Tuesday, December 8, 2009

F/W Trends, Loli-fied

Few of you know this, but lately, in addition to lolita I've been really interested in modern mainstream &high fashion. I've been watching the shows, reading the magazines, observing the trends every chance possible, &let me tell you I am loving it! This season is going to be amazing &I am adoring it. Part of my observing has been trying to see what current trends I can combine with lolita, &let me tell you, I'm brimming with ideas. Sure, the stiletto peep-toe booties I've been seeing around don't exactly fit the bill, but let me show you some that do:
Fall Trends 2
Another trend I've noticed, more this fall than so far this winter, is bright, fearless red lips. I personally love the timeless look of red lipstick, but I think it's far too overpowering for me or, in my opinion, most forms of lolita (I have seen it done well, though, especially in gothic). Then I started thinking, what about if it's a Clara Bow? The Clara Bow was popular in the 20's, when tube lipstick was a new-fangled invention that allowed the girls more freedom with its application. It is applied by paling out the lips with primer and/or foundation and redrawing them in smaller &fuller- a good tutorial is here for anyone interested. The reason I think this works well with lolita is that the smaller lip is less overbearing, but is still full &cutely pouty &suits the doll-like look of classic or maybe even sweet... but don't get crazy. The Clara Bow can also be overpowering if it's accentuated too much, so keep it simple!
Fall trends 3
The last trend I want to address, &one of my personal favorites, plays with color palettes. Use a neutral like black, white, or gray, and pair it with a few pops of a bright color. I used black with pink for this example, but some others are brown with powder blue, grey with lavender, and white with sage green. Note that my examples are muted pastels, but you could potentially do something like red or hot pink if you have the right stuff. Caution - too bright colors can look kind of 80's revival. ~Fashion~ (who?) says that in order for a color to be incorporated into an outfit, you should have three+ pieces of that color as well as your base, so a "pop" would be only one or two small pieces or accessories- a hairbow, socks, or purse, for example. This is, as I said, my favorite current fashion trend &totally defines my non-lolita style - I am SUCH a sucker for neutrals this season! Last year I avoided them whenever possible, but this year I am relishing them - right now I'm wearing solely black &grey as we (type?) speak &it is delicious!
You know I will never tell you to dress like the rest of the world, readers. I adore your individuality &support sartorial experimentation in all its forms, but I also think it's important to look unexpected places for fashion inspiration, and you never know - that place could just be the latest issue of Vogue or Allure!
What are your favorite mainstream fashion trends right now? Do you incorporate them into lolita?
(also, apologies that I've been so sparse lately - I've had a lot of stuff on my plate, not least of which being my first legit University finals. Semester's almost over, though, so soon I will be out of excuses &will go back to updating twice a week or so!)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Criticizing Constructively

totally unrelated image
totally unrelated but really gorgeous picture from weheartit.com

Lolitas are really given an amazing opportunity these days, what with the internet being as commonplace as it is. Newbies as well as seasoned veterans trying a different style can post pictures of themselves on internet communities ranging in audience and, well, severity (for lack of a better word) to get feedback and tips on how to improve their outfits. That's awesome - it's something that previous eras of fashionistas wouldn't have even dreamt of. With the simplest google search, I can see what's going on in the sartorial scene of any city in the world - Tokyo, Amsterdam, New York City.

However, with this new power we also, as always, receive great responsibility. This responsiblity we call "constructive criticism." The new global nature of all internet fashion communities, especially in the lolita scene, means that politeness is key in maintaining fair international relations - by which I mean don't be a bitch. I haven't seen many problems with this in lolita, to be honest, but let's just think of this post as preventative, okay?

How to Criticize Constructively

First, let's define: Constructive Criticism is, by my own definition, an answer to the question, "what can be done differently next time to better achieve the result you want?" Constructive criticism is well-meaning and graceful; no "YOU'RE UGLY &STUPID &GROSS" here.

Giving constructive criticism

  • Start and end with the positives - this is a tip I learned way back in English class in middle school. It makes a frame of good that softens any negative blow, &generally comes off more well-mannered than ranting about the negatives of the subject (in this case, a daily outfit or coordinate) &throwing in a half-assed compliment at the end. Starting out positively will also give the subject a confidence boost &make them want to listen to what you have to say.
  • Be polite - a good way to do this is with "I" statements- "I'm not a fan of the socks with that skirt," or "I think pink would go better with your complexion than blue." "You" statements sound accusatory - "You should wear pink instead of blue cause it'd look better," or "You shouldn't wear OTK socks because it makes your thighs look huuuuge!!" Of course, these are very extreme examples,but the idea is still true. "I" statements are opinions, while "you" statements are judgements, or at least that's how most people feel (or so I have read!)
  • Embellishments like emoticons or exclamation points should be used to make positive statements stand out more - again, they can look accusatory or angry when paired with negative statements.

Accepting constructive criticism gracefully

  • Always be greatful for the opinion, even if you disagree - if you didn't want them, you shouldn't have posted to a public forum! (Personal fashion blogs I consider a different story - something posted to your friends page via daily_lolita can be hard to ignore, but on an entirely different website that readers have to go out of their way to look at, post whatever you want. Go crazy. in b4: this is not my personal fashion blog.)
  • Listen to the suggestions you receive - somethings you don't notice things that other people do. Sure, you adore your new Innocent World blouse, but maybe you don't realize that the buttons gap a bit at the bust - listen to that person telling you it might look better with a JSK than a skirt!
  • Don't get offended! Except in extreme cases such as cyberbullying, usually your critics just mean the best &aren't trying to hurt your feelings, no matter how crass they may phrase it.
  • In summary: Listen, smile &nod, consider their suggestions but don't try to please everyone- remember, this is your own personal fashion statement, &you should only be wearing things that make you happy. If you receive too much negetive feedback to the point where you don't want to wear what makes you happy anymore, maybe you should stop posting photos on those communities or forums - I will never tell you to stop wearing things you like! However, as I've said before, respect yourself - if you know posting pictures at a certain website will get you nothing but flack, find somewhere else to share - like I said above, a personal fashion blog is great for this purpose. I started one a while ago for my non-lolita fashion, and even though I don't update it nearly as often as I update here, it's a nice change from articles &outfits that are so compartmentalized as they are in lolita - for anyone who's curious, it's here: trespass.urged - can't believe I never linked to that here before! I'm probably secretly ashamed of how neglected it is.

Now that I've waxed poetic on the joys of blogging and completely deviated from my original topic, I'll leave you with a summary to remind you of what i was actually supposed to be talking about: don't be offended, and don't offend. Play nice with others. Treat others as you'd like to be treated - all that jazz. Do it for karma, if you have to justify it somehow. Just do it.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

True or False?

image from weheartit.com

They're pretty common in lolita. Perfect make-up is almost a necessity, and eyeliner & mascara will do wonders to your eyes, but sometimes there's just one final, absolutely necessary step. Is it the rhinestones at the corners of her eyes? Is it the glitter shadow, or the perfectly-manicured brow? All are great ways to add to your look, but there's one last thing, and despite the fact that they're sometimes glaringly obvious when worn, it is by far one of the best ways to make your eyes look doll-wide, and no, I'm not talking about circle lenses. If a butterfly flapping its wings causes a hurricane by the time it travels around the globe, you'd hate to think what one wink from these babies could do.

Yes, today we're going to talk about false lashes. They might be intimidating, but if you find the right style &apply them correctly they can be SO worth it. They will make your eyes stand out more and look wider &brighter, making you look more awake - like you have big porcelain doll eyes. First, let's talk about styles (examples from Shu Uemura):

  • Natural Lashes. These are usually black or brown and made to just enhance your natural eyes. Usually they're the same length as natural lashes or only a little longer and slightly thicker. These are good for daily dressups and non-lolita wear - they'll enhance but they won't POP like "fancy" ones will.
  • Individual Lashes. These are individual clumps of a few lashes each that you place manually wherever you need. Directions for use here - I have never used them myself, but they seem to be an interesting idea &something I'd like to try in the future.
  • "Fancy" Lashes. These are the lashes favored by most lolitas, in my experience. They are big &dramatic &impossible to ignore. They come in hundreds of styles, from feathered to jewelled to glittery to colored to lace to... basically, if you name it you can find it. My favorites that I've worn myself are these with little pearls stuck THROUGH the lashes. Unfortunately I left them at my parents house and found them "mysteriously" cut to pieces with all the pearls pulled off. I think I know who the culprits are...

These are the main styles - obviously, within each there are hundreds &hundreds of variations, so shop around. Speaking of, where can you buy them? If you're interested in lashes for everyday wear, I recommend going to a high-end cosmetics store like MAC or Sephora and getting a really nice, natural-looking pair. However, for the crazier once-in-a-while styles, I've had amazing luck with Halloween and costume stores like Party City. If it's out of season or you live in a country or area where Halloween isn't celebrated (poor thing!), you can find them online as well. My Diva's Closet is very popular and has a great selection, but I've never ordered from them myself. Another thing to think about is adhesive. Many companies include a small sample tube with their lashes, but not always - check the packaging to make sure. There are also self-adhesive lashes - I don't love them, but they work for some people &are good for beginners who don't wnat to have to worry about glue drying. I'd like to point out that most adhesive contains latex, to which many people (including myself) are allergic. I found latex-free adhesive at my local beauty store but I'm nervous to try it out because of the horror stories I've heard about it: I remember hearing about a lolita who wore used a supposedly "latex-free" adhesive, only to wake up the next day with her eyes swollen shut because it wasn't exactly as hypo-allergetic as the packaging made it out to be. My reaction isn't terrible, but it was only recently that I realized that my eyes aren't supposed to itch &sting the entire time I'm wearing my falsies, so pretty soon I'll probably bite the bullet and try the latex-free stuff soon.

Okay, so you have your lashes: now, let's apply. There are many companies that make eyelash applicators, but they kind of scare me - curlers are intimidating enough! Make-up is not supposed to need machines! I just apply them myself, by hand, the old-fashioned way. Everyone has their own method, but here's what I do:

  • Apply all other make-up except mascara first - your primer, shadow, liner, etc.
  • Before applying glue, take your lashes and put them against your lashline to make sure they're the right length- trim if necessary from the inside corner.
  • Apply a thin line of glue on the lash band.
  • Wait a few seconds to give glue time to "set". Once it becomes tacky, you can begin applying.
  • Start at the outer corner and lay the lash on your eyelid as close to the lash line as possible. Press it into place &scootch it down a little further to ensure it stays as low as possible. Continue in the same manner with the center and inner corner, then repeat the whole process on the other eye.
  • Apply mascara (black, brown, or clear for funky colors). If you want, you can apply some liquid liner over the band, but I've never found it necessary. Curl lightly with an eyelash curler so your natural lashes stick to the fake ones.

&you're done! They're a little strange at first, but you should get used to them in a minute or two. If they still feel uncomfortable or even painful, remove them &reapply. After removing them for the day, clean the band &lashes with a bit of eye make-up remover - whatever you're using on the rest of your eye should be fine. Depending on how healthy your natural lashes are, it may be good to rub some petrolium jelly/Vaseline on them, as mascara &chemicals in other makeup can dry out your lashes, making them brittle &weak - I've never done this myself but I've heard it helps others.

Besides that, there's not much to it. Just be careful - a well-timed wink from one of these babies and you'll be the apple of any onlooker's eye. Use with caution, &be careful where you aim these things!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Literary Lolita: Drawing Inspiration

So some of you may know or have caught on that I'm currently attending (real!) college. An even smaller number of people will know that I am an English major (insert ubiquitous English major joke here), &thus have to read lots &lots &lots of essays, short stories, and novels; I'm currently required to read about 250-300 pages a week, &it's just going to get worse - whew! Even the things you love get tedious after too long, &while I adore reading, I find myself slumping through my homework, leaving hundreds of pages unread until mere hours before class. What do I do to keep my interest? Well, as many before me have, I relate it back to something I love: lolita.

A while back, Victoria Suzanne wrote this excellent post about viewing your lolita coordinates as an art form. It talks about making up a story to inspire your outfit. Well, I'm going to expand on this - taking someone else's writing as inspiration for your outfits.

I'll provide two examples,fittingly by Edgar Allan Poe, one of my favorite poets.
If you aren't familiar with these poems, I suggest you read them from the links provided - it's not really necessary to understand the post, but they're lovely, so you should do it anyway. No, I changed my mind - it is necessary; not as a lolita or a reader of my blog/this post, just as a person. Do it. Trust me.

(Poetry will change your life!!! Can you tell I'm an English major?)

So, when you're taking inspiration from anything - books, poems, music - there are three things to take note of: mood, symbolism, and themes. I figured Poe would be a good example to illustrate these, because he uses all three heavily. For the mood, take note of the type of language the creator (which I will henceforth refer to as "he," because my example is a male writer) uses, and for poetry, note the cadence: choppiness can denote anger, while flowing, beautiful words can denote romance, etc. Symbolism is easy - what hidden undercurrents does he use? What symbolism does he use to make his point? Poe compares Annabel Lee's eyes to stars, so I played off of that a little. Symbolism is something that is alluded to or mentioned only once; anything repeated often throughout the piece is a theme. A specific animal (Romance mentions birds fairly frequently), a location (the seaside in Annabel Lee), or any other number of things would count as a theme. A mood can also be a theme - the heavy, mourning air of Annabel Lee is a good example.

Now that you've narrowed down the mood, symbolism, and themes in the piece you want to emulate, look for other things, such as allusions to color or specific clothing items. If you can find that, you're straight - otherwise &more likely you'll have to do a bit more detective work. Use your symbolism or themes for this one - I added shells &seafoam green to the outfit I used for Annabel Lee because of the repeated theme of the ocean.
For Romance, I skipped any deep, philosophical interpretations and just went with my feelings and thoughts when I read this poem. I thought of nature, the woods, springtime,  and a childhood sweetheart the older, more logical narrator is trying to forget. I tried to find other interpretations of the poem, but the internet failed me, so this is all I have to go on. I wanted an almost childish, Alice Deco-type look for the girl I got the impression of, so I went with lighter spring colors and floral themes, like a child wandering away from a picnic to go pick wildflowers. If anyone else has another interpretation I'd love to hear/see it!
Not going to lie, Annabel Lee is my favorite poem of all time, evereverever. It was the first poem I read of Edgar Allan Poe's, and it's stuck with me strongly ever since. Again I wanted a childish air, since he flat out states that Annabel Lee was a child when she died. Pearls, seafoam green, and the sailor top all allude to the seaside kingdom in which the lovers lived, whereas the contrasting dark colors &veil imply mourning. The necklace has a cherub in it, referencing the angels ("not half so happy in heaven"). The stars are a a reference to the celestial symbolism in the last stanza of the poem.

We all get into our slumps- no one can avoid it, no matter how much you love x, y, or z. And whether it's your homework, your wardrobe, or your literary choices, I will always believe that beauty can help pull you out of it- whether that beauty is finding sartorial inspiration from a poem, imagining what the characters in that Nella Larsen novel are wearing, or doing your make-up as described in your Ancient Egyptian history homework a la Cleopatra. But don't think of inspiration as only something to rescue you when you're not your best - taking inspiration from the things you read, hear, or see is a great way to keep you connected to your environment &can be a great way to mesh your love of __________ with your love of lolita.
(Also, I might be starting a series called the Literary Lolita, relating the things I'm learning from my English classes back to lolita. It won't be a scheduled thing - just whenever I encounter something post-worthy. What do you guys think?)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

On Being Beautiful

Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it.
- Confucious

What is beauty? This is a question humanity has strived to answer probably since the invention of language. All those silly ancient geniuses - they didn't know what I know. For every person the definition of beauty is different - maybe beauty is making men want you, or being lovable or loved, or just being happy with yourself. What is beauty to you? Here's my opinion-

Beauty lies not in the body but in the heart &soul. This beauty we express with our bodies, but we can only do that by tapping into the beauty in our soul. A lolita spends hours getting dressed, coiffing, making-up, and then stands in front of the mirror and smiles. This happiness that is welling up from inside her - this is her soul set free and expressed in her body.

By today's standards, thinking like this probably makes me a "hippie." I have no problem with that - there are worse fates, worse labels society could have inflicted me with. Some of you will not like what I'm saying because of that - many people are made uncomfortable by talk of the soul these days. I don't understand it, but I don't have to. I don't live for them. It's for those of you who are smiling right now, who are reading and nodding and smiling in agreement - it's for you that I write (I speak, I document) for, not for those who are snickering and shaking their head in disbelief or even disgust.

Part of beauty, probably the most important part, is acceptance. Accept that your soul may not want you to look like other people's (or that maybe somedays it does - some days it may beg you to leave petticoats forlorn and comfort it in sweats or jeans or Uggs). I think that lolitas have gotten past this hurdle simply by being lolitas, by accepting that they love a sweet, frilly fashion that much of the outside world finds ridiculous.

We're used to not being accepted. We face it every day by the outside world - and occasionally in our own world, too. It is beautiful to accept that even the people you identify with may not understand or accept your beauty, whether these people are your family, your friends, or even our online lolita communities. It is beautiful to accept this with grace &dignity but to still express your beauty. However, it is important to respect yourself enough not to show this inner beauty to those who will not respect it. Sometimes it is more honorable to keep your beauty inside to protect it and yourself.

Beauty offends. Lolitas know this well. Offense is dangerous. While it is important that your body reflects your soul, protecting your mind &body are most important. An illustration of all these points would be the girl who posts to daily_lolita in a less than perfect outfit. She is trying to show the beauty in her soul, and she is calling that beauty lolita. It may not fit the rules we all follow, and many of us will tell her - not necessarily rudely (I'm not going to go into THAT here), but we will give her tips on how she can mold her internal aesthetic to fit this label more. She can choose to follow these rules or not - if she chooses to alter slightly her aesthetic and be approved of by the community (in which there is no fault), she will be accepted. If she does not, she doesn't need to expose herself to the community anymore. It's as simple as that - if you want to be accepted by certain people, cater to fit their ideas. If those ideas aren't something that sit well with you for whatever reason, distance yourself from those people and continue living as you feel you should. In this case, our "ita" can either conform to the rules of lolita and continue posting without complaint, or she can continue to dress as she wants but keep it to herself &for herself &not post it anywhere.

Though it hurts my Taurus (by which I mean my internal aesthetic &also my sense of justice &what is right or wrong) to admit this, sometimes internal beauty must be stifled for the health of the mind &body - but we must ask, what is the point of a healthy body if the soul ails? Therefore I leave the final decision up to you, as it often is circumstantial. Will you honor your mind, body, or soul? Is there a way to honor all three? Or, really, is there a difference between them?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Guy's Guide to Romancing a Lolita

Who knows how you meet her. Maybe she commutes on the same train as you. Maybe you see her walking around your neighborhood, or she's a customer at your workplace. Maybe she sits in front of you in class. No matter where you found her, your mind is captured &your heart flutters when you think about her - her curls, her bows &lace, her long bejeweled lashes all make your breath come fast.

She's unlike anything you've ever seen or experienced, and because of this you have no idea how to approach her. What if she's too shy to say something to you? Ah, this old song and dance - so familiar yet this time it feels so different! Don't worry, I know how you feel.

So you're hooked on a lolita. It's happened before and will happen again, to many guys &many girls around the world - intoxicated by the beauty of the poof. Your first task in pursuing her is definition. First, I'm going to start: the girl I'm talking about in this article has strong lifestyle leanings. Lolita isn't just a weekend hobby for her; it forms a large part of her aesthetic &maybe even morals or ideals. The "you" is the pursuer. Male or female is unimportant, however I will be making the assumption that "you" are male - sorry ladies. I will also assume that "you" know only a very little bit about lolita, but are willing to learn &plan on doing your research. Now, your turn. You need to figure out what it is you like about her. If it's just that you like how she dresses, a little warning bell should go off: if you just like her because she stands out, or if you're sexually attracted to the style, I'm worried. You should be approaching her as a person, not just a lolita. However, appreciating the childlike innocence of her clothing or the creativity she puts into her appearance is not a bad starting point, because you can tell a lot about a person from her appearance. However, your first step in all of this is remembering that your beloved lolita is, first and foremost, a person, &you can't know everything about someone just from the clothing he or she decides to wear.

So, you've examined your feelings &determined that they aren't just flights of sexual fancy or anything otherwise detrimental to the object of your affections. Great! Now you can start wooing her. Like I said above, a lolita is a regular girl too, so anything that will work with other girls probably will work on her too - take her to the movies, or coffee, or out for drinks if you're of age. Not every girl will go for this, however; if you really want to let your lifestyle lolita know that you're savvy (&you better be! Do your research!), you'll need to get a bit more creative - though admittedly, as some of these require knowing what she's into or are a bit more sappy than others, not all of these would make a great first date.

Some of my personal favorite date ideas:

  • Of course, tea at a teahouse. You can find some great ones as well as reviews online.
  • Antiquing! You're a real catch if you'll put up with this for her. You have to know the right shops, though - obviously a high school girl won't have much use for a store specializing in furniture, etc. Somewhere specializing in clothes &trinkets is good. You'll have to do your own exploring and asking around for this.
  • Have a camera? Interested in photography? You just earned major bonus points with most lolitas. Propose a photoshoot at a Gothic cathedral-style church, forest, or graveyard - you'll have to do some stealthy research to figure out which would suit her fancy most, which will earn you even more bonus points.
  • Go out for ice cream in a park with a pond. Skip stones, wish on pennies, and pick a bunch of dandelions for her.
  • Go ghost-hunting! Obviously this won't be everyone's cup of tea, but almost all the lolitas I know have a huge thing for ghosts, &there's definitely something romantic about traipsing through a centuries-old graveyard with a digital camera. Who knows, maybe you'll be possessed by the ghosts of a pair of star-crossed lovers! Be still my heart.
  • Find an orchard or berry farm and pick your own fruit.
  • Alternately, in winter, go ice skating with a picnic of soup, grilled cheese, &hot cocoa.
  • Look into museums. Most lolitas have a great love of or at least interest in history, and would be pleasantly surprised if they were invited to an exhibit on Victorian fashion or the history of tea. Again, stealthy research to figure out what type of exhibit would suit her fancy.
  • Take her to costume party. Wear boystyle, ouji, dandy, or even steampunk. It'd be a good way to introduce her to your friends without her feeling out of place, &if you pull off your outfit well you will have mucho brownie points, promise.

I've noticed most of these have a heavy gothic/classic leaning. If your girl is more interested in sweet (meaning she wears lots of light colors &childish-themed prints. Didn't you do that research?!), try:

  • Taking her to an artisan chocolate shop...
  • ...or really any candy store &buy her a pound of anything she wants. Be careful of the oncoming sugar high.
  • Take a cake-decorating class together - you're going to have to be pretty secure in your masculinity for this, but you'll definitely get some bonus points.
  • Go to a carnival or country fair - or, if none are available, you can go for a standard amusement park. Points for wooden rollercoasters, vintage ferris wheels, and old-fashioned carousels.
  • Find a forest or open field with wildflowers in it. Go crazy picking the prettiest blooms (not too many, please!) &make her a bouquet. As if you're not emasculated enough as is, braid flowers into her hair. Okay, so maybe this would suit some of our lolita-hunting ladies better than gentlemen, but it's definitely super-squishy-romantic if you can bring yourself to do it!

As I said above, note that these are not necessarily first-date material. I recommend taking your lolita out for coffee or lunch first, get to know her (stealthy research can hereby commence - make mental note of anything she says that could be used as future-date fodder), and then suggest or imply one of the above. "Oh, you're into the paranormal? There's a cemetary that's supposed to be super haunted a few towns over, I've always wanted to go ghost-hunting there," or, "There's going to be a fair in town by the beach next week - ferris wheel, cotton candy, whole nine yards. I used to love going there when I was little, but none of my friends are into that stuff anymore &it's kind of boring to go alone..." Hopefully she'll get the hint &invite you. If not, don't be afraid to ask her yourself! Just like any girl, some lolitas are too shy to ask themselves, or don't want to seem too forward.

As a general tip: most lolitas are very detail- and appearance-oriented (obviously), so if you're a bit scruffy or ill-kempt it may not be a bad idea to clean up a bit. Not saying you have to start wearing suits &go around saying "my lady," but shaving that neckbeard or wearing a nicer shirt wouldn't be a bad idea. Not implying that all guys are gross, but if you tend to err on the side of messy you should try and put in the extra effort - if you alreadycomb your hair &deodorize often pay this section no mind :)

Okay, so we've gone over preliminaries, dates, and appearance. All the rest is up to you - what, you want me to talk to you for her too or something?! Well, I guess you're right, it can be kind of intimidating, and there are definitely some no-no's that are pretty common but decidedly vexing for lolitas or, really, followers of any alternative fashion. Asking her about her clothing is never a bad idea, however realize that most of the time lolitas are on guard when it comes to their style as they usually get a lot of flack for it. Be respectful, and avoid asking her why she's dressed "like that" or asking about her "costume" - horror of all horrors! Maybe a "I really like your dress - something special going on, or is that just your style?" or asking for details on specific pieces, but remember that too much interest can be pretty daunting or, unfortunately, in our society, may make her question your sexuality. Ask more about the detail behind the style - where did she buy her pieces? Is there a big following in your city/state/country? How did she learn about it? This will show her you're interested in the girl inside the dress, not just the dress itself, which is important - most people see only the clothes when looking at a lolita. She'll appreciate being seen as the person behind them for once.

Of course, as with any girl, take your cues from her. If she looks uncomfortable or is fiddling with her pencil or cellphone, she's not happy with the conversation - best to quit while you're ahead &maybe continue the next day or a few hours later. If she suddenly asks when the last homework assignment is due or what time the deli next door closes, you're probably making her uncomfortable - danger, Will Robinson! Avert conversation. As with the pursuit of any mate, play it by ear &play off of her reactions. Make note of her body language and reactions, and, when talking to any object of interest, let your personalty shine &get to know her. Maybe something will happen, maybe it won't - at least you'll never have to say "what if?"

Monday, September 21, 2009

Surviving Your First Dance of Vice


Please consider:

It's a Saturday. You've just gotten out of your boring desk job filing papers and entering computer data, followed by, as always, a frustrating stop-and-go commute home filled with loud music and louder yelling at passers-by. You throw your coat and purse on the floor, remove the dirt &grime &business casual attire from yourself, and slide into the finest of dresses, striped stockings, frosted-cake-like shoes. Your hair is curled. You buy balloons. Your makeup consist of neutral-pink lips, false lashes, (rhinestones optional) and sequin balloons stuck to your cheeks. After hours of painting on eye makeup and perfecting your cats-eye liner, you and a pink-haired acrobat in Victorian undergarments spend another two hours navigating the train to Grand Central and the subway to Brooklyn. You wander with the help of strangers to your destination, making turns and deflecting commentary. You navigate through the shoddy neighborhood somewhere past ten PM, and just when you think you're really and truly lost with no help of salvation, you see it: down the block, a huge tempest of dry-ice fog pours from a glass doorway, threading through disturbingly syncopated music led mostly by what sounds like an accordion and drums. Coughing slightly, you enter - a young woman in stripes takes money from you, draws on your hands, and points you towards the bandstand of goths, lolitas, Neo-Victorians and retrofuturists. Corsets, bustle skirts, suspenders and frock coats are everywhere, and somewhere just out of sight, frolicking on the edge of your vision, is something glittery and intoxicating.

Welcome down the rabbit hole. Welcome to Dances of Vice.

Dances of Vice is, according to their website, "the art of nightlife revived." Set somewhere vaguely in the Jazz Age but accepting the chronologically misplaced from as far back as the Baroque period, each monthly party has its own theme, ranging from "Spring Awakening" to "Vintage Boudoir." This month's theme was Cursed Circus, and between the fairy lights and fire dancers, never could it have been better pulled off.

Anyone who's anyone in the Tri-State area (or, to be honest, anywhere in the US, if they're interested in the New Romantic movement) has heard of Dances of Vice, but not all of us have the pleasure of attending as often as we like. Interested in attending you first Dance of Vice? Parfait! However, do keep in mind:

  • If you've never been to the location before, get directions beforehand. Google Maps has a new public transit option, and I recommend it if you're familiar with the subway station, however it confused country mouses Victoria Suzanne and I quite a bit! We ended up getting there almost entirely on the kindness of strangers, but this is NOT A GOOD IDEA unless you're at least a bit familiar with the area, because some people do like to mess with the tourists - and trust me, if you're wearing a huge frilly dress or a corset and bloomers, you're considered fresh meat.
  • That being said, I've never found stereotypes to be less true than in New York City - When asking for directions I've never had anything but the most courteous of responses.
  • Dress nicely but appropriately. Victoria knew she wanted to wear a corset and bloomers to the party itself, but also that it may not be the best idea to walk around Brooklyn in that getup. Wear a light jersey dress over revealing outfits, or bring a skirt (as Victoria decided on) to throw on during transit.
  • Bring a bottle of water. Usually the bar has a pitcher and cups, but this time they ran out and we had to walk back to the subway dehydrated and hallucinating. Well, okay, not hallucinating.
  • Bring a camera, especially one with video option. You will want to record this, trust me.
  • Observe. Watch the acts Shien Lee has picked for you. Dissect people's outfits, and take pictures of the most inspiring ones. Take a good look at the vendors' tables (if there are any- vendors seem to vary depending on the theme& facilities available). Be an open door! Allow inspiration and acceptance to pass through you freely! (that's what she said?)
  • Speaking of acceptance, you'll need lots of it. Between the glitter pasties, men in sequin hot pants, and vaguely homoerotic fire dancers (none of the above distastefully so, of course), this party took even me by surprise at times, and I've seen my fair share of shocking occurrences! However, everyone and everything I encountered there was incredibly beautiful, even the most shocking - open your mind, allow the shock to pass unnoticed, and just absorb all the creativity &freedom being contained in that one building.
  • Mingle! This is a huge group of like-minded individuals. Strike up a conversation with anyone you find interesting, and be willing to have conversations struck up with you.
  • Of course, as a disclaimer: be safe. Keep hydrated, stay with your friends, and if anyone or anything makes you uncomfortable it is totally okay to remove yourself from the situation. Remember, this is a party: you're there to have fun, not to pass out or be made uncomfortable in any way.
  • Bring cash! There was a raffle there, as well as a few vendors with some really gorgeous wares.

Okay, so "anyone who's anyone" was really not the wording to use above - Dances of Vice is really an underground movement spread really only by word of mouth through the alt-fashion scenes of the Tri-State area &some other parts of the country. It's a really amazing atmosphere because of this - a sort of "The first rule of Dances of Vice is you do not talk about Dances of Vice" type thing. It's a raucous revelry of glitter, flashing lights, and scantily-clad beauties of both genders - I really don't think I'm exaggerating when I say I've never experienced anything like it. If you get the chance to attend one of these events, I can't recommend it more highly.

See Also:

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Rapunzel, Rapunzel

Starting out: long hair
Starting out: long hair

I've been seeing a handful of hair questi0ns recently floating around the lolita sub-interwebz. Whether it be full posts or passing comments on outfit photos, it seems like out beloved long-haired lolis are hunting for more creative ways to twist their tresses. As I've been putting myself through a bit of a physical transformation myself, I figured I'd use this opportunity to showcase some of my favorites - a last hurrah for my long hair before I savagely chop it off.

Note that these aren't your standards - this is assuming you've worn out the ponytail, pigtails, two braids, etc &are looking for more interesting looks to make their own.

First: the Sidebraid
First: the Sidebraid

Very simple! Pull all of your hair to one side of your head, &braid. Adorn with flowers or a multitude of bows. Tada! Note that this will be harder if you have any type of layering in your hair, especially in the front, but I like it with the stray pieces personally!

Second: the crown braid
Second: the crown braid

To do this style, you can either french braid your hair across the crown of your head or, if you're like me, you can employ the cheater method & start with a sidebraid (above), pull it across the crown of your head, &affix with bobby pins, concentrating on the end. I've decorated mine with twist-in stars here, but you could also use flowers (a rose corsage, or even a crown of flowers fixed behind or in front of the braid) or a clip-in bow over the end where the bobby pins are.

Third: Loop braids
Third: Loop braids

Clearly I have a thing for braids. This is the last braided style, promise. This is pretty classic &rather well known, but I decided to include it anyway. For this style, make two low, braided pig tails. Loop up &affix the ends with a hair tie or pins. Tada! I think it would be really pretty with ribbons wrapped loosely around the braids, or flowers stuck into them, but decorating the tops with bows (as seen) or a rose corsage can also be very beautiful.

Fourth: Side bun
Fourth: Side bun

The side bun is one of my absolute favorites - buns in general I have a lot of fun with (stop it, I know what you're thinking!) This is a simple chignon, but instead of in the back-center of the head, it's jauntily on the side. It's simple - pull your hair tightly against your scalp into a ponytail where you want the bun, then twist the hair loosely. Twist the twist of hair around the base of the ponytail &use a hair tie to fix it in place. I like this style a lot, as well a side ponytail and the above-mentioned sidebraid because it adds interesting geometry & messes with the symmetry one usually sees in lolita coordinates.

Fifth, sloppy buns
Fifth, sloppy buns

Fifth, another very simple but super-cute look is two sloppy buns. No longer for working out &track suits, the sloppy bun adds a bit of frivolity &childishness to a coordinate when doubled &worn low near the ears - wow, do I sound like a retro infomercial, or what (Ooh, swish!)? To do this, just put your hair into two low ponytails. Pull the hair all the way through the first time, but the second time around, leave half your hair suspended in the elastics. They can then be decorated with bows or flowers or... I don't know, fake fruit? I don't know, I'm running out of ideas. Anything you'd normally put in your pigtails. Could be cute for a country look with plastic strawberries or cherries pinned above them!

Sixth, the faux bob
Sixth, the faux bob

Sixth and finally, the faux bob. I have absolutely no idea how to do this as Victoria Suzanne did it for me, however she has instructions on her blog here.

The final style I wore on this day was a single long braid down my back, tied with a hair elastic at both the top and the bottom. Well, technically, the last style would have been the bob I had after taking scissors above the top elastic &chopping the entire braid off.

Hair, post-chopping
Hair, post-chopping

This photomanip brought to you by: hanakolovely brushes &Candyfuture gradients. Sorry, I got a little carried away. Hope you like it! It's started curling up already, so the ends now do a little 60's style mini-flip. Tres mignonne!

Monday, August 17, 2009

LoL San Francisco: Tango Gelato

Now, not many of you know this, but I'm a fiend for ice cream - vegan, store-bought, homemade, I'm all over any kind of frozen custard. However, I only recently got into gelato. I remember having it once&being totally unimpressed, but after trying it again back home, a fire has been ignited in me &now I am a gelato-consuming furnace of CHOMP (Miss Lumpy, now with 100% more wut?). Taking this nonsense into account, it's no surprise that when I was walking down Fillmore street &spotted Tango Gelato, I was pulled almost magnetically into the store. Painted a light, soothing sage contrasted with dark wood-tones, smelling of bread &that inherent sweetness ice cream parlors usually possess, it is the perfect place for a date or a quiet afternoon with a good book - fun fact, my choice was Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.
A trend that I love in gelato shops is serving real food as well, usually paninis or salads, and Tango does not disappoint. They have a few choices of pre-chosen paninis as well as a board of "build-your-own" options. My creation was pesto, chicken, and goat cheese on focaccia, and I can honestly say it was the best panini of my life. They also offer small individual pizzas - rectangles of, oh, seven or eight inches long by four inches wide, and though they had a few selections, the only one they had available when I went was Veggie - fine with me! But leads me to believe they get them pre-made, or they have someone come in once a week to make a bunch &then freeze them, so if that bothers you, I'd opt for a sandwich or salad. I adored the veggie, &even my very, very carnivorous friend enjoyed it immensely.
Now, as for the pièce de résistance: of course, the gelato. Stars of smoothies and sundaes, you can find the menu of flavors online (click the picture above for a link!); their offerings feature classics like vanilla, chocolate, and pistachio, but also include Green Tea, Dulce de Leche, Blackberry Cabernet, and - sigh! - Crème Brûlée, among others, and if you couldn't tell, the latter was my favorite, though I greatly enjoyed the Blackberry Cabernet as well. The other flavors I tried were amazing as well, though I admit I was disappointed in the green tea flavor, as it was much milder than I was hoping for.
As far as pricing goes, I would say this is a lower-price destination. While the gelato is a bit pricey (compared to ice cream - it's pretty average for gelato), at $3.50 for their small and $7.00 for a pint (with, of course, other options in between) and $4.25 for a slice of vegetarian pizza, going in around lunchtime and getting a panini is your best bet. Because it can be hard to watch the grill and serve the high volumes of gelato orders they get at night at the same time, they don't offer paninis for dinner time - a shame, because at $6.50 for a big sandwich with salad and a free "chico"-size gelato, it would be the best-priced dinner in town.
Lolita-specific: What's more lolita than expensive, luxurious, glorified ice cream?! Kidding, of course, but seriously, if you're looking for a good time with a friend or two in one big photo-op, you've found it. Like I said, the entire store is a soft sage green contrasted natural hardwood, as seen in the picture above, and the walls are hung with black-and-white photographs from a local photographer. The booths are plush and fit two and four, respectively, so this isn't a great place for a large group, as the handful of small tables also only fit two or three comfortably. However, if you're looking for a cute place for a friend or two, or for a quick stop if your group is jonesing for gelato.
All in all, I definitely give it 4.5/5 stars. The food is excellent, the gelato is amazing &while they don't have many flavors, those they do have are a good mix of conventional &creative - my only concern is that everything except the panini was really a bit more than I'd like to pay. The staff is also friendly&helpful, &rather tolerant of my favorite ice cream-shop hobby: sampling as many flavors as possible. If you're visiting San Francisco &have a high-class sweet tooth, you would be doing it a great disservice if you left town without stopping by Tango Gelato.
(Part of Lolita on Location: San Francisco)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

LoL San Francisco: Queen Anne Hotel

(Part of the Lolitas on Location: San Francisco series)

The Queen Anne Hotel in San Francisco
The Queen Anne Hotel in San Francisco
As I write this, I sit on a satin-covered settee before a fireplace. My feet crunch the Persian-style Victorian rug, and a porcelain cup of tea sits next to me on a marble coffee table, complete with gold filigree engraving. Above the fireplace, I contemplate an oil painting of the lady of the house entertaining a papal figure with her violinist, all of them coiffed and adorned in the style of the Sun King‘s court. In the other room is a wooden grand piano, crystal chandelier, and a young blond man who looks up every time I cast my eyes in his direction.

The main stairway in the lobby - an elevator is also available
The main stairway in the lobby - an elevator is also available
It’s hard to believe I’m still in the twenty-first century, but my fellow parlor attendant is chatting on the cell phone to our family back home, and the young man is wearing jeans and a hoodie. I’m in the Queen Anne Hotel in San Francisco, a period hotel on Sutter Street. Down the street from Japantown and only a few blocks from Fillmore Street with its shopping &Victorian rowhouses, the Queen Anne is in Pacific Heights, a prime location for tourists with a flair for shopping and dining, as well as an appreciation of historical architecture.
The Queen Anne herself is four floors, with both an intricate cherry staircase and a gold-and-burgundy elevator, and contains 48 guestrooms total. It opened as “Miss Mary Lake’s School for Girls” around the 1890’s, making it one of the oldest structures in Pacific Heights, and was restored in the 1980’s as the Queen Anne Hotel after passing hands a few times during the century between. The lobby/parlor is a grand space with burgundy walls & window hangings and mahogany wainscoting, crystal chandeliers and two ornate fireplaces. Afternoon tea with cookies &sherry is served every day from 4 - 6 PM, and a complementary breakfast is served in the ballroom every morning, 7 - 9 (though I should note, it‘s not really impressive - bagels, toast, fruit, cereal, juices). The entire hotel is an antiquer’s dream, as almost all the furniture is from the building’s time of origin or around there, and every landing and room has it treasures. The hotel staff is very friendly and eager to help, and are full of suggestions and local knowledge, and there is town car service every morning at 7:45, 8:45, and 9:45, to anywhere in the city.

A small portion of the lobby
A small portion of the lobby
This hotel is not trapped in the past, however. Breakfast is accompanied by a toaster oven for your bagels and microwave for your oatmeal. Each room is equipped with modern televisions and mini-fridges, and the bathroom is almost disappointingly 21st-centrury - personally, I was half-hoping for a pull-chain on the toilet. The hotel is also equipped with high-speed wifi - theoretically. More on that later.
The guest room itself is beautiful - high ceilings, a beautiful color pallet, and huge, comfortable beds. The closet is very large, and the bathroom isn’t really tiny, either, and it has a bathtub, something many modern hotels have nixed. I almost wish the bathroom was more old-fashioned - lovely marble, but the tiles on the floor also cover the walls and surround the bathtub, which is also sadly modern - in a perfect world, the tub would be a brass-and-porcelain claw-footed monster, though I don’t doubt that in some of the fancier suites this would be a possibility. It’s comfortable, though, and not unattractive, so clearly my standards are just unrealistic. There is also a small sitting area with two armchairs, a nice wooden table, and a lamp.
While there is little else I can say badly about this hotel, as with anything, there are some discomforts. The shower in our hotel was broken when we checked in, to the point of being unusable - however, this was fixed when it was brought to the front desk’s attention, and after we left for the day so we didn’t need to put up with the noise from the plumber. The biggest concern for me, however, is the internet - I don’t have it. For some reason I am entirely unable to connect on either of my laptops, and on those rare times I can, there’s no signal. However, if this problem affects you on your stay, there is a desktop in the lobby available to guests. Another slight annoyance is, due to the age of the hotel, a great lack of outlets, meaning I can’t charge my cell phone, camera battery, and laptop at the same time. I’m sure I'll survive somehow. Also, they don’t have a pool or air conditioning, though in San Francisco, where it doesn’t often get much over 80, neither of these are necessities, in my opinion - however, they do have fireplaces lit all night to stave off the chill of evening.

The parlor fireplace, in front of which I sit writing!
The parlor fireplace, in front of which I sit writing!
Lolita-specific: The closet is large &deep, perfect for petticoats & even your largest dresses. They come equipped with sturdy wooden hangers that won’t stretch or damage your clothes, however, they have no pants hangers, so if you have any delicate skirts you don’t want to drape over the bar on said hangers, you should probably bring your own. The internet is provided, through wifi (theoretically) and the lobby computer. There is also a nice vanity/dresser next to the door, so if you’re sharing your room with another lolita you can coif yourselves at the same time without squishing into the same mirror. There are many places for photos, as most of the floors have lovely benches, settees, and armchairs scattered around, as well as some lovely art.
In conclusion, I would give it about 3.5/5 stars, which kills me, as this hotel is a Taurean art-and-beauty Nirvana, and my inner bull is going into overdrive at the multitude of rich colors &fabrics. However, the inconveniences must be taken into account. While they aren’t bothering me much, they are exactly that - inconvenient, and they may bother someone else more than I, so they deserve to be taken into account during a review. Even still, I’m having a great stay, and I would definitely recommend this hotel to anyone spending any amount of time in San Francisco - especially a lolita.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Traveling in Lolita: Packing

So, it's finally here: Vacation! Whether you had to request time off weeks in advance from work, or happen to be on Spring Break (or both, as is usually my luck), finally, you have a few days to get away from the daily grind &relocate to smoother sailing. You've chosen your destination, you've selected your mode of transportation, you've taken care of lodgings. Now, all that's left is one of the most daunting for a lolita: Packing.
First off, some required reading. Seasoned lolitas may remember the post by livejournal user tsu_ on the egl community, the Lolita Travel Guide. For those who do not or need a refresher, there's the link. The article is very helpful &covers all stages of your trip, from planning to disembarking, so I'm going to address you all as an audience who already knows the points she makes. Now, I'm going to go have a cup of tea & some cookies while you read that.
Okay, all set? Good. Some of the things I'm going to say may now sound slightly repetitious, but don't worry - if it's covered in detail by the other article, I won't bother here. However, packing was mostly left out, except for a very short but informative paragraph, mostly on proper petticoat packing &a few suggestions on what types of pieces to pack.
The equation provided in the article is a wonderful starting point, however the only example given is for a week's stay, &doesn't cover accessories or other things - including non-lolita items to bring! So, let's talk about that. Say, for example, you only plan on wearing lolita for two days. Your easiest option is: one skirt, two cutsews (blouses are fine too, but much more likely to wrinkle, and we all know how those hotel irons are), however, if you want a bit more variety, I suggest: One skirt, one JSK, and one cutsew, with accessories that would go with either. This will give you two distinct looks while still not taking up too much room. The skirt could also be swapped out for a OP &the blouse dumped for a day for a totally different look - if you choose a dress instead, I'd go for one without a built-in petti, to save room.
Now, onto choosing those pieces. Obviously, you know your closet better than anyone, so you'll know best what colors or motifs to lean towards, depending on your tastes & collection. My suggestion is to go for plainer base pieces, the pieces that will be present in both outfits - plain, lace-topped white socks, white hairbow, white shoes, white blouse or cutsew - then chose an interest piece - pintuck-and-pearls jumperskirt, or coveted print skirt - to set off & add more interest to both outfits. Also, if you're unfamiliar with the climate you'll be traveling to, layering is your friend- always have a nice cardigan or bolero in your carry-on, just in case. An example:
See how the interest piece in these outfits are the skirt and the jumperskirt, respectively? The blouse gives it a more mature, classic look, while the bow & shoes enhance the inherent sweetness. The shoes are also lightweight flats, which would fit more easily into luggage than heels and would take up less of the weight requirement.
A few more random tips:
  • If you have an organza pannier, now is the time to bring it. It won't get smooshed in your luggage like a regular tulle one will, and if you want to wear it on an airplane, it's easier to gather around yourself &can be piled under you and sat on if it's in the way of other passengers - really, though, it's best if you just pack it.
  • Packing anything delicate? A mini-crown or a piece of jewelry you don't want crushed? Wrap it lightly in your organza pannier. I also use mine stuffed into purses to keep their shape.
  • Organize your suitcase. Put all your socks in a quart-size ziplock bag, all your accessories in the inside pocket, etc. Also, if you've got quite a big of stuff, roll instead of fold.
  • If you're flying, wear a pair of comfortable flats. Passing through airline security is not the time to worry about unbuckling your Tea Party shoes! Also, your feet swell at high altitudes, so you'll be more comfortable if you just slip them off during your flight &then squeeze back into them once you've landed.
  • Bring at least one non-lolita outfit. Say you suddenly realize that an absolutely immaculate new nightclub opened up a block from your hotel, or you get asked out to fancy lolita-inappropriate dinner by a young heir. Trust me, if either of these things happen, or any other multitude of possibilities, you'll want a nice dress & heels. Or conversely, what if the people you're traveling with realize they want to take a bicycle tour of the historic district? Therefore you should also bring jeans &sneakers, because like I said, anything could happen.
  • Take lots of snacks in your purse! Bring an empty water bottle &fill it at a water fountain after you pass through security. Try to stay away from candy & other sugary treats - bring a granola bar or some dried fruit. Not really related to packing, but good to know - caffeine dehydrates you and makes it harder for you to adjust to jet lag, as does sugar, so stay away from coffee &soda on board if you're getting off in a different time zone.
  • If you're going somewhere loli-friendly - Japan, Paris, anywhere that has lolita stores - or even just anywhere with really good shopping, just bring a carry-on, and fold up a duffel bag or another medium-sized fabric suitcase to keep inside it. That way, if you buy a lot, you can just pack up the duffel and have it checked.
  • In the same vein, most airlines let you bring two bags with you: a purse and a carry-on, which gets stowed in the overhead compartment. If you're going on a longer trip &don't want to check a bag, bring small backpack or larger purse than you would usually use as well as your carry-on, with your normal purse folded up inside the latter. That way, once you get checked into your hotel, you can just transfer things to your smaller, more convenient purse, but still have enough room for everything you need without paying for the checked bag.
  • Getting an in-flight meal? Lucky you! However, in my experience, even if you don't have any dietary restrictions, opt for a restricted meal - vegetarian, kosher, etc. You will be served first & the food is usually healthier. Plus, who wants to eat airline meat anyway? Yuck!
Ladies &gentlemen, I write this article because I am about to embark on my first flight in almost two and a half years - gasp! My first time being on an airplane NOT headed for Tokyo in over six years! Instead, I'm headed for... Japantown, in San Francisco. Yeah, I'm still a loser.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Surviving an Anime Convention

Or, "Who are these people & why are they wearing tails?!"

As many of you know, I attended both Connecticon & Otakon this summer, for the first time in many years. I've been attending conventions since I was 12 years old, but I took two years off to deal with money, etc., so it was interesting to go back - while it was still familiar (still knew the BCC like the back of my hand, I'm proud to say!),it took me a while to get re-acclimated with the scene & remember that here it is completely normal to see people being tackled from nine yards simply for love of the character they're portraying, or a boombox &impromptu rave in the middle of the hallway, complete with men in tight pleather pants bootydancing &grinding with themselves (ohh-ohh-oh-oh). I made note of these feelings, these things that had once been accepted with mildly benign interest and now where enough to make me stop dead and stare in a mixture of curiosity&horror, &have compiled them into a list for my fellow lolis who may be finding themselves in this situation soon. First, a list for first-time congoers, lolita or not.

General Convention Conventions:

(for a vocabulary list, see below)

  • Accept. You are going to find yourself in an incredibly strange atmosphere, incomparable to anything that I personally have had the joy of experiencing, &I mean that sincerely. Some of the things in this list you will find odd or concerning, but remember that the people who are doing them are just that - people, who are different from you but still worth observing & getting to know.
  • Personal space does not exist. Or rather, most people at anime conventions are very physical, loving people who will hug or glomp you without warning or asking, and that's the less-threatening side side. Mostly before my lolita days, I've had skirts pulled up, been groped, kissed at random, and tackled outside of benign glomping, all on multiple occasions.
  • Do know that you don't need to tolerate this. If someone is making you uncomfortable, it is perfectly normal to tell them so & remove yourself from the situation. These people don't mean you any harm; they're just trying to have fun, &many of them don't realize that con-culture is very different & overwhelming to those who are unused to it.
  • Rooming: Six people in a room with two double beds is not odd. In fact, if sharing a room with people one doesn't know well (which one should really never do in the first place), one should not expect a bed. Bring blankets/a sleeping bag &expect a spot on the floor. Most likely you will not need them, but it isn't unheard of. I've been in rooms with two people in each bed (or more), three on the floor, one in the closet, &one in the bathtub& this is really not even the worst I've heard about. Be forewarned.
  • The lines are long. If you're going to a large convention, pre-register, as most conventions now offer Thursday night pre-reg pick-up from 4 or 5 to 9 or 10, depending on the convention center's hours. Take advantage of this - at Otakon, this line as I observed it (I was sitting next to it the whole time having a picnic & wearing a big black bat mask - don't ask) was maybe around... upwards of 1000, I'd imagine though I'm horrible at estimates, over the course those five hours - this is much better than the 7,000+++ you'll be faced with in your pre-reg line on Friday, &that's not even taking into consideration at-con registration. Also, it's cheaper. Personally, though, as I didn't decide to attend early enough to pre-reg, I was in the registration line. My friends &I slept on the sidewalk, in line, all night, because it was better to wait in the cool Baltimore summer night than the unbearable heat of the day. I recommend this, but only if you are in a group of close friends.
  • That being said, con-goers look out for each other. I can't tell you how many times I've seen crying girls comforted by people they've never met before, valuable items turned into lost & found instead of kept, &spots held in line. This is not necessarily the rule, but nor is it the exception - I've been harassed &rescued, both by people I didn't know, more times than I can count at anime conventions, so while of course there are skeevy people there, there are good ones too.
  • Be one of the good ones. If someone comes up to you looking panic &talking like you're old friends, play along: they're most likely looking for a way out of an uncomfortable situation. Go along with it, so long as it doesn't endanger you. This is something I saw employed a lot by my cosplay friends, especially those in scanty outfits being pursued by obliviousmen behaving inappropriately. Be a friend &help them out. I've never had a bad experience doing so.
  • Go to the Artist's Alley! The people who have booths here are some of the most interesting people at conventions, &they're more than willing to start a conversation with you about their art or the convention or usually pretty much anything. It's also great to support your local market, &there are lots of one-of-a-kind treasures waiting for you here. Some of my favorite lolita pieces are from the Artist's Alley.
  • Go to the big events. The masquerade, opening/closing ceremonies, anything that's highly publicized is probably really good. If you're not into anime you may not get all the jokes, but the writers of these events usually take non-anime-watchers into account while writing their scripts.
  • People-watch. Mingle. Talk to anyone who seems interesting. They almost always are, &this is how I met some of my oldest &closest friends. These past two conventions this has included two people from my state at Otakon in Baltimore, one of whom goes to my future school!; most of the New York City lolitas, a group of steampunk pirates; several future higher-ups of any convention that's anything; and a multitude of high-profile cosplayers, lolitas, &artists.
  • Be nice to emplyees, both of the convention & the establishments. Convention staffers are just following the rules &trying to get other people to do the same, & this can be very difficult & mentally taxing on them, so listen, be nice, &try to help them do their jobs. Also, when dealing with employees of the various establishments you will frequent, remember that this is probably one of the most difficult weekends of the year for them. Be very polite in dealings with front desk & the concierge, &remember to tip housekeeping& bellhops, especially those who do a good job.

&now, an annotated vocabulary list:

  1. glomp. To hug with enthusiasm, occassionally with a running start - if someone asks you if they can do this, use discretion with your answer, though oftentimes they won't.
  2. Yaoi- a genre of anime that favors relationships, usually explicit, between two men. The counter part of this is
  3. Yuri, which is the same between women. I mention this because, though signs have been outlawed in many conventions these days, it used to be common to see signs along the lines of "Will yuri for pocky!" Which leads us to
  4. Pocky: a very popular snack among congoers, pocky is a Japanese treat comprised of a biscuit covered in different flavored chocolates - pretty yummy, &if someone offers it to you do give it a try (so long as, of course, the normal standards for taking candy from a stranger apply - make sure you watch them unwrap it. I'm saying, you never know)!
  5. Also, add to this list any internet memes or 4chan jokes that are en vogue at the time of the convention, including but not limited to "Fuck I lost the game", "OVER 9000!!!!", "The cake is a lie" &most of Encyclopedia Dramatica.

As for lolita-specific tips, Victoria Suzanne has made a wonderful post about this at Lolita Charm that covers most of the basics. If I realize that I have anything to add to this, I'll probably just do it in comments on the post itself.

(note to the intersted: is the hiatus over? I will have to get back to you on that, honestly, as it mainly depends on whether or not I have free wireless at the hotel in San Francisco, where I will be from August 11-17th forthe BABY opening - I'll keep you posted! un til then, please keep answering the poll to the right!)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Asian Poses: Lolitization

Why is everything in America so sexy? Think of our biggest stars - Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Beyonce. Americans seem to have no appreciation of cute things! I think this is one of the reasons lolita is regarded with such confusion by my countrymen - why would anyone bother to be cute? It's so much easier to be sexy, and you get more attention. Who wouldn't want that?

Fun fact, America: Not everybody. We like to mock our Asian brethren for things like Hello Kitty, Pokemon, and other parts of the "kawaii culture" that seems to be oozing from the Land of the Rising Sun, but in other countries, cute is cool. Cute is sexy. Cute is, well, cute!

Working to unite the world with this phenomenon &build a bridge between Asia & us lesser beings is (Cute) Asian Poses. Asian Poses posts pictures, rundowns, &case studies of cute Asians and their cute Poses. Mostly focusing on celebrity photoshoots and paparazzi photos, Asian Poses also hosts Challenges to its viewers, challenging them to try the cute poses on the site themselves & send them in to the webmaster. Unsurprisingly, I love this idea, as the poses of Asian celebrities have always been a topic of great interest to me - they're just so different than the ones I see in my own country! I love it!

I know lolitas are often uncomfortable in front of the camera, and newcomers to website like Daily_Lolita often have post after post of the same pose - arms at sides. Feet straight or, occassionally, pidgeon-toed. Awkward smile. Tres boring! And I don't mean as a viewer - as someone who always tries to have fun with her pictures, I feel bad for these girls who are so uninterested in this side of lolita - the "Look at me! Look how cute I am!" It's just so much fun, goofing off in front of the camera. Maybe, like I said, they're just uninterested, but maybe they just don't know what to do & fall back on this standard. It must not be very interesting for them - or for the other people looking! Not that they look bad, &I'm going to appreciate a good outfit no matter what, but I love looking at photos of people having fun - its like, they're having so much fun I can feel it through the pictures.

This is why I'm telling you about AsianPoses.com, if you haven't already caught the bug- they're so cute you won't be able to resist trying out a few of your own!

My favorites for lolita:

And now, I leave you with some of my own examples:

Surprised - Alternatively, the Aly Face
Surprised - Alternatively, the Aly Face
Blow Kiss
Blow Kiss
Claw/Puffy Cheeks
Claw/Puffy Cheeks

As you can tell, these were taken with my NEW WEBCAM!! and no shoopage or makeup. Au natural!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Lolita Blogging: Why and How

HK laptop image by pensivenga on flickr
HK laptop image by pensivenga on flickr
You've seen them on the news. You've clicked links to them & you've probably read them with or without knowing. Even celebrities and corporations use them! I am referring, of course, to blogs. Wordpress alone currently counts over 170,000 bloggers, and blog surfing tool Technorati indexes more than 1.5 million blogs for its searches.
So what is it? The word "blog" stands for "weblog," a website usually maintained solely by a group or individual that logs commentaries on topics spanning politics to fashion to food. If you can think of a subject, you can probably find a blog on it- and lolita is no different. But what's the point?
Well, a lolita blog has a few different uses: A personal blog, where the blogger catalogs their outfits in photographs or descriptions (especially helpful as inspiration when you're rummaging through the closet trying to figure out how to coordinate that skirt!), talks about meet-ups they've attended, etc.; or, as a niche blog, like mine, where I discuss lolita as a whole, not just my personal experiences with it. Both are important and helpful for different reasons- the first is helpful to both the reader and the writer, acting as inspiration and a way for the reader to feel closer to someone that they normally wouldn't get the chance to, and the niche blog is helpful for obvious reasons- it enlightens the reader and allows the writer to broaden his or her view on the subjest they're writing about. These are the two main types of lolita blog that I've found, aside from brand blogs. However, I've also noticed three subcategories:
  • The Lolita Blog: Example, Lolita Charm. This is a blog 100% about lolita. Victoria Suzanne posts in-depth analyses of the subculture & fashion itself, photos of herself in lolita, and tips and how-tos based solely on lolita fashion and lifestyle.
  • The blog for lolitas: Example, Miss Lumpy- mine! This is a blog that is based on not just the fashion & lifestyle, but the lolita herself. Therefor, articles about brands & outfits are posted, along with those about music, recipes, and other things that may interest a lolita as a person, not just as a follower of lolita fashion.
  • The blog by a lolita: This is a blog on a different topic (critiquing films, for example, or a craft or baking blog) that is still related to lolitas as people, but also is inclusive of other target markets.
Obviously, this isn't a rule (ALL LOLITA BLOGGERS SUBMIT OR DIE!!!), just a trend that I've noticed. I've seen this in other subcultures/niche blog cultures, too - vegan bloggers, blogs for vegans, blogs by vegans, etc - that follow the same criterea I've written above, so even if you're interested in a blog on a different subject it may help you to just make a mental note of the things I mentioned above.
Now, about blogging itself: a really amazing resource for blogging on any topic is ProBlogger. The writer is very, very knowledgable and has great tips on how to get more comments, generate more traffic, & make money from your blog, as well as beginner's tips that honestly are helpful at any stage of your blog's life. Really, anything I can say as far as blogging tips would just be repeating his advice &he says it better anyway! So go check it out, definitely.
A few notes for once you've created you blog:
  • Post often. If you can, everyday is great - if not, at least 1 - 3 times a week, especially when you're new.
  • Use tags! Especially if you're on wordpress - a huge amount of my views have been people within wordpress searching "lolita," "fashion," and "daily outfit."
  • Promotion. Very important. Personally I comment on other lolita blogs, crosspost my daily outfits here and on daily_lolita with a link to the post here, and promote on my journal and other websites, but I know Victoira Suzanne has had an immense amount of luck promoting on egl. Another good tool is Twitter, &don't forget the value of word-of-mouth!
  • Make sure you have a niche, & there is a need for you in that niche. Honestly, unless you have a unique knowledge on your subject, who needs ANOTHER technology or food or _______ blog? Luckily the lolita blogosphere is still relatively small, so anyone who wants to get into loli-blogging, do it now! Vix & I both expect a boom in our mini-blogosphere- you heard it here first! Jump on the train before it becomes a bandwagon
  • Make sure you have enough to talk about! Sure, you could run a blog cataloging candy prints in lolita's biggest brands, but what if next season is all about flowers, or rabbits, or...? It's good to be focused, but make sure you have a broad enough topic that it'll keep you & your readers intersted.
My favorite lolita blogs are on the sidebar to the right, but that's just the beginning. Searching "lolita" on Wordpress is a really good way to find more if you're interseted in seeing other examples. I hope this has helped anyone who's interested in joining the league of loli-bloggers, &if you already have a lolita blog, please post it in the comments! I'd love to check it out - always in search of new blogs!


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