Thursday, 30 April 2015

A Wardrobe Challenge: How to find and fill the gaps in a larger lolita wardrobe

This post is going to be a little different from my usual wardrobe challenges. On one of my previous posts Shannie Bee from Lace a la Mode asked if I could take a look at her wardrobe and, big fan of her and her blog that I am, I instantly said yes even though her wardrobe contains than the twenty main pieces that is where I normally cap these types of posts. To be honest, it's really not feasible to approach a wardrobe like hers in the way I normally do so instead I am sharing, with examples, my method for finding and filling gaps in a large lolita wardrobe.

The problem with larger wardrobes is that you can't look at it all at once and see patterns in that way; due to sheer volume it's impossible to take in everything at the same time. So instead I find you need to accumulate data and see patterns from there. This may sound daunting and not very fun, but I love doing this! The first step in gathering data is to look at every main piece in the wardrobe and determine what colours each one can match with, and taking notes about it. As an example I'm using a random sampling of dresses from Shannie's wardrobe, and have numbered them for quick reference.

So, starting from the top, I'm going to list the colours each dress would match well with. To do this first I draw from the colours in the print, if there is a print, and then I consider what colours would also go well with it that may not be present.
1. Red, white, chocolate brown, ivory, sax blue, pink and burgundy.
2. White, ivory, red, chocolate brown, peach and burgundy.
3. Pink, sax blue, white, lavender and jade green.
4. Ivory, chocolate brown, burgundy, pink and lavender.
5. Black, white, burgundy and royal blue.
6. Sax blue, pink, white and red.
7. Literally any colour would work but white, pink, sax blue, peach and lavender are the ones I think are best.
8. Peach, ivory, pink, chocolate brown and burgundy.

Now that I have a list of what colours will work with what it's a matter of distilling those colours into accompanying items for the wardrobe. Here I use an idea that I outlined in my post about different methods you can use to start a lolita wardrobe; creating "base sets" of items in a singular colour consisting of a pair of shoes, legwear, headwear and a top. I would aim to have two or preferably three sets that would work with each main piece, and would prioritise sets that will work with a majority of pieces. So for this sample of Shannie's wardrobe the colours I would choose for the base sets are:
1. White
2. Ivory
3. Pink
4. Burgundy
5. Sax blue

After having figured out what colours to get a base set in, the next set is to look at your wardrobe and see what you have already in those colours. Shannie had most of the items needed for each of the base sets in these colours. The pieces that she would have to buy are indicated with the a red dot in the picture below.

As you can see, she already had many of the necessary pieces... she even had a pink blouse, but it was a very different shade of pink to the shoes, socks and headbow that I felt it better to replace it. The main things she needs to get are the burgundy pieces but if you refer back to the list of what colours each piece matches with she could have chosen to run with chocolate brown instead and the only piece that would really suffer from that is the Juliette et Justine dress, number five.

To make this post a bit more like my regular wardrobe challenges, I've put together three outfits for each of the eight main pieces I selected using the items from the base sets, which I think shows quite well how effective this method of wardrobe building can be.

With all the colours in the print this JSK was very easy to come up with different looks for, and I could have easily done more as well!

Conversely, despite having several colours to work with as well, this JSK was a bit harder to coord with its peachy colouring. However, mixing and matching still allowed me to come up with three very different looks.

I don't have too much to say about these coords; this JSK has quite an elegant cut so I tried not to go to casual.

Chocolate with no extra brown... shocking! I actually really liked not incorporating more brown into these outfits.

This JSK has the most limited options with the base sets I chose but by using the complete burgundy set, the complete white set and then mixing the two I still came up with some very different looks.

Dresses like this remind me of why I love sweet lolita; it's so easy to coord!

This white JSK is a good example of how versatile plain pieces can be as I think each of these outfits have a very different feel to them.

Lastly, this JSK was also fairly easy to play around with, though I'm not 100% sure if the pinks will match, but given Innocent World's knack for inaccurate stock photos I wasn't worrying too much about that!

So there's a small example of analysing a wardrobe [or part thereof, in this case] and selecting base sets of items to complement it. It's a good method, I find, but not one that needs to be followed to the letter as far as what goes into the base sets. You may find that you only need some of the pieces, for example perhaps only the burgundy shoes and bolero, rather than the full set. Alternatively, if you had these eight main pieces and knew you wanted to buy more black dresses perhaps you'd look into getting a set in black as well. You may want several legwear options in each colour, or a few different tops. My point is that after figuring what base colours work well with your wardrobe and seeing what you have and what you potentially need you can refine the list of things to get to complete your wardrobe from there. You may not feel the need for matchy-matchy shoes, for example, which would simplify your base sets if you didn't need shoes for each one. You may always buy and like to wear the matching legwear and headwear to a set, and thus only need to look for tops and shoes. These base sets are just that; a base, and one that you can modify to suit your tastes.

It's also worth mentioning that base sets do not need to be worn together and in isolation, nor do you need to have an entire set in each colour. The point is that analysing what colours would go with each piece in your wardrobe, then figuring out which of those colours would go with the most things while still giving you several options for each main piece is a logical way to go about bringing cohesiveness and variety to you wardrobe without running into problems where you have dresses with hardly anything that matches. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't buy awesome accessories that go with only one thing in your wardrobe, and I swear a jade green bolero would be the coolest thing ever with dress number three above, but this is the method I think is best for getting the most possibilities for each of your dresses and skirt out of the least accompanying pieces.

I've tried to be as clear as possible here but I know I can be a bit rambly at times so if you have any questions feel free to drop me a comment.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Lolita 52: What my own lolita lifestyle is like

To be entirely honest, I'm not sure if I can really claim to have much of a "lolita lifestyle". As much as I love the style I could sell my whole wardrobe tomorrow and not feel like I've lost an important aspect of my life. I'd miss it to be sure, but it's not an integral part of my lifestyle. Having said that, however, lolita has definitely enriched my lifestyle in a number of ways. Sure, they are ways that I may have filled with other hobbies or fashions, but it's lolita that won out for me.

Firstly, this blog. I write a lot of fiction [an uni essays!] but this blog gives me a more casual writing avenue which I really enjoy. And I like giving advice, coming up with new content and improving how I write here. I get a great deal of satisfaction seeing my pageviews and followers go up, and every time I get a nice comment it really gives me a happy feeling inside. Though I may have started a blog of some kind anyway, lolita blogging is a really fun and fulfilling thing for me now.

My $500 wardrobe series is one of my favourite ones on this blog.

Another notable aspect of my "lolita lifestyle" is that lolita inspires me to sew, and sew better. I still don't sew much, but I have more handmade pieces in my lolita wardrobe than in my regular one. Modifying accessories is also something I do for lolita and would not otherwise do. Lolita gives me a reason to sew and a lot of satisfaction out of doing it. And, feeding back to my previous point, sewing lolita gives me something more to blog about!

Lolita also has a large social aspect and though I've yet to go to a meet-up or even really chat to other lolitas much online I love that participating in this fashion gives me the potential for new social connections. I'm not a particularly extroverted person in any sense and tend to get a bit worn out by social events and thus don't really have much social energy left to start adding lolita events to my calendar but at the same time it's wonderful to know that there is potential to do so if I want.

Not sure where this image originally came from, sorry I can't credit.

Photoshoots are another facet of my lifestyle lolita has touched. I modelled for years before finding the style, but after I found it it's one of my favourite go-to looks for photoshoots. It's especially handy in circumstances like when James and I wanting to test out a new location or shooting style. It's nice enough that it looks good, goes with lots of different locations, and lolita outfits are easy for me to put together. I find lolita clothes also can be quite versatile and can work with steampunk looks and vintage styles very easily. Gothic lolita is also lots of fun to go a bit OTT with on a shoot! Even though I've always been able to come up with good look for various shoots, having lolita as a go-to that I really enjoy has made it even more fun.

Our first try at a levitation shoot, made more awesome because lolita.
Photo by The Enthusiast.

Lastly, and this will be a bit vague, but lolita has helped me be more of a stylish person in general and take more care and enjoyment in my appearance. I'm a fairly practical person and don't feel the need to put any particular amount of effort in my physical appearance for no particular reason; I don't dress up nicely when I leave the home most days and I don't put on make-up except for special occasions. I'm a jeans and tee-shirt girl through and through. But I've always liked dressing up nicely when I've felt like it and over the years the "nicely" has ran the gamut from wannabe goth to hippie to rainbow vomit styles. In lolita I've finally found a style that I feel really suits me, is flattering and that I enjoy. As a result of having a more fixed "dress up" style I've found I also take some more pleasure in my regular clothing as well; still jeans and tee shirts, but now with nicer shoes, sometimes headwear and more deliberateness to my style in general. Not that I don't have completely don't-care days [in fact, that's still most days] but lolita has really given me an appreciation for coordinating outfits that I didn't have until I found a style I could fully embrace and let it spill over into my everyday fashion.

Even though lolita is not an integral part of my lifestyle it's something I derive a lot of enjoyment from in more ways than just wearing the clothes. It's enriched aspects of my life and given me inspiration. Though I'm sure I would have found other things to serve similar purposes I'm glad lolita was the one I did find.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Lolita 52: Five movies for lolitas

Whelp, here I'm going to disgrace the lolita name and start by mentioning I've never seen Kamikaze Girls. However, movies for lolitas don't have to be movies about lolita, so I'm just going to list off my five favourite movies that are reminiscent of the same principles and aesthetics of lolita, at least to me.

The Phantom of the Opera
The costumes. Oh my heart, the costumes. I fell in love with this movie really hard and even though I haven't watched it in ages it's still special to me. I even had a great moment with a model on one of our shoots a few weeks back, she started singing one of the songs and I joined in and it was a cool moment.

 Pride and Prejudice
Aesthetically, I adore this movie. It's just lovely and my favourite period Jane Austen adaptation so far.

The Princess Bride
Another movie I haven't watch in a while but would always recommend. The story is just fabulous, and quotable, and overall it's just the perfect mix of bizarre and beautiful.

Little Women
There are few movies that make me cry, and this was one of them. I've always loved the books and this is my favourite movie version. Besides loving the story, I just love the cinematography.

Any Disney princess movie, ever
Does this even need an explanation? I do love me some Disney ^__^

As an honourable mention sort of thing I want to say that I would have loved to have put A Little Princess on this list, but the movie is so nothing compared to the book that I just can't. If there is ever a faithful adaptation I would be overjoyed. So yes, if this was a list of books instead of movies it'd be there but it's not, so it's not.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Lolita 52: Five pieces that every lolita wardrobe should have, regardless of style

I've finally decided to undertake the Lolita 52 series! Mostly because I want to keep this blog active but my wardrobe challenges are a lot of work even though I love them, and even coming up with flat-lay outfits is sometimes more effort than I want to put in, as well as requiring things like sunlight to be able to take half-decent pictures. So, since this has been around for a couple of years now, I thought I'd give it a go for when I want to blog a bit more quickly and simply about something.

Funny story before we start, kinda. I was actually going to do this challenge when the list was first posted on FYeahLolita. I even commented saying that I wanted to, despite my newness to the fashion, because I had opinions regardless of my newb-ness. Then I decided, and again commented, that maybe I wouldn't, because some of the questions required a certain amount of time in the fashion to be able to give an interesting answer to. But now here I am, two years down the track, giving it a go, starting with the first topic on the list.

In blogs I've read people have approached this topic mostly in general terms but I wanted to be slightly more specific. So, with no further ado, here is my set of five things each lolita wardrobe should have.

A petticoat
It really shouldn't need mentioning, but since the silhouette is the main feature of lolita it seems remiss of me to make a list of essentials and not include it. Before any main piece a petticoat is the most important foundation garment for any lolita. Big and cupcake, subdued and a-line... as long as it's there!

Picture from Chiffon Rose, found here.

Lace tights in black and white
I adore lolita OTKs. Adore them! But I think that good quality lace tights in black and white should be a wardrobe staple for any lolita, above any lolita-specific legwear. They are neutral, but not in the same way plain tights are. They are detailed, but they don't draw too much attention. A black and a  white pair could go with pretty much everything, and if you've read much of my blog you'd know I love versatile wardrobe items.

Tights from Modcloth.

Pearl jewellery
Another item that makes my list because of its versatility is a set of pearl jewellery, or at least a necklace and bracelet. Pearls can go with everything except the sweetest of sweet and the most gothic-y outfits and have a timeless class that I think suits lolita really well.

This set found here.

A simple white blouse
Here's where I get specific. Why a white blouse? To me white is the most neutral of neutral colours and a white blouse can be worn in each of the main substyles, though not necessarily with every single main piece. Something with a fairly simple design, like a small peter pan collar, would be able to go with nearly everything and be a good fall back piece. I'm all for interesting blouses but neutral ones are so much more important for building a well-rounded wardrobe. 

A lovely plain blouse from Metamorphose.

A neutral bag [in brown, white or black]
My final item is a neutral bag in a colour that matches your wardrobe. Like with blouses I love interesting bags but a solid coloured neutral bag that's large enough for everyday use will round out your wardrobe really well. I can't say any single colour is better here because it really depends on which substyle you wear most.

This adorable bag is from Innocent World.

That's my list of five things that every lolita should have. Do you agree or disagree? What items would you have on your list?

Monday, 13 April 2015

Yahoo Japan Haul and Buyee Review

Yes, yes. I broke my spending ban... in a big way! But it's kind of okay, because James bought some of it for me, so it's kind of not really exactly breaking the ban, right? Or at least not breaking it too badly since he started it, right? ^__^  There's a bit of a back-story to how I came to this first foray into Japanese auctions, so let us begin.

James said he'd buy me something nice because I got all my uni assignments done ahead of schedule, which I did, so I started trawling Lolibrary to find myself a nice floral JSK. I've been wanting a new floral piece for a while so I thought it'd be good to actually find a few specific pieces and put out a WTB, rather than casting about vaguely for "something floral". So I did:

My "dream dresses" ^__^

Then, since I'd been casually browsing Yahoo Japan [and Mbok] on and off over the last few months, I thought I'd go through the Metamorphose and Baby JSKs there to see if I could happen to find any of these pieces at a reasonable price. And, believe it or not [and I hardly did at first] I found the Florina Rose Chest Ribbon JSK in ivory, with no bids on it! Then, since I was going to bid on one thing, I had a bit more of a browse to see if I could find any other good deals.Which I did, which is why this is a haul post rather than a single dress post. In the end I got the Baby JSK, a bulk lot of socks and a mixed bulk lot of lolita clothes.

I'll start by showing you the items and gushing a lot about how absolutely chuffed I am, and then at the end there's a bit of a review about Buyee as a shopping service.

This lot of socks [plus random headeating black bow, which I forgot to take a picture of] was a bit of a YOLO purchase. I bid as much as I was comfortable paying, was outbid immediately, but then I thought... I wonder if I can get it if I bid just 100 more yen? So I did, and I was then the highest bidder, and no-one else outbid me so I ended up winning. Which felt a bit weird. I was over what I was willing to pay, but it was still a good deal, yet at the same time I didn't really want them as much as I paid. Not all the socks are my style so I'll probably sell some of them off soon, but overall I'm just like "Socks! Yay!". I really have a thing for lolita socks, so getting these made me really happy and I'm glad I won the auction in the end. And I even have token pieces of AP and AatP now, though I don't know if I'll hang on to those particular [far right] pairs.

I also found a glorious bulk lot randomly while browsing, and just had to get it. Why? It had three skirts, two pairs of bloomers, four pairs of socks, a blouse and two boleros and all for a very reasonable price and it ticked a lot of boxes for me. Mostly I just fell in love with the socks but I was also keen to get my hands on an IW bolero; my bust is currently too large but I wanted to [cheaply] find out how my shoulders and arms would fit. I also thought the bloomers looked good and would be handy to have if they fitted, the blouse would be nice for me or maybe our model wardrobe, and the skirts could probably be sold, since IW skirts are notoriously small. I know it seems a bit silly to buy a lot where I'm not sure of the fit, or even of the condition [the listing pictures were good, but not very close so they could be hiding flaws], but with the lolita resale market being pretty good I figured even if I only kept the socks I could resell the rest and make back what I spent, so it was worth giving it a shot. And besides, given the retail price of IW socks the socks alone almost made it worth it anyway.

And oh my gosh, was it ever worth it!

First up, the socks are cute! The strawberry pair must be offbrand, because there's no logo anywhere, but they're still really adorable. The bloomers are also nice but as they don't fit me we'll probably be keeping the white pair for the model wardrobe and I'll sell off the polka-dot pair.

Then we have the three skirts. Unfortunately, Innocent World lives up to their reputation of smallness, but the solid brown skirt will definitely have a loving home in our model wardrobe because James and I both think it's gorgeous. The Angel Land skirt is a bit bigger, but I'm not in love with it so I'm currently thinking I'll sell it rather than hang on to it for when I've lost more weight. But the Emily Temple Cute mermaid skirt is the cutest of the bunch! It's quite small, and definitely not my style, so it's an immediate sell but it really is a gorgeous piece in person. I hadn't loved it when I'd seen it online but in person there's just something kitschy and sweet about it.

And then we have the blouse and boleros, plus Panda's napping butt sneaking in at the top. Surprisingly, both the boleros fit me, though the IW one is absolutely skin tight on the arms so even though it fits it doesn't fit well.... yet. The grey Heart E one is also tight, but not so much, and the white faux fur collar is detachable so even though I'm not much of a person for grey I may actually get some wear out of this. The blouse, which is lovely and silky and smooth, is going into the model wardrobe. But the great thing about the model wardrobe is that I can always reclaim any pieces I put in there if I get to a point where they fit ^__^

And lastly, the dress that started it all: Florina Rose, which is also the name of a pornstar as I discovered while trying to search for worn pictures of the dress. Recently I fell a bit in love with AP's Dramatic Rose so when I was hunting through floral dresses on Lolibrary and saw this, it felt like fate. This JSK has the lovely drapey, floaty, ethereal feeling that I loved in Dramatic Rose but is a lot more toned down and wearable. In person it is lovely and fits me quite well. It's a bit shorter than I like but I'm on the tall side so I think most brand is always going to b a bit short for my tastes. However, it's a gorgeous piece and it's also something I could dress up or dress down so I think it's a great addition to my wardrobe.

Overall I'm really, really happy with everything I got and I've been happily excited ever since I opened up the big box this morning. Sure, I'll be parting with some of it immediately, but I got some really good deals and it was fun! I love getting packages in the mail, especially big ones with lots of items, which this certainly was. Everything is in very good condition too; there's some feeling of wear most items but I haven't seen a single bit of damage.

I used Buyee as my shopping service because since I was an existing Tenso customer they gave me some half off service charge coupons. Yay! Also, I have been happy with Tenso so I figured Buyee would be good too. As I used their site I liked their interface; it was very straightforward and simple to use. I'm not sure how their fees compare to other shopping services but I thought the were pretty reasonable. However, I will say that cheap buys end up less cheap ones you add fees, domestic shipping, consolidation and international shipping. Even though what I got was definitely a bargain compared to nearly everything on Western auctions after fees, if I hadn't managed to find items with low starting prices it wouldn't really work out any cheaper than buying in the Western market. Also, if you place a max bid amount Buyee will bid up to the amount, even if it means unloading an extra 2000 yen into an auction you're already winning at the last moment. The lesson there is only bid manually and in small increments. Just a few things to keep in mind since I often see it said that Japanese auctions are much cheaper; the can be, but they also might not be.

As far as my order timeline goes all my auctions finished by midnight on the 28th of March, I paid immediately and everything arrived at Buyee on the 7th of April. I really liked how they marked down the status of each package, though admittedly I got super impatient watching the status go unchanging for a few days at a time! But at the same time I liked that they clearly marked what was going on with each package. On the 8th I applied for package consolidation and on the 9th it was shipped, and I got to impatiently watch the tracking until my glorious package arrived on the 13th. So it was only a bit over two weeks from the auctions finishing to me getting my stuff. Overall, I had a very positive experience with them and will probably use them if I want to shop from Yahoo Japan again.

Friday, 3 April 2015

A Wardrobe Challenge: Tights, berets and bright colours, oh yeah!

Before any talk of clothes or anything I have to say... wow, I'm awesome. normally it takes me a while to do these posts, a couple of days at least. I download the images of their clothes, crop and find better or alternate versions if required, figure out what they need, find suitable examples, make sure I've added enough, make collages, make example outfits, resize and save for web and then write up the post. Today, I did all that in under eight hours. Not eight hours straight, mind you, but this is the first time I've ever done one all in one day so I wanted to put a bit of self-congratulation into this post.

But enough of that, onto the main event!

Since I'm sick of calling everyone anon in these, and don't want to use real names when I do know them becuase I know some people don't want to be outed for going on cgl, I'm going to call the owner of this wardrobe Ida. Ida has a really cute wardrobe with rocking shoes and a bit of a quirky vibe. As usual, I have't included bags or jewellery. Also, the picture of the black blouse here is not the one she owns; hers has cool gold embroidery on the collar but there was no available stock picture so image it being a bit blingy. She said she mostly wears tights, and likes tights and berets and prefers boleros over blouses.

Given that Ida said she has plain tights and plain berets already, I've separated these into a collection of Schrödinger's clothes. Maybe she has them, maybe she doesn't but either way I think she should have the above pieces.

And these are the rest of my suggested editions. Even though I've included Innocent World boleros, for a cheaper option places like The Floral Notebook, Lady Sloth and Glitter Tale can custom make boleros which could be a good choice.

Another thing I'd also suggest Ida, or anyone who likes wearing berets or hats a lot, is to invest in addition in some smaller bow or flower clips to make the general head area less plain. My James bought me 80+ bow clips of eBay in over 40 colours and they're great because no matter what I'm wearing I'll have at least two bows to clip wherever to make things a bit more interesting. I'm slowly building my flower collection as well and I have to say that as a beret lover it really makes all the difference to have a little extra something when wearing a solid colour beret.

Also, I've decided to stop adding wrist-cuffs in my suggestions here, as lately I've started feeling more like they are a jewellery item. by that I mean, yes, having something on the wrists does tend to make an outfit more put-together, but what exactly that thing is [an indeed, if it's there at all] is personal. It's also a bit beyond the scope of these posts in which I intend to provide guidance on the basics of wardrobe construction. With what I suggest in these kinds of posts you have a good, solid base but personal touches have to come from the person.

Anyway, after all that rambling feast your eyes on my sample coords for Ida!

I really loved the idea of pairing the IW camisole with a bolero and I think it works rather nicely. The third coord feels a bit more otome to me with those shoes, and it's probably my favourite of the three!

Not much to say about these coords; they are all fairly simple variations on the skirt. I'd have loved to have included some purple pieces to match it but, as always, I've tried to keep things as versatile as possible. Though, having said that a plain beret and a pair of solid tights shouldn't cost more than $20 so that' an easy way to get some really catchy coords out of this skirt.

I tried to keep these coords a little different from the ones above but, naturally, they ended up a bit same-y. If Ida had more skirts and like blouses more I'd have a few more options in that regard but with only three skirts and a preference for boleros I couldn't justify adding any more than the white one.

This dress is so cute! It was fun to play with something so bright and retro feeling.

I always say plain pieces are great... but this one gave me trouble! Sailor dresses are just so hard to do much with, but I think these outfits still show how you can get some variety out of a piece like this.

Another adorable OP! This dress just made me so happy, it's such a cheerful looking print an the colours are so vibrant it's just a pleasure to come up with outfits for.

This JSK is more fitting than the sailor OP above of how nice and versatile simpler pieces can be; a dark outfit, a light one and a fun one! Pairing this with the pink beret and tights  along with the white blouse could also be really nice.

I really love chocolate prints, there's just something so rich and warm about chocolate that I feel suits the lolita aesthetic really well.

The coords for this JSK cam out a bit repetitive, but I think they're still sufficiently different to give Ida a few options.

I'm know I'm admitting to a lot of similar outfits here but I have to say it again; these outfits are somewhat same-y. Switching out the Mary Janes for a pair of boots in one would be awesome, but I couldn't justify including them in my suggestions. But I'm getting around that by suggesting them here, so there you have it.

Not much to say here, except I find this print a little bit creepy.

Surprisingly,this JSK was one of my favourites to coord! I didn't like it much when it came out on the Bodyline website, but after having a virtual play with it I think it's really cute. Not something I'd wear myself, but still very cute.

Lastly, this lovely JSK. Not much to say about the outfits, so I'll take this opportunity to say I loved the music theme that was running through a lot of Ida's wardrobe. It's uncommon to see someone with a collection of music-themed items, so it was fun to get to play with a bunch of them all at once.

Though I'm not sure when I'd get around to it if you with uni and life and all, dear reader, are interested in me taking a look at your wardrobe of under twenty main pieces and suggesting how to perhaps make it more cohesive and versatile please leave me a comment and let me know ^__^