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!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Her... Thrifty-ness?

Thrift store in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Thrift store in Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Thrift stores have long been praised by fashion mavens and broke college students alike, and our own little subculture has not been immune. For years, scrolling through outfits on both mainstream fashion blogs and daily_lolita alike, I wondered how they did it. A little bit of me died to see that the most amazing parts of an ensemble - a hairpiece here, a necklace there - being tagged, in rundowns, as "thrifted" or "vintage."

"How?!" I would cry, sifting through aisle after aisle at Goodwill. "How did you find these treasures?!"

Well, after a few years of trolling my own thrift stores and vintage or consignment shops, I'm proud to say I've picked up the knack. It's a simple combination of patience, creativity, and knowing where to look, which I'll share with all of my darling readers now!

At least, as much as I can. Part of the aforementioned patience is developing said knack, which takes a bit of time. First of all, research. Research is ALWAYS the first step! A quick Google search will tell you the more popular thrift & consignment shops in your area, and always keep an out for the littler ones around town. More about finding stores will come in the "knowing where to look" section. Another form of very important patience is: always remember that what you're looking for may not be there the first time. I've gone to some of my favorite thrift stores and seeing nothing but crap for weeks, to return and find the item of my dreams awaiting me! However, one time not to be patient is when you find said dream-item. Sometimes if it sits on the shelf for long enough, the management will lower its price or be more willing to haggle for it- but sometimes the next person to enter the store will be looking for the exact same thing! If you're unsure, grab it and carry it around with you while you're looking through the wares. Not only may you see its perfect accoutrement on your perusing, but it will give you time to think through your current wardrobe and decide if you have anything to wear it with, your likeliness of using it, etc.

Creativity is also key. Don't just look at the piece itself, look at fabric, ribbon, lace, or appliques on it. Or, instead of looking at the shape or that oversized T-shirt with the sweet print - look at the cute cutsew it could become! What you find may not be lolita in and of itself, but always go in with an open mind - obviously, it's also good to have a good knowledge & understanding of different styles, cuts, and trends within lolita you're looking to replicate in your own wardrobe. I recommend taking a look at your favorite brand's website before going, just to jog your imagination & stir your creativity. Don't buy it if you don't think you'll use it, though- sure, the fabric may be gorgeous, but you can't even thread a needle, how likely are you to turn it into the perfect ________?

Another big deal is knowing where to look. Like I mentioned earlier, a quick google search will show you the more popular stores in your area, but don't stop there! Explore your town or city and the surrounding ones, and ask around- my favorite thrift stores were both recommended to me by my grandmother. You may also be surprised at where you find these stores! If you live in a Christian-dominated area, many churches have little thrift shops attached or associated with them, whether it's an actual physical outbuilding or basement, or just a flea market in the summer months, so ask around. I also don't think it's weird to call some of the larger churches and ask - sometimes they will only be publicized or announced during services, and I've never been turned away for not being part of the parish! Note: I've never seen thrift stores at other religious organizations, but if you attend or live near a synagogue or mosque, I'm sure it wouldn't be rude to enquire! Also, I'm not frowning upon stand-alone consignment or thrift stores, however, in my experience the best, least-expensive goods come from church stores. I'm also not discouraging Goodwill or other chain thrift shops, I totally recommend them! Especially those with a purpose like Goodwill, where the money goes to a good cause. A tip: Go to the ones in richer areas. It may sound mean, but by going a few towns over from my own, I've seen authentic Coach, Kate Spade, and other big mainstream names - so I'm just sayin'.

Some good items for lolita to look for:

  • HATS! I've had amazing luck with hats, mostly in vintage shops. Pillboxes, boaters, huge straw hats, I've seen some lovely ones and just this past holiday picked up some great ones myself, which will be probably be posted to my poupee account very soon!
  • Jewelry, especially if you're nervous about germs (though I know most stores have all their good dry-cleaned before sale). Jewelry is good with lolita because too much vintage and it loses the lolita look, and a nice bracelet or necklace can add a bit of old-fashioned glamour to an otherwise overly sweet Angelic Pretty-style coordinate.
  • Purses and bags are always good - you can find some cute, whimsical ones that add aforementioned glamour to an outfit.
  • Skirts, tops, and dresses will usually need some help to be anything more than casual, but it's definitely doable, so don't let that stop you!

Thrift stores are treasure troves, to be certain, and they can lend the careful lolita's wardrobe many a gem. Remember that succeeding in any thrift store romp is really a matter of practice, so keep these tips in mind, but remember, you have to rely on your own instincts and ideas too! Thrifting really is a skill that comes with practice - so go on, get started! I can't wait to see the lovely vintage pieces you all come up with!

EDIT: New layout! I've been trying to find the right photo to make a custom header since before Miss Lumpy's debut, but the opportunity finally presented itself while visiting family this weekend! What do you guys think?


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