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Alternative Fashion: Lolita Fashion

Updated on April 15, 2020
Nicole Val profile image

Nicole is a college student majoring in Civil Engineering. During her spare time, she is finding fashion trends that she enjoys.

Alternative fashion has its fair share of styles ranging from emo to pastel goth. However, there is a one certain style that goes away from all the dark clothing and edgy appearance. This style is called Lolita fashion. Originating from Japan, Lolita fashion has become known and loved by many people across the world. With the frills, pastel colors, and Victorian influenced clothes: What is the history of Lolita fashion, and how did it become so popular around the world?

What is Lolita Fashion?

Before starting, it is important to note that Lolita fashion is not related to the novel of the same name written in 1955. Although it is unfortunate that this is style shares the same name of the novel, many people believe that this style has a bad connotation to it due to it's name. However, that is not the case. Lolita is a fashion subculture that originated in Japan is known for it's Victorian and Edwardian influenced clothing from the Rococo era. The fashion subculture is known to embody the aesthetic of cuteness in an elegant manner. It has different categories of style such as sweet, Gothic, punk, classic, and kodona. There are many more categories of style for a Lolita, but these are the most well known.

There are many different categories that Lolitas can wear if they wish to do so.
There are many different categories that Lolitas can wear if they wish to do so. | Source

A Quick Timeline of Lolita

Lolita fashion does not have a clear origin, there are events to that led to the start of the fashion subculture. In the late 1970s, Japan was experience a new social movement called Otome-kei, where Otome means maiden. This movement had influenced Lolita fashion later on since the maiden style for this movement looks similar to modern day Lolita fashion. However, the rise in popularity in cuteness was already taking place in the early 1970s. Sanrio (the company that had created Hello Kitty) started experimenting with new designs to fit the kawaii style (where kawaii means cute in Japanese), which was becoming even more popular during the 1980s. After the Otome-kei trend, a new a style started emerging, called Doll-kei, the forerunner of Lolita fashion.

During the 1980, brands like Pink House, Milk, and Angelic pretty started to produce and sell clothing marketed to appeal to those who desired cute clothing, a new style was created, which would later be known as Lolita. A decade later, Lolita started to become more accepted, where media and music influences like bands from visialkei trends started adopting the Lolita style. Later on, the Harajuku bridge (or Jingu Bashi) became the meeting place for Lolitas and other alternative fashion lovers. It started becoming more popular causing and increase in Lolita fashion stores, and being seen in more well-known fashion magazines. In the late 90s, the fashion subculture started to become known in other countries besides Japan, and stores started slowly popping up in many different parts of the world.

The Emergence of Lolita Fashion in fashion magazines
The Emergence of Lolita Fashion in fashion magazines

How to Dress Lolita

After learning what is Lolita fashion and how it came to be known around the world, there is only one question: How does one dress Lolita? Lolita fashion tries to have a style that is intended to blend feminine, sophisticated, and a little aristocratic elements with a cute, fantasy like aesthetic. This being said, with the heavy influence that it has from the Victorian era and Rococo era, there is a lot of corsets, lace, ruffles, and other vintage pieces in the mix.

The most defining quality of a Lolita is the silhouette of their clothing. In general, Lolita usually wear petticoats and crinolines on their skirts to fluff up their outfits and bring more of a cupcake shape. With the cute shape and design of the dresses, it is surprising to some people to know that pastel colors aren't always the essential to dress Lolita. As said before, there are many different categories of Lolita ranging from pastels to gothic styles.

Usually, a Lolita outfit usually consists of a lace blouse, with an over the knee, voluminous skirt or dress, with a petticoat or crinoline underneath. A few accessories that can be added to the outfit would be a frilly bonnet, some bow shoes, and knee or ankle socks. The basics are pretty simple to start with, so as one grows their style, they can add more accessories that will make them more comfortable.

There's a large importance on obtaining the silhouette for Lolita outfits.
There's a large importance on obtaining the silhouette for Lolita outfits. | Source

Lolita Fashion: It's more than the clothes

Lolita fashion is a very unique style, that has gained the attention of many people around the world. With their crinolines and puffy skirts, it's hard to miss a Lolita all dressed up. Dressing up isn't the only that they do though. Having tea parties is an important activities that many Lolitas participate in. It gives them a chance for them to dress up a little bit nicer and have an enjoyable lunch or dinner with a group of other Lolitas. It is more about showing their Sunday's best and having a good time with friends rather than the itself.

Lolita has a very strong community all over the world, so those inside the community have many strong bonds with other Lolitas all around the world. The passion and intense love that person has for the style really is something to be appreciate. It's not a style that is for the approval of others, rather than the approval of one's self. If it feels good and looks good, then what's the harm in trying out the style?

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


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