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!


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