The story of how I got into lolita fashion:
The first time I witnessed lolita, I was fifteen years old and on my second trip to Tokyo. I spent a week and a half living with a host family in... Meguro or Minato, one of the neighborhoods outside the main bustle of the metropolis, and attending an elite Japanese all-girls private school. For my first weekend there, my host family took me shopping in a few of the bigger fashion centers - Shinjuku, Shibuya, and... Harajuku, of course. This is when Gwen Stefani was at the height of her reign of terror, in 2005 or so, and despite her obsession with "Harajuku Girls" (or maybe because of it), I found myself totally unprepared for what I found there. Walking down Takeshita-Doori, the main drag for alternative fashion, was like tumbling down a rabbit hole; the girl working the counter at Seven-Eleven had green hair and five facial piercings (I counted), teenagers in visual-kei sat at tables in the McDonald's window, and outlandish clothing styles stared down at me from store windows stacked three or four or five on top of each other.
One of these buildings, two or three floors above me, featured a mannequin wearing set I don't know if I'll every forget: it was a blazer with sharp, pointed ends, a skirt that was basically tiers of ruffles, and a janutily-cocked mini hat, all in bubblegum pink. Next to it was something deconstructed visual-kei coordinate in black and purple plaid, but I barely noticed it: that pink monster was like nothing I'd ever seen before, and it was like a magnet.
"Haitte mo ii desu ka?" I asked, my eyes glazed.
My host, Asuka, rushed to agree, but her mother gave a shudder and shook her head.
"Demo... kawaii desu...!" I defended plaintively, in my second-grade-level Japanese.
Ms. Aihashi shuddered again. "Kawaii? Kowai deshou."
So we were whisked away down the street, and I was placated with my first taste of bubble tea in an outdoor foodcourt that has been long since converted to more shopping complexes. I was captivated by lolita, but every time I saw anyone wearing it for the remainder of the trip, all I could hear was my host mother's voice in the back of my head: "Cute? I think it's scary."
It wasn't until lolita got a foothold in the American convention scene that I found my way to actually wearing the stuff. After casually experimenting for a few years, I started amassing a wardrobe of altered blouses and handmade skirts the summer before my senior year, and the first day of school saw me in knee socks and mary janes. There were all of ten days my senior year that I didn't wear lolita or some derivative (I know; I counted). For the most part, my school was fairly accepting; sure, I got bullied a little for my clothing choices, but really - what high schooler didn't? More often, because the magnet program in my school was renowned for misfits, I was just considered one of the other weird "artsy" kids who could occasionally be poked fun at but was mostly accepted, tolerated, or ignored.
On one of the days sanctioned by the school for practical jokes, a friend and I switched clothes for the day, to the outrage of my classmates. One girl gasped when she saw me. "Child, what are you wearing??" she demanded. I looked down: an Abercrombie polo shirt and a denim mini skirt. So what?
|Hanging out with my fellow art kids in my first brand dress; senior year of high school.|
"No, no!" the girl insisted, appalled. "Man, what'd you put THAT on for? You always look like you be going to a ball or something. You gonna go back to the dresses tomorrow, right? Because I don't think I can HANDLE more than one day of this!" And then the entire class went on to discuss how elegant my clothes usually were, how different it was, and how.
And that was probably the best day of my high school career, and I can only thank lolita fashion for it - or at least the hackneyed "lolita-inspired" wardrobe I cobbled together over the course of my senior year.
So that's probably longer than what most people will have to say about it, but I have lots more I could share. And I probably will, eventually - this was an off-the-cuff pieces written in a few minutes and one sitting between projects at my job, but it's a topic I really enjoy sharing my experiences about. Until I get the chance to do that, though, take a look at these other lolibloggers as they share how THEY got into lolita fashion!