15 March 2019

Why Photoshoots Have Been so Important in Lolita Fashion

The end results of lolita photoshoots are everywhere from catalogs and Japanese mooks, to social media and private mobile phone galleries. Closet of Frills gets a dozen new outfit posts every day, and there are over 665,000 #lolitafashion posts on Instagram at the time of writing this.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a lolita who doesn't take any photos of their coordinates in any capacity, even so much as to cherish them privately on their phone or keep track of their wardrobe collection on their personal computer. Every lolita meetup, from grandiose afternoon tea parties to smaller casual picnics, has at least an unofficial time when attendees take photos of their outfits and selfies with their friends.

And if you dig deeper, if you pause and really look at what's going on in your local community and maybe in your own behavior, you'll probably observe that lolitas really like photoshoots. Not to say everyone jumps at the chance to be a supermodel for half an hour, especially since I personally know several lolitas who are very private people and are pretty camera shy. But as a whole, photoshoots have been a big thing in lolita fashion for a long time.

Why is that? I have a few theories...

Lolita fashion is a visually artistic hobby

Unlike hobbies that appealing to other senses - such as baking, gardening, or playing an instrument - fashion is something that is intended to be seen.

Some people see their pieces as part of a collection, others see it as just another section in their wardrobe, but no matter how personally you define lolita it is an art form to put together an outfit. That's why we call outfits "coordinates", right? We coordinate different clothing pieces together into something that matches, melds, and looks visually beautiful. Lolita fashion is more intentional than throwing on an outfit of t-shirt and jeans that doesn't really spark any kind of creativity.

One of my best friends said once how she always takes time to get a bunch of photos of her coords, even though she doesn't post them all on Instagram. She sees her coordinates as art, as something ephemerally beautiful that she wants to be able to look back and remember.

Photo Credit to Brian Tokuyoshi

We want to share with others what we love

Building on the idea that creating a lolita coordinate is artistic, I believe photoshoots are a way to document your masterpiece to be able to share it with others.

Do you remember when you were a kid and you did arts and crafts in school? You came home and ran to your parents to show them your creation with a giant grin on your face. (Or something like that.) When we create something we're proud of. we want to share it with the world to get validation, praise, recognition, and all the other responses that send happy chemical signals to our brains.

Having a photoshoot enables us to show off. We had an grand vision in our heads about looking like a space princess, a fairy queen, or whatever creative idea that sparked your outfit. Maybe we spent hours hand-crafting an accessory or prop (or want to showcase an indie designer who did the same). Photoshoots let us showcase those details that mean a lot to us and that express who we are.

Not to mention some people aspire to be a lolita model, and having a photoshoot - even in the park with a "friendtographer" - lets you feel that!

We live in an age of "likes"

Not only do many lolitas dream of modeling for a big brand like Angelic Pretty or Baby, the Stars Shine Bright, but they want to be e-famous. I don't judge people who want internet fame (unless that notoriety is because someone intentionally stirrs drama and hurts people along their way) because we live in an age of external validation from the internet.

I majored in Global Studies in university, and it is definitely not an isolated trend to obsess over social media followings and "likes." Our culture and our young generations are caught up in the psychological trap of needing strangers on the internet to fawn over them or else they don't feel good about themselves.

This is where having lolita photoshoots comes in - to take better quality and more aesthetically pleasing photos that might get more "likes" on Instagram. Photos with bad lighting, blurry and grainy focus, bland posing, and background clutter (calling myself out here on my own newbie-lolita messy bedroom mirror shots...) just aren't as popular on social media.

I am in no way saying that everyone who takes part in lolita photoshoots do it for fame, but it is a very probable motivation for some.

It's how we discovered lolita

In the end, I think we like taking dozens of photos of our outfits because that's just how this fashion has been. From the early street snaps of mysterious Japanese girls who we all admired and wished we could dress like, outfit photos and fantastical photoshoots have been a tradition in our fashion subculture.

To loosely quote an old Deer Stalkers video: we do it because we like it, we do it because we can!

Photo Credit Ira Tilak

Thank you for reading my thought garbage, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject!

Also, please check out the other participants in this week's theme.

Other blogs who participated:
Cupcake Kamisama

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27 September 2018

What Lolita Wardrobe Posts Don't Show You

I get asked a lot to film an updated wardrobe tour. The last one I did was a few years ago. Why do I keep procrastinating? Because I have a daunting amount of lolita to photograph or film. Recently, in trying to motivate myself to finally do it, I had a thought.

Wardrobe posts are glamorized and polished into a perfect photogenic humble-brag. But a wardrobe post isn't going to show you what my wardrobe really looks like. Why? Because...

They don't show you what it looks like every day.

If you can look me straight in the eye and tell me that your wardrobe looks immaculate every single day, I would have a hard time believing you. Blouses aren't buttoned, socks aren't folded, dresses aren't zipped. Shit gets disorganized. It's okay, you're not alone!

It starts with saying yes to going out to dinner with some friends after a meet, coming home exhausted to throw everything in a pile and passing out. Then you get busy and forget to clean up. Then the next time you go out, you think you might as well put everything away at once and leave your lolita on the floor next to the first. Then you get busy or depressed and let the clutter pile up.

It adds up.

But it sure feels good once you finally do wash and put everything away, and you fall in love with your wardrobe again.

They don't show you the guilt, disappointment, and regret.

I always aim to plan my purchases. I don't buy pretty things just because I can, because maybe it will fit if I just lose those few holiday pounds, or because it's popular. My parents raised me to think about something a couple days before I buy something to make sure I still want it, and I do practice this. Most of the time. But every once in a while I feel...

The crushing disappointment when you order a pair of shoes from a new brand, and they are too small despite being your usual size. 

The hot tears bubbling up from your eyes when an item gets lost in the mail or damaged by the postal service. 

The pang of regret when a dress arrives looking different than the stock photo, and you wish you'd ordered the other colorway. 

The disbelief when you stop to think about just how big your collection is - "Do I really have that many pins?"

They don't show you the forgotten pieces.

When I was just starting out in lolita, I balked when people said they would lose socks, blouses, or headpieces. "Lolita is so precious, how could you possibly lose something like that? Do you just throw everything around like your normal clothes?" Yes. Yes we do.

When you have limited space to store everything like I do, some pieces get forgotten for months at a time. Sleeves and skirt folds cover up other dresses when you shove it onto the rack. Shoes get left in the car or accidentally shoved under the bed. Socks get stuck in a laundry loop (this started happening when I moved in with my boyfriend whose job is to do the laundry but never quite washes everything at once). Rings get left in different purses.

We all have pieces we like and pieces we love. We have favorites that get worn much more than others. Some of those lesser-worn things are left to collect dust because they are reserved for rare special occasions or specific holidays, and sometimes they get forgotten because you simply have too many things. 

Honestly, it's embarrassing to admit, but I spilled champagne down the front of Day Dream Bed (and since it was clear, I forgot all about it and didn't wash it after... you know where this is going). A whole year later, I thought to wear it only to discover in horror a giant brown stain! It took me a while to remember when was the last time I wore it to figure out what the stain was from. In the end, it came out easily from a simple soap wash, but the ordeal was an epiphany for me.

They don't show you the memories.

To me, each piece brings up memories of the good times I've had in them. The vacations, birthdays, tea parties, new friends, old friends, good food, and laughter.

When you look through someone else's lolita wardrobe post, you can see their style. You can see their taste in fashion and aesthetic. You could even guess their financial capabilities (although you shouldn't, sometimes you catch yourself assuming). But you can't know how a dress makes them feel or all the adventures they walked in a pair of shoes.

Because let's be honest, no matter how much we tell ourselves (or people on Rufflechat) that lolita is just clothes, our clothes means more than something to cover our bodies with. We choose to wear what expresses our creativity or identity, what makes us look good, and what makes us feel good.

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28 July 2018

8 Things I Learned From Living Alone

If you have followed me online for a while, you have probably noticed that I've been almost consistently in relationships since I was 16. I've also always lived with someone else (different family members and then later boyfriends) for my entire life. I've spent the past 30 days completely alone, and I learned a few things.

These might seem trivial, unimportant, or obvious to you if you live alone yourself. But to me they aren't.

My boyfriend is in the military and left for training this past month. It's been a test of our relationship because we know that it is inevitable that we will be spending a year apart in the future. It's been tough, but it has also been graciously a short time apart.

One month seemed incredibly daunting at first, and let me tell you that everyone who says the first two weeks are the worst... they're right. Not only was I barred from any communication with my romantic partner who I've lived with for a year, but I was left to maintain and manage the apartment all on my own. Which is something I've never done before beyond a week or so when family would go on holiday.

So I definitely learned a lot about myself, about my relationship, and about living alone. I'd like to share these with you, maybe they will provide you some insight if you are about to go out on your own as well or remind you how it is at the beginning if you've been on your own for a while.

We can all learn someone new from stepping into someone else's shoes for a moment.

Things I took for learned:

  1. It is much harder to get dressed with nobody to help zip you up, fix your lacing, or tell you if your straps are twisted in the back (forget being able to straighten them!)
  2. Being able to hide from myself. I struggle with depression and social anxiety, and being with my partner enables me to hide from my inner demons and distract myself from things for a while. Being alone really brings it all to the surface, you can't bury it under taking care of someone you love and being taken care of in return. Emotional labor keeps your mind busy, and when you don't have to do it for anyone else... you're forced to deal with your demons.
  3. The bed feels bigger both in a good and bad way. It's absolutely lovely to spread out and not get squished to the edge of the mattress in the middle of the night, but it's lonely to wake up and look over at an empty pillow.
  4. It's difficult to cook for one. I love cooking and baking, and it really makes me happy and fulfilled to feed my partner home cooked meals. But when I'm alone I have much less motivation to cook anything more complicated than stiryfry. It's hard to eyeball one-person ingredient portions, you end up with so much leftovers, and you have to do 100% of the dishes.
  5. Absence does make the heart grow fonder but at a price. You're going to have bad days where you ugly cry all over the place. Sob into your food, in traffic after work, in the shower, spotting a little thing they forgot to put away before they left. I had lots of good days (as time went on), and I've really learned to appreciate my relationship.
  6. Nobody will judge you for throwing away the ends of the bok choy. And other things. Eating, watching, listening, and generally spending time the way you want without having to think about someone else's preference is definitely a benefit to living alone. Pants are optional! The bathmat is always dry! Nobody yells at you for leaving the bedroom door open!
  7. Things stay too clean. The more people you live with, the more often you have to clean. I stress clean, so after a while I don't have anything left that's dirty. And because it's only me, it takes much longer to get dirty again. Except dishes, those never go away.
  8. Life partners just make life easier. Some stressful things happened to me during that month that were really hard for me to deal with on my own. A good support network is so vital to staying sane, but your friends have to go home eventually. Some problems you just need someone to take off your hands for a bit and reassure you that everything is going to be okay. Adulting is hard, but it is harder alone.

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21 April 2018

12 Lolita Blog Post Ideas

Someone on Rufflechat mentioned they wanted to start a lolita blog and wondered how those of us who do blog come up with unique ideas other than just reviews and outfits/events.

I get my inspiration from Rufflechat, believe it or not, and her question actually inspired this post! I may struggle with video ideas, but I rarely run out of blog post ideas. While I won't share with you my current to-write list (don't steal my thunder!), here is a list of lolita-related blog topic ideas for you to use or get inspiration from:

12 Lolita Blog Post Ideas

  1. Your lolita story/journey. Tell your readers how you discovered lolita, what it means to you, how you've grown, how you learned how to coordinate, etc. Make it personal and share your beginner ita photos!
  2. Indie brand reviews. Nobody needs to see another Angelic Pretty review (seriously, why do people keep making new ones), but new indie brands are coming out all the time that need some review love.
  3. Recent lolita projects. Crafted your own headdress, learned how to adjust shirring, or embroidered a hoop for a lolita friend? Document it with progress photos, instructions, or just your thoughts.
  4. Lolita Blog Carnival. If you have an established blog, you should really consider joining the Lolita Blog Carnival - join us for weekly topics and connect with your fellow bloggers!
  5. Opinion pieces. Your blog should be personal, people like getting to know you. Encourage discussion by opening up on your feelings about something. Recent trends, brands going out of business, street harassment, Rufflechat posts (*cough*like this one)
  6. Guides and Tutorials. Are you an expert in a certain craft? Savvy at packing lolita for trips? Love styling your hair? People like learning new things!
  7. Lolita things to do in your area. I always see people asking what to do when they travel. If you live in a popular city, document where you suggest visiting lolitas to see: the good tea houses, historical places, the cutest restaurants, shops that might carry loliable things, the best places for coord photos, etc.
  8. How to nail a substyle. If you've become a master at a difficult substyle (read: make sure you know what you're doing!), help out others with tips for how to pull it off.
  9. Lolita events. If you had the opportunity to see a fashion show, go to a unique meetup, meet a lolita designer, or traveled to another country for a big tea party - share your experience!
  10. The listicle. Even in the general blogosphere, people love list blog posts like this one. I personally love making them too!  Write lists of seasonal meet ideas, your favorite brands and why, lolita-esque media, your favorite Etsy shops, things beginners should avoid, what you've learned through lolita, brands as memes/cats/food/celebrities/etc. 
  11. Different ways to coordinate. This one is always a good idea! Pick a piece and coordinate it for different seasons, substyles, dressy/casual, etc. 
  12. Peak into your wardrobe. The wardrobe post in January is a long time tradition going back to Livejournal days.

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11 March 2018

Why I Don't Want to Stop Using Instagram

This is going to be a brain dump of complaints about Instagram and complaints about other people complaining. We all are entitled to our own thoughts, and I just wanted to share mine. I'd love to hear your personal opinions in the comments!

A lot of talk has been floating around online about an alternative to Instagram. (Like Vero, which I will never use because I don't want to pay for something just as complicated as another Facebook and because the owner has questionable morals) Now, I am super frustrated with how Instagram has been changing its algorithm in the past year, making it harder and harder for my followers to see my posts. It's annoying that I don't see posts from most of the 400+ accounts I follow. The posts on my feed are out of order and from the same few people I interact with regularly.

I do social media for a living, so understanding and navigating through the increasingly murky waters of Instagram is something I can't hide from. I'm always trying to keep up with the newest algorithm changes that might not even be accurate (because Instagram is not a very transparent company...)

Nevertheless, I don't want to leave Instagram. I don't welcome change with open arms, especially when it comes to starting over from ground zero.

Here is my list of whiny reasons:

  • I have a great base of followers who I love interacting with
  • I love how I've gotten my feed to look lately
  • I know the platform and have gotten into a good rhythm
  • All my friends are there already
  • It's so easy to search for photos for inspiration, motivation, and passing the time
  • It's so simple, any other new platform would have to be just as simple
  • It doesn't get political (unless you read comments/follow certain accounts)
  • Trying to guess the algorithm is almost like a game for me
  • Posting coords motivates me to dress up/wear my expensive ass hobby
  • I use it as my modeling/marketing portfolio
  • Even though I've lost "engagement" which is demoralizing, it motivates me to improve my photography, copywriting, networking, and general content creating skills
  • I just don't like change, okay?!

What are yours?

Photo credit to Claire/Maximumclaire

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