November 26, 2011

When Lolita is too Sweet....

Found on Wikipedia

Lolita may be the alternative aesthetic I have studied the least, but for the past three months I have been obsessed: lurking about egl, abusing googlechrome's instant translate function as I haunt the online stores, dreaming about outfits and even trying to design my own skirts in the margins of my notebooks.

 Needless to say, the Lolita aesthetic appeals to me very much.

Again, there are far better blogs, written by actual lolitas, which explain the aesthetic and details of the fashion. To the best of my understanding, Lolita is a silhouette.

How one fills in this silhouette is a matter of taste, but can generally be divided into three main styles: Gothic, Sweet, and Classic. Of these three, Classic is my favorite. It emphasizes an elegant rather than cute look: using muted tones and simpler lines with the influence of  a Victorian lady rather than Victorian doll. 

From Mary Magdalene website

The Beautiful Side of this Aesthetic:

Lolita is primarily a fashion based aesthetic and they do that very well. My appreciation can be divided into two general categories: the quality of the garments and the reasons for wearing them.  

First, real, brand or otherwise Lolita dresses are exquisite. The attention to detail alone is worth of  the praise of an epic poem. In an age of tee-shirts and blue jeans where simplicity without structure seems to be more valued than beauty, looking at the Lolita coordinates and outfits online is akin to looking at the pictures in a fairy tale. Why have ruffles and yards of lace gone out of fashion? Why are details like pin-tucks and embroidery absent from our current clothing?

The answer is disappointing in its simplicity: time and expense. Extra fabric, quality lace, delicate hemming all costs money and takes more time to create. We have forgotten that clothing used to be an art form- not something to be picked up at Forever 21 for twenty dollars or less. So while the prices for a Lolita dress may make the un-initiated blanche at first, they are well worth the price.

The greater expense also fosters a more sustainable philosophy of clothing. In an age where entire outfits can be bought for under fifty dollars, the idea of saving up for several weeks let along months seems foreign and antiquated. But clothing which takes so much effort to purchase won’t be left crumpled on the ground after a long day’s wear. Damage will be repaired rather than signaling a toss to the good will bin.  Even if the dress no longer fits the current aesthetic, the resale value is high enough to demand constant attention and care. 

But more than the simple quality and attention to detail of the individual pieces, to achieve a proper Lolita look, it is necessary to coordinate the entire outfit well. Lolita seems to be one of the few fashion communities left that have strict rules for what does and does not fit the aesthetic. It is not enough t to wear a few petticoats under a skirt with a frilly blouse. No, the accessories must match as must the socks, shoe, headpiece, hair, and makeup. 

Lolita is not a fashion one can just throw on in the morning. It takes attention and an eye for detail that is not often cultivated in this day and age.  Naturally, anything that encourages a greater care and thought to any aspect of one’s life deserves applause. 

But more than just the quality of the fashion, the motivations for wearing Lolita are equally laudable.  Fashion today often seems to be worn out of fear of being out of style, of being unnoticed by men, or of being judged harshly. But fear should never be the motivation for any action. Lolitas are incredibly courageous to take a step back, take a deep breath, and decide that they would rater wear what they want rather than what society dictates.

 Now, most alternative aesthetics do this. But Lolita is unique in their modesty. Plenty of Gothic clubwear or Steampunk fashion still flaunt the skin or is comprised of curve hugging outfits. But Lolita focuses on modesty with longer skirts, tights or socks on the legs and high necked blouses for the tops.  Sometimes, this can come across as childish, but I believe that is a flaw in our current perceptions of fashion than a comment on Lolita.

But the largest apparent reason to dress Lolita is the sheer joy the clothing gives its followers. Personal enjoyment and satisfaction is the way one ought to live one’s life! If some outfit or clothing gives you pleasure for the sheer sake of wearing it and indulging in your own enjoyment, then it ought to be embraced. 

The Lolita Aesthetic is very pleasing to me. There are many other reasons why but these are the most encompassing and philosophical ones I can devise right now. If you want, please feel free to make any comments or corrections about my understanding of Lolita or contact me for a discussion about any alternative fashion.

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