Bringing Back the Old School

A while back (the beginning of November!) I started to write a blog post about general Old School Lolita and my fond memories of the early days and each time I go to write a little more it keeps morphing into separate posts! Angelically Sweet and the post about narrow headdresses both started out quick little paragraphs in this eternally unfinished post of mine and I'm afraid I've gone off track completely and yet another separate post has spawned from it.

Yeah, that's right, yet another post about Old School Lolita. What can I say XD I really love it and I would love to see the style come back, so this post is about exactly that: how to add some old school flair to your coordinates, even if you don't have a closet full of dresses from 8 or 10 years ago. Provided your closet isn't exclusively OTT prints I think that it's pretty easy to make an old school looking coordinate fairly easily without having to buy whole new pieces.

Like many things that simply aren't new any more, the old school style is shunned by some and many of the style elements (black and white, mini hats, clunky black shoes, etc.) have come to mean, to some, "unfashionable" or even "Ita". I think there is a lot to learn from the older Lolita styles and they shouldn't be written off simply because they are not so new any more. I think that keeping many of the older style trends in mind when putting together a coordinate can create some refreshing outfits. In a Lolita world full of mile high pink wigs, bold and colorful prints, and piling on as many accessories as you can the simple elegance of what we now consider Old School Lolita can be breathtaking. If you are interested in adding some old school elements to your coordinates, try some of these tips!
  • Simplify your color schemes. Avoid mixing a bunch of colors into your coordinate, even if your print features a colorful print. Instead just stick to your base color and either black or white. The classic way of color coordinating, old school style, is to wear a plain colored dress with either black or white lace and then make sure your blouse, socks, shoes, purse, and parasol are the same color as the lace.
  • Avoid brand prints. Prints didn't start to become a big thing until around 2006/07. There were prints around before then but they were usually much simpler such as allover prints with the brand logo hidden in there, something relatively generic like flowers or fruit, or a simple screen printing. If you must do a print, try classical florals or a print of scattered fruits.
  • Ditch the tea parties for a pair of platforms or classic mary janes. Tea parties and other bow covered cutsie shoes are relatively new to Lolita, the most common type of shoe back then was the mary jane, either with a relatively modest heel, or a monster of a platform.
  • Wear black or white shoes. I know they make Lolita shoes in a rainbow of colors, and you can usually find the perfect shade to match your dress, but stick to basic black or white for footwear.
  • Stick to just Lolita. I know, this sounds like it should go without saying, but it seems like nearly all of the major omg-I-just-have-to-try-that trends that Lolita has gone through in the past few years have just been trends borrowed from other fashions, if not outright fashion crossovers. Lolita hardly has any trends or innovation of it's own anymore. So nix the Gyaru makeup, the Steam Punk accessories, the Mori Girl color pallet, the Hime hair, and the light dusting of deco and try something that's just purely Lolita.
  • Wear a slim rectangle headdress. Have I told you how much I love these yet XD? The rectangle headdress was pretty much the headpiece to wear back in the day. Sure, there were bows and hats and bonnets and hair corsages back then too, but nothing really defines Old School Lolita like the rectangle headdress. While the big ruffly rectangle headdresses are only flattering on a very small portion of Lolitas, and most people just feel silly wearing them anyways, the slim and often ruffle-free headdress are a nice and modern version of the old Lolita stand by. It it pretty much instant old school without people asking you "What's on your head?!"
  • Trade in your stuffed animal purse for a brand tote. This also includes pleather purses shaped like tea cups, clocks and other fancy things. Purses were much simpler back then, most of the time Lolitas just carried around a brand tote or a simple square purse with their favorite brand's logo on it.
  • Keep your makeup natural, or at least simple. Don't bother with fake eyelashes, circle lenses or doing all those tricks with white eyeliner that make your eyes look huge and alien. Either stick with a natural and clean looking makeup job, or something very simple like a little bit of eyeshadow in a color that matches your coordinate. Use a red lip stain to give your lips a rosy look that is much more sweet and doll-like than the Barbie gyaru glam lips that are so popular now.
  • Leave your wig at home. You don't need perfectly coiffed hair a mile high in a candy colored hue to complete your Lolita look. Instead try a more natural looking hair style, either a nice curl, a pair of braids or brushed out until it's straight and shiny, then either put up in pigtails or leave it down. If you want to either wear a wig or spend hours holding a curler in one hand and a bottle of hairspray in the other, consider ringlets.
To get some inspiration flowing, here are a few of my favorite old school coordinates taken from the first 10 or so volumes of the Gothic & Lolita Bible. These are from 2001 to about 2003 or 2004 I believe, none of that 2008 immediately-before-Deco-Lolita-became-popular "old school" XD


As you can see from these, the main pieces, the skirts and the dresses, are all similar to things still being sold by brands today, they just aren't nearly as popular as the OTT and next-big-print pieces. Some designs are recycled year by year and most brands have at least a few staple pieces that have been in their shop since the beginning. Baby, the Stars Shine Bright does this most frequently, and their recycled designs have remained relatively unchanged, with the exception of nicer photos and a bit more skirt poof nowadays. Here are a few examples of their recurring designs.


Left, 2010. Right, 2001



Left, 2010. Right, 2001

Left, 2010. Right, 2003, although they had been making the same dress for a few years before that, just without the scalloped hem.

So even if you have a wardrobe that is mostly OTT prints and very up-to-date pieces but you're desperate for something that has an old school vibe to it and you don't want to sort through second hand sales posts and buy a 10 year old dress, you can usually find something in the brand shops that's just a remake of a very old piece. Browse around on Hello Lace or The Lolibrary for the really old pieces, chances are you'll see something that's familiar because it's still being sold.

Some classically old school details to look out for are empire waists, laced up grommets, heart shaped pockets, 2 rows of lace running down the front of the skirt with tiers of lace on the side, shirring either all around or in the front, pintucks, and A-lined dresses. Older dresses were often times just as detailed and OTT in their own way, they just relied more on texture rather than color and print.

The old school style never really went away completely, it's been there all along just waiting to be rediscovered!

33 comments:

  1. I love old school Lolita, but my style is pretty simple to begin with so it makes sense.

    Great tips!! :)

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  2. Thank you so much for this post! I'm starting to really prefer the look of Old-School Lolita over what a lot of girls are wearing today. In my opinion, it's just so much more elegant. Maybe it's just me, but the older styles also appear to be much more user friendly and accessible for newer lolis or girls who are getting into the fashion.
    I especially like the photo on the far right, top row. That's the kind of look that I hope to achieve one day!

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  3. I love this post you have no idea at how many levels. I started into the lolita fashion back in 2003 and I was treated as a kind of "freak" in Spain where noone had idea about this fashion (cannot say now days is a lot more popular either...) or just as a weird-gothic girl, something that really pissed me off! I was 23 in that time and still fit into the lolita.

    I saw how this style had been changing and always improving. I'm not going into granny thinking that "in my time things were better!! but nowdays I'm 30 years old and still wearing-living-feeling lolita, but I need to keep in mind my age! Right now I cannot be an actual sweet lolita for example, with those (amazing without doubt) colored prints and wings... I think I will look weird, specially because I wear lolita everyday (thanks God I work for Blizzard, where there's no any kind of clothes code or so) and will look kinda weird.

    The old style was a lot more simple indeed, more natural specially in classic and gothic lolita and what I love the most, the mary janes style platform shoes <3 normaly from Demonia brand since was the easiest to find in Europe!

    And all this just to say "Hail to the Old Style!!" for all who had the chance to enjoy it and for all the lolitas that I hope will give it chance now :)

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  4. I love this article! I'm totally into the new style of lolita, but I get so nostalgic over some of these snapshots... I love the pink dress with the Shirley Temple tote and the shiro dress. They feel so innocent! So even though it's not my usual take it's really inspiring :)

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  5. I really approve of this post XD

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  6. Yay, I finally get to hear from an older lolita! (I'm 25 and I get sick of reading advice for "aging" lolitas written by 22 year olds.) I originally got into the style back in 2001-02 through a Japanese exchange student whose family sent her GLB in care packages. While I appreciate the aesthetics of current lolita, I never really felt like the OTT trends suited my mindset or lifestyle, and I drifted away. This post gave me a little bit of the rush I felt when I first flipped through Sachiko's magazines... *sigh*!

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    Replies
    1. I'm a 32 year old lolita and still kicking! 😘

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    2. I'm a 32 year old lolita and still kicking! 😘

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  7. I think you posted something a few days ago on the comm somewhere! I remember reading something about a Lolita who works at Blizzard and wears Lolita to work! That's really cool that you can do that. As someone who's not exactly 17 any more I think the old school sweet style is the perfect way to wear Sweet Lolita without looking like you're dressing like a baby.

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  8. I agree, it's a much less intimidating (and cheaper!) style that the OTT Sweet Lolita that is so popular now.

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  9. You have such a secret old school side XD With your love of Momoko how could you not?

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  10. Yeah is something I like to say because I don't know in other places but are many many girls who think that for wear lolita at work you need have your own bakery or fashion shop and that's so wrong >.< but I didn't know I repeat myself so often *shy*

    Indeed I agree with you! The old style of lolita, those pure white or antique white colors with a bit of pink is really really cool still. The problem with lolita fashion is when the lolita grows up (that happens all the time!) and becomes a woman more than a girl. Woman + lolita can be done but just trying to show up more the elegance than the cute overload :p

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  11. All this old school talk kind of makes me regret selling my black Baby JSK, lol. It really was a beautiful piece, all the way down to the texture of the fabric. I'm still rocking the platform mary janes though ;D I think there are a lot of designs that can still be worn with the old look, but I guess people usually prefer to go with the trends.

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  12. Heh very true! I don't usually think of her as old-school, more eternal... But her style always makes me want to run out and copy her!

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  13. I absolutely adore Old School Lolita, it's what first got me into the style. I hate shopping around these days because it's so difficult to find what I really like...which is simpler dresses and JSKs. I'm just not a fan of most Sweet prints.

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  14. your eyeshadow matching your outfit is kinda a fashion faux pas in general... i like the trendy stuff now but i think all together it's kinda disastrous. i totally agree with keeping certain things clean and oldschool with a touch of new. <3

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  15. Read a post on EGL today about this subject, by lavenderspikes, and someone down the line of comments suggested on 'Old-school Lolita Day', around March 6th, halfway between Lolidays. If you've seen this post, feel free to ignore my comment, but just in case.

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  16. Actually I think old-school lolita is totally coming back into fashion; a lot of the brands are starting to release some updated "old-school ideas"! I got into lolita while it was still in the old school style, but the newer sweet look still appeals more to me. To each their own!

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  17. I think I'll try a little old-school today! This is great inspiration!

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  18. I love the simpler styles! There was more focus on detail, design, quality, and lace/ruffles! Prints sort of distract from that (though I do own my dream print myself :P BABY's Parfait Print!) and I would like to see more of the original Lolita style too :)

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  19. Old-style! I was actually thinking about that a little while ago, aha, which translated into some dress sketches that look more old-lolita-classic, which I adore, it reminds me more of the Victorian era than do Prints and Things. While I do still like some prints, I have been drifting more toward a simpler/older lolita look, although I will admit this is also due to an influence of other Japanese fashions.

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  20. I enjoy the old lolita because it was very simple but also elegant. I love the floral prints xD However the make up tutorials from the older gothic lolita bibles wern't really my taste, especially with the dark red/brown colored lipstick and black/purple eyeshadow . - .

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  21. Ah, I love old-school. Kamikaze Girls has old-school and that's what made me love the fashion! I'm always dressed in old-school now that I think about it... XD

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  22. I just gotta say that I love this post! Thank you for writing it and for bringing the old school style back into the light =D

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  23. I love this post! Why? Because old school was what got me into the fashion. And what I saw when I started to love the fashion, still affects me today. OTT prints usually make me shiver, while old school Lolita is just adorable!

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  24. I think all those new trends like gyaru loli and stuff kinda ruin lolita cause it's allmost just a second mainstream if you allways have to follow the new fashion... *srry for bad english* ^-^;

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  25. Old school style made me love lolita. Especially the headdresses and black-white coordinations. ^^

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  26. Even thought I was ALWAYS mixing my lolita at least a bit with decora or western gothic so it was never quite that lolita, I hate whole that change. I loved lolita as simple as it was, that's what I fell for, not sugary sweet prints and oh-so-big puffs either under your skirt or on your head... It's true that I am born to be out, so guess it's even better this way being out even in lolita :D
    I don't know about others but I often feel sick about nowdays lolita. Oh, where are those good, much more elegant times? To me, old lolita will always be way too much sweeter compared to todays trends. ;P I still like to mix lolita with other styles but I also stick to love of the good old retro lolita. XD So thanks for this post. I hope that this will bring more girls to wear not only overdone brand clothes and plastic features... ^^ Modern lolita is good (and I love it) but- don't get me wrong, but old-school is just better. :DD

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  27. Though I agree that the print craze didn't start until around 2007, Baby's first original prints came out in 2003
    http://hellolace.net/wardrobe/baby-the-stars-shine-bright/type/skirt/year/2003/

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  28. I think the same way

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  29. Your blog has always attracted me and this particular post left me speechless. It is one of the best pieces of writing I have seen. Good job.
    Thanks
    upgrade school

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  30. Just wanted to say the old school style of lolita is why I fell in love with the style. I really like the direction Lolita fashion has taken, but as for wearing Lolita I tend to stick with the simplicity of the old school style.

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