Friday, July 2, 2010

The Importance of NOT Being Lolita

Recently, Victoria Suzanne (a crazy-ass lifestyler - her words, not mine!) and I were invited to a wedding. I was chatting with her about it, and she said, "So what should we wear?" I said what seemed only natural to me: "Well, it's a wedding, so even though she loves lolita, her friends and family might be uncomfortable. I'm going for more business casual and you probably should too." Silence on the other end. We were texting, actually, so that silence was more of a five-hour gap in conversation where, I assume, she tried frantically to understand this concept and breathed deeply into a paper bag.

I know the lifestyle stereotype is that we wear lolita all day, every day, and even sleep in our bloomers. Well, on that last part I've been known to be guilty as charged, but it's really quite a misconception that lifestyle lolitas wear nothing but poof. Even Victoria has plenty of other clothing in styles like gyaru, mori-girl, and fairy-kei. However, one thing that I've realized is that even the most perfectly-coordinated lolita will often go from doe-eyed to deer-in-the-headlights at the thought of going on a job interview, out for dinner with her S.O.'s parents, or any situation where "presentable" means more than a nice sundress but still not Angelic Pretty.

So yes, that means that this article is not about lolita. Does that mean it's not still something lolitas should know about? Of course not! Therefore, I find it not only relevant but necessary to talk about the lolita outside of lolita.

No matter what fairytale we build for ourselves, real life always finds a way to creep into it. There's nothing wrong with that, but it is a fact of life for us daydreamers. Plenty of lolitas have full-time office jobs or are business majors or are dating someone with conservative parents, and they know exactly what I'm talking about. Sometimes it's important to put the fantasy aside and play "normal" for a little while.That's a fun little dichotomy; if your real life exists in a fantasy world of your on creation, then the daydream you indulge in occasionally can be the reality of everyone else. I put on my nice slacks and smart knit tops for work and giggle at my reflection; it's kind of like playing dress-up for me, a dress-up that I do every day but still feels like impersonating someone else's life.

Contrary to popular belief, the world of fashion is not cut-and-dry: it's not like you're either lolita or you're in a black pantsuit. It's not only possible but actually very easy to combine a feminine aesthetic with corporate casual attire; my good friend Crystal of Pretty Wonderland is iconic in my mind for wearing sweet, princessy yet entirely appropriate outfits to her office job, and I know plenty of other girls in the same situation. It's easy to throw on black slacks and a white button-down, and there's nothing wrong with that; but for those of us who are used to more of a fairytale existence, there are other options.

First up is my entirely office-appropriate classic-inspired look. Gray is one of my favorite colors, and usually when one puts it into business casual, it translates dully, but here I've combined it with silver, cream, and feminine motifs like roses to really femme it up. A ruffled sweater and rose headband and lace tights could be ultra-loli, but the simple silver flats and understated gray skirt keep it mature and casual. You can really add personality with your jewelry; a fleur-de-lis ring, "love" bracelet, and quirky-quaint mirror necklace are classy and elegant but still cutesy.

Now a more sweet look. Instead of bubblegum or pastel pink, salmon is more understated and mature, and will go farther in a business casual look when paired with brown and cream than stark neutrals like black or white. Even though this outfit uses nice brown slacks, all of the other details are very feminine. The use of bows and pearls, both very popular in mainstream fashion these days as well as lolita, is a sweet way to tie the two fashions together. The bow-shaped watch and letter-inspired purse keep the look whimsical and fresh. This would be a perfect look not only for a day at the office, but even for a wedding or your S.O.'s family picnic or reunion.

Our gothic girls are not left out, either! As I've often said, I'm no gothic aficionado, but here I tried to use a darker palette and gothic motifs to show a darker but still classy and casual outfit. The main color of the dress is gray, not black, to lighten the look a bit and make it less stark while still being high-impact. The bow, motifs of chandeliers and roses, and a few understated brand items bring it back to lolita, while the simple-yet-interesting dress keeps it office-appropriate. The necklace is a very sweet detail; it features an Emily Dickinson quote saying that "Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul." The heel might be a bit high for some work environments; if so, flats like those in the tights picture would be nice too. This would be a great outfit for a first date, too, if you don't think your guy will approve of lolita (if so, why are you dating him?)

But what about building your own wardrobe? Say you're just about to start your first office job. What should you buy? Here are my suggestions for a good weekday wardrobe:
  • Two skirts: I suggest one pencil skirt and one A-line, one black and one in a nice color understated or dark color that suits your wardrobe, like peach or royal blue.
  • Two pairs of slacks: Again, one black and one colored. What style depends on your body type, but I think a nice wide leg is great on everyone. Don't scrimp on quality here - a nice pair of slacks can last you years. I have two pairs of slacks from Express, one black and one light gray with dark gray pinstripes - if you go with Express, thier Editor trouser is amazing and looks great on everybody, I swear.
  • A few tops: Here is where you can be more whimsical. If you're really bare-bones-ing it, you really only need, oh... three or four, but since this is one of the areas where you can really get creative, I'd say go crazy, haha. Any color scheme or style is fine, but stay away from synthetic materials or anything too tight or revealing - I figure lolitas shouldn't have a problem with that, though!
  • One nice dress: A nice dress that can either be paired with flats and a cardigan for day, or heels and a clutch for night. This is important for joining your coworkers for drinks or going out for a nice dinner with the higher-ups.
  • An array of outer wear: Cardigans, shawls, boleros, or blazers are all great ways to diversify. The same skirt and blouse can get pretty boring pretty fast, but if you throw on a pretty shawl with a great brooch, you instantly femme it up and add interest.
  • Others: Shoes! Go crazy here - flats, heels, wedges, boots, whatever you want. A good rule of thumb is to keep them relatively understated in color, style, and material - this is not the time to bust out your cake shoes, but you might be able to pull off black tea parties with black pants and a colored top. Shoes are a great way to bring personality into an outfit, as well as jewelry. It's amazing how much a great pair of earrings and interesting necklace or a few bangles can change an outfit.
I've been looking forward to writing this article for years, probably ever since I started blogging about lolita. I feel like, by making our own little fantasy worlds, no matter how much it is NOT our intentions to hide from the world, it can happen if we're not careful. It was crazy, being hired for an office job and realizing I had no idea how to dress myself for the task, and I know plenty of other people in alternative fashions who have the same realization. I love lolita, and I probably always will; however, this is perfect proof that boxing yourself in to any fashion is not good and could have less-than-awesome consequences. And, sure maybe nobody wants to hear this, and maybe nobody has actually read this far. But either way, it's important to say and to hear, because you can never be sure when, like me, reality will storm the princess's castle and force her into a smart pantsuit - know that this is not the end of the world! It happens to everyone at some point; at least now you know how to handle it if or when it does.


  1. business casual to a wedding??? at least a dress!

  2. Personally, I think Classic or Aristocrat Lolita styles are perfect for attending weddings (or meeting people who might be wary of Lolita). Just dress it down a little. Choose a small print and muted color. I'd also forgo any attention grabbing headpieces and the petti, or use your least poofy petti. Go with stockings, pretty shoes, and modest jewelry. You'll look fabulous, feel pretty, and provide people a glimpse into the world of Lolita.

  3. I agree that lolita might not be the best route for this occassion, and I love this aricle. I do agree with Kathryn though, a nice simple dress might be better for a wedding than a business-y look. Although, the time of day and location of the wedding is very important. If it's a church wedding, modesty is important. If it's outdoors, the weather is a big factor. Also, dress for daytime weddings and evening weddings tend to be very different. I'm sure Emily Post or Amy Vanderbilt have plenty to say on the subject. Sorry about the long reply, I tend to get really into ettiquette related things. Again, great article. When I was in high school I was goth/punk, and when I had to dress for a serious occassion the first time, I was totally lost. I love the second coordinate, it's darling!

  4. Totally love this article. I'm a teacher so I love adding simple princess like touches to my everyday wear. Jewelry has been the best way and lovely tops like you point out. Its always great to dress up the bare bones of any business outfit.

  5. DDD: I once had the ring shown in the last coordinate (or at least an identical one) but it broke.

    Besides this I'd say a classic casual style would be acceptable. I once wore a black skirt with simple pattern a blouse and even black and white innocent world socks to a wedding and no-one really paid attention simply because the skirt wasn't poofy. If I had worn a petticoat it would've looked like a plain classic coordinate I'd say

  6. You're singing my song, my dear, but you know that <3 Love it! It's taken me some time to really build my "Corporate Princess" wardrobe. I think that's what girls need to realize, is that it's harder to find the right pieces and it will take some time, so you really have to keep looking. Sometimes you can even sneak in a piece of lolita accesories here and there too (depending on the piece). I adore those coordinates, bte. I really want that grey/silver one! <3

  7. I love this article, and I take my princess hat off to you!

    The posters who respond "this would be acceptable" or "Classic would be acceptable" are being ignorant and blind. It all depends on the bride and groom and what theme they have chosen for their wedding and what they are comfortable with.



Related Posts with Thumbnails