The word “Lolita” for most people conjures up images of the infamous book Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov and the movie based on it. In Japan however, the term Lolita Fashion has nothing to do with this novel. It’s rather a fashion trend where the clothes resemble the outfits used for dolls in the Victorian Era. So, what is this fashion trend all about? Read on and find out.
What is Lolita Fashion?
Lolita Style emerged as fashion genre in the 1980’s as a form of rebellion against the strict and repressive role of women in Japanese society. It was brought into mainstream by Visual Kei musicians such as Mana, who popularised the Gothic Lolita trend, and authors like Novala Takemoto, who wrote Kamikaze Girls.
How to dress up in Lolita Style?
A typical Lolita ensemble is supposed to showcase elegance and cuteness. The Lolita style usually features a blouse paired up with a frilly skirt, poofed up with the help of panniers and petticoats. Accessories include bows, decorative headbands, bow-shaped neckties, knee-high socks, round platform shoes, parasols and handbags.
It is important to understand this fashion trend completely before attempting to wear it or you may be called an Ito Lolita. An Ito Lolita is someone who has misunderstood or badly interpreted the Lolita style. This may be due to cheap lacy dresses bought from a Halloween store or due to mistmatched accesories that don’t go along with a particular style.
To understand the different types of Lolita and avoid being an Ito Lolita, read the guide below.
Types of Lolitas
The Lolita Fashion genre has many substyles and genres in it. The most well-known of these are Sweet Lolitas, Gothic Lolitas, and Classic Lolitas.
1. Sweet Lolita
As the name suggests, Sweet Lolitas have a preference for an aesthetic that is sweet and feminine. This means that they are more drawn to lighter colors and pastels. Pink usually features prominently in their makeup and clothes accompanied often by pearls and bows. They are certainly the most girly among Lolita.
Sweet Lolita Brands
Angelic Pretty, Amavel, Baby The Stars Shine Bright, Metamorphose.
2. Gothic Lolita
The Gothic Lolita Style is an amalgam of Goth and Lolita Styles. This translates into darker colored dresses especially black. The Lolita element is reflected by the poofy bell shaped skirt, ruffles and over the top accessories. Black Stockings and Garter are also part of this look. However, unlike the Goth style of the west, Gothic Lolitas don’t wear dark makeup like black lipstick and don’t powder their faces to make it look overly pale.
Punk Rock/ Gothic Lolita Brands
Moi-même-Moitié, Kera Shop, OzzCroce, Alice and the Pirates, Artherapie
3. Classic Lolita
The Classic Lolita represents a more sophisticated and mature version of the Lolita style. These lolitas with their elegant hats and dresses appear to have walked straight out of a Victorian era! Like the Sweet Lolitas, these Lolitas prefer pastel colors especially cream-colored dresses. However, the skirt in this look is A-line rather than bell-shaped. Overall this style is a subdued form of Lolita which gives more importance to elegance rather than the cute factor.
Classic Lolita Brands
Ateilier Pierrot, Innocent World, Catherine Cottage
4. Aristrocrat Lolita
Aristrocrat Lolita is a more subdued expression of Lolita style favoring elegance and sophistication. The dresses in this style are generally darker in color and generally don’t feature the extravagant frills and laces instead sticking to straighter cuts and simpler silhouttes.
5. Punk Lolita
Punk Lolita is inspired by the Vivienne Westwood’s punk designs. The look usually features punk elements such as leather belts with chains, clothes with the ripped effect, safety pins, studs and tartan blended with the feminine and sweet look of Lolita.
6. Kuro and Shiro Lolita
These are two Lolita styles are monochromatic styles. In that, Kuro Lolita style means that the dress and the accessories are all black and Shiro Lolita is the same but the color in this case is white.
7. Wa and Qi Lolita
The Wa and Qi Lolitas incorporate the traditional dress elements of the Japanese and Chinese cultures respectively while still adhering to the Lolita aeshtetic.
8. Cosplay Lolita
Some Lolita styles lend themselves easily to cosplay because of the style elements that are part of the look. The Lolita styles that are usually used in cosplay rather than everyday wear are listed here:
As the name suggests, the Pirate Lolita Style is based on clothes and accessories of a typical pirate as depicted in the movies. So the accessories that go along with this look are eye patches, swords, feathers in the cap and pirate hats.
The Steampunk Lolita is inspired by the steampunk trend of the west. So, these looks often include metallic and leather accessories paired with shorter, puffier skirts.
The Guro Lolita is a gory and grotesque style. This look which is most suitable for Halloween features blood splatters on a sweet lolita dress, blood soaked teddy bears as acessories and other elements that represent a sense of horror.
Lolita Fashion Brands and Lolita styles they offer
Baby The Stars Shine Bright (BTSSB)
Baby the Stars Shine Bright or BTSSB is also a Sweet Lolita Fashion brand. BTSBBS has also featured in the several movies, Manga and Anime such as Kamikaze Girls, Boys Over Flowers, Death Note, Moyashimon. This brand also has stores in Paris and Sanfransico.
As the name might suggest, Angelic Pretty caters to the Sweet Lolita Fashion trend. They offer clothes that have a lot of frills and lace and generally very girly and cute. Angelic Pretty also has an international presence with a shop in Sanfransico, Paris and Shanghai. Details of these locations are given in the where to buy section below. They also have an online store for USA.
Ateiler Pierrot caters to the Gothic Lolitas. Their dresses typically feature tight corsets and bell shaped frilly skirt and Paniers in darker shades.
Moi-meme-Moitie is a brand that was started by Malice Mizer’s Mana. He brought the element of sophistication and elegance of an aristrocrat into the Gothic Lolita realm giving rise to the name “Elegant Gothic Aristrocrat” or EGA. You can find Moi-meme-Moitie at Kera Shop in the Marui Annex in Shinjuku.
Milk is actually an Otome fashion brand. The Otome style is very similar to the Lolita style in that they both focus on the girly look. The clothes by Milk can easily transcend into the Lolita domain and are usually indistinguishable from the Lolita look. They offer clothes that are simple, modest and cute. They also sell a lot of accessories that can be incorporated into everyday wardrobe even if you are not completely into the Lolita trend.
Where to buy Lolita Fashion?
In Tokyo, You will find a lot of Lolita Fashion shops in the famous Harajuku area of Tokyo especially on Takeshita street. Some of the notable stores are:
- La Foret Harajuku also near Meji-Jingumae station has clothes from brands such as Alice and the Pirates, Jane Marple and Angelic Pretty. View the map here.
- At Shinjuku Marui Annex, two floors (6th and the 7th Floor) have been dedicated to Lolita fashion shops. You can find almost any style and any brand related Lolita fashion here. Shops include brands such as Ateilier Pierrot, Amavel, Angelic Pretty, Emily Temple Cute, Ozz croce, Baby the Stars Shine Bright, and many others. View directions to Shinjuku Marui Annex here.
- Milk near Meji-Jingumae station. View map to Milk here.
- Angelic Pretty has locations in Sanfransico, Paris and Shangai. You can also shop online. Check out the USA online shop below.
- Baby The Stars Shine Bright has stores in Paris and Sanfransico. They also have an online store that ships to USA and Canada.
Order Lolita Fashion Online Internationally
Where to spot Lolitas in Tokyo?
If you want to spot some Lolitas, your best bet would be at Takeshita Street in Harajuku, Tokyo. Especially many Lolitas along with other fashionistas of Harajuku meet at Takeshita Street for an event called the “Harajuku Fashion Walk” to flaunt their fashion chops. To keep up, check the Twitter Feed @harajuku_fw where they advertise the event dates.
What do you think about the Lolita Style? Would you be willing to try it? Let me know in the comments.