Don’t be misled by the name ‘Lolita’; there’s nothing promiscuous about this fashion and has nothing to do with Nabokov’s novel of the same name. Lolita takes inspiration from Rococo fashion with a Kawaii (cute) Japanese twist. It’s the most popular Harajuku fashion and has a growing community worldwide. There are a variety of styles within Lolita, so here’s a rundown of the main ones.
Sweet (Ama/Kote): The most popular Lolita style. Colourful wigs and pastel coloured dresses often inspired by sweets, magic and carousels. Baby the Stars Shine Bright do a classical sweet look, whereas Angelic Pretty tend to veer towards the more OTT side of sweet.
Gothic: This style is dark yet elegant. The motifs still stem from a traditional Gothic style e.g. bats, coffins etc but also incorporate bows and other cute elements. One of the biggest brands for this style is ‘Moi-même-Moitié’ which focuses mainly on Elegant Gothic Lolita. Another brand for this style which often has an alternative edge is ‘Alice and the Pirates’.
Classic: An elegant style which is more similar to the original roots of Lolita. A more modest style, classic has anything from floral patterns to classical paintings. Brands for this style would be Innocent World, Victorian Maiden and Juliette et Justine.
Other styles include: Punk, Wa (Japanese, includes kimono style dresses), Ouji/Konoda (Prince), Guro, Hime (princess), Sailor, Pirate and Ero.
The Lolita community in the UK is growing, the biggest groups are ‘The Tea Party Club’ and ‘Frills and Frolics’. Both groups organise meets about once a month, from tea parties to trips out. The Tea Party Club has organised a giant Lolita event called ‘Frock On!’ this year which will feature famous brands as well as a variety of other activities; the event will be attended by over 300 UK Lolitas! Another event which attracts Lolitas and Harajuku fashion lovers across the UK is Hyper Japan where there is usually a Kawaii catwalk; showing off the latest in Harajuku fashion styles.
Lolita fashion has a lot of rules – here’s a Lolita outfit and all the elements in it! This is me at Hyper Japan 2012! Photo by Stephanie Santiago Photography.
Wig – By popular wig brand Gothic Lolita Wigs, the long curly style with a fringe is popular in Lolita fashion. (You don’t need to wear a wig with Lolita fashion, but Lolitas often do).
Dress & Matching Headbow – Angelic Pretty’s ‘Milky Planet’.
Blouse – DreamyV, a casual style brand. If the dress has no sleeves a blouse is usually worn underneath.
Tights/Long Socks – Usually Lolitas will wear Over the Knee Socks or Knee High socks. Due to the fact that the dress is a little short on me, I choose to wear tights for modesty.
Petticoat – You can’t see it, but my Dear Celine Petticoat is adding the volume to the dress.
Bag – Matching the outfit, I chose a Kimono style bag to add a little traditional style too.
Shoes – Bodyline, a classic and popular style of Lolita shoe which isn’t too expensive.
Pink Cardigan – An off-brand cardigan I found to bring it all together!
(Alpaca not essential!)
Words: Grace St John