1. Buy slowly, even if you can buy quickly.
I've said similar things on this blog before, because when I started I bought a lot of things that I sold on pretty quickly due to quality and, more importantly, style issues. So even if you do have the disposable income to be able to buy lots and lots of lolita all at once, I really do think that taking your time is important. You need to learn what you like and what suits you and I found for myself, and I think it would be like this for most people, that you can only do this by having the clothes on your body, not just by looking online.
In addition, if you plan your wardrobe rather than going "Buy all the things!" you can develop your wardrobe in a much more logical fashion. Not that I think deciding on a colour palette or overall theme is necessary but I must say I think it would be a nice position to be in if you could make some varied outfits with the first few pieces of your wardrobe. I tended to have a wardrobe where most things only went with one or two other things until fairly recently where I've really tried to focus on versatility.
2. Taobao is good and incredibly easy to buy from.
I'd always heard of taobao, of course, but it always seemed complicated. A lot of bloggers shared reviews but until I actually tried taobao I didn't realise how straightforward it really is to use. Of course, there is the language barrier and the humour that google translate creates, but with the huge online lolita community help is never far away.
3. Brand is not as elusive and expensive as you think.
When I started lolita, as I think many people do, I was struck by the expense! And yes, brand-new brand is quite pricey compared to the usual clothes most of us by, unless you're someone who normally shops designer or very high end. And especially when lolita is rarely a good choice for day-to-day, dropping $150 on a new blouse isn't the same as dropping $150 on a pair of jeans that'll get you through several years or wear.
But. Buying secondhand really is a viable option. And even though secondhand prices are not always reasonable, many are. And especially if you have patience, you can find a lot of good deals. Japanese auctions are also a good choice; though remember that fees and shipping costs do add up!
This BTSSB dress, and other things, will shortly be coming to me from Buyee...
Brand is by no means a lolita necessity, but it's hard to be involved in this fashion and not get caught up in a desire for burando. And I kind of wish that when I was starting to feel the hankering to get my hands on brand I had realised that it was a more achievable goal than I originally thought.
What kind of things did you wish you had known about as a new lolita?