Monday, 30 December 2013

Review #19: F+F Blouses

I recently had to sell off a bunch of my lolita due to a mixture of things no longer fitting and me gaining a better understanding of what my lolita style actually is [long story short, much as I adore sweet, I can't really wear it] but the upside of that was having a bit of cash to reinvest in some new lolita. Since blouses are what I really lack, and they're also the thing I can't sew for myself, I placed a nice little F+F order.

Longer reviews are below, but in summary all the blouses are quite nice as far as fabric quality and construction goes. My photos aren't that great but fortunately the stock photos are very true in regards to colour and all other details. However, sizing is a bit inconsistent so read on if you are thinking of purchasing any of these blouses. For reference, my bust is currently 95cm and I've listed what F+F said the bust was for each piece.

TP00051 in Lady 80 [Bust 92cm]

This is a blouse I have lusted after since compiling my hypothetical steampunk lolita wardrobe. So I gave into temptation and here we are. I love it. It's made of F+F's standard poly-cotton, and I love all the laces on it. I'm not the hugest fan of the fabric on the collar, but it does look good despite being a bit shiny. The blouse has detachable waist ties, the jabot is attached with press studs, and the ribbon bow is attached to the jabot on a pin, so you can move it around as desired.

Fit wise this one runs large as it is a perfect fit on me. The sleeves are also a great length on me, not tending toward shortness like some Bodyline blouses. For reference there I am 169cm tall, so this is definitely a good sleeve length for taller lolitas! All in all, it's a lovely blouse and I am really glad I got it.

TP00123 in Lady 80 [Bust 98cm]

I really, really like sailor lolita, but I'm not really into navy. So this is perfect for me! The first thing I really noticed is that it is definitely a loose fitting blouse, like the website says. You need to look at the last couple of model stock photos on the website to really see with, but this is not a fitted blouse. It does, however, look great like that. It certainly gives it a more casual vibe, but I like that.

As far as fit on the bust goes this is fairly accurate - it's listed as fitting a 98cm bust and it fits well on me. It might not fit too well if you are smack bang on 98cm though, so if in doubt, maybe go a size up.The sleeve cuffs are also a bit tight, so make sure to check that measurement as well!

TP00103 in Lady 80 [Bust 96cm]

I already have this blouse in white, but since I lost weight it only fits with the corset lacing full tightened, so I tea-dyed it for a shoot. But I really liked it. For me, this is a perfect lolita blouse - cute but not OTT, and the ruffles around the neckline made it look great under JSKs despite not having a collar. So now I have one in black and one in white, though I only snapped a photo of the white on for this review  ^__^

I don't remember how accurate the fit was to the listed measurements last time [silly me didn't put that in the last review] but this time around they were a tad on the small size - these blouses are skin tight. It's good, especially as I intend to shrink down a bit more, but I would definitely recommend getting the larger size if you are hovering between sizes. The sleeve cuffs are tight on me as well and I had to get James to help me tug them off, so that may be something to keep an eye on as well.

As far as postage goes, these were all instant shipping items. I ordered on the 16th and they were shipped the same day. I received them on my doorstep on the 21st, which is pretty quick to my mind, especially over Christmas.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Extended hiatus announcement.

It's first thing in the morning for me, so please ignore the lame title of lameness.

Long story short, after having no internet from what turned out to be more than a week, I realised that I've run out of a bit of steam for this blog, so I'm indefinitely extending the hiatus. However, I'll still be answering comments and also posting clothing reviews, because I find them so helpful myself.

If you feel like keeping up with my photography, modelling and otherness, you can find me at the following sites:
Photography on facebook
Modelling on facebook
Tumblr of a bit of everything
Etsy store

Hope all my lovely readers are well, and I'll see you when I see you!

Friday, 22 November 2013

Announcing a temporary hiatus.

The time has come. I will be without internet for a week [hopefully not more!] as we switch providers, so other than this post, and my scheduled gratefulness post going up on Sunday you won't hear from me for a few days. I've been busy studying for my final uni exam so I haven't had a chance to schedule in new posts to go up over my absence so until we are back online, Roli out.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

A tasty, fishy food by Roli and James

As any of my regular readers know, this is not a foody blog. But sometimes, I just have to share something tasty. And this, this is supremely tasty. And not just tasty, but really simple and pretty healthy too. Introducing our brand new baked veggie and salmon cakes!

This photo is terrible because, as usual, I ate my dinner then realised I was meant to take a photo so I camera phoned the leftovers in the dark kitchen. They don't look so creep-y yellow in real life, promise!

What you need:
2 carrots
1 large zucchini
1 big can of pink salmon, preferably in the 400-500g range.
2 eggs
1/2 cup breadcrumbs and 1/2 cup plain flour
Your favourite herbs and spices.

What to do:
0. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees celcius.
1. Grate the zucchini and carrots into a large mixing bowl.
2. Open the salmon can and drain out most most of the liquid. Add all the salmon to the mixing bowl.
3. Crack your eggs into a cup just to make sure they're fresh, then add them to the bowl as well.
4. Add the flour and breadcrumbs and sprinkle in whatever herbs you like. I think we used oregano, paprika, salt, pepper and a bit of minced garlic.
5. Make sure your hands are clean and get in there. Mix it all together thoroughly with your hands. It should be goopy, kind of the consistency of bread dough after kneading, but not. I'm bad with food analogies. Add more breadcrumbs/flour or another egg if you feel the mixture is too runny or too dry. It should stick together but be easily mould-able.
6. Line a baking tray and mould small handfuls of the mixture into flat-ish balls. Our mix made eight, but making them a bit smaller and ending up with around twelve is probably best.
7. Bake for 10-15 minutes and flip. The underside should be brown when you flip, if not, leave them in for a bit longer. Bake for another 10-15.
8. Serve and devour!

The great thing about these is that even though there is a lot of fish, they don't taste particularly fishy, and you're getting lots of good vegetables too! A few variations that you may want to try...
1. Use tuna instead of salmon.
2. Sub out the flour and breadcrumbs for mashed up sweet potato [about two medium sized ones should do it] and it's paleo ^__^
3. Add other vegetables like corn kernels to change up the texture.
4. Mix in a dash of sweet chilli sauce and some spring onions for a different flavour.

Let me know if you make these and if you liked them!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

A Complete Steampunk Lolita Wardrobe for [just over] $500

It’s been a while since my last hypothetical wardrobe post but finally, I have designed one combining two of my abiding loves: lolita and steampunk! I will be honest though, and say that since a lot of the steampunk vibe comes from accessories this is really just a classic lolita wardrobe in a steampunk inspired colour scheme. Regardless, I really love it and I hope you do too!

To reiterate my usual spiel: my definition of a “complete” Lolita wardrobe is one that can yield you a pretty unique outfit every day for a week. Also as per usual, I do not include purses or accessories for two reasons. Firstly, everyone likes different things there and secondly, most girls already have something appropriate in each department. In this wardrobe in particular, what true steampunk fan doesn’t already have something coggy, some goggles or that ubiquitous octopus jewellery?

Now, on to the wardrobe breakdown!

1 OP, 1 JSK and 1 Skirt:
Again I’ve followed my usual mantra of one plain piece and two patterned ones. The solid coloured skirt from Bodyline [$53] is anything but plain in construction, and both the Bodyline OP [$47] and the Fan Plus Friend JSK [$82] have a nice balance of construction details and patterned fabrics.
1 Neutral Blouse with Detachable Sleeves:
This ivory Bodyline blouse [$47] even has a detachable jabot. Detachable everything!
1 Contrasting Blouse or Cutsew:
This lovely, detailed long sleeve blouse from Fan Plus Friend [$60] makes me drool a little on my keyboard every time I see it, so it was the natural choice for providing extra colour and detail in this wardrobe.
2 Outerwear:
Once again I’ve chosen something “structured” and something “pretty”.  Both from Bodyline, this time around the “structured” is the green sailor jacket [$27] and the “pretty” is the simple brown bolero [$20].
2 Headpieces:
Both headwear choices come from Fan Plus Friend: a standard headbow in ivory [$7] and a lovely brown bowler hat [$13],
2 Pairs of Shoes:
One day I should probably write a post about all my shoes, because maybe then I could truly manage to convey how amazing I think shoes are, and how much they impact an outfit. But for now, enjoy the two Bodyline choices in this wardrobe: ivory Oxfords [$33] and cute brown boots [$47].
5 Items of Legwear:
My usual line for legwear is one pair of solid colour tights and a patterned or printed pair, as well as three pairs of socks: a plain neutral knee high or OTK pair, a more interesting pair of knees highs and a pair of ankle socks. However, I couldn’t find a patterned knee high sock that worked with this wardrobe, so I picked two plain pairs from Fan Plus Friend [$3] in different colours instead. The plain tights are from eBay [$5] and the lovely printed pair are by Ophanim [$27] while the cute little ankle socks are Bodyline [$1].
1 Petticoat:
As always, I haven’t included an image of the petticoat because that would be irrelevant, but I am factoring in the price as no Lolita wardrobe is complete without a petticoat! I figure that $50 is a fairly reasonable average price.
Total Cost: $525
Well....that’s not too much over budget! ^__^

And now, my favourite part... sample outfits!

A very simple outfit that lets the details do the talking.

Again, a simple outfit, but this one is better for cooler climates!

A very toned down outfit that draws attention to the print on the JSK.

This is the "uber green" outfit ^__^

Lots of detail, textures and patterns make this outfit really eye-catching.

For some reason, this one makes me think of hunting parties in old movies...

I saved my favourite for last! I would so wear this for a steampunk photoshoot!

So there you have it! As you can see, there are still a lot of interesting combinations you could come up with using this simple three colour wardrobe ^__^

As always, if there’s a particular lolita style or theme or colour palette you’d like to see my budget version of, please leave a comment letting me know. And, if you liked this and feel like checking out the previous ones, I’ve done this kind of hypothetical wardrobe for sweet, classic, gothic, sailor and bittersweet lolita.

Two quick endnotes on pricing:
The prices I’ve listed are exclusive of shipping costs, because they vary depending on your location and Bodyline is notorious for spontaneous price changes, so who knows how long things will stay as I’ve written.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Creative lolita coords made easy.

Well, maybe not easy, but definitely easier! These are a few ideas I've had and a few things I do when trying to come up with nice and unique lolita coords.

Though before you read on, let it be said that there is absolutely nothing wrong with wearing tried-and-true combinations. White blouse and socks with a sweet lolita coord will always look nice and lots of brown in a classic outfit will always be fine ^__^

Forget the labels.
Something I find that can be limiting when trying to think of a new outfit is labels. If you're thinking of your new outfit as being "gothic" or "sweet" you can limit you thinking. Just put together things that you think would look nice and worry about what to cal it later. The substyles really only exist to make it easier to talk about things anyway, so making sure your outfit fits as specific substyle isn't an important starting point. Forget what to call your new, uber creative and wonderful coord, just make it!

Is it sweet? Is it punk-ish? No! It's a coord ^__^

Keep an inspiration folder.
I have a gigantic lolita coord inspiration folder. There are hundreds of awesome coords saved, and some are sorted into folders according to the main items I own [some, like the folder for my Bodyline red-and-white JSK remain empty, while the Silk Cherubims folder is rather full] for quick reference. I find that saving inspiring outfits, and especially outfits using pieces you own, is a great way of getting fresh ideas.

Of course, I'm not saying copy other people's outfits. You can if you really want, but to me a lot of the fun in lolita is being creative with the way you dress. Also, and I'm going to put this bit in bold because it really does matter that much; save all the pictures you want for your own reference but never, under any circumstances, share them online without consulting the person who originally took and owns the photo. Maybe I'm alone in feeling so strongly about it but people who just randomly post other people's pictures annoy me so much. Even when there's a disclaimer of "I don't own any photos on this blog" that still annoys me, because it's an acknowledgement that they're doing something wrong and don't care. As both a photographer and a model, I really object to people posting my work around without even asking. So please, be nice. Save and look at anything you want, but don't share it online ^__^

Learn to sew, or at least craft.
It's so much easier to finish of a coord exactly the way you want when you can make your own matching accessories, or even just make the whole outfit from scratch! And then you'll also have the added benefit of knowing that no-one else out there is wearing the exact same thing as you.

A floral headband I made, for sale here.

Sewing is actually fairly simple, especially if you're a practical or logical type of person. That lolita staple, the rectangle skirt, is incredibly easy and though following patterns can be a bit tricky sometimes you do get the hang of it. Sewing really is easy as pie, once you master the basics. Actually, easier than pie. Literally. I've tried pie making and sewing, and sewing is definitely easier...

Pick an item and make as many outfits as you can.
Recently [and extremely belatedly] I did the Lolita Blog Carnival "one piece, five looks" challenge and even though the dress I chose was super versatile since I could change underskirts I still found it challenging to come up with radically different outfits. But I really like the results! Especially the "punk" coord [pictured below] because even though it's something I'd never really wear out it was also something I'd never even thought of and now I do have thoughts in the back of my mind about how to layer print and non-print items. And of wearing my waistcoats more.

Just experimenting with your clothes, rather than only pulling them out when you're getting dressed to go out, can be a great way of seeing your wardrobe in a new way. You may also want to try working in some non-lolita items - personally, I have some lovely structured jackets that really look great with puffy lolita skirts. It's also a great way of seeing if anything in your wardrobe doesn't match and needs to go. If you can't make outfits you like with something, what's the point of keeping it?

Chill out a bit.
Come up with the coord and wear it out. Take an outfit shot if you want. And then don't worry about it. Unless you post that picture online of your wore the coord out with other lolitas, chances are no-one is going to notice that your shoes don't quite match the rest of your outfit, because in all likelihood anyone who saw you was so amazed by your poofiness they wouldn't have noticed if you were barefoot ^__^

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Three lolita trends I love.

This post is [in the most loving way possible] an anti Lolita Blog Carnival post. Allow me to explain. Twice the topic for LBC bloggers has been "three lolita trends I could never get into" and each time it's come up I've loved reading everyone's thoughts - especially when some trends seem so prevalent and can-do-no-evil-ish it's refreshing to read about people not being into classical art prints or tea party shoes. So I thought maybe I'd blog on the topic. But then I realised that, even though there are plenty of lolita trends I don't want to touch with a barge pole, I'd rather make my own twist on the idea, and share three lolita trends I love.

The Resurgence of Old School

Black dresses with white lace. Giant platform shoes. Simple headdresses. Stripy socks. A tiny hint of bloomer underneath a skirt. That was the lolita I fell in love with, long ago on the internet! And I like that it's having a bit of a comeback lately, though with a bit of a modern twist.

A few ways I can think of off the top of my head to do old school with a modern vibe would be adding printed tights, coording a printed dress with old school accessories or wearing an old school style dress with a chiffon blouse and nice heels to make it a bit more elegant.

I whipped up this example to show how I think a modern old school coord could look. Everything is Bodyline, except for the Fan Plus Friend bonnet and the Ophanim printed tights.


It's not really a trend, so shhh, but I really love the use of chiffon in lolita. Every so often someone releases a chiffon-y dress, so it's not really a new thing, but from my lurking it seems like chiffon blouses are more of a recent thing. And I love it. There's something so lovely and delicate about chiffon and other light fabrics that I think really compliments the lolita aesthetic.

Sugar of the few Angelic Pretty pieces I absolutely adore.

Book Prints

The bibliophile in me demands that I mention book prints. Just...that is all. Book prints are awesome. Deal with it.

Monsieur Fancypantaloons

Though, for anyone curious, three trends I'm really not into, lolita wise, are:
1. Flat shoes, because I think you need a heel or platform to balance out the giant skirt.
2. 99% of all wigs, be they colourful or natural. This is mostly because I feel they are fairly unnecessary because any hairstyle or colour can work with lolita, and because very few girls can wear a wig really naturally and well.
3. Pastel mess prints. That's not a proper term, but I'm talking about pastel prints on a pastel background which from a distance just look like a messy pastel blob.

What are some lolita trends you love?

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Bodyline vs Fan Plus Friend

Lolitas on a budget tend to buy from three places - Bodyline, FanPlusFriend [hereafter F+F to save my typing hand] and taobao, either through a reseller like Clobba or by using a shopping service. I haven't really seen much comparing the pros and cons of these different "budget buys" so I thought I'd chip in my 2c about Bodyline and F+F - I haven't bought anything from taobao stores yet and as taobao is pretty much eBay making sweeping statements about it is as stupid as saying "everything lolita on eBay is crap/brilliant/a flying unicorn".

For ease of reading I've separated my thoughts under some broad subheadings and will rank each store out of ten points for each, with ten being "totally perfect" and one being "hellishly sucky". However, when reading do be aware that I'm assuming you have the sense to buy clothing from each store that is actually lolita ^__^

Ready? Onwards!

I had to start with the hard one, didn't I? If I had to make a broad statement about design for these two stores I'd say that Bodyline tend to cater more for the sweet lolita and focuses on printed fabrics rather than the detail of the garments for interests whereas F+F has a more classic and gothic theme overall and uses lots of different and contrasting fabrics and detailed construction. Having said that, I think both stores have lots of brilliant designs [and some totally shit ones] to choose from in a range of different styles. However, I do have to dock a few points from Bodyline for their monstrosities and from F+F for listing a bunch of things in their lolita section that aren't lolita at all.

Bodyline: 7/10
F+F: 7/10

A simple yet lovely Bodyline design that would suit sweet, classic or hime.

As a general rule, much as I have been very happy with my Bodyline purchases, as far as quality of materials and trims used, F+F takes the cake here. Bodyline occasionally uses some very crummy polyester sometimes and though most of their pieces that I've experienced have been decent cottons or cotton blends, they are only "decent". Their prints are generally fairly clear, and everything is normally thick enough not to be see-through or to sit badly, but Bodyline's fabric quality is quite run of the mill. Likewise, the laces they use are fairly middle ground; it's not all scratchy raschel lace [though some is!] but even their nicest laces are fairly basic and nothing out of the ordinary. Having said that, I should point out that I actually think some of Bodyline's laces are totally adorable [like the stuff on my Alice in Wonderland skirt] but I am speaking from a quality standpoint here, not  my actual personal opinion. As far as other trims and buttons and such go, Bodyline falls into the lower end of decent; everything is serviceable but not really the nicest on most pieces.

F+F, on the other hand, tends to use fabrics that are on the nicer side of average. Not phenomenal, but definitely a step up from Bodyline's choices. They also use a wider range of textured fabrics, rather than nearly everything being cotton or polycotton, and use that range more frequently. I haven't had first hand experience with any of their original prints, but from what I've seen online their print quality seems to be about on par with Bodyline's in that it's perfectly okay. F+F's laces, trims and buttons all seem to be of slightly better quality than Bodyline's, though they aren't particularly phenomenal. However, like with fabric range, they seem to use a much wider variety of notions than Bodyline does.

Bodyline: 5/10
F+F: 7/10

Note the velveteen vest and the heavy hot air balloon fabric.

After those two hefty paragraphs on materials you'll be relieved to hear that I don't have very much to say about garment construction. Both companies produce well made clothing, about the same quality of one of the better department stores like Target. All the seams are properly finished, as are hems. I haven't encountered any errors from either company like wonky straps or uneven hems except that Bodyline doesn't always do the best job of sewing on buttons. However, as sewing a button back on is such a simple sewing task that I really think everyone should be able to do, I don't count that as a major flaw. It's definitely a flaw, but not a big one, at least to me.

Bodyline: 7/10
F+F: 9/10

This blouse is guilty of crappily sewn buttons!

Now this is definitely a very subjective point, so bear with me. Theoretically you could buy an entire lolita wardrobe for any of the major substyles from either company, so if you look at it that way they both have a very good range of products. However, F+F overall focuses more on using plain or simply patterned fabrics in good combinations whereas Bodyline places more emphasis on mostly unique and some mass produced border or all over prints. Of course, F+F does have it's own unique prints and Bodyline has a number of solid coloured pieces but if I had to oversimplify the situation that would describe their range of clothing stylistically. I can't really rate one higher than the other on range of styles; they are different, but similarly diverse.

However, I think Bodyline has to gain a few points because they offer a wider range of shoes and socks than F+F. If you were to count actual items, I think F+F has more individual pieces overall, but Bodyline's shoes range and their variety of both plain and patterned socks hands down trumps F+F's. Then again, to "however" my "however", the sheer number of lolita items that F+F stocks and the amount of colours options many of their items come in definitely gives them a wider range to choose from than Bodyline overall.

Bodyline: 10/10
F+F: 9/10

One example of F+F's diverse offerings.

This point is pretty simple. As a general rule, Bodyline's prices are cheaper than F+F's and to me the difference in quality doesn't always correlate well enough to the difference in price. I do think, however, that both companies offer very reasonably priced lolita items, because there is a lot of yardage and detail in even the simplest lolita dress.

Bodyline: 9/10
F+F: 6/10

This is currently only $20 on Bodyline.

The discussion of sizing has two main points - the range provided and the accuracy of actual garments to the stated sizing. As far a the range of sizes goes, F+F is the hands down winner because they offer custom sizing for a minimal fee on top of having a large range of set sizes. Bodyline frequently releases clothing on only one, two or three sizes, and doesn't offer custom sizing. On top of that, their sizes are inconsistent from item to item. On the accuracy of sizing, both companies are fairly good but neither are perfect. In my experience garments from both stores can generally fit a little larger than indicated, but I've also heard many stories of Bodyline running smaller than indicated. I've heard mixed reviews about how well F+F does their custom sizing, but I have no first hand experience in that department so I can't really comment in fairness.

So, in summary F+F gets a high grade because of their large range and custom sizing options, though they lose a single point for their slight inaccuracies. Bodyline, on the other hand, doesn't do so well because of their limited and inconsistent sizing range as well as the inaccuracy the listed measurements sometimes have.

Bodyline: 5/10
F+F: 9/10

This topic is actually a fairly simple one. Bodyline has two postage options - Air and EMS. Air is currently a flat rate of $10 and for me in Australia takes about three weeks to arrive whereas EMS is priced according to weight and should arrive within about a week, though take that with a grin of salt because I've never used their EMS option. F+F only offers EMS, so it can be rather pricey and it kind of sucks not to have another option. As far as packaging goes, neither company does anything noteworthy. Individual items are in plastic wrappers or boxes, which are inside plastic mailing satchel things. It's not particularly sturdy, but I've never had an item arrive with damage from either company.

Bodyline: 9/10
F+F: 7/10

Overall Verdict
Bodyline: 52/70
F+F: 54/10
That's actually closer than I thought it was going to be when I was adding up the totals...

So there you have it! F+F wins this race by a narrow margin, but depending on what your priorities are the verdict may be different for you. Neither store is perfect nor terrible and I would recommend both to any new lolita ^__^

Lastly, I shouldn't have to make this disclaimer, but I am just in case; all opinions here are my opinions, based on the pieces I own from each company, observations of stock pictures and other people's reviews. Unfortunately, I'm not omniscient. Yet...

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Review #18: Fan Plus Friend

Clothing review time again! This time the purpose of the order was for James, not me... but I ended up having a few things in the cart at the end, and that's what we're reviewing here...

We placed our order on the 13th of August and after a few very quick and very polite emails confirming custom sizing [I mis-measured James's shoulders because I couldn't find the full measurement guide on their site that included where to measure shoulder width] waited only a few weeks until we got an email confirming shipping on September 2nd, which I think is very reasonable construction time for a made-to-order jacket, vest and two shirts. We got our package September 9th and I have to say, even though I am a bit annoyed at F+F's lack of shipping options [read; you don't get options] it is nice to have your items arrive so quickly. Anyhoo, onto the reviews!

And yes, before someone yells at me, I know there are no photos. There are no photos because a. If I had to take photos, this review would never be posted because I am feeling sick, busy and grumpy, b. The stock photos are quite accurate, and c. My descriptive powers are so awesome you will hallucinate a perfect image of what the items look like. I'm dead serious.

Steampunk / Military Lolita Double Breasted Chains Piping Velveteen Unisex Vest

I used this vest in blue for my hypothetical gothic lolita wardrobe, and have been eyeing it off ever since. And when James decided her liked it too, it just had to be bought! As I was between sizes at the time of ordering I decided to go smaller rather than larger [I've been selling some of my lolita clothes on eBay lately because they're too big!] and got a Lady 85 but by the time it got here it was too big! Our crazy September workout and diet plan has really been paying off!

So unfortunately this lovely piece of work is going NWT onto eBay soon, but I can still give a few quick notes on it. The braid around the collar is not black but more a burgundy to match the stripes on the seams. In this colourway it's made of a lovely corduroy rather than plain velveteen and I think that gives it a fantastic extra layer of texture. It does seem to be made with boobs in mind though, I had a bit of room to spare in front, though that's also due to the whole thing being too big. All in all, it's rather nice.

Gothic Lolita Basic Long Cotton Bloomers

Both these and the next pair of bloomers were bought for an uberly epic photoshoot James and I are planning, and that's all I'm going to say for now ^__^

The first thing I noticed about these bloomers [other than how cute they are!] is that the lace the the bottom and the ribbon around the leg were both cream, not white. So the bloomers went straight into a tea-dye bath to even out the colours and they look super wonderful now! But that is kind of bad, though looking closely at the stock image now I can sort of see that the lace looks slightly off.

Other than the lace colour match these bloomers are fantastic. They are comfortable, well-made, soft and I think the laces used are really cute.They're also nice and long, so I may be trying a bit of an old-school peeking bloomers look sometime soon ^__^

Elegant Gothic Lolita Cotton Frilly Bloomers

As I said, hush hush photoshoot item...

These bloomers are also rather cute, well-made and etcetera. I don't like them as much as the white ones, but they are definitely quite good!

Cassical Lolita Solid Color Bowler Hat

You've got to love not only how silly F+F's titles can be, but how charmingly mis-spelled they are at times! Also, their mannequin heads are kind of really scary...

Mocking of titles and stock photos aside, I should really confess here that I have a thing for full sized hats in lolita. I already have a black bowler hat, but it doesn't go with much, so I had to get a brown one. Had to. No choice in the matter. Had to.

This hat is a little on the small side. I think I have an average sized head and it fits me quite well, but a little tightly so keep that in mind if you have a big head, or a very small one.The colours are very accurate, and the felt of the hat is quite decent. Not phenomenal, but definitely nice. It holds its shape well, even after being a bit squished in the post. The only flaw with the hat is that the stitches holding the bow in place are kind of noticeable as the thread colour is slightly off the ribbon colour. It's not really noticeable when worn, but is when you're holding the hat in your hands.

We also bought a few pieces of jewellery, and have before, so here is my brief Fan Plus Friend jewellery review - it's all pretty darn good. Not the most phenomenal quality, but both design and construction are quite good for the price. Definitely better than the pieces you'd get at a place like Equip or Diva.

The Pros:
Lovely materials and sturdy construction, as always.
Fantastic communication, especially in picking up that something didn't see right in the measurements

The Neutrals:
Lack of shipping options!
Ample bust room in the vest, but that can be mostly attributed to the whole thing being a size too large.

The Cons:
Mismatched lace is mismatched.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

So I finally updated the etsy shop...

A little off my usual blogging topics - but did you know James and I have a little shop on Etsy? We do, and I just got around to adding so new things and I thought I'd share because making things is something we both enjoy, and do a lot, so I thought it was high time I shared some of that over here ^__^

First up - how lovely is this antler ring James made? Naturally shed antler, and it's lovely with all the natural colours and shapes left intact on the outside with the inside perfectly smooth. We both have a thing for tribal inspired jewellery, and I love how this ring is unique and funky without being overstated. James also made a smaller one that's for sale as well.

And then there's a plus size sweet/classic lolita skirt I made. I've been hoarding the vintage floral fabric for  a very, very, very long time and finally managed to pair it up with this cute pink.

This last one isn't a super new addition, but I thought I should mention that I've also got a bunch of different laces listed. This one is my favourite ^__^

Do you have a shop on Etsy, or have a particular favourite store? If you do, show me a link in the comments!

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Keeping that blogging mojo strong.

I will be honest - in part, I'm writing this to give myself a kick up the arse because with uni and all blogging keeps tending to fall by the wayside for days that turn into weeks. So I thought I'd have a bit of a think, and share some ideas for keeping your blog regularly updated - some of these are things I do, some are things I'd like to try.

Start a series.
If you start a series of posts and it something you know you'll always have something to say about, that's an easy fix, especially if you can make it a regular thing. For me, Photo Fridays are great. I have years of photography and modelling to dip into and talk about if for some reason I have no new stuff I always have old stuff to share! However, irregular series can be just as good - like my "loliable shops" posts. It's not something I talk about often, but it's something I can pick up if I'm drawing a blank on what to post about. Some ideas for regular weekly series I can think of just randomly are MakeUp Mondays, where you could discuss cosmetics or maybe Fiction Fridays, where you talk about books. With something broad like those topics [and they are also alliterative, which is awesome] it would be pretty easy to come up with a pretty unique post each week. For sporadically posted series it's even easier to come up with ideas - just pick something that interests you that you think you will be able to make more than one post out of. My "things I don't have in my wardrobe" series started when I read one of those advice blogs about the things a woman should have in her wardrobe and realising that I had very few of their totally, uberly, essential basics. And also that I disagreed that one should have such things.

Schedule in advance.
If you read nothing else here, read this. Scheduled posting is like, the totally best thing ever. For people like me, who can be forgetful and then grumpy when I remember I forgot things, posting on time would become quite a difficult thing. But with scheduled posting that's not a problem,and what's more, I could write a whole month's worth of posts [and sometimes do, at least the Photo Friday posts] all at once when I'm feeling inspired and then the blog just takes care of itself.

Join a blogging circle thing.
Groups such as the Lolita Blog Carnival can be really helpful. Not only does joining such a group give you something to write about on the days when inspiration is thin on the ground, in the LBC at least participating in the group's topics can lead to increased blog traffic in the link sharing to everyone's posts. Now, despite the fact I think it could be really helpful for a blogger things like this aren't really my cup of tea, though I do occasionally pick up LBC topics after the fact. I just don't like sticking to other people's schedules ^__^

React to the latest news.
There's not too much to elaborate on here - if you're looking for something to blog about, post up your thoughts on the latest goings on. By news I don't necessarily mean on the tv and in the papers news [though that's certainly an option!] but news that interests you. Some examples I can think of are new fashion releases, shows and lookbooks, news about books, movies or tv shows, updates on games, fancy new technology [new camera lenses...drool...] or anything at all.

Do something big, and post about it step by step.
I have to say, I love progress posts. The first one that pops to mind at the moment is Make Lovely's wardrobe overhaul series, which I'm greatly enjoying so far. I don't know what it is, but there's something cool about people sharing their progress on a big project, whether is overhauling your wardrobe, making a costume, learning to bake, training for a marathon, anything really! So if you're stuck for a blogging topic, maybe consider sharing your progress on whatever your next project happens to be. And another great thing about posting up progress is that you can get away with doing smaller posts sometimes, just a photo and a few lines. Just something to let your readers know you're still active ^__^

Round stuff up, y'all.
Round up posts are an easy way to post something on your blog without having to come up with your own content. At the moment, I consider them a bit of a cheat, but they are still a good thing to keep your readers interested [provided, of course, you are linking to content that suits your readership] when you don't have much original content to share.

So there you have it. My current thoughts on how to keep the posts coming on your blog. Do you have any favourite methods to keep to blogging mojo strong?

And, this is kind of a unrelated but kind of related side note... try and write good [yes, that was deliberately bad writing to make my point in a humorous manner. Comment at your peril.] and by that I mean try to use normal grammar, paragraphing, spelling and the like. It makes your posts much more readable. They way I see it is that if you write well, provided you aren't using stupidly big words or super fancy sentences, anyone can read your posts. But if you keep getting your and you're confused, are inconsistent with paragraphing, and make your blog hard to read by virtue of being incorrectly written, chances are I'll unfollow you. Nothing personal, but I don't want to struggle to read someone's posts ^__^

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Knocking sweet lolita down a notch.

Yesterday on EGL I saw this thread. Long story short, the OP had traded for Angelic Pretty's Milky Planet JSK [2013 version] in sax blue [which is rather more bright blue than the usual soft saxon] and wanted inspiration and ideas on how to wear it in a not sweet way and also without resorting to their wardrobe staple of black. A couple of people pointed out that if you don't want to wear sweet, why would you get a sweet dress, but to me it was an interesting idea to try and wear something in a way it wasn't intended to be worn.

So I came up with two different coords for that version of Milky Planet. They're both very simple outfits, but represent ways that I think would be somewhat effective at toning down such a super sweet print.

This first coord, while still definitely a sweet lolita outfit, tones down the dress by minimising details and introducing a third darker colour. The slight gothic-ness of the boots and the pointed tips of the sailor blouse give it a slightly more edgy vibe. Introducing navy [though not too much of it] brings some restraint to the bright colours of the dress. I'd probably wear this outfit with either a full size hat or a very simple hairstyle, like braids with bows at the end, to complete the look without adding any more stereotypical sweet lolita elements like a headeating bow. But I couldn't be bothered scouring the internet for the perfect headgear so please use your imaginations for that bit ^__^

Again, this coord introduces a new colour to complement and tone down the print. It still has a lot of cute detailing - the blouse with its crossed neck ribbons and lacy cuffs, the soft beret, the pom-poms on the shoes - but the colour here is what really  grounds this outfit and changes it from being a colour explosion to being a gently framed colourful piece. 

You'll notice with both outfits that I've used pantyhose instead of socks and have kept away from typically sweet accessories like bows and anything particularly frilly or lacy. With a print this in-your-face I think it's best to use more understated accessories if you want to make it less conventionally "sweet lolita". So though both these outfits would still fall under the sweet substyle, they are definitely not your usual sweet lolita outfit.

I actually had a lot of fun putting these outfits together, so if you happen to have a dress you'd like to see  in a certain type of coord, please comment [like I always say with my hypothetical wardrobes] and let me know ^__^

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

A Complete Bittersweet Lolita Wardrobe for Under $500.

Ahhhh, the controversial substyle of bittersweet. On the one hand, those who say it’s just sweet lolita in black. On the other, those who say it’s more like sweet with a touch of punk/pastel goth/creepy cute, and is different enough to warrant its own name. Me, I’m on the fence, though leaning more towards to latter than the former, which should be made fairly obvious by the fact that I’m making this hypothetical wardrobe. I feel that the difference lies not in the clothing choice but more in the accessories and overall vibe...something that might not be conveyed too well here as I’m adhering to my usual no purse and no accessories policy ^__^

The wardrobe consists of the following items:

1 OP, 1 JSK and 1 Skirt:
I’ve followed my usual mantra of one plain and two patterned piece, this time all coming from Bodyline. The OP [$40] has a bit of a military vibe, the JSK [$40] is just fun and the skirt [$33] is the most neutral of the lot.  
1 Neutral Blouse with Detachable Sleeves:
We all know the drill here ^__^ For this wardrobe I picked a nice black blouse from Bodyline [$33], which has a detachable jabot for even more options.
1 Contrasting Blouse or Cutsew:
To provide a bit of versatility and zazz, I decided to use a super cute pink blouse from Bodyline [$40]. And no, I’m not being biased just because I have this blouse and love it to pieces.
2 Outerwear:
Again I chose to conform to my mantra of having something “structured” and something “pretty”.  The “structured” is the black with white trim blazer [$33] and the “pretty” is the black and white hooded bolero [$33] which really does have a hood, even though you can’t see it! Both are from Bodyline.
2 Headpieces:
Once more from Bodyline we have one of those spiked headbands [$7] that are all the rage and a more traditional lolita headbow in pink [$7].
2 Pairs of Shoes:
I really think shoes can make an outfit, which is why I think it’s not a complete wardrobe with only one pair. Both my choices here are from Bodyline – chunky, punky platforms [$40] from the punk section and cute-y boot-ies [$47].
5 Items of Legwear:
You can never have too much legwear. Ever. But for the purposes of keeping versatility while limiting amounts I think you need solid colour tights and a patterned or printed pair, as well as three pairs of socks – a plain neutral knee high or OTK pair, a more interesting pair of knees highs and a pair of ankle socks. For tights I chose a plain pink pair from eBay [$5] and a pair of Bodyline’s tattoo tights [$4]. All the socks are from Bodyline; plain black OTKS [$9], nice black ankle socks [$1] and black knee highs with a pink pattern [$7] which I think are actually designed to match the OP, so it’s a win-win ^__^
1 Petticoat:
I didn’t include a petticoat in the collage because it’s underwear and, you know, it goes under things. As petticoats vary in size, price and quality I’m factoring it into the equation as costing $50 which I think is a fair enough average.
Total Cost: $429
Well, um, wow. That is very within the budget! If I were doing this for real I’d probably look into getting another skirt with some of the left over dollars, and some funky accessories!

My definition of “complete” lies in being able to wear a pretty unique outfit every day for a week, here are seven sample outfits.

TBH, I really wanted to title this one "pink bits" ^__^

This outfit has lots of detail rather than relying on prints.

A great autumn outfit!

Using the blazer really tones down the busy JSK.

All black for a bit of a gothic-y day.

A very simple outfit that would be great for summer.

The sweetest outfit of all with the spiky headband bringing back the "bitter".

As always, if there’s a particular lolita style you’d like to see my budget version of, please leave a comment letting me know. Or if you want to see me to a certain style in a certain colour scheme I’ll see what I can come up with. And, if you liked this and feel like checking out the previous ones, I’ve done this kind of hypothetical wardrobe for sweet, classic, gothic and sailor lolita.

Two quick endnotes on pricing:
One; listed prices are exclusive of shipping costs, because they vary. Also, Bodyline tends to change prices for no apparent reason, so today’s cheap shoes may be tomorrow’s expensive dream.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

One dress, five looks.

Way, way, way back in the day the Lolita Blog Carnival chose to blog on a topic I thought was quite cool - designing five outfits that all make use of the same on item of clothing. This post has been sitting in my draft posts for a very long time, and now I am finally finished with it! I chose to use one of my eBay dresses because I can cheat a little - the underskirt is separate so I can use different skirts for different looks! Anyhow, there's a outfit breakdown under each picture, and my thoughts on putting them together and the final results. So, with no further ado, the five outfits!

Underskirt: Handmade
Choker and bracelet: Made by James
Cross: Tree of Life
Boots: Betts

This is a very straightforward classic-with-a-hint-of-gothic outfit. I know it's incredibly simple, but that's how I often enjoy wearing lolita. It looks great to load up on more accessories, but something so plain as this really lets the elegant silhouette stand out, and I like that. Simple outfits like this also make me feel like it's just a fashion choice, not a dress up.

Underskirt: Handmade
Bracelets and Flowers: Equip
Fur Collar: Peacoacklorum
Tights: Ophanim
Bonnet: FanPlusFriend
Boots: Betts

And, to give you something a bit more extravagant after that simple outfit - OTT classic! Well, OTT to me, some people would count this as an average lolita outfit ^__^ The tights are not the best colour match to the rest of the outfit, and I tried to counterbalance that with the different toned flowers in the hair.

Underskirt and Boots: Bodyline
Waistcoat: Target
Hairbows: Equip
Cuff: Some market many, many years ago in my teenage rebel stage ^__^

I bet you weren't expecting that! I'd have to call this outfit punk lolita because I've done something unusual here by using the printed underskirt. Since this whole thing was about trying to do different outfits, I wanted to try something very different! This outfit is definitely not something I'd normally try, but I do really like it though I certainly understand if no-one else does. And my love of waistcoats has definitely been rekindled...

Cage Skirt: FanPlusFriend
Boots: Betts
Hairbow: Equip
Gloves: Part of the model wardrobe that James has owned for who knows how long.

We own a cage skirt - how was I mean to not do an ero look? In retrospect, I really should have added a black lace choker but at the time I was enjoying the bareness of my skin. I don't have much to say about this outfit, it's not my favourite but I think it's a fairly good example of ero lolita. Even though the cage skirt leaves my legs exposed the combination of thigh high boots and the chiffon layer of the cage skirts means that it's really not that revealing. The gloves add a touch of elegance to counteract the gothicness of the boots. The hair bow brings back a hint of cuteness but not too much because it matches my hair colour. So all in all, even though I don't like this look too much, I think it's a fairly good ero lolita look.

Underskirt: Handmade
Cuffs: Made by James
Fawn Fur Collar: Peacockalorum
Fur Hat: Vintage [it belonged to my great aunt, who was quite fashionable back in the day]
Boots: Betts

I call this fur-lita! This is my favourite outfit of the lot and I am totally going to wear this to uni sometime soon. All the shades of brown are slightly different, but they still tie together nicely. This outfit is still quite casual, but has a lot more detail than the first outfit in this post. Mostly I just liked that I was able to work my leather and rabbit fur cuffs into an outfit - the are so warm and comfortable! And James made them, so naturally I am biased towards liking them ^__^

So that's my five looks using one main piece post. Want to see how other bloggers did it? 

As an endnote, after doing this I realised two important things - my favourite shoes all come from Betts, and I really have a thing for boots in lolita. All boots, no knee socks! And I also want to give a thank you to the awesome James man for taking all the photos for me ^__^