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 ^__^

Monday, 12 August 2013

Lolita Wardrobe Building

This is a theme that has been posted about many a time [to me, the best one has always been Caro-chan's and if you haven't read it, go do so now] and generally the consensus is the same. Get your basics in colours that will suit the sub-style you want to get into, and slowly build from there. The quality vs quantity debate is also something commonly discussed in online lolita circles, and though there's less of a consensus there seems to be more of a leaning towards building a wardrobe of good quality items rather than a mass of lesser quality ones. However, my thoughts on that are a different post entirely...

Anyhow, I thought I'd relate my own experience and give my current two cents on the topic of building a lolita wardrobe. I'm still a relative newbie to the fashion, and I'm sure that if I stick with lolita for a few more years my opinions will change at least a little bit. But at this point my attitude is really very simple; provided it's not going to mean you can't buy food or fuel, build up your wardrobe in whatever manner will make you happiest.

For myself, I was lucky enough that my awesome man bought em a pretty complete wardrobe right off the bat and it's been fantastic. However, the only downside of being able to get a fair bit of gear straight off is you can make some bad choices because, as always when buying clothes online, you aren't going to know how things are going to look and what you're going to like until you have it, and if you buy five dresses at once straight away, chances are they might not all work for you. So my advice on that front is to take it slow, even if you do have the means to buy your complete starting wardrobe all at once. Buy one complete outfit, perhaps with a few variables such a different socks or blouses see what works for you in it, and then go on from there.

When I sit down and think about it, things like budget and personal taste aside, I think there are three golden rules to keep in mind when building your lolita wardrobe.

Basics really are that important.
Everyone says it, and now I'm saying it. Lolita needs a petticoat. Without a petti, you just have a very cute outfit that's not quite lolita. However, I'm going to go against common wisdom and say that, right at the beginning, you don't necessarily need a great petti. My first one was a Leg Avenue tutu, and it was alright, and it was a good $30 cheaper than my Classical Puppets one. Unless you absolutely know for sure you want to wear lolita, and I'm very impressed if you do and I'd also like to ask you for next week's lottery numbers, as cheaper petticoat will be good enough for you to test the lolita fashion waters with.

It's fluffy enough ^__^

To me basics also covers more than just petticoat - it means shoes, socks and something to put on your head. Knee high socks, mary janes and a headbow of some kind are such typically lolita accessories that they should be part of your first outfit. There will be time to get experimental later.

Now, you may be wondering why I haven't mentioned bloomers as a basic wardrobe item. Though I know modesty is a lolita virtue, to me bloomers are underwear, and I think I have no right to tell anyone what underwear they should wear. Yes, bloomers protect you in the case of winds from having people see your panties, but they aren't essential.

Avoid things you hate.
I have never been able to wear big things on my head. Small clips, fancy hair ties, plain headbands, little bows and full size hats have always been fine. Then I enter the lolita scene and everything is headeating bows. So I try headeating bows, and feel uncomfortable and look it. The lesson in that is simple. If you don't like something normally, or something doesn't look good on your normally, you probably won't like it any more and it won't look any better just by virtue of being part of a lolita coord.

Fortunately, the reverse is also true! If you look great in blue normally, you're going to look great in that colour in lolita. As long as you adhere to the lolita aesthetic and silhouette, I tihnk its most important to wear things that are flattering and make you feel comfortable. Lolita is a fashion, not a costume, and you should never wear anything that makes you feel like it's a costume, and whatever that is is personal. For me, it's headeating bows ^__^

Find the right blouse.
This may be an odd bit of advice, but its one I've found works for me. Discover your perfect blouse...and then get five of it! Well, it doesn't have to be five exactly, but once you find a blouse that looks good and feels comfortable, try and get it in as many colours as you'd use, and perhaps buy two in whatever colour you'd use most, like white or black. A flattering blouse is important - you can have lots of lovely skirts and JSKs but without the right blouse you don't have the right outfit.

This may sound like it will be limiting your outfits by wearing the same style blouse frequently, so all I will do it point you to the tumblr of a wonderful sweet lolita, Cadney. If you browse through her outfit photos you'll notice that she has the Bodyline L364 in several colours, and she uses it very well in range of different outfits in a variety of colours.

Of course, I'm not saying stick to only one blouse, but I do suggest that when you find one that works well for you that you do get a few of it if that's at all possible. If I'm being totally honest, my next Bodyline order I'm saving for is going to be just that - repeats of the blouses I have found I like best ^__^

Now, if you are a regular reader of my blog, you'd have seen my hypothetical wardrobe posts where I build imaginary lolita wardrobes in the various style and substyles. However, this post and those are different kettles of fish. Those are my thoughts on how you could build a specific wardrobe, on a budget, to fit a particular style. This is about my thoughts on building a lolita wardrobe in general, and, since this article is already long enough, I shall end it here ^__^

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Review #17: Bodyline

It feels like we're past the brunt of winter, and with the second uni semester beginning [and with it my resolution to wear lolita to all my classes] what better time to place another Bodyline order? Actually, I just made those reasons up because it makes it sound like I actually plan when I buy things, the timing of this order is really purely coincidental ^__^

As well as a cheap wig for the model wardrobe I picked up a JSK, a blouse, one of the big new fruit bags, a pair of shoes and a pair of plain black knee highs. Since I'm not that knowledgeable about wigs and socks are socks, I'll only be reviewing the other four items.

L047, sax, m

It was cheap and it has strawberries on it...shhh. Actually, I've been eyeing this dress for a while. After I bought my "Christmas dress" from Bodyline, I've discovered I like bib-styled JSKs and this one is perfect for me - sweet without being OTT, and casual enough that it could easily be worn outside of lolita as well.

To get right to the point, it is absolutely gorgeous. Totally, utterly sweet. The fabric is lovely, construction is very neat and the laces are some of Bodyline's best. Both the giant waist bow and the two little ones at the straps are detachable. Fit wise it's really good on me, and I'd say the measurements given are fairly accurate. I am really keen for warmer weather so I can wear it out!

Bib detail - the lacing is adjustable/removable.

The top of the bottom ruffle - I love that rose lace ^__^

L364, pink, 2l

A little ways back I posted an ask on EGL for specific recommendations for blouses for plus-size lolitas, and this was one that came up. I'm hesitant of big collars on me, but thought I may as well take the plunge and give it a try. Given that I already have various loliable tops in black, white and beige I decided to get this in pink, because I like wearing black and pink and I already have lots of black ^__^

It is sufficient to say that I am no longer worried about collars on me in lolita. This blouse is charming. Absolutely charming. Surprisingly, the fit is pretty much perfect given that with a bust and waist of 98/78cm I'm a good bit smaller than the recommended measurements of 102/84cm. I wouldn't suggest getting it if you're over those measurements, but anywhere from my size up to those measurements should fit quite well. The shape of it looks a bit silly if it's not worn over a lolita skirt, it's designed to flare out at the bottom as you can see in the stock photo. All in all I think it's wonderful - there is a lot of detail but as it's all in one colour it's not overbearing. I love it, and would really recommend it.

On a side note - see the ruffle that cuts across the middle of the sleeve? If it's not your thing it's just sewn onto the sleeve, rather than the sleeve being made in two parts or something, so, like the pearls on the collar it could be easily removed if you wanted a plainer blouse.

The stock picture is really accurate so I thought I'd just take a few close up shots to show off some of the finer details. The colour in my shots is totally off though, but fortunately the stock picture is accurate in the regard as well!

BAG179 [yay, giant strawberry!]

At 33cm, this bag is still too small to fit my laptop for uni, but I was hoping to be able to wrangle it in somehow. Unfortunately, that's not going to happen. However, this bag is still awesome. It seems very sturdily made and is quite big enough for me to use as a uni bag for textbooks and such when I'm not taking the laptop. There's a big zipper along the top as well as the one for the side pocket that you can see pictured on the back of the bag in the stock photo. And, speaking of stock photos, what you see is exactly what you get so no picture from me ^__^

SHOES192, sax, 250

With this shoe addition, I now have a pair of lolita shoes in all the "primary" colours - black, brown, pink, white, red and blue. Seriously, when I talk about the fact that you can never have too many shoes, I really mean that you can never have too many shoes.

When I picked up my package from the doorstep, I noticed something hard and square... my shoes miraculously came in a shoebox! This has never happened before, not even when I've placed and order that was mostly shoes. I'm still honestly so amazed by the shoebox that it rather overshadows the shoes, but the shoes are really lovely. A perfect fit and the colours is quite accurate to the stock photo - they're a very fresh, light blue. As they are now stashed in the shoe stash I'm not getting them out for a photo but as I said, the stock photo is quite accurate.

As for postage time, I ordered on Saturday 13th, it was shipped Tuesday 16th and it arrived exactly two weeks later on Tuesday 30th. I've noticed that packages from Bodyline have been gradually taking longer to arrive - this is the longest I've had to wait for air shipping from them. However, I've heard that girls in the US have had to wait up to a month, so I'm pretty lucky. Just not quite as lucky as I used to be ^__^

The Pros:
  • Good, sturdy construction on everything.
  • Perfect fits on everything!
  • The dress is amazingly good quality for the price.
  • The blouse is lovely, and I'm thinking of getting it in other colours...
  • I got a shoebox! A mythical Bodyline shoebox!

The Neutrals:
  • Postage took longer than usual, but still very decent.