*lifestyle lolita: a slightly outdated term at this point, but which at the time basically meant that lolita fashion corresponded with your outside interests, from what you ate to how you exercised. It's largely fallen out of use in favor of a more toned-down general interest in tea and penchant for cupcakes.
♥You don't need to be active in the community. I was totally one of those girls. I didn't feel like I was truly a lolita unless I read every single post on egl, commented and shared my opinion on everything, and got lots of comments on my daily_lolita posts (as you can see, I joined back when the community was still very mired in the LiveJournal universe). Any of my friends who weren't really into it just didn't make sense to me. Lolita, even though I wore it in the real world, was a label still intrinsically tied to the internet and online communities. Don't do that. There's a disconnect there that's unhealthy for your idea of fashion and your own appearance for two reasons. One, your internal concept of a real-life experience that a huge amount of your life revolves around only actually exists for you in the form of internet interactions. Two, validation only comes at the hands of an anonymous mass you'll never actually meet instead of from within yourself.
♥The rules matter, but they also kind of don't. Honestly, they really only matter if you're active in the community. Any photos you post to daily_lolita or Lacebook or whatever when you first start should follow the rules to a T (as well as outfits for meetups), but really, the only people who'll actually care if you're following the rules will probably only interact with you online. As far as your daily wardrobe goes, who cares? Your classmates or work buddies won't care that you aren't wearing a petticoat, or that you're wearing your favorite band tee with a BABY skirt. Experiment. Color outside the lines. Once you've tried a few things and know how to bring your own personal style into the fashion, THEN you should try posting some of your more experimental coordinates to the communities, or wearing them to local meetups. Otherwise, trust me, you're signing yourself up for more annoyance than it's worth.
♥There really are better things to spend your money on than brand. One of the things that always kills me is something I did myself when I first got into the fashion: all of my excess spending money went to building my wardrobe. I never really went out with my friends or took weekends off to go places with my family, because I was focused single-mindedly on affording lolita. I've always felt that experiences are more important than things, and the material excesses that lolita tends to breed can be really caustic to the soul. Yeah, you COULD buy Angelic Pretty's newest print release - or maybe you could go on vacation for a weekend. Get a hotel in the city (whichever city that is for you), maybe catch a show, and have a really fulfilling time with someone you care about (or alone!). It may not be quite as sartorially satisfying as owning and wearing a beautiful garment, but really, that time that you have either with someone you love or alone is worth way more than a dress you'll own for a couple years at most.
That's my opinion, anyway! Don't agree?
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