Friday, September 28, 2012

Lolita Blog Carnival: Three Budget-Friendly Coordinates under $100

This week, the Lolibloggers of LBC are blogging with the budget-conscious in mind! Our challenge this week was to create a fab coordinate for less than $100. Well, as everyone here knows, I have a problem with designing coordinates - or, more accurately, with stopping. I was designing these with a beginner lolita in mind, so I thought, why stop at one? Someone new to the fashion is going to want ideas on building their wardrobe; they're not going to want to buy a single-use outfit that doesn't have any other practical application. So I took one skirt - $40 by the Etsy shop Eat Me, Ink Me - and built three outfits that are definitely different and aimed towards different temperatures/times of the year, but that still have the cohesive style which we recommend that newbies develop so that coordinating within their wardrobe is that much easier.

An easy way to do this challenge would've been to hop on any of the awesome, wallet-friendly lolita shops on TaoBao. However, because my first priority is always to support small artisans when possible, I decided that this would be a great opportunity to represent some of the amazing crafters and vintage shops on Etsy, so I took as many items as I could find that suited the aesthetic and price point, and then filled them in with easily-accessible Western stores, some of which sell online, others which populate every mall worth its fluorescent lighting and fatty food court. The key to these coordinates is accessibility, because for so many girls who are just starting out, the idea of buying a full outfit online and then paying all those shipping fees/customs can be really intimidating. So instead of just designing a cheap coord, I took it a step further by making three $100 outfits using only items from easily-accessible stores, because god forbid I let anything be easy on me! But I love making coordinates, so the challenge just made it even more enjoyable for me!

Before I get to the outfits, you may be wondering- what on earth is a Lolita Blog Carnival? Well, it's a group of Lolibloggers like myself who all blog together about the same topic on the same day. The topics are voted on at the Facebook group and a deadline is set, and everyone works on their articles until the posting deadline. At the end, we all link to each others' entries at the bottom of our own, so all of our lovely readers can see what other participating Lolibloggers had to say.

skirt  ♥ hair clip ♥ blouse ♥ shoes ♥ socks
This first example uses a vintage blouse, glittery flats from Forever 21, thick ankle socks from Sock Dreams, and an adorable hand-crafted leaf hair clip to echo the floral pattern in the skirt. I see this as being a perfect outfit for early summer, when it's just warm enough to feel the breeze on your calves, but not quite warm enough for short sleeves.

blouseheadbandtightsearringsshoes ♥  skirt

This time, I went for a more toned-down approach, opting for a cheaper blouse from Forever 21 so I could give my newbie loli a little wiggle room with her accessories. For a casual summer outfit like this, I wanted something that would be easy and breezy (and certainly beautiful!) for long, hot days spent at ice cream parlors or boardwalks.

skirt ♥ ringheadbandsocksblousenecklaceclutchbelt
With this last one, I cheated a little bit. I figured, at this point, our lolita had invested in a proper pair of shoes for herself, or that she could reuse one of the two other pairs of flats I've already given her, so I gave her some more budget-room to build up a collection of accessories which would work with almost any of the other coordinates. This outfit reminds me of early fall, the type of weather I'm in right now - sheer fabrics because it's warm in the sun, but you can still definitely feel a nip in the air that warns of changing winds. I hope my budget-loli is saving up for a winter coat!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Lolita Makeup Review: They're Real! Mascara by Benefit

A few weeks ago, I was killing some time downtown while waiting for my boyfriend to get off work, and somehow I ended up, after a good bit of coaxing, in the makeover chair of a Benefit boutique. While we began by discussing concealers, after hearing that I had a couple minutes to waste, my sales associate ended up going to town and showing me a huge host of her best-sellers du jour. One of these was the brand new They're Real! Mascara, which I was told is currently the best-selling mascara in the world - and let me tell you, I can see why!

The marketing for this product is something I'm still on the fence with- it plays off of aspects of femininity which are often "faked" by women, alluding specifically to plastic surgery such as boob jobs, to go with the false-lash effect the mascara imparts. On the one hand, it's sexy without being demeaning, and in my opinion, kind of empowering - it says that whether you're "real" or "fake" (eg, whether yours is natural or artificially-enhanced beauty) is your own damn business, not the casual observer's, so why not keep them wondering? On the other hand, it does hold up this obsession with secretly-artificial beauty which, masquerading as natural, therefore means that people have to work harder to be considered attractive to society, which distances themselves from their own natural beauty.

However, as someone who really doesn't mind looking "fake" sometimes, I'm not terribly bothered by this. Which is convenient, really, because this mascara is honestly mind-blowing! As a lolita who's always had problems with false lashes (*shakes fist at latex allergy*), I'm a huge fan of over-the-top mascara. My associate put the mascara first on only one eye and held up the mirror - and I must admit, I was so shocked I burst out laughing! It honestly looked like I had just put on a pair of large and noticeable but still natural-style false lashes, and I immediately demanded the product be sold to me - after, of course, it was applied to my left eye as well as my right.

The mascara itself thickens, lengthens, AND curls- my eye shape is slightly asymmetrical, so I usually have to curl my left lashes even when I'm not curling my right so they look the same, but I was impressed to see that I didn't need to do that with this! My naturally long, thickish lashes were enhanced to falsie-proportions as well. This is combined with a pretty interesting wand, which has little spikes sticking off the ends- hard to see in this picture (indeed, hard to photograph at all, especially when you forget to clean it off first...). These are designed for getting in really close to the shorter, thinner lashes on the inner corners of the eyes and also the lower lashes, if you swing like that. It leads to greater accuracy when detail is needed and, therefore, a better end result with fewer mistakes.

Left: just with mascara. Top right: totally bare. Bottom right: with full make-up

It's a bit hard to see in these pictures, as, well, I'm still getting used to my new phone's camera (fancy phones with fancy phoneography! Welcome to the 21st, Lumps!), but even still, you can see how much thicker my lash line looks, as well as how much wider it makes my eyes. Combined with full make-up, my eyes are more prominent, rounder, and more doe-like.

As much as I love this product and don't regret the impulse buy, it's probably not something I would have bought if I'd thought about it a little more. I'm more inclined to buy mascara that can be layered so that I can put a less noticeable coat on for work or casual wear, and then add a bit more for nightwear or lolita, and at $23 a pop, this mascara isn't exactly as multi-faceted as I would have hoped. However, it works amazingly at what it's intended for. Also, it's worth it to point out that you're gonna wanna go with the industrial-strength makeup remover for this bad boy - if I don't, or if I only give it a quick, lazy wipe, I'm left with black gunk under my eyes for about three regular soap-and-water washes. While this reflects well on how long-lasting this mascara is (definitely not going to need to reapply over the course of the day!), it's also kind of frustrating, as it deters me from wearing this product on lazy days when I may not want a whole face-load of makeup. Again, works great, but makes it a much less versatile product than I'd prefer for the price point.

Verdict: Four out of Five. This can do amazing things, and I definitely recommend it, but its lack of versatility means it didn't deserve a perfect score, in my book.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Calling all Creators - EGL's 11th Anniversary!

Can you believe it's already been eleven years since the egl community on livejournal was born?! I absolutely can't! It's nice to know that, despite having been pointedly inactive in the past few years, I've still been one of a memeber for almost two-thirds of its life. It's with much excitement that I announce on their behalf to all of my lovely followers, for those who've forsaken the community in favor of fashion hermitage (such as myself- totally would've missed it if Caro hadn't messaged me about it this weekend!), that they're holding a call for creations in honor of their faithful followers! They're also going to be doing contests and giveaways over November and December, so personally I'm adding them back to my blogroll, and you should too! As for the potential prizes, everything will be products from community-based indie companies - it's possible that my own brand, Amaranth Opulent, may have a few pieces in the mix as well.

Heads up, cuties- this is an awesome way for loli-bloggers or creative entrepreneurs to get your name out there, and also to give back to the community! Even though I've had a rocky relationship with egl in the past, I can't deny that I certainly owe them a lot from my own days as a newbie, just discovering the fashion, lost down a dark, winding road of scratchy lace and square dance petticoats with no hope of finding the light, except for the loving, caring community of egl. (#hyperbole!)

So far, I'm planning to submit two pieces: one for the "lolita and feminism" prompt and another that Caro suggested, "lolita and sexuality," which will probably either be for the former,"Thoughts on EGL & the internet Lolita community," or "Thoughts on the Lolita Lifestyle." Either way, I am super excited to see what everyone thinks! Here's a snippet from the second of the two, the first draft of which is already finished:

"A pretty big proportion of a lolita's time discussing the fashion with those not in-the-know is spent saying things like, 'Lolita is not a sexual fashion. No, seriously, it isn't.' I'm pretty sure that most psychologists would say that, the more one says something aloud, the more it's internalized in one's own mind, too, meaning it's not a far jump from 'Lolita is not a sexual fashion' to 'Lolitas are not sexual people.' From this, it isn't hard to begin vilifying any lolita who associates with deviant sexuality, and from there, any openly sexual lolita at all."
 Information on how to enter can be found here, in the main post on the egl community.

By the way, the main article makes it sound like they only want writing samples, but in her post on our local community, Caro says anything like art, comics, creative writing, etc will be accepted, so bear that in mind when deciding if you want to take part! Want to contribute, but not sure how? Here are some ideas, ranging from quick and simple to more elaborate and impressive:

  • Write a short essay about your first time wearing lolita on public transportation
  • Paint a picture depicting the way it felt to put on your first lolita coordinate
  • Write a series of haiku about the importance of bloomers. Or on anything, because haiku are awesome and always appropriate.
  • Bring a sketch pad to your next lolita meetup do quick sketches of your fellow guests - ask permission first, of course!
  • Take your first picture of yourself in lolita, mimic it in pose, location, lighting, etc with your current style, and juxtapose them next to each other in the same image with photoshop or similar
  • Write a short story or poem about a lolita at a museum whom everyone thinks is part of an exhibit
  • Turn the fable "The Tortoise and the Hare" into an allegory for coming into your own as a lolita
  • Compose a rap about the first time you wore lolita, and set it to Japanese shamisen music
One of my favorite things about lolitas is the immense amount of creativity they're capable of- everything from coordination skills to crafting to my fellow loli-bloggers, all of it seriously blows me away. I find I'm constantly stunned at what this community is capable of when we funnel our energies into positivity instead of negativity, so I am beyond excited to see what we can come up with.


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