Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Lolita Conventions: Frill

In the US, Lolita gatherings have been pretty much limited to local meetups, anime conventions, and the rare brand-sponsored tea party, there have been very few "official" lolita gatherings in the US. Luckily, this year we're lucky enough to have another one come along, Frill!


I regret not blogging about this convention until just now, because Frill is this upcoming weekend (June 09-10th 2012!), but I have seriously been sulking a bit about this happening at the other end of a 20 hour train/car ride for me. So, because of my sulking, pre-reg tickets are all sold out, but you can still purchase tickets at the door. This two-day convention (However, I believe this close to the con, sunday is all sold out, as it is a separate event?) features a lot of the same sort of things you would expect from any other convention, panels, shopping, contests, even a dance, only everything is catered towards the Lolita.

I actually only recently found out (last week!) that those who owned shops and couldn't attend can send in items to be sold at the boutique, so I jumped on that opportunity to, at the very least, attend in spirit by sending in some stuff from my, so rarely on Etsy, shop. If this convention sees a second year, especially a second year that is a little further north up the coast, I would really love to attend in person!

This is what I'm sending up! I sort of freaked when I realized I had no more tags printed up, so I chopped up a bunch of scrapbooking paper and decided to go back to the individually packaged route!

As Lolita grows more and more popular, I would absolutely love to see more conventions and even just one-day events catering to the Lolita the future! I think they're fantastic ways to get the Lolita community together, and an awesome excuse to put on your finest and take a day trip! One of my favorite oh-gosh-it's-so-not-fair-that-I-can't-be-there events in the Lolita world is Sweden's yearly Lolita Flea market (Sadly, I can't find working pictures from recent years, as the market seems to get bigger each year, 2011 apparently had over 1000 visitors, but here's a post from it's still-very-successful first year), which is the sort of event that I would absolutely love to see happen in the US, and preferably not nearly a whole day's drive away from me!

If you had a Lolita convention happen near you, what kind of events would you love to see? At anime conventions I am a huge fan of the, somewhat boring to most people, panels about the early years in the fandom and otaku culture, which I think extends to Lolita, as is pretty obvious from my interest in all things Old School Lolita, so these are the sorts of things I would love to see in a Lolita convention. I can imagine a panel about the early days of Lolita, including display pieces of the sorts of things Lolita brands released over a decade ago! Of course, I also am also a pretty enthusiastic shopper, so any sort of flea market, swap meet, or consignment I would be all over as well!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Building a Complete Lolita Wardrobe

I've been asked several times, over on my formspring, about what I would consider a complete Lolita wardrobe. As many Lolitas will tell you, you pretty much never have a complete Lolita wardrobe any more than you have a complete wardrobe of anything! You're always adding new pieces to any wardrobe as new pieces come out, seasons change, and trends pop in and out of fashion. However, if you're looking to start a Lolita wardrobe, and want the most bang for your buck, it's a good idea to build a wardrobe with completeness in mind. So that way you can get the maximum outfits out of a minimum of pieces.

I think that if you can wear a new, different looking, outfit every day for a week, you've managed to to build yourself a very workable Lolita outfit. I've been asked before what I think kind of items would be in a wardrobe like this, and while I think there are several ways you could compile a wardrobe that would do the job, my ideal way would be:

  • 1 good petticoat in a color that works with your wardrobe. Unless you like a very minimal poof, I'd advise against tulle petticoats and go for a chiffon, as tulle petticoats tend to deflate very quickly, so you're constantly buying new ones and are often forced to wear multiple ones at once.
  • 1 piece of "special wear", this means something that might be a little too fancy to wear everyday and is best saved for special meetups or might be a very obvious piece, like a bold print, so it would be best if it wasn't worn too frequently. If you have a limited budget, and can only really afford to spurge on one piece, you might as well make it this piece!
  • 2 easy to coordinate dresses, JSKs are the best option, due to the fact that they are a little easier to mix and match because you can pair them with different blouses for different looks, and if you plan on wearing something over them, you can wear them without a blouse so you don't have to deal with cramming puffy sleeves under not-so-puffy sleeves.
  • 2 skirts in 2 different designs. For example, one could be a relatively plain skirt, while the other could have a bustle, a high waist, multi-tiered, etc.
  • 5 tops of various designs, some of which are cutsews, and one of which is a "statement" top in either a contrasting color or of a fancier design. Having cutsews in your wardrobe is vital if you plan on wearing Lolita on a regular basis, because Lolita blouses tend to be fussy and might not be appropriate for all weather and occasions, and sometimes it's nice to wear something a little more comfortable.
  • Headwear that matches each of your skirts or dresses. This doesn't necessarily mean one piece of headwear for each skirt or dress, if you have multiples pieces in one color, you can get away with sharing a headpiece between them.
  • 2 pieces of outerwear, such as boleros, cardigans, or light jackets.
  • 1 pair of shoes that matches everything.
  • 1 purse that matches everything.
  • As many different pieces of legwear as you can accumulate. These can be picked up offbrand cheaply, and in the beginning you can get away with one of each type of legwear at first, for example: 1 pair of plain socks, 1 pair of print socks, 1 pair of opaque tights, and 1 pair of crochet or lace tights.
  • Lots of different accessories. This is also something that can be picked up offbrand cheaply, or even come from your current accessory supplies, and includes not only jewelery but also wrist cuffs, gloves, collars, corsages, and any other small accessories that can be added to make individual outfits unique. If you're even slightly handy with a needle and thread and a glue gun, you can probably whip up a fair amount of these!

Different ways you can color coordinate your wardrobe
The most important part of working on color coordinating a wardrobe is knowing your base color! In Lolita, base colors are an important part of Lolita coordinates that often go overlooked. Think of the lace color on your Lolita dresses, and the fact that, more often than not, you match your socks, shoes, and blouse with the lace, that's your base color! The usual base colors in Lolita are neutral colors, such as offwhite, white, or black. You can use other colors as a base in individual outfits (some Sweet Lolita coordinates use a pastel color as a base and Gothic Lolita coordinates sometimes use a bold color as a base!), but these three neutral colors are the easiest to work into a whole wardrobe, both because they are the most versatile colors, and they are also pretty easy to hunt down pieces in. A wardrobe that has been built upon for a while tends to have several different base colors, but when first building a Lolita wardrobe, it makes things a heck of a lot easier to pick one and stick with it for a while.

Typically, Gothic Lolita's base color is black, Classic Lolita's base color is offwhite, and Sweet Lolita's base color is white. This isn't always the case, and it can be changed around a lot, but these are the "traditional" colors, and it makes shopping much easier since so many clothes from these sub-styles are made with this in mind. So if you're on a budget, sticking with the "traditional" makes it easier to find good deals!


Single Colors
In the Lolita fashion, many people like to pick one color and stick with it. These kinds of wardrobes will still have a base color but everything else might be all one color or a mix of that particular color and the base color. Examples might be the all pink and white outfit, all red and white outfit, or even an all black and white outfit. There is a bit about this kind of coordination, and some examples, on Hello Lace.



The Accent Color
An accent color is often used in Gothic Lolita coordinates, think of Moitie's classic black and blue combo! Generally a wardrobe is all one color (not to be confused with the single color, which is paired with a base color, I'm talking Kuro or Shiro levels of all one color!). If you're not into very colorful wardrobes this is a great way to add a little bit of interest to your outfits because it can almost all be done with just small accessories, rather than actual pieces of clothes. Because it's largely accessory based, you can easily have multiple accent colors to pick from in even a very small wardrobe. The accent color can also be part of the print, or some other detail on a dress, but you tend to have to commit a bit more to the accent color that way.



Mix and Match Colors
Mix and Match colors are a good idea if you're trying to build up a Sweet Lolita wardrobe but what a little bit more variety than a single color wardrobe will give. Instead of just one color, you have two colors that work very well together and can be mixed together nicely. You can either make half of your wardrobe one color, and half the other, or have a few pieces in one color to add a bit of variety and options to what is practically a single color wardrobe.


Color Palettes
I think that this kind of color coordination works best with Classic Lolita and the more Fairy Kei inspired Sweet Lolita. You don't have to worry so much about individual pieces matching each other, because you'll be basing most of your coordinates around a base color, and pairing them together with several colors from a similar color palette. If all of your colors are from the same type of color palette: jewel tones, pastels, dusty colors, earth tones, etc. you can usually mix and match them a bit and end up not looking like a hot mess. Just think of the sorts of Classic Lolita coordinates that are often featured on the Flasco blog, or the Dolly Kei fashion, these kinds of coordinates can get away with not necessarily "matching" because they pair similar colors, in this case jewel tones, with a neutral base color, so you can, more often than not, get away with it. If you are into prints, be they brand border prints or all-over floral prints, this is a good option because the different colors in prints can be pulled out and coordinated with.

Sample Wardrobes
There are lots of different ways you can put together small and compact wardrobes but I've come up with a few different sample wardrobes for some of the basic Lolita sub-styles. These were built with budget in mind, so while there are several brand pieces in them, they are relatively basic brand pieces, and very similar looking pieces can be picked up from Taobao, Bodyline, and indie shops, or even found for a reasonable price on the second-hand community. The might not even be terribly difficult to sew up something similar if you're handy with a sewing machine! Please also keep in mind that these wardrobe mock-ups were made with stock photos, so colors might look a little different due to lighting, it should go without saying that, in your own wardrobe, if you're adding a lot of pieces of the same color, you're probably going to want to make sure that the colors actually are the same hue!

First up, let's do a Sweet Lolita basic wardrobe! This one is done with the mix & match color combo in mind, in an easy-to-match pink and blue combo, but it can very easily be done in a single color as well. Click the image for a larger version!
Here's a brief rundown of some of the individual pieces in it:
1 special piece- Angelic Pretty's Vanilla Chan JSK. This piece has both pink and blue in it, you can wear it with almost any combination of pieces in the wardrobe. 
2 easy-to-coordinate JSKs- blue JSK by Baby the Stars Shine Bright, pink Bodyline JSK. These are both a bit similar in design, but because they're two different colors, and the pink one even has polkadots, they aren't so samey. If you were building a single color wardrobe, you might want to make sure your 2 JSKs aren't so similar.
2 skirts- both from Baby. One is a pretty "traditional" Sweet Lolita skirt, and one is a more style-versatile tired skirt.
3 blouses- all from Bodyline. The pink one with the big bow on it is the "statement" blouse, it might not go with absolutely anything, but it can add a lot of extra fanciness to an all-pink coordinate, or some very interesting contrast to a blue and pink one.
2 cutsews- also all from Bodyline. These are pretty easy pieces, the more casual one features a print that's mostly in pink and blue, so it can be paired with anything, the button-up one is very comfy for casual wear, but still looks fancy.
2 outerwear pieces- again, all from Bodyline. I've picked a more casual pink cardigan, and a fancier white bolero. Personally, I think cardigans and boleros are the best bet for a Sweet Lolita wardrobe. It's usually a good bet to pick one that's more casual and one that's fancier when it comes to the outerwear pieces.
Headwear- both bows from Baby, beret is from Angelic Pretty. I went with a headbow in blue, a headbow in pink, and a beret that would match anything in the wardrobe for extra options.
1 pair of match-everything shoes and 1 match-everything purse- shoes from Bodyline, purse from Baby. Pretty self explanatory! A relatively simple pair of Lolita shoes and a cute purse to match the base color in the outfit are sure to go with any outfit you might make! In Sweet Lolita especially, it's very tempting to choose a small novelty purse, because they're pretty trendy right now, but when you're beginning to build a wardrobe, it's best to choose practicality over a not-so-practical statement purse. After all, as awesome and fluffy as that unicorn shaped purse might be, it's going to get really old, really fast, carrying it every day and trying to cram all your daily stuff into it.
Lots of legwear- Offbrand tights, Baby knee socks, Bodyline print socks and OTKs. For this wardrobe I picked a pair of lace tights, OTKs, knee socks, and a pair of printed socks. If you're going for printed socks, it's safest to pick a pair in your base color with details that have colors that coordinate with your wardrobe, rather than the sock's main color being one of the colors in your wardrobe.
Lots of accessories- Q-pot necklace, Chocomint star, Angelic Pretty ring and cuffs, offbrand pearl necklace. These are all pretty basic accessories that can be paired with most any coordinate you might make. In a Sweet Lolita wardrobe, I think a pair of wrist cuffs are a very versatile accessory to have! They can add a little something extra to a lot of different outfits. I also think that pearl necklaces are a very cute addition to almost any Sweet Lolita outfit, they can be retro, elegant, cute, or princessly!

I think a wardrobe like this can make for a lot of different looking outfits: the cardigan and beret can add some retro chic outfits, the cutsew and accessories can cute Fair-Kei inspired outfits, the lace tights and the white bolero can make Hime inspired outfits, and really so much more! Here are just a few sample outfits that you can make with these pieces, click for a larger picture:








Gothic Lolita wardrobes are probably the easiest wardrobes to do some accent color coordination with. The solid color nature of the Gothic Lolita wardrobe, which is very rarely found in other styles of Lolita, makes it an obvious choice to add an accent color to. In a wardrobe like this, outfits could be easily made that exclude the accent color completely, or they could be made to have large blocks of the accent color, for days when you're feeling a little less monochromatic!

1 special piece- Surface Spell. For this special piece, I chose an OP. It's cheaper than choosing a must-have print as a special piece, but it's very fancy, and it has a lot less ways you can be coordinating it, so it's probably best saved for special occasions.
2 easy-to-coordinate JSKs- gauzy one from Moitie, cotton one from Baby. With the Sweet Lolita wardrobe I chose 2 rather similar JSKs in different colors, but 2 similar JSKs in all black would be pretty boring, so for a wardrobe in mostly a single color, it's a good option to choose dresses in different materials, or of a vastly different design. For these 2 particular dresses, the Moitie one is very flowy and fancy looking, while the Baby one is more structured and "traditionally" Lolita looking.
2 skirts- tiered one from Baby, corset skirt from Bodyline. Again, when working with one color, it's best to choose 2 very different designs. I've chosen a simpler tired skirt from Baby, and a very fancy looking skirt from Bodyline.
3 blouses- short sleeved from Meta, long sleeved from Surface Spell, red chiffon from Dear Celine. I've gone with the basic short sleeve, long sleeve pair of blouses, in a more mature and Victorian inspired cut, as well as a chiffon blouse in the accent color as the statement blouse in this wardrobe. You could easily go with a very fancy black blouse, but I think the addition of a blouse in the accent color can really stretch the possibilities for unique outfits in a small wardrobe, especially a wardrobe that's almost entirely 1 color!
2 cutsews- long sleeved from h.Naoto, short sleeved from Moitie. Just a couple simple black cutsews, with short and long sleeves. If you're building a Gothic Lolita wardrobe, and need some cutsews for cheap, you can very often find appropriate tops in mainstream stores, many "business" or otherwise fancy wear blouses are made out of a stretchy, comfy fabric. Or, you can do what I do, and hit up the second hand sales comm for some second hand h.Naoto. Despite the fact that Naoto cutsews are between $70 and $150 new, you can easily pink up second hand ones for $25 or cheaper. I have a lot of Naoto tops I spent less than $25 dollars on!
2 outerwear pieces- cardigan from h.Naoto, jacket from Fan + Friend. Jackets are an awesome addition to a Gothic Lolita wardrobe, and you can find so many amazing designs that are exactly what you need to make an outfit a little extra fancy. Bolero's and ruffly cardigans are also a very useful addition to a Gothic Lolita wardrobe! Keep in mind that with a mostly single color wardrobe, you are going to rely a lot on texture to keep your outfits looking interesting and different from each other. Layering pieces is a very handy way to add texture to an outfit if you don't have a lot of brocades and chiffons in your wardrobe, and easy-to-wear cardigans and boleros are the perfect way to add some layers!
Headwear- headdresses from Baby, rose headband from Victorian Maiden. Since we don't have to worry about each headdress matching the colors in the wardrobe, I went with 3 different styled headdresses, but with Gothic Lolita, you can honestly get away with just one if you need to, but since Gothic Lolita doesn't really rely on bows for headwear, you can usually make appropriate hair accessories with some black craft supplies and a glue gun for pretty cheap.
1 pair of match-everything shoes and 1 match-everything purse- both offbrand. A pair of more grownup styled shoes is a versatile choice with Gothic Lolita, and while I said to avoid novelty purses with Sweet Lolita, you can usually get away with a coffin or bat-shaped purse in Gothic Lolita, if just because you're not really relying on a motif that may or may not match the print on your dress.
Lots of legwear- OTKs from Bodyline, the rest is offbrand. Almost any kind of black tights or stockings should do pretty well in a Gothic Lolita wardrobe and a pair of OTKs are a good addition too.
Lots of accessories- both the red rhinestone ring and rhinestone heart necklace from Alchemy Gothic, the rest is offbrand. The accessories is really the place you're going to be wanting to adding your accent color to in this kind of wardrobe!

While most black-centric wardrobes are bound to look a little samey, the differences in texture, materials, and details are what make the individual outfits stand out, and a mix of more traditionally Lolita items, with more extravagant Gothic pieces means you can create different oufits all along the Lolita to Gothic spectrum, from cute Kuro Lolita outfits, to flowing chiffon Gothic Lolita ones! And having the one boystyled coat can add a little something different to any outfit it's paired with. Once more, here are just a few coordinates you can make with the above wardrobe, click for larger pictures:





If you're more inclined towards Classic Lolita, and not particularly fond of having a matchy-matchy wardrobe, you can really easily put together a very workable wardrobe with a similar color palette. So long as you stick with one base color, and one color palette, you can very successfully create a budding wardrobe that still allows most everything to be mixed and matched without having to stick to any one, or two, colors.

1 special piece- Fan + Friend. This special pieces is neither expensive, or an OP that would limit coordinate possibilities, instead, it's a bit fancier than anything in the wardrobe.
2 easy-to-coordinate JSKs- floral from Juliette et Justine, red from Fan + Friend. These two pieces are quite different from each other, but they each can make some very differently styled coordinates using the same accessories and accent pieces.
2 skirts- floral from Baby, high-waisted from Innocent World. Once again, when choosing 2 pieces, I went with one print piece, and one solid piece. It's not mandatory, you can get away with two solid, or two print pieces just fine, but having both types adds some versatility to your wardrobe.
3 blouses- Alice & the Pirates, Metamorphose, and Innocent World. The blouse on the far left is actually the statement blouse in this trio, because it's made with sheer chiffon, making it both a fancier piece, and one that has a bit more limited wearablity, because wearing it with any of the skirts might be tricky since you're going to need a nice undershirt to wear with it.
2 cutsews- Alice & the Pirates, F+F. Just a shorter sleeved and a longer sleeved pair of cutsews.
2 outerwear pieces-bolero from Bodyline, cardigan from Innocent World. The fancier Bodyline bolero is nice for fancying-up most any coordinate, and the cardigan is great for lending a more casual look. The cardigan is not in a base color, but rather a complementing color to the main pieces in the wardrobe, in this case brown, because it matches the accessories nicely, but it could be pretty much any other color that goes well with most of the main pieces.
Headwear- bowler hat from F+F, corsage from Alice & the Pirates, bow from Baby. I stuck to a base color for the two headdresses, one a fancier corsage, the other a more casual bow, and chose a full-sized hat for an extra headwear option. Like the cardigan, I chose a complementing color that matches the accessories, for a bit of variety.
1 pair of match-everything shoes and 1 match-everything purse- purse from Baby, shoes from Bodyline. I chose a pair of shoes that were the same base color, as it's a safer option if you can only afford one pair of shoes at the moment in a wardrobe based around a color palette. However, the purse is in a complementary color, again, because it matches the accessories, and nearly all of the pieces in the wardrobe. Personally, I don't think that purses have to 100% match an outfit, so long as they aren't too out there and are of the same style as the outfit. A pastel pink star purse would look completely out of place in this wardrobe, even paired with the special piece with the pink bows, but a Classic styled brown purse isn't going to not match, even if the coordinate has no brown in it.
Lots of legwear- socks from Innocent World, tights are offbrand. A couple pairs of OTKs with a match-everything print on them, and a couple pairs of different lacy or crochet tights in a base color are good choices.
Lots of accessories-all offbrand. A few pieces of Victorian inspired jewelry, as well as a nice pair of lacy gloves and a faux fur collar in brown (see a theme here with the accessory color? Take a piece of advice from the accent color wardrobe in this case!) are a few accessories that can add a unique finishing touch to many different outfits.

Just like with all the other wardrobes before this, the different accessory and secondary pieces can create a lot of different looks with just the limited number of main pieces. The chiffon blouse or ruffle bolero can be paired with lace gloves and the more delicate jewelry to create a very fancy look, while the cardigan can be paired up with the bowler hat for casual and cute look, and the fur collar can be added to anything for a more opulent look. Click the images below for larger pictures.





Some style variations
Lolita has a lot of different styles an sub-styles, and it would take a lot of time and effort to make wardrobe examples for all of them! Luckily, they all mostly follow the same idea as the ones above. 
Punk Lolita- Your average Punk Lolita outfit is black with an accent color, and quite often, that accent color is in the form of tartan. Consider the tartan part of your accent color, and include more your chosen accent color than you normally would in a Gothic Lolita coordinate. Skip the blouses almost completely (although it is always handy to have at least one) and instead go for some cutsews from various Jpunk brands such as Hellcatpunks, Sex Pot Revenge, or even Putumayo.
Country Lolita- Country Lolita is a bit of a middle ground between Sweet Lolita and Classic Lolita, so if you're building a Country Lolita wardrobe, either a mix and match, single color, or color palette wardrobe would be a good choice. Just try to include some iconic gingham and paler floral prints in with your wardrobe and consider making your purse a straw purse, including a straw hat, and adding a pair of dainty crochet lace gloves to your accessory supply.
Hime Lolita- Hime Lolita is just a more princessly way of wearing Lolita, with a little bit of Gyaru thrown in for good measure. Look for more princess inspired pieces: lower square necks, lace overlays, chiffon ruffles, sparkles, etc. You can tailor any one of the above wardrobe examples towards Hime Lolita easily by keeping that in mind, making your pair of shoes a pair of Gyaru inspired heels, adding a pair of long white gloves to your accessories for special occasions, and perhaps saving up for a big teased Hime wig.
OTT Lolita- Over-the-top Lolita, as the name implies, is probably not the best wardrobe to start out with if you plan on wearing Lolita on a regular basis, as you're probably going to get sick of all the prep-work OTT requires if you're wearing it regularly. But if you just plan on making a wardrobe that mostly gets worn to meetups, or on occasion, it's not hard to OTT it up a bit, regardless of what your style is, by making most all of your dresses bold prints, adding a whole heck of a lot more accessories, and getting yourself an appropriate wig. Be warned that an OTT wardrobe is probably going to quickly break your budget, so if you're determined, but don't have much room in your budget for one, consider simply making your special piece be the focal piece in an OTT outfit and all the accessories that might go with that outfit be able to be worn only a few at a time with any other outfits you might make with your wardrobe.
Of course, there are other Lolita styles than these! But I tried to focus on the ones that people tend to wear on a daily basis, and therefore would have a whole wardrobe full of, or aren't simply themes that could fit into a style (for example: Pirate or Sailor Lolita is probably not something most Lolitas wear every single day, as it's main defining feature might be a certain style of collar or whether or not you're wearing a tricorn hat, but is rather a theme that easily be applied to any Lolita style). 
Some final advice on wardrobe building
 I am a firm non-believer in "beginner" pieces. Sometimes you will see people trying to offload questionable quality goods by claiming that they are good for beginners simply because they are cheap, and from far away, if you squint your eyes, they sort of look OK. Seriously, don't fall for this. Unless you have absolutely no idea whether you want to wear Lolita or not, with Lolita there's really no reason to buy a cheapo "tester" dress, especially because a) if you're a smart second-hand shopper, you can usually get back all of the price you paid for the item and b) good quality Lolita is seriously cheap these days, you can pretty easily pick up a good quality, good looking dress for under $40 second hand.

There is also a lot of talk about quantity over quality when it comes to building wardrobes, and personally, I think the choices are not really as black and white as some people make it seem. If you're building a wardrobe, you don't have to choose between straight-from-the-shop brand pieces or picking up the cheapest pieces Bodyline has to offer, there's actually a pretty easy middle ground if you do a bit of research on your options! I feel like the options you have are actually Quantity, Quality, or Effort! I would definitely suggest browsing the second hand sales communities and getting a good idea of how certain things are priced and learn to know when to spot a good deal. It's not uncommon to pick up like-new brand JSKs and OPs for $80-$100, and blouses for $40-$50, this still might be out of your budget for every single piece in your wardrobe, but it's a very far cry from the $400 dresses and $200 blouses that many people like to claim are the norm for Lolita clothes. You can also easily pad your wardrobe with nice quality, but cheaper priced, pieces from places like various Taobao shops and Bodyline. Take some time to read reviews from various places you might not be too familiar with, such as reviews of the multitude of Taobao shops out there, to learn which shops produce the best quality items, and which shops you should probably not be tempted by.

Don't feel like you need to be constantly adding new pieces to your wardrobe either, or that a starter wardrobe is something you should buy all at once! If it takes time, then it takes time! My own wardrobe actually took a couple years before I was able to wear Lolita more than once every other week or so. Consider starting your wardrobe by putting together one complete outfit, dress first, then petticoat, then any finishing touches, and then start assembling the rest of the wardrobe one piece at a time. Or, if you want a little bit of instant gratification, you can always make your first piece an accessory in your favorite style or by your favorite brand. Sometimes having just a single head bow can motivate you to start saving up for the rest of the pieces you want!

It should also go without saying that this is not the only way you can build a Lolita wardrobe! I'm certainly not saying it is, I have just been asked multiple times about what I would consider a good complete starter wardrobe, and I've thought long and hard about it. Is this what I did when I started to build my Lolita wardrobe? Gosh no, but it's what I seriously wish I did! When I first started building my Lolita wardrobe, there were very little options outside of Japan, so I sort of took the opportunity whenever I could to pick up whatever pieces I could, and it lead to a wardrobe full of very basic looking pieces that sort of all looked the same (a black blouse, a white blouse, and about half a dozen simple black skirts isn't a very exciting wardrobe!).

You're welcome to build your wardrobe however you want, but if you have a tangible goal in mind, it makes things a whole lot easier when it comes time to actually start buying the pieces. Feel free to change these wardrobes around in whatever way it would suit you and your own Lolita style and budget! Write up a list, if you have to, of all the things you want your Lolita wardrobe to be able to do, create a budget, set aside a small amount of money every week, make a list of pieces you feel are essential to your wardrobe, start learning a new craft so you can start adding handmade pieces to your budding wardrobe.

How did you start building your own Lolita wardrobe? What kind of advice would you give to your newbie Lolita self? Or perhaps you're still building the beginnings of a Lolita wardrobe, what have you found makes it easiest? Feel free to share your own wardrobe building stories and tips! Like I mentioned before in this monster of a post, my own early Lolita wardrobe was nowhere near this organized! It's something I really do regret too, because, despite the fact I have many pieces in my wardrobe now that are a decade old (or older!), and I'm still hunting down pieces I wished for when I first got into the style, I no longer wear any of the pieces that I actually bought when I started building my wardrobe because I had no concrete idea in my head of what I wanted! It amounted to bit of wasted money that, in retrospect, I really, really wish I would have spent on better quality pieces.

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