Surveys always amuse me. Not only do they give an interesting look at its target participants' lives, but they often tell me things that surprise and inspire me. I read the results of one of the surveys at Ramble Rori (which is an awesome project being conducted by my roommate and you should all check it out!) and was amused at one of the results I saw. I've been involved with lolita fashion for a few years now, actively dressing about four years, and I've recently been noting my personal tastes changing rapidly from sugar-sweet to the more subdued, grown-up classic for various reasons. Apparently, I'm not alone: according to the survey results, about 75% of beginner lolitas wear sweet lolita, and this group also makes up the majority of fashion-wearers. Of the 17% of lolitas who are considered “seasoned,” 15% are classic. Amount of years dressing lolita? Four or more. Something tells me I'm a walking stereotype, and I don't care. The actual results:
"Of the 17% of Lolitas who answered that they have been involved in Lolita longer than 4 years, 15% of them answered that they consider themselves Classic Lolitas (9% of the 16% Classic Lolita total).
Of the 76% of Lolitas that have been involved less than 4 years (not including those not involved), they made up 13% of the 14% total Sweet Lolitas, and 12% of the 14% total Gothic Lolitas.
The 5% Aristocrat and Hime Lolitas have been involved with Lolita for at least 2 years."
Once lolitas pass this four-year mark, most of the beginners start leaning away from classic and towards sweet. Now, there are plenty of speculative reasons that newbies are drawn to sweet. My theory? Sweet is easier to get a hold of, if you consider that both Angelic Pretty and BABY, the Stars Shine Bright have been reaching out to the international markets for a good amount of time now. I also think we have more of our lolita "celebrities" who wear sweet lolita than most other styles (Victoria Suzanne and Ashlee, for example) so newer girls have an easier time finding inspiration as well. Before Alice Deco and Gothic Lolita Ensembles, it was also easier to find sweet lolita in print than other styles.
But the research doesn't lie, and the research says that most girls switch to classic after they've been in the fashion for a few years. I'm finding this to be true for me too, personally - while I was always drawn to brands like Innocent World and Mary Magdalene, it was just so much easier to get my hands on Angelic Pretty and BABY that I found myself dressing more in sweet styles. Now, though, I have accepted the truth that I knew deep down the whole time: I am just not a sweet lolita. But now what? I had no idea how to transfer from one style to the next. I had invested so much time and money perfecting my wardrobe, accessories, even hair and make-up techniques that I was kind of at a loss at first. Would all that go to waste?
It's always intimidating to start a new fashion style. I felt kind of like I had, years ago, when I first decided to wear lolita;I had a newly-embraced aesthetic for how to dress, but no way to actually go about dressing it! But this time I had an advantage. My closet may have been full of pastel pink when I really wanted cream and brown, but at least I had all of my foundations and a good amount of pieces that could go between styles.
That's your first step: Figuring out what can stay. I recommend:
- plain colored pieces such as a plain black skirt or plain knee-high skirts, without a huge amount of embellishment.
- Understated blouses. Ditch the AP version with rainbow rhinestones for buttons, but keep the black BABY one with pearl buttons and a few rows of lace.
- tights, especially plain-colored ones. Lace is fine, but say, cherry-print or flowered ones might need some more consideration.
- simply-designed shoes. I'd count tea parties here, I'd say, but anything above that might be too much.
- Understated prints. Merry Sweet Castle by BABY, for example, has more subdued tones and can be coordinated with a broader spectrum of colors (including classic staples like cream or brown) than Toy Parade, for example.
- Bright, loud or overly-childish prints
- Overly-decorate shoes
- Sweet prints
- Laced-topped knee socks
- Huge hairbows
A note on colors: Just because a color you have a lot of and love is not hugely popular for classic doesn't mean it can't be used! If your closet is 80%hot pink, you may have a problem, but I think that with enough know-how any color can work. Pair sweet pastels with cream is a great way to really soften and mature the look, and bright reds go lovely with brown, in my opinion.
There, so now your closet is all set- but really, are clothes the only part of lolita?! Of course not! There's still the entire rest of your look: hair, nails, make-up, the works. This is probably the hardest part, in my opinion - what do you MEAN, my huge teased pigtails won't work anymore?! (and again, remember that I'm always open to being surprised!) These extras you add to your look are probably the most iconic parts of the style, so it's important to learn how you can take the styles and tricks you've already mastered and apply them to classic lolita instead of sweet. For example:
- For those huge, teased pigtails, instead tie the ponytails at the nape of your neck, curl the ends with a large-barrel curling iron, and fingercomb/fluff a bit. Or if you want to add some country sweetness, try french-braiding them from your crown to the bottom of the ears, tie them off there, and do the curl-fingercomb routine.
- If you like those Minnie Mouse-style hugely teased buns, affix pigtails at the base of your neck, but instead of pulling the hair all the way through, allow the ends to be caught and fluff out the top a bit near the elastic, to make sort of a messy bun. Top with rose combs or cream bows.
- Another classy look is to do a deep side-part near your ear, comb with gel it a bit over your crown to keep it nice and frizz-free, then twist it into a low chignon behind your ear.
- Sausage curls can be worn in classic lolita as well as sweet, but may be overly immature, depending on your coordinate. For a more mature version, wear your hair down with a small sidebow. Tease a bit behind the hairband (not a lot! Just enough to give a bit of volume - we're not looking for a hime bouffant here), then, with your large-barrel curler, either curl your hair into large, loose waves or just curl it under, like a reverse flip.
Like everything, switching styles is a fun way to shake up what you know about a fashion and expose yourself to new things. Be that as it may, it can also be frustrating and confusing, though hopefully you won't have quite such a looming fear of "doing it wrong" as you did when you started wearing lolita all together. If you're still nervous, find some style icons- my personal favorite is Rizzell of Aristocratic Maiden (pictured above), and searching "classic lolita" on tumblr always yields a treasure trove of inspiration.