Friday, December 30, 2011

I Do! Weddings and Lolita Fashion

No, don't worry, I'm not getting married! Well, actually, I might be engaged but it's kind of up in the air and rather complicated right now. However, the lovely photo above as well as my duty as bridesmaid to my good friend Tina prompted me to consider the nature of weddings and the place of lolita within them.

The wonderful thing about weddings is that they're as customizable as you want them to be: pet lovers will have their dogs walk down the aisle in the bridal party, grooms' cakes which satirize the new husband's obsessions are getting more and more popular, and who hasn't seen photos of retro-inspired weddings? However, for some reason, lolita weddings seem to be a bit of a taboo in the community. Maybe this is because lolita is seen as more obscure of a fashion, not one that a couple is likely to have in common in their lives (unlike, say, punk or rockabilly) and therefore it's more likely that only on partner of the pair may actually have much of an interest in it. Or it could be because lolita is seen as childish; "things like that have no place in the most important day of your life," I can just hear a mother-in-law-to-be say. And personally, I kind of agree. I don't see myself ever having a lolita wedding, but I feel like lolita is so deeply ingrained into my aesthetic that it'll manifest itself in the proceedings somehow or other.

If you're interested in adding some lolita touches to your own celebration, here are a few tips:

Themes that would lend themselves well to lolification are fairy tale (think lots of carriages and tiaras and glass slippers), floral themes like cherry blossoms or roses, or Victorian-inspired with high-collared necklines or bustled dresses.
Floral arrangements: Consult the language of flowers, a Victorian means of communication that ascribes different meanings to different plants. Check here for Wikipedia's article on floriography. Some flowers with particularly lolita-friendly meanings are asters, lilacs, geraniums, and moonflowers.
Favors: Especially if you have lolitas in attendance or in your bridal party! Some lovely ideas for lolita-inspired favors include monogrammed fans (maybe with a little pamphlet on the language of fans), a small box of personalized truffles, or even a small deck of playing cards.
Reception: Instead of a fancy, expensive dinner party, have a tea party around brunch time. That way, not only is it often cheaper to rent venues earlier in the day, but you can also connect to your inner Mad Hatter!
Bridesmaid gifts: Anything with pearls, trailing ribbons, or rhinestones!

Lolitas: Are you planning on getting married? If so, will you include lolita in your festivities, or is it an "appropriate time and place" type of deal?

(Oh, also, heads up- starting Monday, I'm going to be in New Zealand for two weeks! I'm planning on having some articles scheduled to go up while I'm gone, but that may or may not happen.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

An Affirmation

An affirmation is a declaration of something that's true; an affirmation prayer is a religious or metaphysical technique that focuses on a positive outcome instead of a negative one (thanks, Wikipedia!). While "prayer" is a term I shy away from, because I dislike anything that has religious connotations, I think of an affirmation as being a collection of positive thoughts that sees you through hard times, and I think it's important for everyone to have one.

Here's the affirmation I've taken to saying to myself before bed at night, or some variation thereof:
I am a creation of love and beauty. Everything I do spreads positivity and happiness to the people around me. I share the light in my soul with everyone who is dear to me, and I strive to be someone who makes their lives better simply for knowing me. I am cool and calm and collected, and completely comfortable with myself no matter how I look, dress, or feel. The negativity I encounter is nothing compared to the joy I hold within me, and even the darkest of my own depressions can be beaten by it.When I am in doubt of my own awesomeness, I remember that I am a goddess of love and beauty in my own way. I am powerful and capable, and obstacles fall before me; everything I strive for I can accomplish, and if not, it's because accomplishing it will not further my growth as a human being. Everything I have encountered comes together within me to shape me into the person I am today, no matter how awful it seemed at the time. With the love, peace, and joy within me, I am unstoppable. I am fearless. I cannot be beaten.

I think it's really important for everyone to have an affirmation that will lift their spirits when challenges seem insurmountable. If you don't have one yet, I really suggest writing one for yourself! It can be as simple or complex as you like; this one is rather long, but another mantra of mine that I find myself falling back to time and again is as easy as "Breathe. You can do this." The important part of your affirmation is that it reminds you of everything you're striving for and how amazing your life will be once you accomplish these goals. It'll get your through difficult times and remind you that whatever you're living through at that moment, no matter how dire it seems, will someday be one more challenge you've learned and grown from.

Do you have a motto?
Share your own affirmations in the comments section!
If you don't already have one, what would yours be?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Common Lolita Beauty "Don'ts"

I'm definitely not an beauty expert, but every lolita -hell, every PERSON - knows that make-up has two affects on your overall look: it either enhances or detracts. There are some lolita make-up moves that I've noticed in the past few years which seem, to me, rarely to do the former and almost always do the latter.

As with any part of your coordinate, everything you do with your make-up should be considered objectively to make sure it's enhancing the image you're going for. If you were wearing a completely sweet coordinate, for example, entirely of mint and pink, would you put on a big, black, gothic headdress? It may be interesting circumstantially, but for the most part, I'd advise against it. It's the same with make-up: if it detracts from the look of the rest of your outfit or overpowers it or negatively draws attention to itself, you're better off going without.

As always, remember: there are exceptions to every rule, so don't think of these as hard, concrete facts. Almost everything I mention here, while I'm typing, I think, "Yeah, but there was that really cute girl at the meet-up who..." or, "Yeah, but what about that picture you saw on Tumblr the other day?" So if I knock down your favorite make-up tip, please don't be offended! There are right ways and wrong ways to do everything.

A Loose List of Lolita Make-up Don'ts:

Over-concealing: One of the biggest parts of lolita make-up is a porcelain, doll-like appearance, and that's not always very easily-achieved by us humans, who're prone to redness, blemishes, and even skin tone. However, it's important to resist the urge to go really crazy on the Erase Paste, as concealers and foundations and primers and powders can cake up really easily and look overdone. Over-doing it will draw attention to whatever it is you're trying to cover up and can settle in the lines in your face and make you look old, which is not exactly the way to achieve effortless, light, child-like beauty. Lord knows I can be prone to this one myself, hence why it's right at the top of the list!

♥Lining the lower lash line: Now, this isn't always bad, but in a lot of alternative fashion I often see heavy black liner under the eye with nothing in the lid. Here's the problem with that: a dark, heavy line along the bottom of the eye pulls the onlooker's eye down and makes it look like the wearer has heavy undereye circles (could I have said the word "eye" more in that sentence?!) Instead, what looks better is a thin line of eyeliner all along the upper lash line (maybe getting a little thick toward the outer edge, or finish with a cat-eye if you're feeling fancy) and line only the outer third of your lower lash line- from the outer corner to the iris, or colored part, of your eye; this will make your eyes look wider and brighter, and therefore more awake. Bonus points if you use a soft shadow instead of thick, heavy liner on the lower lash line.

Pink or red eye shadow: To be perfectly honest, I almost didn't include this one, because I see it often, and it's very often done right. However, with certain skin tones, pink or red eye shadow or liner will make your eyes look red, making you look tired, like you've been crying, or like you have pink eye, none of which are very loli at all! If you're very gung-ho about using one of these colors in your make-up look, try to either find a shade that compliments your skin tone, or pair it with a neutral and use the pink/red as an accent color.

Wash your face at night!: This is such a big one for everyone, but especially lolitas, to go back to that porcelain look we try so hard to emulate. If you don't wash off your make-up and sweat and all the other nastiness we accumulate during the day, it'll cause breakouts. I'm pretty sure everyone knows this, but it bears repeating! A daily cleanser and a moisturizer should be used once a day, and deep exfoliation once a week. Another quick fix are make-up remover wipes. Or, if you're thrifty, bathroom wipes with vitamin E and aloe- they have to same active ingredients but are much less expensive!

What are your least-favorite make-up techniques that show up on lolitas often?
(No naming names!)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Photodump: Lolita Brunch!

Last weekend, I helped my friend Marrisa host a lovely little brunch for our local lolitas. It was a most excellent afternoon- much fun was had all around, or so I'd like to think! Here are some shots of the food we provided:

The table, minus Marrisa's salad and plus a photobombing Remi

In another life I went to school for food photography. this other life, I was probably also a lot better at it than I am in this one. Oh well.

Remi + kitten: One of many more to come





Marrisa, our hostess:

Me- more here!

Aaaaaaand.... catspam. I have no regrets.

Remi + Toby = OTP. Seriously, I have no idea why I have so many pictures of her with this cat, but they're all so damn cute!

I think I lied. Actually, in another life I'm a cat photographer.

Tips for hosting your own Loli Brunch ♥
♥Offer a variety of options! Scones or waffles or cinnamon buns are delicious brunch staples, but make sure you have something that isn't so decadent. Marrisa made a delicious grilled pear salad, and I brought granola with soy milk.
♥In the same vein, as always, make sure there are no food or pet allergies that you need to watch out for!
♥Get creative with drinks. Everyone was excited to try the iced hojicha Marrisa had made as well as taking their pick of a plethora of teas. Another cute idea would be Italian sodas- buy a bunch of cutely-colored syrups and some Sprite or seltzer and let your guests concoct libations to match their outfits.
♥Experiment with table settings! Mismatched glasses, silverware, or place settings give a wonderland vibe; use vases or milk bottles as pitchers for cold drinks; plain white teacups on vibrantly-patterned chine saucers are a stark contrast and bring life to the table.
Have a communal bonding activity, especially if you don't know everyone well. We happened to luck out by having ridiculously personable cats to play/camwhore with and later on in the afternoon we played Text Twist, but a cute card game or a craft would be nice too.

Extra: This is how Marrisa actually, literally got me into my corset this morning! Re-enacted for the sake of the camera.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Daily Outfit: 11/6/11

This is what I wore to help host Loli Brunch at my friend Marrisa's apartment this Sunday. It was a lovely afternoon full of sweets, cats, and sex jokes- de rigueur for my local gals!

What I wore:

Dress: BABY, the Stars Shine Bright
Corset: The Lady & The Leopard (Local company)
Bonnet: Handmade
Magpie Nest brooch: Amaranth Opulent
Socks: Uniqlo
Boots: Forever 21

A close-up of the Magpie Nest:

This is one of my favorite AO pieces, like, ever. I love making Magpie Nests, but they're so difficult to ship that I only ever make them on commission or for myself (occasionally for events I'll be selling at, like local craft fairs or anime conventions).

And because I promised cats...

Don't worry, there'll be plenty of Toby and his brother Tux in the meetup report next week! Also, love this pic because you can see my brand new septum piercing- after years of pining after it, I felt the need to shock myself out of a dodgy patch I went through last week, so I took the plunge. I ADORE it. I feel so much more like myself with it- so much more Taurean, too! It's the piercing of the Bull ♥

And apologies for not updating last week! The entire Northeast was under a blanket of unseasonable snow and most of the state lost power. I'll make up for it by all the posts I have planned for coming weeks, promise! 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Daily Outfit: Halloween!

So, technically this isn't a daily outfit, but I decided a few days ago to try and put together a Halloween costume for myself...

Here you have it! Flapper-loli!

♥One piece: BABY, the Stars Shine Bright
♥Fur: Vintage (inherited from my Grandmother)
♥Hat: Forever21
♥Heels, pearls, tights: Offbrand

Unfortunately, as of yet I'm not sure if I'll even be wearing this costume this year. The two big events which I was invited to are both happening on the same night, and the one I'm actually going to is probably going to include something mosh-related, which I would never subject my old-school velvet BABY OP to! So that's why I'm posting it here, a few days early: I love this coord, so I have to use it for something! It'll be perfect for wintertime, though, so I'm sure I'll get to bring it out at least once this season.

And now, I leave you with my Halloween playlist- songs that capture the way the holiday feels for me: creepy and slightly psychotic with violent undertones and something that you just can't name hiding barely under the surface. I promise I'll try not to fill the entire thing with Florence and the Machine (under the cut so it doesn't kill your browser, but don't worry- they're just youtube videos!).

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Mori Glam: Eyelashes by Paperself

When I was in Sephora the other day, I happened upon what easily became the best discovery of the day: eyelashes made from cut paper. The designs are cut scherenschnitte-style from black paper and because of this are super-delicate and really only suitable for one wear, or so the helpful associate at Sephora told me. I was tempted as I have never been tempted before (well, at least by false eyelashes), but at $19 per pair it was just not a purchase I could justify- however, these would be perfect for a mori-girl photoshoot or event, so I just couldn't help but share! While I know that mori-girl usually puts very little emphasis on make up, I think these could be super cute either with a very understated make up look or for a more gyaru-inspired glam!mori coordinate. Some of the rest of the collection would be amazing with dolly-kei, too!

Deer & Butterfly Lashes

Full collection (image pilfered from Google)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why This Lolita Walked at SlutWalk: The Importance of Protest to Alternative Fashion

If you're someone who wears alternative fashion, every time you change your clothes you make a choice: Today, should I be myself, or should I be whomever society expects me to be? Do I wear petticoats and corsets, or jeans and T-shirts? Do I express the beauty within me, or do I hide myself away in a disguise of normalcy? Do I want to be stared at, laughed at, glared at, or do I want to be ignored behind a hoodie and leave the beauty to rot in my soul?

Many people and most lolitas know the now-cliche Japanese saying: the nail that sticks up gets hammered down. Even though the proverb originated in Asia, it is clearly illustrated in almost all cultures and almost all countries. If you look different from the rest of those around you, you're a freak. You're not a person anymore. You're public property. You're there for the amusement of others, for them to take pictures or videos or scream insults at or question innocently or whatever they want to do with you, and if you rise against it, you're the one who's being inconsiderate.

Now, when you put on clothing that's out of the norm, a certain amount of attention is expected, maybe even welcome. Imagine if you lived in a world that was only made up of shades of grey, a world of white and black and slate, and then all of a sudden into your line of vision flashes a huge burst of pink. It's strange, it's new, it's weird- what would you do? Of course you'd do a double take. You'd probably stare, too, and if you were capable you'd probably go over and ask it questions, and whether you laughed or respected it would depend on who you are as a person. That's probably what it's like to see someone wearing alternative fashion, and that's why I'm not offended by second glances or repeated looks. It's okay, I'm weird- I don't expect you to take my existence lightly. I also know that it makes me stand out, and that standing out can be dangerous. However, from the average person walking down the street, I do expect respect, so when people take pictures or videos of me without my knowledge or tug on my curls to see if they're real or lift up my skirt to see what holds its shape (all of which have happened, and unfortunately most are not isolated incidents), I don't take it lightly. It is an affront to my person, to my physical and mental safety and well-being, and that is not something that I as a person deserve to have violated, no matter what clothing I choose.

Possible trigger warning ahead: discrimination, abuse, and rape are discussed past here.

Hopefully by now you see where I'm going with this. No person of any gender, race, class, age, sexual orientation or definition, or ability deserve to feel like their safety is threatened because of how they look, dress, or act. No matter how "safety" or "threatened" is defined, there is nothing about a person that means they do not deserve complete and utter respect.

Please note that I'm not putting being laughed at and being sexually assaulted on the same level. Bullying and rape are two very different occurrences, and they vary hugely in consequence. However, I believe that they are part of the same problem, that they stem from the same ideas of privilege, hatred, and negativity: because of how you look, an aggressor thinks they have the right to punish you for it. Rape is regarded as being more of an act of aggression against a societal construct that is focused on an unfortunate person (wrong place, wrong time, wrong clothing or demeanor), and I believe that often harassment over one's clothing or appearance often has the same basis: lashing out against something that bucks the status quo in a manner that offends the aggressor.

Please also note that I'm not saying that people get sexually assaulted because of their clothing; I've known plenty of people who were raped or molested or harassed wearing jeans. The clothing doesn't matter; in the cases I'm extrapolating on, however, the person's clothing choice was the catalyst for their harassment.

I have been sexually harassed in lolita, and so have many other people. Almost all lolitas (or at least, almost all the lolitas I know) have stories of people who tried to take pictures up their skirts, touch them inappropriately, proposition them or make unwanted sexual advances. It is assumed that because someone is wearing unusual clothing, they are doing it because they want attention, and some modern barbarian decides that it's their responsibility to teach that person a lesson, because god forbid someone likes to be looked at; or it is assumed that it is a sexual fetish and, since they're parading it around in front of everyone, they clearly deserve whatever some scum decides to give to them.

This is something that is faced by many people every single day, because of the society they live in: their neighborhood or their upbringing or any other number of things. Those of us with the privilege not to have to fight that at all times must recognize this; it is incredibly solacing to me that I can walk out of my house and take a train or go to the library or the movies and not have to constantly fear for my own safety. I am incredibly thankful for it, and I am thankful for the privilege it allows me to dress in ways that inadvertently  happen to get attention without much threat to my own person. However, not everyone is this lucky. I think, first and foremost, that there is a certain amount of privilege inherent in people who wear alternative fashion, and that it's important right here and now to acknowledge that.

That being said, just like a person does not deserve to be molested simply because they are wearing revealing clothing, my friends and I deserve to be able to go out for a drink or dinner and not feel like our own safety is in jeopardy because we're wearing petticoats or top hats or ballerina heels. To me, it seems like this should be obvious, but to many people in the world, it isn't. And in the privileged society we live in, when we don't like something, what do we do?

In the words of my fellow marchers: What do you do when you're under attack?

Stand up. Fight back.

The time to sit passively and hope for change is over. It's such a cliche these days, but our ancestors fought hard so that we'd have the right to stand up for ourselves, and it is in their honor that we must rise against oppression in every sense, in every way, even this oppression which seem minute to anyone who's never had to face it. "Why don't you just change your clothes?" they ask.

"If the woman in the short skirt isn't asking for it, which she isn't," I respond, "Why am I?"

I'm not saying join a SlutWalk. I know there are a lot of inherent problems with this particular institution, and a lot of people are very, very opposed to them. However, when I decided to participate in SlutWalk NYC, I decided that the controversy surrounding it, while at times well-deserved, did not negate the positivity of its message in my mind. If you disagree, if the wrongs that are attributed to it overwhelm the rest of this movement, I'm not asking you to ignore that and march with a group you disagree with. However, I am saying that you should not sit passively back. Find a movement and join it. Do something to raise your voice because you have the right to and what's the point in having rights we don't use? What's the point in just complaining about the problems in the world if you're not actually doing something to fight it?

Or don't. Don't march, don't shout, don't kick up a fuss every time you're laughed at, stared at, screamed at. But if that's the course of action you choose, don't be upset when nothing changes. Our society is lazy and it likes the way things are: it'll only change with constant prodding and poking and forcing it to, and if you don't do it, who will?

Most pictures are from Pavement Pieces - I lost the source for the close-up of Remi and I, so if it's yours please let me know!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Daily Outfit 10/1/11 - SlutWalk NYC


...Okay, now that THAT'S out of my system! This weekend was SlutWalk NYC, and my friend Remi and I marched together in lolita to share our experiences and lend our voices. I'm going to do an article about why I think it's super important for followers of alternative fashion to get behind movements like SlutWalk, but for now, here's what I wore!!

Headband: AliceBands
Cutsew: AatP
Skirt: Handmade (off the comm)
Socks: Metamorphose
Shoes: Bodyline
Parasol (which I didn't actually bring): Angelic Pretty

The walk itself was amazing; it was absolutely above and beyond the best moment of my life. Unfortunately, during the speeches afterwards there was a massive downpour, and Remi and I had to go take shelter in Forever 21. I also brought my camera totally ready to take a crapton of pictures AND videos, and of course forgot to charge the battery. FAIL! But I've found a few pictures of us with our sign (which said, "Am I asking for it, too?"), so as soon as I've contacted the photographers and requested permission to use them they'll be up! Look out for my full article about it, too :)

EDIT: The article is up! Check out The Importance of Protest to Alternative Fashion here

PS- check out my new hair! I think this is the first pictures I've posted here with this cut. I love it, but it'll be better when it grows out a bit- the stylist wanted to make sure it had enough volume, but he ended up making it a bit bushier than I'd like it, haha!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Little Tidbits: Fall layout and musings on Japan

First of all, check out my new fall/winter layout! I wanted something that would reflect both the changing of the seasons (theoretically, at least- today was in the high 70s and mostly sunny. I wish fall would hurry itself up!) and the new direction I'm taking my blog in, which is away from solely lolita and into other alternative fashions. This layout is more mature and earthy and I think it suits my personality, blogging style, and aesthetic much more than the last one! The photograph in the header is by Nina Lin, an incredibly talented friend of mine from New York. What do you guys think? I have a few more changes in the works for it, too, but those will come over the next few weeks.

Secondly, in my last post, I mentioned that I was doing an assignment that might interest you guys: a few paragraphs of descriptive writing about Japan. The assignment for my creative writing class was to devote a paragraph each to three different places you had been- just open up and write every detail you can remember about them, no matter how long-winded it becomes (kiss of death for me, if you know my writing style!) A few people expressed interest, so I figured, since it's kiiiiinda relevant (is there really anyone here who isn't a Japonophile?), I may as well tack it on to this housekeeping post!

The first paragraph, describing a closed kindergarten I passed by on my way to school during my third trip (senior year of high school, rural Japan):

 Himawari Youchien had its door barred. All that showed above the garage-like barricade was the sign, a hand-painted sunflower and simple hiragana labeling the kindergarten. I passed by it every day for ten days on the two mile walk from the train station to my high school. The road wound like a vine down the hillside, and I was always struck by the iconicity of the scene; winding mountain roads in rural Japan are like endless plains are to Nebraska, or urban sprawl to LA. On one side was a small water garden, a pond with an elaborate waterfall and lilies floating like candles for the dead. On the other side squatted a plain white building made of something akin to brick but almost plasticine in its glossiness, and further down the road had to swerve sharply to avoid a small corn field half the size of my American backyard. The steps up to the small door were cracked and lichened; if they were an alcove there would be a thick layer of very unJapanese dust covering them. There was an ancient, rusting padlock on the gate, and the windows were harshly curtained with yellowed linen that might once have been white. The brightly-painted yellow sunflower, its fresh green leaves and succulent-looking stem were a harsh, confounding contrast to the general feeling of abandonment and disuse.

And the second, about Meiji Jingu in Tokyo:

(My own picture, these are the two oak trees in the first courtyard.)

There was a certain stillness in the air that breezed breathily through the ancient oaks. The only sound was the crunch of gravel and the murmur of pilgrims punctuated pizzicato by their clap-clap-clapping, and then drowned out by the big bell ringing the prayers up to the Shinto gods. The first courtyard of the shrine was nearly empty; aside from a periphery of scattered stalls where shrine maidens sold ema and cell phone charms – charms for lovers, for students, for drivers, for pets – the only things there were two massive trees. They were rung round with prayer boards, a wooden circle with rows of pegs hung sometimes nine boards deep, and most of them read the same things. I pray that I make it into university, I pray that I pass my exams, I pray that my sister finds a boyfriend, I pray that my mothers gets well, I pray for world peace. They were written in Japanese but also in English, in French, in German, in Korean. The second courtyard is a vast emptiness with archways on each side leading to paths through the surrounding forest, and at the opposite end is a huge arched doorway, through which a large rope and slatted box are visible in the darkness. There were people nearby, taking pictures or tossing coins into the box and clap-clap-clapping their prayers, women in modest skirts and sandals and men in polo shirts and khakis contrasting harshly with the white-and-red kimonoed miko sweeping floors and raking gravel, their long black hair tied into ponytails at their napes.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Quotes for the Lolita: Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson

I'm starting to think I have a problem with finding ways to associate fine literature with lolita fashion. Oh well, at least it makes blogging easier! One of my favorite classes right now is an English course called "The American Renaissance," focusing on American writers from the 1803's-1860's- think Thoreau, Melville, and, my current focus, Emerson. This weekend we were assigned his essay "Self-Reliance," which was written around the 1830's or 40's and discusses the importance of non-conformity and being true to one's self. Now, while Emerson was writing to and for male academics of his era, I've been struck during this reading by how pertinent it is to followers of lolita fashion, who mostly have to follow their own internal compass but often get bogged down by the "rules." Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the essay, all of which I think a lolita could really benefit from:

"There comes a time in every [hu]man's education where he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide."*
"Whoso would be a [hu]man, must be a nonconformist"* 
"My life is for itself and not for a spectacle."
"What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude."
"[...]conformity makes them not false in a few particulars, authors of a few lies, but false in all particulars. Their every truth is not quite true. [...]every word they say chagrins us and we know not where to begin to set them right."
"To be great is to be misunderstood."
"Insist on yourself; never imitate. Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life's cultivation; but the adopted talent of another you have only an extemporaneous half possession."
"Do that which is assigned to you, and you cannot hope too much or dare too much."
"For everything that is given something is taken. Society acquires new arts and loses old instincts."

 *Note: The original quote uses the gender-specific word "man;" however, it can still be surmised that Emerson was speaking to all people, not just penis-bearing individuals, hence my edit.

What is the lesson that can be taken away from these quotes, and how does it relate to lolita? Well, if you haven't picked up on it so far (you must be new here...), I am all for sartorial self-reliance. I believe it is the natural state of a person's aesthetics to be constantly evolving, and if one forces oneself to pigeon-hole into one style they are doing a disservice to themselves and their society- or subculture, as the case may be. It is only through standing on one's own feet and supporting one's own ideas that one reaches their true potential. This isn't to say that finding and using inspiration isn't important; however, one must take the essence or the details of an inspiring source (the softness of textures in mori-girl, or gyaru-style stilettos) and absorb them into one's own fashion without emulating the source outright. It's only through experimentation and absorption that a person's fashion style evolves, not through emulation and mimicry.

What do you think? Do you agree, or do you think that emulation is the sincerest form of flattery? Or do you think that I should shut up and stop pretending that Emerson was writing about floofy dresses and petticoats when he wrote this essay?

Oh, I've just remembered! My assignment for my creative writing class this week is about establishing setting, and our homework was to write three paragraphs about a place we've been. Mine's still in the works, but it will be three paragraphs about places I've been in Japan. Would you all like to see it when it's done? I know a lot of people have been asking for more detail about my Japan trip - I know, I know, I still owe you one article on it- it's coming, promise!  - so if you're interested that'll be posted later this week! ♥

(Picture from F Yeah Nerdy Lolitas on Tumblr and originally posted to the sew_loli livejournal community)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Operation LoliBlog: The Balancing Act

School, work, family, and friends- we all have them, to some varying degree. Let's face it: as little as it can seem like it at times, there exists a life outside of our computer and away from our blogs. Not only is there nothing wrong with that as a blogger, if anything our passions and commitments make us stronger as writers because our experiences give us more to pull inspiration from. For example, my Literary Lolita series is based entirely off of books I'm studying in school as an English major, and almost all of my daily outfits are coordinates I put together for a day in the city with my friends. However, as a blogger, one will often encounter the problem of budgeting their time, and while this is true for all of one's commitments, as a blogger it seems to be even more pivotal. It's so important for us to take the time out to write, to brainstorm, to create truly inspired pieces for our adoring public while also being a source of catharsis and relaxation for the blogger. But when you're taking five classes and working two jobs and still have friends and dates and family (who has two thumbs and all of the above? This guy!), it can get hectic, to say the least, and often your blog will be the last thing on your mind. There's one little trick that can make this whole blogging thing that much easier, and that is a magical thing called scheduled posting.

And it isn't only you who benefits. Having a blog schedule makes blog-reading easier. Say your readers regularly read a large amount of blogs: I'd say most people have a handful they check often, some have over thirty on their blogroll or RSS feed, while some have over a hundred bookmarked that they look at only rarely. All of these readers' relationships with blogs is made possible by schedules. The blogs that they check every day are often updated every day; those which are read only through an RSS feed may update two or three times a week; and those which are checked only a handful of times a month probably update as many times sporadically. How often do you update? How many of your casual readers could you upgrade into devoted followers if you only changed your blogging schedule?

Scheduling posts doesn't only make blog-reading easier. It's also a great way for you to keep track of your blog. If you have a busy lifestyle and only find yourself able to sit down and write once or twice a month, you have two options: only post once or twice a month, or on these days, sit down and crank out three or four articles at once and schedule them to post for you throughout the week. It's a choice with one determines for oneself, based upon what one can realistically accomplish.

More importantly, though:
If you're having trouble meeting the needs of your blog, though, it may be time to reevaluate, and now I'm not just talking about scheduling but in general. If you're no longer happy, engaged, or interested in your blog, something's gotta give or this ennui is going to show, either in your own satisfaction with your work or that of your readers. While I'm not telling you to stop blogging completely, it's important to have a creative outlet that you can keep up with. It may be time to decide what of your needs your blog is meeting and on which it's falling flat. For example, I consider Miss Lumpy to be a blog where I discuss in-depth ideas on fashion and lifestyle, and that's what it always has been and always will be. However, when I started college, I realized that, even though it certainly went into philosophy, it was lacking a certain depth that I craved. One thing I was really loving about my English classes was the literature I was studying and how I related that in my mind with all of the above topics, so I started a blog series based on that (which is still being updated often despite already being a few years old). That being said, this blog is still not feeding my needs as a writer, an artist, and a person, so I have come to the conclusion that it is time to reevaluate.

As my personal aesthetic turns further from lolita and I begin to branch out in my sartorial desires, not to mention my interests outside of fashion, I am finding the current state of this blog to be less and less satisfying to write. If you've noticed a lack of lolita-based philosophy articles in the past few months, that would be why. That's why, as a new school year begins and I continue growing and evolving into a higher version of myself, I have decided that it's time not to grow away from this blog, but to start including other sides of myself. There is so much about myself that I find personally satisfying - my intellect, my personal relationships, my experiences and hopes and dreams - which I'm yearning to discuss with all of you and encourage all of you to share as well. I've done this a few times in the past, and it's been something I've wanted to do more of ever since. Consider this a warning, then, and I apologize from deviating so much from my original topic of keeping of with your blog (consider this the section of "making your blog keep up with you"), that things are going to change around here; I'll probably start leaning away from the strictly lolita side of things and include more of my life than I normally would. I'm taking a creative writing course this semester, as well as some really interesting history courses, so don't be surprised if you see more than a few related posts on those subjects!

In the end, the important thing to remember is that, as a blogger, you blog for yourself. You may have thousands of adoring fans or you may have a private blog open only to your dearest friends, but either way, in the end your blog needs to be about yourself and what satisfies you as a writer and a person in need of creative expression. Otherwise, what's the point?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Literary Lolita: On the Sweet Lolita's Bookshelf

What makes a work of literature a sweet lolita piece? Sweet lolita literature is a different breed from gothic and classic lolita. It is from a much different time period, starting about 1800 and going through the 1980's. Like the fashion itself, sweet lolita literature is more modern than its counterparts, but it is also focused on Europe and North America. Children's literature features heavily, especially those books which are written seemingly as children's novels, but are actually geared more towards adults. Other common themes are uniqueness, love, self-exploration, and the beauty of the world around the subject. Sweet lolita literature is light and effervescent with deeply-resonating undertones.

On the Sweet Lolita's Bookshelf...

In no particular order:
  • The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • The Serendipity book series by Stephen Cosgrove, especially Flutterby
  • A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  • Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll
  • Tales of my Mother Goose by Charles Perrault
  • The Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti
  • Any anthology by Shel Silverstein, but especially A Light in the Attic
  • Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Margaret
  • Andrew Lang's Fairy Books, compiled by Andrew Lang
  • Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

As always, fellow lolitas! What's on your sweet lolita required reading list?

And this concludes the Lolita Required Reading series! I may end up doing a few more, or maybe just one big post of a few lists for specific substyles, but I think everyone is sick of seeing these things by now! Sorry that this post is a little late, I was in Boston all week with friends and now I'm running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to get ready for school before the hurricane hits. Sigh!

art in this post by Cinnamoron on DeviantART

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Literary Lolita: The Gothic Lolita's Bookshelf

What makes a work of literature a gothic lolita piece? A work of gothic lolita literature is a little more broad time-wise than the classic lolita pieces; it can include everything from the Bible to modern vampire novels. However, for these works, I drew mainly on a similar time from as the classic lolita pieces, namely around the 1500's-1900's, also mainly written in Europe and North America. Gothic literature is actually its own genre, so this list taps greatly into those classics with a few other unexpected additions. Victorian horror is a heavy hitter in this list, but early science fiction and fantasy also make an appearance. Common themes in gothic lolita literature are, obviously, gothic classics like vampires and murder but also the supernatural in general, malaise with society, ennui, discontent with the modern world, and a deep-seated feeling of one's own strangeness. It is an escape from the false brightness of modern life like a London or Paris back alley; dark and shadowy, these works have a slightly foreboding air and rarely end happily.

On the Gothic Lolita's bookshelf...

In no particular order:

  • The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells
  • Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe
  • A Modest Proposal by Johnathan Swift
  • Grimm's Fairy Stories by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Anything by Edgar Allen Poe but especially his poetry and short stories
  • Les Fleurs du Mal by Charles Baudelaire
  • The Legends of King Arthur and His Knights by Sir James Knowles
  • Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • The Duchess of Malfi by John Webster
  • A Light in August by William Faulkner
  • Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
I have to admit, as someone who doesn't dapple much in gothic lolita or gothic fashion in general, this was a difficult one for me! So I encourage my more gothically-inclined followers to please add your suggestions to the comments section below! I'd love to see what you all recommend~

Monday, August 8, 2011

Literary Lolita: The Classic Lolita's Bookshelf

You know I love anything related to literature, so today it occurred to me, just for fun, to make a list of my reading recommendations for lolitas. However, as I was thinking about it, I realized that the books I wanted to recommend may not really inspire followers of every style, so I'm breaking them down into sub-styles. This is my required reading list for lovers of classic lolita; if it goes over well, I'll work on gothic and sweet lists, too!

What makes a work of literature a classic lolita piece? It was probably written between 1600-1900 in Europe or North America. This collection focuses mainly on novels but also includes essays, plays, and poetry. Early science fiction and the pastoral convention feature heavily. It focuses on themes like the domestic sphere, nature versus society, tradition, art and its importance to the human soul, science and its effects on humanity, and the importance of knowledge of oneself and the world around one. Like the lolita herself, it is classic and timeless with an implication of scandalous experimentation which, though it would cause little commotion these days, certainly rustled the petticoats of its time.

On the Classic Lolita's Bookshelf...

In no particular order:

  • Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe
  • Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
  • Walden by Henry David Thoreau
  • Beauty and the Beast by Marie Le Prince de Beaumont
  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • A collection of fairytales by Hans Christian Andersen
  • The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • The Passionate Shepherd to his Love by Christopher Marlowe
  • Anything by Shakespeare but especially As You Like It, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelfth Night, or King Lear, or most of his sonnets.
  • A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf
  • The Poet by Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by Anonymous
  • Il Canzonere by Francesco Petrarch
  • L'Allegro and Il Penseroso by John Milton

Fellow classic lolitas! What's on your bookshelf?

Part of the Literary Lolita series

Thursday, July 21, 2011

An American Lolita in Tokyo: Outfit Snaps

So despite my best efforts, I didn't end up getting photos of what I wore every day. I did warn Stefan that he'd be the official photographer in exchange for my Japanese prowess, but even still, I felt bad stopping him every few hours and being like "WAIT TAKE ANOTHER OVER HERE!" I did manage to document most of the days, though!

Here they are in order. I have a few towards the end where I'm not certain which day they're from, but for the most part I did pretty well!

Day 1: NOT scaring the rural folk in Hakone with lolita clothing:
Dress: H&M
Shrug: F21

Explored scenic Hakone-Yumoto. It was really important to me that Stefan see both urban Tokyo and a more suburban area, since so few people get to do so. Because our trip was extended by two days, we were able to spend one taking in the breathtaking natural beauty of central Tohoku.

Day Two: In Transit from Hakone to Tokyo
All offbrand- Target and JC Penney, I think.
purely practical outfit for navigating shinkansen, subway, and the trek through Ikebukuro. Luckily it was waaaaay easier to get from Hakone to Ikebukuro than from Narita airport to Hakone. I think the trip took us a total of three or four hours. Not too bad, but still exhausting, so we just took a look around Ikebukuro after settling in.

Day 2: Ochanomizu and Akihabara, Take One. First day in lolita!
Cutsew: I Do Declare
Cardigan: H&M
Skirt: Lolita Nouveau
Socks: Meta
Headband: Cocoa Mousse
Necklace: Amaranth Opulent

Casual lolita for Ochanomizu (the music/instrument district where we purchased Stefan's guitar) and Akihabara (ended up being our most-frequented district, strangely!) I was kind of upset when this photo was taken because I realized I'd left almost all of my makeup except lipgloss and mascara at the hotel in Hakone D:

Day 3: Harajuku! a typhoon.
Dress: BABY, the Stars Shine Bright
Purse: Mother Garden
Socks: Betsey Johnson
Shoes: Bodyline
Hair nest: Amaranth Opulent

Met up with a wonderful expat for soggy, typhoon-laden shopping. The ridiculous weather didn't stop me from going about my business, though (Stefan was shocked at how many people were still out and about- bad weather in America means pretty much everything stops) - I still dropped a couple hundred in Closet Child and Wonder Rocket almost entirely. I have no regretssss ♥
Day 4: Mori-inspired-gyaru or gyaru-inspire-mori or some shit like that,
Dress: MoMo by Wonder Rocket
Cardigan: Emily Temple Cute
Socks: Tutu*anna
Shoes: Target?
Headband: Cocoa Mousse
Necklace: Amaranth Opulent

Went to the Tokyo Tower in this one, as well as Zojo-ji, which is one of my favorite temples. It's famous for allowing people to take pictures like this:

which is just cool. (ohai, Stefan!) We also had a nice chat with some businessmen who were helping us find the nearest train station, in which they asked why we had decided to come to Japan now and why we weren't scared of radiation poisoning. Ohhh, Japan.

Aaaaaaand from there it gets a bit hazy. That's the last of the regimented "this definitely happened on this day" photos.
I thiiiink the next day we met up with some more expats to shop around Ikebukuro's Sunshine City shopping center (which was awesooome!). Excuse the silly shoes! We were a little early, so we went to relax in the sun on the hotel's terrace, and as shoes are not permitted inside the hotel, we were required to wear outdoor shoes.

  Dress: BABY, the Stars Shine Bright

Bolero: Bodyline
Purse: Angelic Pretty (Late birthday present from Stefan!)
Socks: Secret Shop
June 1st was spent revisiting the places we wanted to explore more fully- Sunshine City Mall (holy beans, I could've probably spent two full days there), Harajuku, and Akihabara. Unfortunately I didn't get a full outfit shot, but here are a few bits to piece together, haha:

 Not gonna lie, with was mostly to show off my crepe. Chicken curry crepe ftw!

Dress: Alice and the Pirates
Blazer: BABY, the Stars Shine Bright
Purse: Angelic Pretty

And then, shopping in Shinjuku! We met up with another American who was also on vacation for an hour or two and went to Marui. Then Stefan and I had lunch at Italian Tomato (which was surprisingly good!) and donuts at Mister Donut for dessert.

And Stefan, the ever-charming and ever-manly:

So there you have it! There's only one Japan post left, and that'll be a Q&A answering questions anyone has. Please leave questions in the comments below this entry or e-mail me by clicking the button in the sidebar to ask your questions about traveling in Japan!


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