Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Review: Lolita Nouveau

I've been friends with Lindsay for years now. Having met through our mutual friend Victoria Suzanne, I've always been a huge fan of her adorable creations for her jewelry line, Lolitas N Cream. Now that I've been leaving sweet lolita, I was worried that I wouldn't be able to purchase from some of my favorite brands and artisans, Lindsay included. However, this crafty lady is ahead of the game! I found out a few months ago that as well as being a jewelry-maker, she's also in fashion design school and makes custom corsets - be still my heart! I saved up for a bit to make sure that I could afford the (very modest) price as well as my usual expenses, and then sent her an eager message saying that I was ready for her services. We hashed out a few specifics, such as color scheme (blue and cream, of course - what else?!) and fabric choice (I wanted something nice and elegant, but on the low-end of the cost spectrum; we decided on a lightly-patterned cotton), and I sent her the first installment of the payment. About two weeks later, I sent her the second and final installment, and soon I had the message in my inbox that the corset was done!Shipping was fine - there was a bit of a delay in getting it out, but that's just because her family was in town and she was playing hostess. I don't hold that against her at all, especially because it was Father's Day weekend - I didn't expect her to rudely ignore her family just to satisfy my impatience! It was shipped in a priority mail box that was the perfect size - it fit snugly, so tissue wasn't necessary.
The corset is amazing quality. There are no loose threads or peeking boning, all of the boning is straight and equally spaced, and the grommets are installed perfectly. Lindsay even included a whole spoon of organdy ribbon to tie the laces with!

(also corsets are unbelievably fun to photograph)

A few days after paying my first installment, Lindsay launched her new clothing line, Lolita Nouveau with a beautiful cameo-printed skirt. I've been dying for a brown skirt for months, so I knew I had to pounce on this one! I'm proud to announce that I'm the official guinea pig, being as I'm the first one to buy and receive anything from this new line.

Sorry for the dressforms, by the way - I was still sick as a dog with tonsillitis when these photos were taken, so I didn't feel like getting all dolled up. Anyway, here's a quickie coord featuring the skirt. It's so lovely! It's a bit wrinkled from shipping (wasn't up to battling the heat +fever +iron to fix it), but it's really amazingly put together. It features a brown cotton base with metallic silver contrast stitching on the ruffles and hems. The screenprinted cameo is metallic silver, enhanced with silver rhinestones and both look very skillfully applied.

Detail of the cameo

Back shot
Inside shots - the entire interior is serged and hemmed.

If I had one criticism of the skirt, I would say that it's the fabric. It's looks and feels very nice, however it is a touch thin. I know a few girls who wear colored petticoats, and these might show through the fabric a bit; however, the thinner fabric is definitely a godsend in the summer, and it's still thicker than some AP print fabrics I've seen.

I definitely recommend Lolita Nouveau and Lindsay's custom work. I couldn't be happier with both products, and I definitely recommend them. I'm very excited to see future products from Lolita Nouveau!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Tea Review: Black Celebration by My SpecialTea

Guess what I got this week!

I know, it's wonderful. And over my boyfriend's birthday too. One night at his house turned into three when I was too sick to trek home, and I commandeered his air-conditioned room while exiling him to the stuffy guest room so I could keep my fever in check. After two days of hermitage (his father is going through chemotherapy, so I had to avoid the rest of his family for fear of infecting them) I was finally able to drive myself home this morning. When I finally arrived home, my throat was aching dryly and all I wanted, despite the horrific temperature and worse humidity, was a cup of hot tea.

That's when I turned to my new pack of Black Celebration tea from My SpecialTea. I bought at Mars New York, a Zakka store in the Mistuwa plaza when I went the other day. It smelled rich and spicy, a quality I'm always a sucker for when it comes to tea, so I bought a bag. At $10 for 15 servings, it was a nice price for loose tea, which I always have a problem locating in my area anyway. It's really a beautiful tea; it has orange peel, dried papaya, and cornflowers blended in with it, among other things, which really make it very visually appealing.
Unfortunately, the brewed tea was not exactly what I was hoping for. Don't get me wrong, it was light and refreshing and very tasty, but I had expected something with more depth of flavor- something more like a chai. I tasted it after steeping about two or three minutes (as recommended on the bag), five minutes (as personal experience dictates best for loose black teas), and ten minutes (as a last resort), and the tea really didn't get any deeper or darker. Mixed with honey, the light, flowery tea was very tasty and wonderful on my sore throat, and when I let it get cool to simulate an iced application it was even more soothing. I suppose it was just my expectations that prevented me from enjoying it as much as I could have.

All in all, I'd give the tea a 4/5 because I prefer my spiced teas spicier. This is just my own nitpicking, though: I'm sure anyone else would love this tea, and I definitely recommend it!

Also, the Lumpy Loves You giveaway is now officially CLOSED! Thank you all for participating! The winner will be announced later this week.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Daily Outfit 6/20/10

My boyfriend's birthday is this week! Since he took the whole week off, we've decided to have as many celebration days as we can. Sunday was the first one: I took him to one of my favorite places in the world, Mitsuwa Marketplace, for lunch and shopping. Unfortunately, I'm having some car trouble and didn't want to risk the almost-two-hour trek, so he ended up driving after all. I bought us treats when we got there, though!

  • Blouse: Angelic Pretty (all washed out! :[ )
  • Skirt: Bodyline (hard to tell from these photos, but it's actually black with teeny white polka dots)
  • Socks: Angelic Pretty
  • Shoes: an*tai*na
  • Hat: H&M
  • Underskirt: added after pictures were taken, black Metamorphose with lace trim
I always underestimate how short this skirt is! I threw on a black lace Meta skirt after the pictures were taken, but didn't have the heart to make Stefan take another set of pictures, so you'll just have to pretend!
The heat was horrific - 91 degrees Fahrenheit with a crapload of humidity. I find, though, that as far as going-out clothes go, lolita isn't any warmer or cooler than my other clothes are. I went to school with a relatively rigid dresscode that said we couldn't show our shoulders or wear anything shorter than two to four inches above the knee, which really rubbed off on me. Even today I'm not comfortable with baring those areas of my body, so I just sort of sigh longingly when I see other girls traipsing about in cool-looking tanktops and shorts. I figure, if I'm going to be covering myself this much anyway, I may as well do it with lolita!

Also, I just got my Tea Party knockoffs!! I bought them from Qutieland, and while I probably paid too much for them, it was worth it to be able to communicate directly with the company I was buying it from, as opposed to going through a shopping service and a site like TaoBao. They're a little tight on me because I am horrid at European sizing (note to self: 42, not 41 next time!) but even with that I can tell once I break them in a little I'll be abusing them like crazy. Review to come!

Heads up! My giveaway is closing on Monday! If you haven't entered yet, gogogo!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Current Jams: June

Oh noooo! An out of schedule post! Well, consider this one a freebie ♥

So I'm thinking of adding a monthly segment, at the end of the month, of the music that has really inspired me for the past thirty-odd days. Here's the first installment - let me know what you think!

Iron and Wine - Boy with a Coin
This entire post should really be Iron and Wine, because after buying their album The Shepard's Dog (bestbestbest ever), it's pretty much all I've been listening too. That being said, this has always been my favorite song on this album. I first discovered Iron & Wine at the hippie tearoom I worked at, and this song has haunted me ever since Soul of the World closed. I finally caved and bought the CD. Best idea ever.

Emilie Simon - Dame de Lotus
Emilie Simon is relatively well-known amongst lolitas, I would say. I've always loved this song, especially because of my lotus tattoo. I love that Simon and I found profundity in the same ancient, moderately obscure Buddhist symbolism :)

The Archer - Splashdown
This is another perpetual favorite of mine. Splashdown is one of those bands that I can never seem to get enough of. Their songs are all so detailed, from interesting, symbolic lyrics to multiple levels of musical production. This song is particularly beautiful, and suits the sleepy peacefulness of early summer at twilight to me.

What have you guys been listening to lately?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Katy Perry's Crazy Cute "California Gurls" Video

Now, I'm not a huuuuge Katy Perry fan. She's adorable, and I love that she's so refreshing with her fashion and her look in general; her outfits tend to resemble everything from retro pin-ups sugar-overload-sweet lolita, and her video for her newest single is no exception. I heard the song on the radio and was utterly unimpressed; sure, it's catchy, but the lyrics are boring and I can't relate to them at all, being from clear across the country (is this how people feel when they hear songs about New York City?). Then, I saw the music video. While I still can't say much for the song's actual integrity, I'm definitely warming up to it after seeing the on-screen interpretation, which is Snoop Dogg playing Candyland with Katy Perry as his placemarker. Of course, because this is American pop culture, though, we can't just let Candyland be Candyland and instead it's full of scantily clad women doing choreographed dance and Miss Perry lounging naked on a cloud of cotton candy. However... it's pretty damn adorable either way.

Apparently the idea is that Snoop is some kind of Oz-like ruler of Candyfornia and he's imprisoning all of these California Girls whom Katy Perry has to rescue, and then at the end they storm the castle and with the power of whipped cream-shooting breasts and shaking booties, dethrone him and bury him in the sand. Wut? I know, I know, but it's just so cute! I know most of my viewers tend towards classic lolita like I do, but I figured lolitas would best appreciate this, even non-sweet girls; Candyfornia totally puts Sugary Carnival to shame!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Photo Editing: For Better or For Worse

Flip through a fashion magazine. Look at a billboard. Go to a photography exhibit or flip through a cookbook. Everywhere you see a photograph, I guarantee you see at least a little photo editing. never noticed? Good. Then these professional photo editors are doing their job.

But professionals aren't the only ones who do it these days. Whether it's Photoshop or any of the other software available for home use these days, it's becoming more and more common for people to edit their photos, even if they're just for personal use. Fashion photo communities are some of the most common places to find photoshop, because, when you're posting pictures of yourself for others to see, you want to look your best, don't you? It's also a fact of life that cameras can capture blemishes and other imperfections that, while completely unnoticeable in real life, are impossible to ignore in photos. You'd cover them up with make-up if they showed on your skin, wouldn't you?

That's what I think of Photoshop as: make-up for the Internet. There's nothing wrong with fixing your complexion or removing stray hairs, maybe enhancing certain features that stand out in real life but become matte in photos. I think that any time you're putting photos of yourself on the internet, you're giving yourself the opportunity to put your best face forward, knowing that people will see it.

However, there's a bit more to it than that. How many times have we heard about print models (for photography like advertisements or fashion spreads) being sighted in real life, completely unrecognizable? That's a rude awakening for the avid fan, but it makes sense: in order to sell a product, an advertising firm needs to idealize the model and make the perfect even more perfect. It's a fact of life in the marketing world, and no fault of the model him or herself. This practice, however, is not limited to advertisements. Have you ever been to a meet-up and sat chatting with an assumed stranger for twenty minutes before you realize that you're actually active friends online? You can't even recognize her because whenever she posts pictures of herself, she has lightened her skin and widened her eyes and pinched in her waist and highlighted her hair and performed plastic surgery to her jawline and a laundry list of other adjustments. The pictures were perfect, sure, but at that point, is the model even herself? And if she IS a model, so be it, but if she's submitting these pictures as accurate representations of herself and outfits she's worn or looks she's created, what are we supposed to think? If I ever met someone in real life who looked nothing like her photos, I'd feel lied to. Luckily this has never happened to me, but it's not a rarity in lolita for girls to edit themselves into perfect porcelain dolls in photographs. So is it right?

Here's my opinion: in art photography, go crazy. Gaussian Blur the hell out of it, use crazy fill colors to tint the air, enhance the colors or add prints and details to her dress. The idea here is what's important: you're taking an art photograph because it's art. It doesn't have to be accurate to real life as long as it gets its intended image across. There's definitely a charm and beauty to realism, but if that's not your aim then don't let fear of "overshopping" taint your idea. In the case of fashion photos, if you're doing a promotional shoot for your favorite indies brand, you're kind of expected to photoshop because the model in these need to sell their product and therefore need to be an idealized image of perfection. I even give more leeway to personal blogs; in a way, if you're a blogger you ARE your own product and need to sell yourself to your viewers. However, if your photos are for a fashion photo-sharing community like daily_lolita, making the pictures look "presentable" is fine but completely changing your appearance is not only providing friends with a false idea of who you are, it's flat-out lying. I love Photoshopping, yes, and everyone goes overboard sometimes; I'm no exception. However, there are times when I spend hours on a single image, just to sigh and close it without saving because it just doesn't look like me anymore. Other times, I've spent so long on it at that point that I just can't bear not to use it, at which point I'll post it here, but no where else. I figured, my viewers know what I look like already; it's not like I'm trying to recruit new readers from my existing readers (as opposed to on daily_lolita, where I sometimes link to my blog as publicity).

In short, in my opinion, photoshopping is not a negative thing in the lolita community like it is in mainstream media, where it can skew female perceptions of beauty expectations. There is nothing wrong with skewing your own image into the proper version of yourself that you would like to show to the world; however, if in the end that person doesn't even look like you anymore, who is it that you're showing off, and by then what's the point?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Lumpy Gets Personal

I had a startling realization the other day: I have an amazing body.

It isn't startling in that I suddenly looked down and saw a supermodel figure; obviously, I didn't. My body is still mine, of course, the same one I've always had: chest and hips and butt and lumps, and that's not going to change anytime soon. The part that startled me was that I used to love my body, and I had spent years slowly beginning to hate it. At some point, I began secretly (hidden even from myself) spiraling down this slippery slope of disgust and hatred at the one thing I have that's really mine: my body.

It's a pretty heavy realization to have fall into your lap, that once upon a time you looked in the mirror and appreciated what you saw there; then, what you saw became benign, lacking emotional significance behind it... then, slowly, you started avoiding mirrors, glancing in them to put on your make-up or fix your hair, and even then only focusing on your eyes or lips or whatever you were trying vainly to improve. To suddenly realize that one day you woke up hating yourself completely and utterly and having no idea when this transition happened - it's pretty heavy, and it's pretty terrifying.

I tried to think back to when it started, and this prompted another chilling realization: it began with lolita. Sure, nothing like this really "starts" with any one thing, and the pressures women are under today affect everyone whether they perceive it or not, but there is always something that, one day, exacerbates the problem to a point where return seems impossible. There's always a catalyst. I had never really cared about clothing before lolita, so therefore size wasn't really a huge topic of mental concern either; if I wanted a skirt that was too small, I could just grab the next size up and that was that. There was no concept of my body preventing me from having beautiful things; I never really thought twice about whether my body was "good" enough until I was looking at myself and wondering where my 28" waist had gone, when my bust had grown so, when I had stopped being something to appreciate and became detestable. The worst part? My waist was, during this period, around twenty-nine or thirty inches. Those one or two inches which I hadn't even noticed before suddenly became the harshest, cruelest burden I had ever been crushed under.

Some part of me realized how utterly inane it was; there were people larger than me looking absolutely amazing in lolita, brand or not. This didn't escape my notice; if anything, it tormented me worse than my own body did. I saw pictures of girls who looked like living women instead of emaciated dolls completely rocking their coordinates and instead of being relieved, it made me feel even worse. Somehow, all I could think was, "These women are beautifully accepting their bodies and loving themselves so much that they'll take and share pictures of themselves online, even if they don't fit into this horrible mold that has been assigned to them. Why can't I feel like that, too?"

It didn't matter why not. The fact was, I couldn't. And so it started.

I'm a very practical person. I know that food is necessary for living, for energy, even for losing weight. I know that most of the time, the people who look the best aren't trying to lose fifteen or ten or three pounds but are the people who are honestly, genuinely striving to be healthful. And I know that no matter how strongly you feel, energy is manifested in this universe not by hate but by love and nothing is ever gained or given to you if expressed in anger. And so I would tell myself that I was sick, that my stomach hurt whenever I ate, and that I needed to change my diet for my body's sake. I vehemently denied that I was trying to lose weight, saying instead that all I wanted was to get healthy and treat my body right. My pride kept me from bouncing between diets, from telling people what I was doing, from reaching out for help. From sharing anything.

The college lunchroom was a particularly damning experience. I started making excuses to not have to eat with my friends, invented essays and assignments that just HAD to be worked on, so they wouldn't see that all I was eating that day was a side salad and a petri dish of yogurt. I looked at the huge lines of students forming for steaming fried chicken and smirked inwardly, making a mental tally mark in my favor; Aly, one. Freshman Fifteen, zero. I'd sit down with my diet coke and salad and yogurt and pretend nothing was wrong with this picture. About halfway through, the realization that I was poisoning and starving my body would set in. I would be so disgusted with myself for thinking that this was a suitable substitute for nutrition that I would storm out and dispose of my half-eaten "meal."

Every so often, when I was laying in bed relishing in the emptiness in my stomach (that feeling of utter control; if I can control nothing else, at least I have my aching abdomen at my disposal), I would have a flash of insight, of understanding, of knowing exactly what I was doing to my body. The human body can't subsist on less than around 800-900 calories a day; organs start shutting down, you get dizzy and lightheaded, you have anemic attacks and pass out due to lack of iron. These nights, in the dark and silence of my dorm room, I felt high. With my eyes closed, the room twisted and spun and catapulted through the darkness; with my eyes open, the shadows made shapes and forms that undulated before my eyes and through my consciousness - sometimes I wonder if I actually fell asleep those nights, or if I just passed into unconsciousness, exhausted by the effort of malnutrition. Then, suddenly, I would fall into a panic; I would stuff my open mouth with pillows to silence the terrified sobs that would otherwise wake my roommate. What was I doing? How had this happened? I was killing myself, and not only was I doing it on purpose, I was enjoying it. For a self-professed hippie, I certainly wasn't channeling the beauty of the universe anymore.

It's not an easy thing to pull yourself out of, especially when the entire world is telling you that you're doing the right thing. Especially when your boyfriend just decided that all of the issues - YOUR issues - that were ruining your relationship just weren't really worth working out and let's just be friends. Especially when your boss is harassing you every weekend, telling you that if you ever try to quit he'll track you down at school and make you come back, and knowing that he means it. When the only thing you think you have control over is slowly starving yourself to death, there's not really much convincing you to change, and when you look at yourself in the mirror and see no change, no inches shed or pounds dropped, see only the things that keep you from being as beautiful as you know, you know, that you could be...

There has to be a catalyst. For me, it was realizing that over winter break, I was falling asleep at work every day; it was my boss, rude and callous as he can be at times, telling me that I was getting a side of pasta with my salad for lunch and that was that; but most of all, it was a question of the right person being introduced into my life at just the right time. I've been told I was hot plenty of times, but the man I started seeing over winter break was the first person in a long, long time that looked me in the eye and called me beautiful. Not sexy, not cute, not even just pretty: "beautiful." It shouldn't surprise you that "beautiful" is my favorite adjective; it says so much more than any other compliment in the world can, and though it took months of hearing it, I eventually began to believe it again.

The other day I looked in the mirror: just looked, didn't let myself make judgments or sigh, or groan, or cry. I observed my body, my face, all of these things that I had been trying so hard to will into something else. I looked in the mirror with ambivalence, then with nothing, devoid of emotion. Then contentment welled up within me from some previously blocked spring, and I smiled.

I'm healthy now, or as healthy as anyone living in our world is. After imposing so many dietary restrictions on myself for years, I can't eat anything unhealthy, or I really do get sick; no red meat, no dairy, nothing deep-fried, everything as fresh as possible or I have to curl up in bed for a few hours, drinking warm water and nursing my revolting stomach. Even though these new restrictions came from a place of negativity, they've transformed into a wellspring of positivity; I could start eating badly again, but not doing so has become a way of thanking my body for putting up with these things I've done to it. I'm eating right, and while I haven't lost "weight," I can see my body thanking me in the sheen of my hair, the smoothness of my skin, the brightness of my eyes.

I've accepted that this weight I find myself at is healthy for me, and that no dresses, no matter how beautiful or "right" they may seem, are worth the long-term damage it would take me to naturally fit into them. I have a custom-made corset on its way now, to help me be able to slip into that beauty ideal and then slip it off and be me again. I've made it my goal this past semester to eliminate anyone who helps me spread hate instead of love throughout my life; this meant abandoning some old friends, and while I still feel guilty for this, I only hope that someday they get to the same state themselves and in turn eliminate negativity from their own lives. For the first time in my life, I've swallowed my pride and have started seeing a therapist, though I've only actually told two or three people this. I'm making an active effort to turn my life into a more accurate representation of the beauty around me and a purer channel of the love and positivity in the universe. Sometimes I slip, and sometimes I still have to force myself into a piece of chicken or a veggie burger, but I'm trying, and that's all I can strive to do for now.

I typed this article up a few weeks ago, and put off actually finishing and posting it until now. What will people think? What will people say? However, the personal testaments I'm seeing in response to this amazing article about body image in lolita by Victoria Suzanne gave me the same realization that it gave everyone else: I'm not alone in this. Not only have other people felt this way before, they've beaten it, too; but more importantly, there are so many other girls who are facing it now, who have that same mortified, sobbing voice in the back of their heads screaming at them to be healthy while Mother Culture pours some more arsenic and laxatives in their coffee and whispers that they'll never be anything unless they're skinny. My experience was nowhere near as fatal as it could have been, nor was it as grueling or taxing or painful as some experience, but it was an experience; my story is a short one, but it's still mine, and only through sharing our stories will anything change. If no one thinks this is a problem, nothing will change. We gotta get up when we're pushed to the ground; they ain't gonna hear us if we're screaming face down. We all have a story; our culture make sure that no one goes unpunished. Tell yours. What's the point in having a story, in going through hell and coming out smoldering, if you're the only one who knows it?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Daily Outfit 6/7/10

Dressed up for a brainstorming day with Victoria Suzanne! I have a surprise for all of you, oh yes ♥ I'm hoping to have it ready to reveal by July or so, but it'll definitely be ready at least by the end of the summer
  • Hat: H&M with a blue ribbon tied around it
  • Cutsew: Angelic pretty
  • Skirt: Handmade
  • Socks: Target?
  • Shoes (not shown): Payless

Afterward, I went to hang out with a few old high school friends, one of whom is an amazingly skilled photographer! He showed me around my DSLR, and now I'm confident that I'll be able to use my camera to its full potential - or at least close to it!
If anyone notices the drastic difference in bedroom settings, no, I didn't get my butt into gear and re-paint my room like I said I would. This is the guest room, where I've been retiring to on hot summer nights instead of my bedroom because it has one necessity that mine lacks: a ceiling fan. When we were designing these rooms, I opted for an ornate hanging light instead of a fan... and then the ornate hanging light broke. Clearly I made the wrong choice...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Green is the New Pink

How to indulge in opulence without hurting the environment;
or, Is Lolita Green?

It should be no surprise to any of you that I consider myself a modern-day hippie. The times we find ourselves in also lend themselves to hippies of a different variety than my dirty-footed, patchouli-scented forefathers; people care about the environment now. You could say "green is the new black." In the case of lolita, make that "green is the new pink."

Green is sexy. Green is hip. Green is, well, everywhere, and I am pretty cool with that. Environmental awareness is the newest fad, and it's one of the few trends that I completely and totally support. Of course, because I'm non-conformist as can be, usually trends are the Work of the Devil, to be completely ignored; if you already enjoy doing something that becomes a trend it must be STOPPED NO MATTER WHAT else everyone think you're ~just a poser~ - horror of all horrors!! But the Green Trend is one that I can completely and totally agree with. Honestly, I can't see anything wrong with helping the Earth, even if it's a company just doing it to hop on the bandwagon, or people who just think it's "cool" or "trendy." It's one of those causes where, if you're doing it right, it's just your involvement that matters - it has nothing to do with morals. It has everything to do with getting shit done and helping the planet.

Since I've always been a very big promoter of the Green Movement, getting into lolita was a little bit of a battle of morals for me. All fashions promote the idea of the "next big thing," and how if you don't have the "next big thing," you're nothing. Therefore, getting heavily into any fashion, especially a community-based one such as lolita, is not necessarily an eco-friendly move. And considering that these "big things" are usually expensive, it isn't a move that the green in your wallet appreciates either. Hand in hand with the cost is the advertisement: a huge part of how fashion trends spread is through paid advertisements, and because a brand needs to get their money back, they're going to plaster every available media with these advertisements; if you don't want to spend the money or buy brand new clothing, it's a choice you'll be reminded of all the time when exposing yourself to the rest of the fashion (communities, magazines, etc).

That being said, while the new is definitely deified, I think lolita is one of the few fashions where the old also has its charm. Nothing is ever really "outdated" in lolita; sure, there are fads, but no one is going to get scoffed at for wearing last year's AP print to a meet-up. In fact, some people are impressed to know that So-and-So still has her first brand, an old-school BABY piece from 2004, and that it's in such pristine condition. Also because of the relative new-ness of our fashion, our idea of "vintage" isn't pre-1970's but instead is probably, oh... pre-2006 or so, and anything before that gets the more experienced girls glassy-eyed with reminiscing about "the good old days." Therefore, there is a sense of pride not only in the street cred of proving you've done your time in the fashion, but also of taking care of your things and not just replacing them as soon as the Next Big Thing came out. It's also important to note that while it is smiled upon to have the Next Big Thing, we are still a fashion that emphasizes creativity more than opulence, so just because you didn't shell out the dough to have the Current Big Thing, that doesn't mean that you'll become a social leper; in fact, someone who creatively coordinates a classic, old-school piece will often get more praise than someone who is decked out in the entire line of Angelic Pretty's Magical Milky Unicorn Rainbow-Chan print du jour.

Similarly, the thrift-scene is huge in lolita. While this means that starter-lolis are encouraged to comb consignment shops and Goodwills, more to the point and more unique to our subculture is the idea of the online tag sale that is egl_comm_sales. Almost all of the lolitas I know spent their beginning months or years combing the community for the perfect "starter pieces," and then after having obtained those began buying directly from brands, brand-new and un-sweated-in. It's almost like a badge of honor, going from buying used to buying directly from the brand. However, in an environmental sense, this is clearly not the best practice, because buying used is more environmentally-sound than buying new, especially for lolitas. First of all, there's the obvious reason that if you buy less, the brand makes less, and therefore wastes less. Secondly, I'm assuming that, to save on shipping costs, most girls try to buy from people in their country or on their continent, which is decidedly less pollution-wise than shipping from across the globe (obviously if you live in other parts of Asia or maybe even Australia, this isn't necessarily true). So while the step of buying direct is, I believe, an obvious one for the seasoned lolita, is it necessarily better for the environment? Probably not.

Then there's the question of "buying local." Everyone knows that I am and always will be a huge promoter of supporting your local seamstresses and craftspeople. Here's why: beyond the creativity and originality of style that most Western designers bring to lolita, it just feels better to me to know that there is a single person who's probably experienced a similar life to me who is gaining from my wardrobe, not a group of people all the way around the world whom I'll never speak to or know anything about. There's something that's just more satisfying about that. Besides, the Locavore movement (which emphasizes supporting local food and businesses instead of the big-box stores) is also awesome and something that I greatly support; I think that supporting my local NYC designers is something like the lolita version of the 100-Mile Diet.

In conclusion, I think that lolita is, generally, a rather environmentally-sound fashion, compared to other current styles. While there is always the lust for something new &trendy, our style focuses greatly on timeless classics, meaning that "thrifting" via the sales community is not only extolled to newbies but a common practice for even the seasoned lolita. It's also an accepted part of the community aspect of our subculture; we share not only tips and ideas but actual clothing we have worn with each other, which to me always seems like a huge bond that's formed throughout the entire community. Even without the huggy-feely aspect, it's practical; most wardrobes are comprised largely of things bought secondhand and then supplemented by a few big-name prints or styles bought brand new from the designers to save money without sacrificing on quality. In essence, environmentally-sound practices are a huge part of our culture, whether we realize it or not.

pic credit:

Friday, June 11, 2010

Daily Outfit 6/6/10

After sitting around doing very little but napping and eating barbecue with my boyfriend, I decided that I needed to get some shit done. I also decided that picking flowers in lolita would be delicious. Yes, my idea of "getting shit done" is picking flowers, and yes, I got dressed up to do so. I only actually wore this for a few outfits, so I'm not sure if this even counts as a daily outfit, haha.
  • Blouse: Angelic Pretty
  • Cardigan: Wet Seal
  • Skirt: Bodyline
  • Minihat: Hot Topic
I also went out barefoot because I was walking around my backyard and it was far too hot for socks and shoes. Check out the neckline of the cardigan - you can just see the lace appliques going around the whole thing. It's such a cute touch, big lace circles like coins made out of embroidered net lace. Also, it was probably the best bargain of my entire life - Wet Seal was having a sale where if you buy one sale item, you get the other for a penny. One cent! I went with Victoria and grabbed this as the penny item to her sale item. Budget loli ftw!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Dans le Boudoir

The lolita's guide to creating her own beauty retreat

A "boudoir" is, technically, a ladies' sitting room or private parlor. The word has always had decidedly feminine air to it (though it is derived from the French bouder, "to pout") and therefore, like all things innately womanly, has become an object of much intrigue and fantasy. The word "boudoir" brings to mind the genre of Boudoir Photography, which usually depicts beautiful women in various stages of undress in an elegantly luxuriant bedroom setting. However, "boudoir" also has the connotation of a private dressing room, in the old-fashioned, Rococo sense of the word: an entirely separate area where the Lady can be coiffed, made-up, and dressed by her maids.

For all these reasons, the boudoir has become a symbol of sumptuous leisure, of opulent respite with a little bit of sensuous mystery; the boudoir is a place where a woman can escape from the Real World for a little while, into a world of self-indulgence and personal beautification. And what can be wrong with that? It seems like a very lolita idea, to me. An entire room dedicated to beauty, an utterly vanity-free place where a woman can just enjoy being a woman - the boudoir is as feminine as it gets, and it's also all about a shameless self-appreciation that is, in my opinion, iconically both Rococo and lolita.

Unfortunately, most of us do not have a suite attached to our bedrooms that we can renovate into our own personal oasis. How does the modern Rococophile translate this desire into her own life, without commandeering her little brother's bedroom? First of all, just because the original boudoirs were attached rooms does not mean that yours has to be! A private dressing area can be as small as a vanity covered in exotic perfumes and artfully-arranged make-up.

Here are a few ideas for space-saving boudoirs:

♥If you have a large bedroom:
  • Separate your boudoir from your living area with a folding screen. Behind the screen, set up a dressing area: A few hooks on the wall from which you can hang the pieces you've selected to wear that day before changing (or a few of your favorite pieces - think of it as wearable wall art), a floor-length mirror (props for vintage!) and a vanity. For extra cute, if you have a dress form or two, dress it up in your favorite outfit and stand it in the corner.
♥If you only have room for a vanity:
  • Make that vanity adorable! If your vanity has a drawer, install knobs for pulls and hang necklaces off of them. Use teacups to keep track of loose jewelry like rings and earrings (or even as candles!). Pile up old-fashioned (preferably hardcover) books and/or use tea trays to add visual interest as well as maximize space. Buy a cute holder for your make-up (mine is a blackxwhite polka dot bag that rolls up with a little pink bow on the front) or, if you have a habit of buying make-up for its packaging - guilty as charged... - display them! A collection of make-up pencils and/or brushes would be adorable sticking out of a parfait glass, maybe with a few inches of colored marbles, beads, or faux pearls as an anchor. Line your perfumes and lotions along the back edge, in front of the mirror, so you can see them all and make the perfect selection for your mood that day. Write little messages to yourself ("You're beautiful!" "You can do it!" "Hang in there, gorgeous!") and stick them into the corners of the mirror. If yours is a desk-style vanity, hang an inspiration board above it instead of a looking glass and pin pictures and quotes to it that inspire you to express your inner beauty.
  • No vanity? Use the top of your dresser instead!
♥No room for a vanity? Make over your closet! Victoria Suzanne did a great brainstorm here for ways to make over the look of your closet. Making over your closet is a great way to add a little decadence to your bedroom without spending the money to redo the whole thing. Unfortunately, I helped Victoria with these original ideas, so I'm afraid I'm rather spent on exact ideas. However, a few extras are:
  • Remove the door and instead add some cute, cheap curtains that can be pinned open when your closet is nice and tidy or shut tightly when you're having a closet-meltdown
  • If you have shelves, use them not only for storage but for display! I have the top shelf in my closet decorated with a pretty Burberry bag (sat at an angle to show it off without taking up too much space) and a wig head displaying a wig, a vintage hat, and a vintage fur stole around its neck.
  • If you have a few different levels of hanging space, remove either the top levels or the bottom ones and hang up ornate hooks instead; hang dresses from these instead.
  • Get a shoe organizer with clear compartments to hang on the back of your door. Instead of using it for shoes, though, use it to store and display your socks or other bits and bobs like rolled-up waist ties or detached sleeves.
  • Or, use the inside of the door for an ornately-framed mirror or an inspiration board (explained above!)
  • Wall-paper or paint the inside of the closet, especially if you take the doors off. This makes the closet less of an afterthought and more of an extension of your bedroom. This is an excellent idea (brush ya shoulders off there why don't ya, Lumps) if you find a wallpaper you love but is a bit costly, because you'll need less than if you did the entire room but it will still contribute to the decor.
  • If you have a walk-in, how cute would a little stool or table be?! You can use it to display your brand plushies or a favorite standing object, like shoes or a purse.
Have you ever wished for a more beautiful, elegant time? Do you like shiny, naked cherubs everywhere you can put them? Do you wish you could put on three layers of expensive eighteenth-century clothing and giggle with seemingly-homosexual courtiers ALL DAY? Of course you do! Unfortunately, we no longer live in the Rococo period (and very, very few of us have access to Rococo Puffs, I'll bet). However, that doesn't mean we can't adopt some elements of Rococo-esque living for our daily lives; in fact, with the grating hustle-and-bustle we face every day at school or work, I think now it is more important to take a few moments to yourself every day. Some people do this in the form of meditation, reading, bubble baths... while all of these are noble pursuits, those of us who are used to a little more opulence need something more glamorous for our daily respite. In my opinion, this can be best achieved by the pursuit of self-love and furthering our personal quest for beauty inside and out.

I got Lichtenstein!!

Monday, June 7, 2010

100 Followers and 5,000 Views on Blogspot Giveaway!

I really loved blogging with Wordpress. It's a great, content-oriented platform, and it's so convenient that sometimes I wish I was still on it. However, the main reason I left it for Blogger and the reason I'm still here is because of the community of it; I love the "follow" option. I love being able to link to the blogs I'm following directly from my main page. I love being able to see the content being produced by people who like my work by looking at the blogs linked on the profiles of my followers. It's great, and the switch has been worth it to me.

It looks like it's been worth it to all of you, too! In the just-over two months since I switched platforms, I am proud to announce that I have just passed 100 Followers and 5,000 views!! Yaaaaay!! Thank you all so much - it's for you guys that I'm doing this, and it's great to see that it's being viewed and appreciated by everyone. That's why I decided that it's time for me to give back to all of you!

I've put together this sweet little giveaway, filled with fun things that I've featured or talked about in the posts I switched over from Wordpress or the original content I've generated for Her Lumpiness. The gift basket includes:

♥A tin of my favorite tea by Harney & Sons
♥A screen-printed T-shirt from my favorite local label, I Do Declare
♥A $15 discount voucher for Ophanim, the maker of my custom buckram bonnet
♥A level one Lolita Survival Kit
♥A set of false lashes
♥A handmade Valentine-style postcard from me

Around $40 worth of goods can be yours for the affordable price of, well, free! So, how do you win? That's simple too - all you have to do is link back to *this post* in up to any three locations of your choice, meaning you can repost it once, twice, or three times, but no more! It can be your personal blog, a Facebook status, a tweet on Twitter, tumbling it via Tumblr, or anything else you can think of. I do ask, however, that you don't spam the main lolita communities - I don't need the mods getting upset with me! Any posts to egl or any of its subsidiaries will not count as a submission. If you wanted to add a tasteful link at the bottom of, say, an outfit post on daily_lolita or something along those lines, that would be acceptable, though! Then, all you have to do is comment on this post with proof of your link (in the case of protected Facebook updates or friends-only Livejournal posts, I will accept links to a screenshot of the post including any comments received on it). I'll then tally up the total received and assign every entry a number. The winning entry will be picked via a random number generator. Depending on the amount of interest I receive, I might be interested in doing a few smaller packages as well.

Also, heads up! From now until the end of June, Carolyn is offering a 10% discount to all Lumpian viewers on all Ophanim Gothique purchases on Etsy! Just enter the discount code "HeyBoPeep" at the end of your order and receive 10% off the total excluding shipping. Hurry! The offer expires on July 1st, 2010!

The drawing begins today, now, June 2nd, 2010. It will run for three weeks, and no entries will be accepted after Monday, June 28th. Good luck everyone, and I'm so excited to see who wins!!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Pimpage: International Lolita Day at Kinokuniya and a personal interview!

International Lolita Day is upon us again! This year, Kinokuniya NYC is teaming up with fellow New York lolita trendsetters such as Morrigan NYC, I Do Declare, and Tokyo Rebel, all of whom are perennial favorites around these parts (by which I mean... my life). My three biggest blog-spirations will also be putting on a panel about Lolita Blogging, so if you're in the area, definitely go check out Dalin, Crystal, and Victoria Suzanne! Unfortunately I will not be attending the events as I have to work, though I may go in a bit later in the day to hang out with my ladies. I would have loved to meet everyone there! Alas, there's always next year :)

Also, I recently was interviewed by Raelynn of Forever Raelynn for her series "Behind the Fashion," which goes into the person behind the clothes. I really enjoyed answering these questions, so if you have some time, please check it out! You can get a first-hand look at just how big of a closet-hippie I am, as I wax poetic about the importance of beauty and music that ~speaks to your soul~.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Daily Outfit 5/27/10

So this one is a bit of a cheat. Technically, this IS what I wore to a little birthday picnic with friends, but I was gallivanting about the city all day and then we got caught in a thunderstorm (!!! though we weren't exactly surprised). So... I cheated. I re-dressed up in the same outfit today so that I could document it. Please forgive me for lying to you, my dearest readers! I didn't mind getting all gussied up again, though, because this is probably my dream outfit ♥♥♥
  • Bonnet: Ophanim Gothique
  • Hairbow: BABY, the Stars Shine Bright
  • Necklace: Lolitas N Cream
  • JSK & Overdress: I Do Declare
  • Socks: Angelic Pretty (technically I started the day with BABY L'Oiseau socks, but I bought these when we went to Tokyo Rebel so I tossed them on)
  • Boots: Bodyline
I tried something kind of unusual with the bonnet. It was very hot that day, my guess being in the upper 80's (you laugh, California, but I'm a spoiled little Yankee!), so I didn't want the ribbon to chafe under my chin. Instead, I tied it behind my head and for added stability I used this BtSSB headbow. I had the bonnet made very simplistically so that I could have the freedom to do something like this to dress it up or down - I think the pearls, gem, and charms on the bow help make it more dynamic without being over-the-top.

Also, look at that! I think this is the first time you guys have seen my bedroom! Don't get used to it, though - I'm going to be repainting it (hopefully) this summer... I'm currently planning on a light seafoam-y blue with minty-sage green accents.


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