, or any other Sweet Lolita details. I hope that makes sense XD

    I should maybe change that to "rosary styled necklace", as a lot of Gothic necklaces, while they aren't rosaries, are in a "Y" style like one. Wearing an actual rosary would be completely up to the judgment of the person wearing one as is wearing any religious motif.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Happy to comment ^_^ Keep up the good work man.

    ReplyDelete
  31. just my opinion (as someone who both wears MMM and has a bit of an obsession with anything Mana-related) you don't have to have strictly Moitie brand clothing to be considered elegant gothic aristocrat; yes, Mana coined that term, but it's basically a combination of what you would think a dandy or aristocrat would wear, combined with elements from what you would normally find "dark and gothic" such as bats, coffins, crosses, roses, capes, etc.

    an example, if someone combined a regular aristocrat clothing attire with say a blue rose corsage, it'd add an "elegant touch". while aristocrats normally use minimal accessories, those accessories sometimes can make a huge difference to the style.

    again, just my opinion ;w;

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