What is Lolita?
Tourist who visit Japan and see women wearing doll-like fashions are often curious and fascinated by the whimsical and fantasy inspired look known as Lolita. Lolita represents a fashion subculture in Japan that originated as far back as the late 1970s. Unlike many other fashion trends and fads, however, the Lolita style appears to be growing in popularity. In fact, the style has become so popular it is showing up in the United States and other parts of the world. Lolita fashion takes its inspiration from the Victorian and Edwardian era as well as Japanese anime . The Lolita look includes bell-shaped knee length skirts with ruffled petticoats worn underneath to add volume. Blouses with Peter Pan collars, knee length stockings and Mary Jane shoes also form part of Lolita street fashion.
Gothic Lolitas are instantly recognizable for their all dark attire. Most Gothic Lolitas , however, will have some white or other dark colored accents such as white stockings. Accessories also tend to incorporate dark themes such as skulls, crucifixes or coffins. Handbags, for instance, can be shaped like bats. Accessories with skulls and crosses are also a part of the look. To compliment the dark clothing, long black hair, black eyeliner, dark red lips, and a pale complexion are often emphasized. For the Gothic Lolita, the knee length style skirt may be worn but long overcoats and longer dresses are also popular.
The Sweet Lolita look is all about being girly and goes for the soft and cute porcelain doll look. Although Sweet Lolita is ultra feminine, the look is not about exposing the body or appearing vulgar, in fact most of the skin is actually covered up in this style. The typical Sweet Lolita look tends to feature a skirt or dress that hits at or just slightly above knee length. Clothing often features prints or patterns with light hearted themes such as bunnies, ice cream, strawberries, hearts, and flowers. Colors most often featured in the Sweet Lolita style are pinks, whites, soft blues, and other light colors. Lace and ribbons are often emphasized in this style for their innocent child like appeal. Bouncy curls or teased pigtails are worn in the hair along with bangs and are usually emphasized with large bows or tiaras.
Classic Lolita fashion goes for a more traditional, elegant, and toned down approach. It is often described as being more matured and classier than other Lolita styles. Colors can be light or muted while A-line skirts, high waistlines, tight bodices are often featured. Unlike many other Lolita styles, the Classic Lolita shies away from lots of bows, lace and ruffles - the look is not about whimsy or fantasy but is more based on functional items of clothing. Lace and ruffles are not completely eliminated, however, just usually limited to small accents around collars and cuffs.
Punk Lolita can often be thought of as a subsection of the Gothic Lolita. The style mixes Punk Lolita with traditional Western Punk. Unlike Western Punk, however, the goal is still to look "cute". Aesthetics found in Punk Lolita are not that different from other Lolita styles, for instance the typical Punk Lolita will wear a frilly skirt and a lace trimmed blouse. The fabrics, however, are often deconstructed and worn in layers; skirts also tend to be slightly shorter. The accessories are what really make the "punk" look. Plaid, safety pins, clunky platform heels, hats, and striped leggings are often found in the look. Makeup for a Punk Lolita is usually in between the heaviness of the Gothic Lolita look and the lighter approach of the Sweet Lolita, key features include heavy eyeliner, thick mascara, smoky eyes, and reddish lips.
Wa Lolita takes inspiration from the kimono, a traditional Japanese coat-like garment that includes long sleeves and is available in many intricate designs. To modify the gown for a Lolita look, the floor-length garment can be shortened to above the knees and ruffled petticoats added beneath. Japanese hair clips with flower designs and very high ponytails are popular accessories. Many women who choose the Wa Lolita look go with natural or subtle makeup.
Qi Lolita is quite similar to Wa Lolita but in this look, the inspiration is traditional Chinese garments. The top of an outfit is usually a qi pao ; a figure hugging silk dress with the bottom cut off and replaced by layers of frills or ruffled skirts. The bottom of the sleeves may also be removed or some of the length may be cut off and replaced with ruffles. Hair styles often borrow from traditional Chinese elements such as two high buns accessorized with hair bun covers.
Most styles of Lolita are for women, Oji , however, features traditional male clothing and can be described as "boy style". The look features popular items worn by men during the Victorian era, usually in black, white, and blue. Top hats, ruffled shirts worn with vests, and knickerbockers worn with overknee socks are elements usually seen in this street fashion. An Oji Lolita can be cute but the more mature look featuring long pants and boots is also relatively popular. Although described as male fashion, the look is actually unisex and worn by a number of women.
Guro Lolita means Gore Lolita and the style often goes for a grotesque horror movie look with visible blood and wounds often being featured. White nurses uniforms usually form the basis for the fashion as they contrast well with blood. It is possible, however, to find Guro Lolita fashions in different colors. It is also quite common, for fake blood to be stained all over the outfit for a dramatic effect. Makeup can be used to emphasize the battered or bloody look and can feature bruises on the face, fake stitches on the arms, and bloody bandages. Blood stained teddy bears, eye patches, and fake knives are also commonly featured.
The Sailor Lolita takes the nautical theme and a bit of inspiration from Japanese schoolgirl uniforms and adds in the standard elements of Lolita. Traditional sailor suits are the foundation of the look and black, navy and white colors dominate. A typical top could be a short sleeved shirt worn with a tie and puffy sleeves while skirts usually feature A-line or bell-shaped silhouettes and include pleating. Buttons and pockets are often featured on the outfit while nautical motifs such as crests or lifebuoys may be included on the outfit or as accessories. Anchors, for example, could be sewed onto pockets or the tie.
Visual Kei Influence
Visual Kei refers to a section of Japanese rock music with roots in the underground music scene that has had a major impact on Lolita fashion. The music is usually a mix of punk, metal or glam rock. Unlike other forms of music, however, just as much importance is placed on the aesthetics as the music. These aesthetics include androgyny, elaborate Victorian style costumes, outlandish hairstyles, and dramatic make up. Due to the attention to the visual elements, Visual Kei is often thought of as an art form instead of just a style. As Visual Kei gained mainstream popularity in the 1990s, its fan-base of mainly females followed the trend and began dressing up like characters from their favorite bands, especially the Gothic Lolita look. Although Lolita fashions existed prior to this, the surge of interest in Visual Kei music helped the style spread across Japan and into youth street culture.
When Lolita fashion was relatively new it was common for those who wore the style to sew their own clothing. As it has achieved mass market appeal, however, it is now possible to find a number of Lolita fashion lines which sell clothes representing the various styles. Some Lolita fashions are even showing up in Japan's retail stores. As Lolita fashions spread outside of Japan and into Europe and the United States, groups of Lolitas in these areas are meeting and interacting. Lolita fashion magazines, books, and websites devoted to the styles provide eager learners with sewing patterns, makeup tips, and photos to help them create the Lolita fashions they desire.
Lolita Pictures: Photos of young women wearing Lolita fashions.
Qi Lolita: Qi Lolita mixes Chinese style with the sweetness of Lolita fashion.
Punk Lolita: Fishnets, chains, and studs all make up the typical Punk Lolita style.