Lolita Trends: Opulent Is The New Kawaii

Kawaii is dead, long live the opulent! Okay, so that might be a little extreme, but I have definitely noticed a change in Lolita trends lately. A few years ago, to be the best Lolita you could possibly be, it was encouraged to just pile on the kawaii, quite literally sometimes, as Lolitas carefully would pin actual stuffed animals to their piles of pink curls. Nowadays, stuffed animals and pastels have been, for the most part, cast aside for more elegant trends. But that doesn't mean it's not as over the top as ever! We Lolitas are not exactly known for our restrained fashion tastes, so now that Classic is more in the lime light, of course Lolitas are going to go all out with it.

Ages ago I wrote a bit about this emerging trend here, but now that the trend is in full swing I would like to revisit this topic. When I first wrote that post back in 2011, I actually got a fair amount of flak from that article (although I lost most of the comments in a comment system move!) from people who thought that Classic Lolita shouldn't be elaborate, that it was supposed to be a more toned down style. Two and a half years later it would be appalling to make such a suggestion! Now there's no doubt that Classic Lolita can be just as elaborate and over the top as Sweet Lolita was known for being, it's everywhere! Without a doubt I feel that the previous trends of kawaii are being replaced more and more with opulent trends.

What exactly does this mean? I feel like there has been a definite aesthetic trend emerging. For the past few years keywords like princess, childlike, cute, and baby doll could easily be used to describe popular Lolita trends, and popular Lolita outfits typically featured soft baby colored pastels, shorter hemlines, and quirky prints and accessories that tugged on our sense of childish nostalgia (the 80's inspired Fairy-Kei was a very big overlapping trend with Lolita for a very long time!). Currently I am noticing these type of aesthetic keywords being replaced with similar, but strikingly different, keywords such as regal, refined, elegant, and porcelain doll. Let's take a look at some of the individual trends happening within this current trend of opulence!

Headwear and Hair

Bonnets have always been around in Lolita, and go in and out of style, but they've come back in a big way with the new trends, often worn with waves or curls. In addition to bonnets, headwear has gone less from just slapping a headbow on to wearing elaborately styled hairdos and decorating them with various corsages and clips. This new opulent trend has no room for the twin tail wigs of the past, or at the very least, there is simply no room for them under our bonnets!

Classic Prints

In terms of popularity, Classic inspired prints have replaced the more saccharine prints. Even Angelic Pretty, who spearheaded the ultra-kawaii trend, has been releasing more and more classically inspired prints, and often in bolder colors than the soft muted pastels of the past few years. The opulent trend has even upped the print ante a bit and has grown quite fond of mixing multiple prints in the same outfit, à la Dolly Kei.

Silhouettes
 Hemlines in Lolita appeared to be rising fast in Lolita, and petticoats were just never poofy enough for the kawaii trends. But in contrast, the more opulent trends favor longer skirts, often with underskirts to lengthen hemlines even more, as well as a much less extreme poof. We're also seeing a lot more empire and trapezoid dresses getting more positive attention than they did during the reign of the kawaii. There are still a lot of poofy dresses out there, but I think what we're definitely seeing with the opulent trend is a much greater variety of silhouettes getting attention.

Materials

Back when kawaii was king, most every popular dress was inevitably going to be a cotton dress and the focal point was intended to be the print on it, the rest of the pieces in the outfit (blouse, socks, bolero, etc) were generally chosen based on how well it's color complimented the print color, and were for the most part still opaque cotton. Now we're finding brands releasing more popular pieces that experiment with a variety of different fabrics, from sheer chiffons to shimmery satins. Even legwear is no longer limited to a cotton knit sock, but a variety of different textured sheer stockings and silky printed tights have been released by brands lately!

Personally, I find this change in trends very exciting! Super Sweet Lolita was never really my cup of tea, and I found the style of the individual pieces to go stagnant after only a short time, with the only real changes in the fashion during the reign of kawaii to be superficial, limited mostly to the realm of accessorization than to the actual dresses: hair, jewelry, and print trends changed while the individual Lolita pieces being released were more or less unchanged. I felt that the kawaii trends came with a "coloring book" style of experimentation, as Lolitas we were given a very basic dress cut and a rainbow of pastel crayons, and while we could do what we pleased with them, there was little we could do to change the basic dress with them. With the rising popularity of more opulent trends I am seeing much more experimentation among brands in terms of materials and silhouette. Of course, this trend is still relatively fresh, and it could easily revert to the "coloring book" style of releases that we saw for much of the kawaii trend, just with calf-length brocade dresses rather than above-the-knee cotton dresses!

Brands are still releasing cute and bubbly kawaii inspired pieces, and Lolitas are continuing to wear them, just as they were releasing more elegant pieces during the kawaii years, it's simply that the focus has shifted from one to another! What do you think about this shift from kawaii to opulent? Are you excited for the change in trends? Or does your heart still beat doki doki for the kawaii? 

29 comments:

  1. I love this new trend! Classic prints are so pretty and I have always loved bonnets.

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  2. I really like the rise of the classic. Although, I'm more excited about the trends that might come in the future, i think it could be "the dark ages" (gothic), or maybe some steampunk

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    1. I think gothic already was a thing, it was there before the OTT sweet. But I am curious and maybe a little affraid of the evolution of the lolita style. I am fan of this classic wave, the hairdos etc, that´s me :)

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  3. I still love super-sweet, and that's probably because I'm a latecomer. But I really enjoy these particular trends. I just have nothing in my closet to currently support it. I need to get a giant bonnet.

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  4. I love this! <3
    ..somehow actually been drawn to more classical and elegant styled outfit, rather than overly pink and frilly (even though I love them). Don't really follow any fashion trends, but this jsut feels natural. Maybe the generation who were younger, are now a bit older and want to look more defined.

    The material and dress shape change is very nice, sometimes it's just better to wear something without a petticoat. Personally I've gone head over heels for chiffon and always liked classical/historical looking fabrics and prints..ah..this is so great! :D

    ~ Frillycakes ~

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  5. I, too, am very excited about this trend, as I never really like the super sweet lolita. I sometimes wear a bit of Sweet, but it's more toned down, more old-school. This is definitely more of my cup of tea.

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  6. I say bring it on! I love OTT Sweet, I love OTT Classic and I love OTT Gothic - so long we still see the shades in between pop up on egl, tumblr etc. too. I like variety and I kind of worry if all we see in the coming period is OTT Classic, we'll get fed up with it very soon, just like it happened with OTT Sweet. Nevertheless, I'm really looking forward to the Classic opulenceXD

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    1. There will always be in between shades! Even with OTT Sweet was at it's absolute height there were still people out there representing the other fashions! Sometimes you just have to look for it xD Hopefully, with the amount of experimentation that has been going on with the new trend it will at least take much longer for us to all finally get bored with it xD

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  7. I really agree with your assessment so much. I got into lolita a few years ago when OTT sweet lolita was the huge thing, and I feel almost weird seeing the vibrant prints I lusted over then falling to the wayside for simpler details. I love both styles of lolita, though, and I'm kinda interested to see where the fashion is pushing from here.

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    1. I think seeing where it goes next is the most interesting part! When OTT Sweet was very popular I think a lot of people just imagined it continuing in that direction when in reality almost the opposite of previous trends took over in less than a year!

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  8. I was incredibly happy when I noticed Angelic Pretty's shift to more classic prints! Fabric and cut has been interesting me a lot more than sugary-sweet prints lately, and will be my focus this year. I put myself somewhere in the middle. I'm in love with the OTT opulence in Classic but a part of me misses the days of OTT Sweet (though there are some things I can do without like bright pastel twintail wigs). Maybe it's because the participants have gotten older and crave a more mature but still over the top look.

    All I know is, even though I don't currently dress Gothic I'm waiting with baited breath for when that turns OTT!

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    1. I've seen a lot of really gorgeous OTT Gothic coords! I think that they're just as over the top as some of these Classic and Sweet looks, they're just not out there in the lime light yet. Who knows though, maybe after Classic has it's day in the sun Gothic will take over again :D

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  9. I've been on the OTT classic support train for years, I'm really happy that it's finally getting big! What I'm really curious about is how newcomers to the fashion will change- previously, many/most lolitas started out in sweet, often because they were introduced to it at an anime convention and were drawn to the "kawaii" look of it, and branched into classic later. I'm wondering if there will be fewer new lolitas drawn in, or if we'll just get a different type of newbie than the ones we're used to (I think those types of young women who would get into the kawaii look tend to be more into cutesy styles than mature ones), or if sweet will continue being popular, but 70% of the people wearing it will be new to lolita. Or maybe it won't affect it at all! Whatever happens, I'm super excited for this new trend, and how it affects the lolita community in general.

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    1. That actually is a really good question! The super sweet stuff was a huuuuge draw for a lot of people, like i know it's still there, but if it's not as huge, will it still draw in the same amounts of people? I wonder if the OTT Classic trends will attract more older people instead even?

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  10. I don't think I will ever like Classic, just not my taste. I just hope this means more people will go for classic and there will be less competition when it comes to new releases of super sweet prints, lol.

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  11. I prefer this style much more than Sweet Lolita. I look forward to more refine, elegant looks.

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  12. I'm a relatively new Lolita, and I love this look! I have a question though, what petticoat would you recommend to wear under a longer, less poofy dress? I have the Sock Dreams one you recommended but I'm sure it won't work for a longer, less full silhouette.

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    1. Personally I just had a seamstress on the comm_sales custom make a longer and less huge petti for my calf-length skirts. It was much cheaper than looking for a brand or taobao one that had to be shipped from overseas. If I want a bit more volume, I wear ruffly bloomers underneath.

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  13. I am very excited about this classic Lolita trend! It is so me and really exemplifies my Lolita style. I love the over the top classical prints that are being released, they are so inspiring to me. I hope this style never goes away because I love it so much, I can't wait for more and also to sew a bunch of my own over the top classical garments and accessories!

    I was never fully comfortable in Sweet Lolita. I usually opted for gothic and classic. With this new trend it's easy to even merge gothic and classic into an OTT coordinate! I have so many ideas.

    Overall I am super excited about this trend for certain!

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  14. As my style preferences in lolita have been more of the classical and in the last few years retro I am excited with this new trend. I too did not fancy the candy prints and childish look as much. I also remember seeing the complaints on EGL about the dresses all being the same cut. I do hope we continue to see more of these experimentation as it gives us each more room to explore and express our personal styles.

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  15. I really look forward to the community experimenting with classical with a new light! I was drawn to Lolita by Classic and put off coz I thought I had to start to like wearing pink and strawberries and candy floss.
    I like to see the handmade Lolitas jump into none Cotton fancy Classic dresses

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  16. I'm excited for the change in trends, I like classic more than sweet :) And I love bonnets ^^

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  17. To be honest I'm excited to see a mix of the opulent and kawaii. My favorite indie brand chess story, I feel is much like that, I don't know if you've seen starry night angel, unicorn castle, and the Cinderella dresses. they are definitely both kawaii, and elegant. So why can't we have both? I think that would be the best. I want people to both want to hug me and be astounded by my regality.

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  19. I really love the more opulent end of Romantic Goth, and a lot of opulent, detail-heavy aesthetics anyway, and now that I'm wearing Gothic Lolita quite regularly (rather than attempting to once in a while - I should thank you and the other mentors, because once I got my first proper dress I kinda want to wear Lolita all the time and now have some more skirts, etc!), opulence as a trend is something I quite like. I like how there's more popularity for jacquard and velvet dresses, and for metallic accents (gold is prominent, but I prefer silver). I think there's always been an amount of opulence in Gothic Lolita anyway, having looked back through old magazines, etc. so as opulence trends in all streams of Lolita (even the Sweet Lolita stuff is getting to be more "princess" than "little girl"), it fits in especially well with Gothic Lolita. I'm finding myself using Goth blouses with dresses (well, dress) and skirts from Lolita and am glad it is more acceptable to have chiffons and satins rather than everything cotton. I still like the less opulent outfits for everyday wear, though - the fancy stuff seems to be for meet-ups, cons, etc. more than for shopping in town.

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  20. I am still for the kawaii! I think that the classic lolitas are very pretty and elegant, but that's just not me! I've always loved cute, girly things, like super puffy skirts and bunnies, and even my friends tell me that my personality fits the kawaii style so well! But I still am excited to see what happens with the classic lolitas! I may not wear them, but I think they're nice to look at!

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  21. My switch to more classic has also been an age thing, as I grow up past my mid 20's into my late 20's I feel uncomfortable in OTT sweet and casual styles and I feel that this could be the same with my community as well. As well grow older we want more age appropriate styles.

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  22. Seems this shift to elegance has been sticking around and maybe even growing. Aside from seeing more synthetic fibers and perhaps designs that will be harder to wash, I really like it. I've always favored classic lolita and black lolita ~ but, all the unique prints that have come out in recent years make me feel like there is more of a reason to pay so much money than for a simple solid fabric. I've loved Lolita since 2002/3 or so and have seen this evolution happen over that time. I hope this "opulent" trend and the other potential new styles stick around to become accepted as sub-genres.

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