Lolita is a type of Japanese street fashion that is increasing in popularity worldwide. Influenced by the Victorian and Rococo eras, Lolita fashion comes in a variety of types such as gothic, sweet, classic, and punk. While color schemes and accessories may differ, common elements among Lolita include knee high skirts or dresses, petticoats, knee high socks or stockings, Mary Jane inspired shoes, ruffles, and lace.
Lolita clothing is beautiful, high quality, and unique, but not necessarily wallet friendly. Individual articles of clothing from brands such as Angelic Pretty, Innocent World, Metamophose temps de fille, Mary Magdalene, and Baby, The Stars Shine Bright can run into the hundreds of dollars. It is not uncommon for a Lolita to spend thousands of dollars on an entire wardrobe.
Want to wear Lolita fashion, but not spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on clothes? Here are a ten tips for dressing Lolita on a budget:
1) Determine what kind of look you want: Look at different pictures of people dressed in Lolita clothes to get an idea of what styles of dresses and separates you like. Pictures can be found in the Gothic and Lolita Bible (a magazine that is definitely worth the investment) and online sites such as Livejournal's Elegant Gothic & Lolita (EGL) Community. By doing your research first, you can figure out what styles you like best and focus your energy on finding similar looking items later on.
2) Determine what looks to avoid: Part of knowing what you want is knowing what you don't want. Do your research and know what types of clothes you should avoid. For starters, typical Lolita clothing is made of nice cotton or other natural fiber, uses nice lace, and provides a look of modesty.
3) Check your closet: You may have clothes that could be used as parts of a Lolita outfit, or modified into something Lolita if you have the sewing skills. Make sure to check your sock drawer for knee highs and legging, and don't forget to check your jewelry, bags, and hats!
4) Sew your own outfits: If you have good sewing skills, you can make replicas of your favorite Lolita outfits. If not, you can find someone to commission an outfit for you, preferably someone familiar with Lolita fashion. A number of individual on Livejournal's EGL community make their own outfits, with some willing to make you one at a cost much cheaper than buying brand name.
5) Check thrift/vintage stores: Thrift and vintage stores can be a goldmine for Lolita fashion. When looking through the endless racks of clothes, look at whether the quality of fabric is good and whether a particular item can be used as part of a larger outfit with or without modifications. Don't forget to check the bag, shoe, hat, and jewelry sections!
6) Keep your eyes open at the mall: When shopping at the mall or your favorite department store, keep your eyes open for articles of clothing you can incorporate into your Lolita outfit. Many Lolitas have found clothes and accessories at places such as Forever 21, H&M, and Walmart!
7) Buy used lolita clothing: The EGL community has a sales portion where members sell used lolita clothes for a discounted price. The site is definitely worth a look as new items are added lately.
8) Order from budget Lolita sites: Companies such as Bodyline, Fan Plus Friend, and Anna House Fashion carry Lolita clothes at prices much cheaper than brand name. Shipping is rather high, though, so it may help to order with a friend. Additionally, quality on certain clothing items is hit or miss, so it's always important to read reviews or ask questions on the EGL community first.
9) Try Taobao: Taobao is a Chinese language shopping and auction website with sellers that offer Lolita clothing at a discount price (when yuan is converted to dollars). While this website may seem intimidating, many shopping services are available for Lolitas who do not know Chinese. These shopping services communicate with the different Taobao sites and place orders for a small fee. Again, it may help to order with a friend to save on shipping and the shopping service fee.
10) Be wary of non-reputable sellers: Always read reviews before buying from someone. The EGL Sales community has a feedback system to prevent fraud and also keeps a list of spammers. A red flag to look for are sites and sellers (such as Milanoo.com and certain eBay vendors) which steal stock pictures from brand name brands and use them as their own.
Part of the excitement of wearing Lolita fashion is finding that elusive outfit. With these tips, you'll be able to find an outfit that will make you look gorgeous and keep your wallet happy. Have fun!