Sunday, 27 May 2018

How much will your first lolita coordinate cost?

It's been a while since I've done one of these kind of posts, which is all just rambling and thoughts and beginner advice and theory. I'm not even sure what to call this kind of post! But naming it doesn't matter, I really enjoy just analysing aspects of this fashion. So here I'm turning my mind to the question of how much money your first lolita coordinate might cost.

I’ll start this post by disclosing the unfortunate reality – there is no single answer! A lolita outfit can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be, though unless you’re get very lucky you won’t tend to be able to get much lower than $100 for all the necessary components. If you want to see what a $100 lolita coordinate (approximately, and without a petticoat, a bag, or shipping included) looks like, please view one of my earlier posts which has three examples.

The reason why price varies so wildly is that there are so many options and sources to buy lolita items from these days; the big Japanese brands, indie brands from all over the world ranging from singles seamstresses to full on shops, Bodyline, the many stores of Taobao, handmade, offbrand pieces that still work as lolita…and from all those sources pieces can be bought new or secondhand. However a lolita outfit tends to be on the higher side is because a coordinate contains more individual components than more casual, regular fashion looks.

For a lolita outfit you need the follow items:
  • A main piece (onepiece dress, jumperskirt dress, or skirt)
  • A blouse (not needed if wearing an OP)
  • A petticoat
  • A hair accessory
  • Socks or tights
  • Shoes
  • A bag
Then in addition to the above, there are the following optional items:
  • A bolero or cardigan (can be used instead of a blouse with a JSK)
  • Wristcuffs or a bracelet
  • Other jewellery
  • Additional accessories if desired
  • An ouji boyfriend (I kid, I kid…)
So you already have 6-7 things that you definitely need to make up a lolita outfit, and options to add a bit more if you want a fancier or just more complete look. I honestly tossed up whether to put wristcuffs in the required or option because I do think you need something to stop your arms from looking bare, but it really is a personal decision.

To refer back to my example $100 coordinates in the post I linked the reason why I could keep those to that price limit is that I excluded the petticoat and bag, and the supplementary pieces (most notably legwear and headwear) are non-lolita specific items, mostly from eBay. I do love me some offbrand cheap accessories, but the can often take your overall look in a slightly less “proper lolita” direction. I’ll be clear; I have absolutely nothing against using offbrand items in lolita coordinates, and do it a lot myself! But since this post is directed at someone who is new to lolita I would honestly recommend sticking to items that were made for lolita when you first start out.

I digress. The point of this post was to give a guide of what you could reasonably expect to spend on a complete lolita outfit, so I will do just that. Prices will be in AUD (converted from whatever currency they are originally in) and will exclude shipping and any other fees. For ease of showing just how much this can vary, I’m going to “shop” for three fictional personas: the girl who just wants brand-new brand, the girl who wants things new but is watching her budget, and the girl who wants some brand but is happy to shop secondhand and buys things that work regardless of source. In the interests of complete thoroughness, I will “buy” an outfit for each persona in the three main substyles; sweet, classic, and gothic lolita. I’m going to try and keep the outfits sort of just regular lolita; not too simple and not too OTT. Prices are listed below the photos from left to right

The first set of example coords are for a sweet lolita buying a onepiece dress.

$352 + $140 + $30 + $178 + $45 + $115
All Angelic Pretty
Total Cost $860

$46 + $51 + $6 +  $18 + $8 + $20
Dress and headbow Magic Tea Party, petticoat Me Likes Tea, tights Mu Fish, shoes Sosic Shop, bag Loris
Total Cost $149

$215 (includes socks and headbow) + $51 + $21 + $20
Dress, socks and headbow Metamorphose special set, petticoat Me Likes Tea, shoes Sosic Shop, bag Loris
Total Cost $307

As far as price for a one off coordinate goes, an OP will be the cheapest choice. However, for future wardrobe building they are less versatile. That aside, I would still probably recommend a onepiece dress for someone's first lolita coordinate - they're easier to work with and while they tend to be more expensive than skirts or JSKs, not needing to also buy a blouse mean they still work out cheaper!
The average price of these three example coordinates is $439.

In the second round of coordinates, the classic lolita is buying a coordinate where the main pieces are a skirt and blouse.

  $182 + $208 + $129 + $33 + $195 + $61 + $169
All Innocent World except BTSSB shoes
Total Cost $977

$49 + $38 + $15 + $9 + $22 + $28 + $62
Skirt Bodyline, blouse and bonnet Infanta, petticoat Leg Avenue, tights eBay, shoes Sosic Shop, bag Axes Femme
Total Cost $223

$41 + $37 + $55 + $33 + $54 + $6 + $62
Skirt and socks Innocent World, blouse Angelic Pretty, petticoat Me Likes Tea, shoes and bag Axes Femme, hairclip Sweet Dreamer
Total Cost $251

In terms of price, skirts tend to be cheapest main piece to buy and can give you a nice range of coordination options. However, colour balance can sometimes be tricky to get right with a skirt. That said, I personally like skirts a bit more than OPs even though they would be my least recommended main piece for a beginner due to the increased difficulty of coordination. The average price of these three coordinates is $484, a bit of an increase from the onepiece examples.

Lastly we have a set of coordinates for a gothic lolita consisting of a jumperskirt and bolero combo. As I mention basically ever time I try and do something goth-y, goth anything is not my strong suit so these probably aren’t the most gothic gothic lolita coordinates you’ve ever seen, but oh well.

 $461 + $195 + $182 + $30 + $195 + $72 + $208
JSK and headbow Moi-meme-Moitie, everything else Alice and the Pirates
Total Cost $1343

 $86 + $58 + $24 + $2 + $37 + $26 + $7
JSK Soufflesong, bolero and headdress Sweet Dreamer, petticoat Classical Puppets, tights and bag eBay, boots Sosic Shop
Total Cost $240

  $105 + $57 + $55 + $6 + $21 + $15 + $80
JSK and bolero Alice and the Pirates, petticoat Me Likes Tea, tight and headdress Sweet Dreamer, shoes Sosic Shop, bag Restyle
Total Cost $339

I have no idea why the gothic coords turned out the most expensive...they just did! The average price for these three example coordinates is $641. To me, JSKs are the most quintessentially lolita main piece and are both the easiest to coordinate, and the best for wardrobe building.

Obviously, this is a very limited sample but we can draw the following conclusions:

  • Coming in at an average of $1060 for a full coord, buying all new and all brand is quite expensive.
  • However, if you buy secondhand brand (or special sets) and supplement with Taobao and indie items the cost drops dramatically to an average of $299. 
  • Buying new, but not brand, items is the cheapest option but not much more than including some secondhand or discounted brand items - the average price here is $204. 
  • Onepiece dresses will lead to the cheapest outfits, but are less versatile for wardrobe building overall.

I mean, a lot of this is probably obvious, but again, this post is aimed at the new lolita. I know that when I was first starting out I succumbed to the myth that all brand is expensive and thus out of my league. If I had known then what I know now, I probably would have bought from places that weren’t Bodyline a lot sooner. Not that there’s anything wrong with buying from Bodyline or Taobao but the best thing about lolita is the huge variety of options, so why limit yourself due to misinformation about costs? However, seeing the sheer jump in price between buying from a range of sources versus buying all new brand has further cemented my desire to continue as I have, which is to buy brand new only rarely. Because my wallet cannot handle that!

Honestly, after doing this post my actual recommendation for a new lolita's first coordinate would be to buy a brand onepiece and socks (unless you want ankle socks or lacy tights, buy those things offbrand!) preferably secondhand, get a petticoat from a reputable indie, and finish the coordinate off with offbrand shoes, bag, and headbow, probably from Taobao. To me that strikes a good balance of economy and quality while giving you a full, proper lolita look so you can try the fashion well. My second suggestion would be to go full Taobao since there are some many good options, but with the price jump from Taobao to secondhand brand being so small I think it's worth spending a little more.

And, in answer to the questions that’s in the title of this blogpost, an average cost for a basic full lolita coordinate without a lot of extra pieces is $521. However, it’s probably better to say that you could reasonably assume that the cheapest you can buy a full lolita outfit for (without bargain hunting) is around $300 and from there they sky is really the limit!


  1. That was a very interesting post, thank you for doing it! Great job on doing three coord scenarios for each of the main substyle of lolita, that really helps to visualise some of the costs. Although at the same time it got me thinking that the exchange rate to Australian Dollar must be pretty terrible (just converting your AUD prices to GBP made me feel slightly less on the brink of a heart attack lol). And then shipping and any potential taxes/customs on top - yeah, we spend a lot on our fashion. And especially interesting for me was that you've posted this not long after I finished writing a rambly blog post myself about buying brand new (which hopefully won't be long before it gets published), so it was nice to look at a very similar issue from another angle. :)

    1. I'm glad you like reading this!

      Haha oh yeah, we are not doing well currency-wise at the moment :( And shipping is always painful, and fees, and yeah. Lolita really is expensive, even if you're somewhat economical about it.

      Oh cool! I'll be very interested to read your post as well ^__^

  2. I think the gothic coords was the most expensive is combonation of two things: you did use moite in full brand coords and Moite is notorious for its' ridicule high pricing, had it been Ateiler Pierrot, the price would been more reasonable. Jsk are the most expensive option as they need the top as skirts and price is closer to an OP.
    It is worth to see even that gothic has the highest average price, it is the one you can save most by buying taobao, offbrand or indie, while sweet is the one with lowest price in general and the least profit buying second hand or taobao.
    A third thing to consider is how often pieces gets worn, My Lief bag gets daily wear, so even the high price, would be less scary when you look on how often wear it and that it actually cost per wear. But that is for an extra post.

    1. Good points on the gothic pricing! I'll admit I don't really follow gothic brands, so I didn't really pay attention to Moite's pricing, though it is ringing a bell now hat they're known as being pricey.

      The price per wear can definitely make a big difference! It's like petticoats, fo example, you really ought to get a big one because you're going to wear it for every single coord.