30 September 2016

Fall Meetup Ideas

Depending on where you live, autumn is either right around the corner, a distant dream barely seen through the haze of Indian summer, or something you just experienced a few months ago. If you fall into the latter category (fall? get it? I love bad puns) you probably aren't going to find much use for this until the spring.

This week's LBC topic was to come up with a list of fall meetup ideas. I made a list of winter meetup ideas last year, so I was excited to brainstorm for another season!

I hope you like this list and maybe even get inspired to host a few of these!

  1. Corn mazes. I don't know if other countries do these, but it can be quite fun. Some are even supposed to be scary. Split up into teams and see you can get out first!
  2. Autumn picnic. Picnics don't have to be reserved for spring and summer - you can still enjoy the crisp weather with lap blankets, thermoses of tea and cocoa, and all your plaid! Sit back and enjoy time with your friends while looking at the colored leaves (Unless you live in California, then just enjoy more green and brown).
  3. Quilting session. Quilting is usually done indoors, so it can be done during any season, but something about sweater weather calls for blankets. The bigger the group, the more/faster you can make!
  4. Harry Potter themed meet. My comm loves Harry Potter so much, we had three separate HP meets last fall! You couldn't pick a better season to drink butterbeer, show your house pride, take photos under a dreary sky, and play trivia with all kinds of magical food.
  5. Brewery tour. Speaking of beer, Oktoberfest is every September. See if a local brewery will give your group a tour and tasting. Just because wine tours are more for summer doesn't mean you can't get your booze on.
  6. Dinner party. While the weather still allows, host an evening dinner party. Hang up some fairy lights and light some candles. Whether you want to tackle the whole meal or decide on a potluck, an intimate, hearty meal with your comm can be really fun. 
  7. Attend a seance. Halloween is in the air, and that means all the spirits of the dead are hustling about for the host of ghost-related holidays in autumn. Get your goth on and attend a seance as a group for a spooky, unique evening.
  8. Sweater weather themed meet. It's time to pull out all your cardigans and sweaters! Go see a movie, have dinner, or just hang out as a group somewhere local, but do it in coords that involve knit-wear.
  9. Themed bars. Because of Halloween, strangers are much less curious about what lolita is when they see it - they just assume its a costume and leave you alone. This can work to your advantage if you want to all go to a themed bar or club. My comm rented out a pirate-themed bar in San Francisco (with a secret grotto fountain and a rum-based menu!) for an autumn meetup. Speakeasy, cabaret, circus themed bars, there are so many possibilities. Just see whats close to your city.
  10. Attend a show. Ballet companies are beginning their winter season soon, so buy tickets as a group and go in your fancy dresses. I personally love Phantom of the Opera, but my city is also playing The Sorcerer's Stone on the big screen with the symphony playing the soundtrack! There are countless ballets and plays and operas offered this time of year.
Other blogs who participated:
Poppy Noir
Parasol Obsession

23 September 2016

Skills Every Lolita Should Have

Everyone needs skills to survive in life. Every lolita needs skills to ... well I don't know, not waste our paychecks?

This week's LBC topic is skills that every lolita should have. Some suggestions were navigating brand websites in other languages, sewing, packing for lolita trips, etc. I thought of some more basic - but super important - skills I think would make you a better lolita.

1. Being able to budget. Budgeting is hard enough as it is (even I don't really have it down yet...) but add an expensive hobby and all hell could break loose. Unless you have an unlimited source of play money, limiting your fashion purchases is a good idea. Remember that you cannot buy every pretty dress you see online. There are a lot of dresses I would love to own and love even more to just stare at with puppy-dog eyes. But I know that my income can't support these desires. And neither could my closet... You'll be better off saving up for purchases through set amounts that you put aside each time you get money. Payment plans are sometimes a good idea when a dream dress shows up, but use that privilege sparingly. Saving up is always better for preventing impulse buys you later regret. Check out my video for some tips for making good purchases.

2. Having patience. This not only applies to waiting for a better deal on a dream dress than the first scalper you see after a bloodbath release, but it also means being able to sit back and take it easy. Don't rush into the fashion at the beginning, take the time to save up and buy all the necessities before flouncing around in a petti-less jsk and your ratty sneakers. Have the patience to sift through google results and Facebook group topics to find the answer to your question. Trust me - it's already been answered.

3. Learn how to use a needle and thread. I don't mean knowing how to sew a whole new piece or embroider or anything like that. Being able to quickly fix a tear in a blouse or sew back on a button is a priceless skill inside and outside lolita. Watch Youtube videos or ask a friend to show you how, and you will save tons of money from seamstresses or replacements.

4. Being able to control your emotions. I don't want to sound mean, but it's true! It is important to control yourself because people can be really judgmental. Be able to take constructive criticism on a coordinate without feeling like its a personal attack. Don't be so jealous of someone who gets to wear your dream dress, it will only harbor bad feelings and make you feel worse about not owning it. Don't go around exposing dirty laundry because you had a fight with another lolita. It creates a vicious cycle of bullies. Write your feelings out in a diary. Talk about them to someone completely outside the fashion. Close your laptop or take a break from meetups if you need to.

5. Have self-confidence. Lolita fashion is about expressing yourself, so don't be afraid or ashamed to do so! You can be any size, color, gender, or religion to be a lolita. You can like any kind of music, movies, food, animals, colors, etc. Lolita should be about what makes you feel beautiful, creative, and confident! If you don't have the confidence to wear lolita outside the house or try out a new substyle, you'll only limit yourself.

6. Know how to make a good coordinate. Unlike jeans and t-shirts, lolita takes a lot more effort to create an outfit. You have to juggle so many different elements, from blouses and socks to hair and makeup, that putting together an outfit is a vital skill. It isn't guaranteed that you'll be able to snag every matching piece from a series, so finding accessories and headwear that match is challenging. Knowing how to balance accent colors - or add whole new ones! - can really make your outfit shine. Take a look at my video for tips on how I make my coordinates.

7. Learn how to hand wash. Personally, I have never taken any of my clothes to the dry cleaners. Even when I was selling a courdroy and velvet piece, I carefully scrubbed the stain with a tooth brush and baking soda and lemon juice. Learning how to take care of your lolita by yourself will save you a lot of money and headache when stains arrive. Whether you need to spot-remove a small stain in a public restroom sink or tenderly clean not-colorfast prints, knowing the proper cleaning methods for a variety of stains and smells is a great tool to have in your lolita skill belt.

What other skills do you think lolitas should have?

17 September 2016

Discussion: The Stagnant Lolita Re-Sale Market

Have you noticed a slump in the lolita second hand market? I have. And a lot of my friends online have too. One of them posted on Facebook asking about everyone's thoughts about why it is so hard to sell things right now, and the answers she got were amazing and really thought-provoking.

I've curated and combined a lot of those ideas, and some of my own, into a not-so-concise list for you here.

Please take this post with a grain of salt. I never mean to be argumentative, judgemental, or complaining. I think economic dynamics are fascinating and hope to generate discussion and thought about this topic.
Image courtesy of my friend Becky

Many combined factors contribute to market slumps

One reason for the current slump is that brands make overwhelmingly popular releases during the Autumn/Winter season. Halloween, Christmas, Chocolate, Tartan, and everything else that is usually released during this time is popular. Many lolitas are saving up for these new releases and thus not buying second hand items.

In addition to autumn and winter being a great season for design, summer is a bad season in general. The heat often means that many lolitas take a break during summer. They wear it less and buy less.

Another reason is that there seems to be a trend of "new old school" and a slight simplification for OTT. If you notice, Angelic Pretty has been releasing more and more intricate prints that turn many lolitas off of recent releases. The current trends for detailed, but un-printed pieces also drives down demand and price for the more bold prints.

The value of currencies commonly used to purchase lolita have been unstable lately. Because of Brexit, intentional deflation and inflation of the yuan and yen, crackdown of China's corruption laws, etc. all lead to an unstable market. People are less likely to make impulse buys, are more likely to thrift for cheaper second hand items, and are less likely to order from overseas sellers with unfavorable conversion rates.

Brands are producing more and more. New taobao and indie brands are popping out releases like crazy, and even major brands are releasing multiple series a month. When I talked to Alice and the Pirates designer recently, Tomomi Nakamura, she mentioned how the company has hired a new designer to keep up with the increased production demand. Not only are there more new items, but brands are putting out many rereleases which drives down the price for previously rare items.

In addition to more and more items, the accessibility of lolita has dramatically increased. When I first started lolita, it was difficult to get things shipped from Japan. Now, its easier than ever before to order things and get them fast. With the fashion becoming more well-known on the internet and greater accessibility to lolita, we are seeing a tidal wave of newbies who just want to try it out. Trying out a new fashion is fine, but often "leaving lolita sales" are sparse and show that the seller had only just started. I get the feeling that Tumblr and fast-fashion culture is a major contributor to this ridiculously quick turn-over of items.

A lot of more experienced lolitas who have been dedicated to the fashion for years are complaining of the ignorance and unwillingness of newbies to do their research before bombarding the communities with basic questions that have been answered a million times before. Unfortunately, this trend is also seen in the behavior of newbie buyers on second hand sites. Complaining about shipping costs and customs fees, demanding lower prices and longer payment plans, you name it! I think a lot of newer, younger lolitas who have just joined aren't aware and appreciative of lolita's great re-sale value. Unlike regular thrift stores and charity shops, lolita often retains its value or appreciates way over retail value because of its rarity or age.

Lastly, the most obvious and simple explanation is over-saturation of the re-sale market.  Frequent releases combined with growing numbers of lolitas in the fashion leads to an over-saturation of the second hand market. With so much more to choose from used and new, prices go down to remain competitive.

How You Can Help Make the Re-Sale Market Better

Even though market slumps are partly temporary cycles due to seasons and trends, there are a few ways you can help ease the over-saturation of the re-sale market in both the short and long run.

  • Price your items right. It might be tempting to dramatically drop the price of your items just to get rid of them, but it hurts other sellers. When looking around at a listing, often potential buyers search for past listings to get a sense whether it is a good deal or not. If a buyer sees really low prices, they might think that another seller's perfectly reasonable price is too high. This is especially a problem with newbies who maybe aren't used to lolita retaining its re-sale value.
  • If you're a newbie, enter the fashion with an open mind. Do your research before attempting to buy things second hand. Yes, you'll be able to score deals and cheaper brand than at retail, but have reasonable expectations about how long a seller is willing to hold a payment plan with you or how low they're willing to accept your offer. If you've gotten this far in this post, you already know how damaging a flood of newbies demanding super cheap dresses can be to the overall market.
  • Consider spreading out your sales posts. Over-saturation often occurs during spring and fall when lolitas are doing "spring cleaning" and preparing for new weather.

These are just a few suggestions. Of course, market problems are complex problems that can't be solved overnight, but it doesn't hurt to try! 

Let me know in the comment what your thoughts are about this topic, I'd love to hear your part of the discussion!

03 September 2016

If Brands Were Pearl Tea Flavors

If you know anything about me, you know I am obsessed with pearl tea. No matter what your area calls it (boba, pearls, tapioca, bubble tea) you need to try it at least once, I have to admit that I usually drink pearl tea several times a week, almost as much as coffee!

My irrational love for these drinks inspired me to create a silly, fun post about what kinds of drinks major Lolita brands would be. Don't take this so seriously, I mean no disrespect to any brand or tea flavor. I hope you enjoy these, and comment below which one is your favorite!

  • Alice and the Pirates is a rich black Assam tea from India with an interesting flair and complex taste. This milk tea is creamy and well put-together, with bitter coffee jelly for those lolitas and ouji who prefer a treat on the darker side of life.

  • Angelic Pretty is a sweet honeydew milk tea, a standard flavor everyone has tried. Keeping with the traditional taste and structure, classic tapioca pearls await at the bottom of your cup of sugary goodness!

  • Bodyline is a matcha milk tea. You either love it or hate it, and it is easy to make a very poor-tasting matcha. The choice of grass jelly is another hit-or-miss flavor representing the confusing nature of Mr. Yan birthday sales, 14 same-arm detachable sleeves, and an array of satin costumes and derpy models.

  • Baby the Stars Shine Bright is another classic pearl tea flavor - strawberry milk tea. Strawberry is a safe flavor, with guaranteed sweetness in every sip. Traditional tapioca pearls compliment BTSSB's long-standing reign as a popular brand.

  • Haenuli is an anything-but-traditional peach oolong. Everything from the tea type to the different topping is unique, just like Haenuli's designs. Peach is always a fresh choice for a creative slump or a hot summer day when all you have the energy to do is read Nunu comics.

  • Innocent World is the epitome of classic tea flavor. Earl Grey milk tea is safe, comforting, and is always tasteful. Doesn't just saying Earl Grey make you feel more elegant and European?

  • Juliette et Justine is a both crazy and elegant white grape tea. Even though this flavor is either loved or hated, you can't help but be intrigued by the idea of trying this unique flavor. The classic tapioca pearls add sweetness and assurance that you aren't bat-shit insane for liking such a different flavor. 

  • Metamorphose is an almost grainy taro milk tea. Taro is such a strange flavor, you wonder how anyone thought of putting root vegetable in a drink... But somehow is tastes good anyways. The white pearls are unique additions to an already odd - but tasty? - tea.

  • Moi Meme Moitie is a dark, bitter coffee milk tea. The low-fat milk adds only a touch of sweetness balanced by less syrup than usual. Just like the classic black tapioca pearls, MMM is an undisputed standard no matter what flavor of tea you prefer. If any magazi- ahem, tea place - tries to take coffee milk tea or classic pearls off the menu, its time to shake your fist and complain at the sacrilege to Mana-sama!

  • Victorian Maiden is the ultimate elegance of rose jasmine tea. Less sweetener syrup is added to emphasize the delicate and feminine flavors that evokes a day dream of Sunday strolls through English gardens with a handsome beau and a good novel.

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