Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Can you be a thrift store/ charity shop and D-I-Y Lolita and still be a "real" Lolita? A Lolita brand-analysis and debate.

A Lolita brand-analysis and debate.

Is it possible to be a Lolita, while only wearing items found at thrift stores/ charity shops and items that you have made yourself?
Is it possible to be a "real" Lolita without ever owning brand?
These questions are well worth thinking about!

What defines a "real" Lolita?

I love brand. 
Without Baby the Stars Shine Bright, Moi-même-Moitié and Angelic Pretty - Lolita had never been an alternative fashion style of the magnitude it is today.

These brands have had fashion shows, beautiful photo-shoots with wonderful models, they have had fan-contests, give-aways, tea-partys - all in the name of promoting Lolita. 

Aoki Misako, model for Btssb, Kera and the Gothic Lolita Bible, even became the ambassador of cuteness, to promote Lolita fashion and Kawaii to the rest of the world!

 The Lolita brands made it happen, they put the fashion world in spin.
They promoted their idea of fashion and made it accessible to us, Lolitas' outside of Japan.

Without brands, you could surely say, that you would probably never have dressed in Lolita.

So, in order to be a "real" Lolita - do you have to own brand items?

I would, even after my brand-loving introduction, still want to argue for "NO".

Yes, the Lolita-concept as an alternative fashion is promoted by brands and is dependant on brands to thrive. Brands dictate the rules, changing them with tiny steps, renewing and redefining Lolita - often unremarkably - as the seasons pass, in order to create new, beautiful products that we are willing to pay the price for.

Btssb A/W 2011 (c) Macarontea

I am forever thankful to the creative think-tanks in the brands design-teams, for creating such awestriking items. 

Yet, I feel as though this fashion should not only be for those who have grand monthly salaries or for those who have parents that are willing to pay 600 USD for a coord. That would be limiting the fashion, and it would back-lash upon the brands and the brand-loving-Lolita communities as well.

In order for Lolita to continue to exist, it must be more accessible! The fact that you nowadays can order brand online overseas (compared to a couple of years ago when you had to fly to Japan to get your dream items), is not the same as accessibility - because a lot of Lolita-lovers can't even afford to pay the import taxes of a brand dress!

To exclude Lolitas' that don't buy brand is pure Elitism
You should be honest to yourself and others if you consider the following: 

> A "real" Lolita always wear expensive "brand"-items <

If you agree with this statement, You are, by definition, an Elitist. 

You could even be a Lolita with no money to buy brand, and still you confine to the Lolita-brand-Elitism. You perhaps always feel inferior 'cause you are not wearing the "dream-items" from the latest EGL brand-update... You are a "Wanna-be". An elitist-groupie, that upholds the hierarchy and elitist movement "That only a "real" Lolita can afford Lolita brand".

Even if you argue that you should buy brand second-hand, if you're budget doesn't cover a new coord - this doesn't finance or support brands directly (maybe indirectly, because the seller will perhaps buy a new brand dress for the money). But it is still not financing the brand per se - thus buying brand second-hand is just the same as buying from indie-brands or making the outfits yourself.

To not accept creative D-I-Y minds, think-tanks of the home-sewing machine, teams of inspiring Lolitas', dreaming of uniquely printed JSKs, would really limit Lolita in a bad way!

Lolita is an alternative fashion style with a rather strict "uniform"/silhouette, but I want to argue that you do not require to buy brand to cohere to it.

The runes say "Odin, Sleipner, Lolita" ^^

And ask yourself - What do you really mean with "brand"?

What counts as a Lolita-brand for you?
Do you draw the line by defining it by country of origin - as a brand founded in Japan?
Do you define it by time - as being one of the founders of Lolita in the 1980s-90s?
Or do you define it by price tag?

However you choose to define it, it will still be a slippery-slope definition, and you will probably have to redefine your thoughts as years pass.

Because the fact is, Lolita is a-changing :) As long as Lolita stayed in Japan, it was an easier task to contain it. But as Lolita becomes more global, it is filtered through the fashion of the continents, through culture (and religion!). It is blending into mainstream fashion, merging with other alternative styles and forever living and thriving on the fantasy and creativity of the styles' wearer.
Lolita is dead. Long live Lolita!

Yes, you can very well still be Lolita, even though your entire wardrobe consists of hand-made items or up-cycled thrift store dresses.

Yes, you never have to own a single "brand" item to be Lolita, you do not even have to have it as a goal.

You can honour the founders of the style by purchasing their coords, but even if you do have the money to spend - Lolita is first and foremost a certain air of style, not a price tag. It's the idea of the perfect Victorian doll with a big scoop of Kawaii :) A state of mind that can't be bought by bucks!!!

Quality, however, can be bought by bucks :) And the brands do up-hold a certain quality (compared to knock-offs), but truth-be-told - if you want REAL quality - aka exclusive materials such as pure silk, real leather, hand embroidery - you have to buy from indie-brand, thrift vintage or D-I-Y... 

Hope you enjoyed this post (:
Please keep the discussion alive in the comments field!
Are you an elitist? Or just a wanna-be? ;)
Or are you a creative free-ranging Lolita?

Hugz /Mary

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Lolita meet-up at Närcon Winter 2014!

Yesterday we had a marvellous meet-up in Linköping :D

Lollis from the whole country was represented... but the style representation was mostly Sweet and OTT. Beautiful Becky was however Classicly Elegant.

We met up in an Old Church that now functions as a vintage-style café!

Mimmi is cuter than ever! :D
That black wig really makes her kawaii ^^

Supercute Candice sported pink lenses and wonderful accessories!

Becky is elegant in her Classic outfit with amazing rose antlers!

Becky <3 Mimmi

So rori!

Candice Popples handbag (WANT!)

Oh so much pretty accessories!

Me! In Old School - Btssb outfit :D

Wonderful Jen! 

Jen has just come home from Japan and she told me she loved the AP store front girls for being super cool, rocking tattoos and lots of piercings!

So if some lolli ever doubted that they couldn't have tattoos or piercings, think again! :D

So kawaii!!! :D


<3 Linn <3

Princess Anastasia!

Eszter cutie!

<3 The poof! The prints! <3

Camera fun! :D

So many sweet and elegantly wonderful Lolitas!
<3 <3 <3 Thanks for making my day <3 <3 <3

Saturday, 15 February 2014

How to shop in charity shops, thrift stores and garage sales! BIG GUIDE!

"A charity shopthrift shopthrift storehospice shop (U.S., Canada), resale shop (when not meaning consignment shop U.S.) or op shop(Australia/N.Z.) (from "opportunity shop") is a retail establishment run by a charitable organization to raise money." (Wikipedia)

Inspiring shop window at local Charity Shop :)

This is my guide to better shopping in thrift/ charity stores :)

I am myself a passionate charity store and garage sale shopper and I have made many adorable finds for pennies.
I adore Vintage, since a lot of the craftsmanship and sheer hard work put into Vintage clothing items has been lost due to the need of producing more clothes for less money.

My mum started taking me to Charity shops when I was 6, due to the fact that she was a student with little money to support two children, so in order to make the most of what we had, second hand clothing and items was a way to make the money stretch.
She taught me how to search effectively after items of interest, and also about fabrics, sewing and quality! Now, even though I have plenty of money, I still enjoy shopping in thrift stores, since the quality of Vintage items are so far superior to newly made (for a fraction of the price!).

Loppisfynd in Västerås is a huge attraction

In Sweden, shopping Second Hand items on auction, garage sale, thrift store and in the charity shop is a peoples movement! We call it "Loppis" -  Everyone does it, no matter if they are rich or poor. It's even rather trendy to own second hand - since it can stand for an expression of individuality and it is environmental-friendly. If you buy something in a charity shop, the money has an ethical dimension to it as well - since many charity shops are run by non-profit organisations that have welfare projects.

This guide is a concentrated fact sheet from more than 20 years of Second Hand-shopping experiences.
This post is a more general post, useful for everyone, and I'm in the process of writing a post about second-hand shopping that is more Lolita-specific! (I'll insert the link here when I've written it ;)

How do you shop effectively in thrift stores?
 Shopping in Charity Shops is an elegant sport :)
It is the ability to rummage and sieve effectively through heaps of garbage to find one or two items that you really like and need.
It is nothing like going to an ordinary store.

If you only ever been to ordinary clothing shops before, you will probably be baffled by the mass of odd-looking, battered items.

Don't be fooled :)
Actually, when you've learned the art of thrift store shopping, you will shop more effectively in boutique stores as well!

How is the Charity shop organised?
Well, this depends on the shop, of course. Some countries like Sweden and England have an amazing variety of thrift- and vintage stores, either run by profit-companies or charity organisations. The shops run by charity organisations tend to have the best prices, and the ability to do amazing finds. The profit-companies (boutique vintage stores) may have more of what you actually want, but to a larger cost.

Often however, since every item in a store is unique - most stores choose to display their items based on type of item (i.e. skirts) or on colour. In Sweden, Charity shops do display items according to season, meaning that it will be hard to find a winter coat in the middle of the summer. Some charity shops have occasional sales, where cheap items are sold for even less! :)

All coats 50% sales!

So how to do it!
For the Charity Shop-newbie: keep in mind that not only must you find something you like, you have to find it in your size as well!
Compared to a department store or boutique, where you are able to try different sizes of the same item, this is now not possible, since there is only one of every item!
Don't buy anything that doesn't fit you, unless you know for sure that you are willing to do the alterations. But even if the tag says it is not your size, and you like the item - try it on! ^^ You will be surprised how often the tag says one size, but the garment actually is another size!

So I use this simple 4 step procedure when shopping:

1) -> 2) -> 3) ->4)

1) Finding something you like
I am very methodological when I shop at charity shops. I look at EVERY item on the rack, briefly (colour, material, brand- and size-label), and if something catches my attention (it is the right colour, the right brand, the material is lovely, etc), I pick it out and look at it properly. If it didn't meet my expectations, I hang it back, but if I liked it I bring it along to "the mirror test" (step 2).
I usually end up with >20 items hanging on my arm (often rather heavy ;) when I'm done with the first screening.

2) The mirror test
My second step is to go to a mirror in the shop. I put the items in a pile next to me, than I hold up every item against the mirror and I see if it will fit, if the colour is OK against my skin, etc. The items that don't pass the mirror test, I hang back - and the items I like, I bring to the dressing room! (Step 3 :)

3) Do the clothes fit?
Now I'm in the dressing room, trying on every item. I look at the quality of the fabric, how much wear the item has, how the fabric feels against my skin, can I move properly in the item? I also look at the washing label and ask myself if I can take care of the item properly.

4) Last screening
Now I look on the pile of items that I have (maybe 3-5 pieces) and I ask myself the following 5 questions:

> Is the price reasonable? <
> Do I need this item? <
> Can I easily coordinate this item with other items in my closet? <
> How many times will I use this item? <
> Can I afford it? <

If the items past these questions, I buy it!!! :D

 I have made 3 simple rules and 3 DONT'S to keep in mind when shopping. 
I find them very handy:

1) Decide what you NEED
To plan ahead, much like going to the grocery store with a list, will keep you on the right course. If you need a sweater, you can concentrate on ONLY looking through the sweater section, instead of looking through the entire store, which is a great time-saver.

2) Materials, washing instructions, wear and tear matters!
 Get the know-how
Feel, Look, Compare!

Pure silk blouse that unfortunately has been mistreated by washing in to high temperature. You can feel the difference - silk should be soft at touch, but if you have mistreated the fabric, the item becomes stiff, like paper. Learn to know how pure silk feels!

When shopping, touch the material! Feel how it feels between you fingers - take time to learn how real silk feels, how new wool feels like - how you can differ between linen and cotton... Or how soft true Merino wool is!
(and read the labels. 5% Merino wool is NOT the same as 100% Merino :).
Look at the fabric! 
Is it all creased? Then it will probably stay creased unless you iron it after every washing - ask yourself if it is worth it!
Are there stains? Don't buy it (no matter how cheap it is ;). Unless you are absolutely sure that you can do something about it or you really don't care.
Look at the ends of the sleeves and/or hems! 
Is there significant wear? Don't buy it! There is no point in buying clothes that only will make you look scruffy!
 Especially for stretchy tops, look if there are a lot of pilling - again, it doesn't matter how "great" that sweater is - if it looks scruffy - you will look scruffy!
Now look at the washing instructions! Are you willing to take this item to the Laundry Service after every use? Or would you rather have an item that is more easy to care for?

What I like with charity store shopping is that you can directly compare the quality of the items in-store! If you shop from H&M it is hard to, in the store, tell the quality of the fabric - because everything looks the same... But in a thrift store, you can easily just bring out your sweater of choice and DIRECTLY compare it to inferior/superior quality items ON THE RACK :)
This will help you when choosing what item you will buy!

Can you guess which shirt has the better quality? ;)
Answer at the bottom of the page!

3) Visit the store often!
To visit the same store often gives you an advantage, because you will not miss the re-fills, sales and you will learn more what items are abundant and what items are sold more quickly.
If you are nice to the staff, maybe they can tell which days in the week they get refill-shipments :)

So with this said, remember these key DON'TS:
(and no rules without exceptions ;)

1) Do not buy anything that looks scruffy
you doubtlessly KNOW that you can do something about it.

2) Do not but anything that doesn't fit you
you are prepared to really put the time in to making alterings!

3) Do not buy anything of inferior quality
you are only going to wear them for a day for a masquerade or something similar :)

All in all, this is the 

4 steps procedure when shopping:

1) Methodological search
2) Mirror test
3) Try the item in the dressing room
4) Answer truthfully these 5 questions:
-Is the price reasonable?
-Do I need this item?
-Can I easily coordinate this item with other items in my closet?
-How many times will I use this item?
-Can I afford it?

3 simple rules:
1) Decide what you need
2) Feel, Look, Compare
3) Visit the stores often

3 Don'ts:
1) Do not buy anything that looks scruffy
2) Do not but anything that doesn't fit you 
3) Do not buy anything of inferior quality

Answer to the shirt question: The left shirt has the superior quality! :)

Hope you enjoyed this post
and I hope this will make you a more effective thrift shopper :)

With love /Mary Hazelbelle

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Lolita sales and trades abbreviations EXPLAINED! Useful list for beginners :)

It took some time for me to noodle out all
the abbreviations used in the EGL forums and
on Facebook and so forth,
but here's a list for you! 

WTB = Want to buy
WTT = Want to trade
NWT = New With Tags
BNWT = Brand New With Tags
BNWOT = Brand New Without Tags
DS-DT = Direct Sale or Direct Trade
DS = Direct Sale
DT = Direct Trade
NWNT = Never Worn Never Traded
OBO = Or Best Offer
OBRO = Or Best Reasonable Offer

JSK = Jumper skirt
OP = One Piece
OTKs = Over the knee socks

AP = Angelic Pretty
Btssb = Baby the Stars Shine Bright
AatP = Alice and the Pirates
JeJ = Juliette et Justine
MM = Mary Magdalene
MmM = Moi-meme-Moitie
Meta = Metamorphose temps de fille
GLW = Brand Gothic Lolita Wigs
VM = Victorian Maiden

If you are in Harajuku - Do like La Carmina and check out
Lolita Second Hand store Closet Child (also available on internet ;) 
Also check out this excellent guide to Lolita abbrevations!

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Nerdy Little Secrets - Lucky Pack! :D Kawaii accessories

Nerdy Little Secrets from Missouri, USA
makes adorable accessories! :D

I bought the "Mystery Bag Large" from their Etsy shop.
The Lucky Pack cost 30 USD and the shipping cost 6.50 USD.

I made a specific request to not receive any black items, since I never wear black ;)

I ordered on the 4/9 and the package was shippid the 8/9.
I received the package 17/9.

I received 4 items in my Mystery Bag :)
2 necklaces, 1 hair clip and a key chain!

Cute business card ^^

I absolutely love this Resin necklace!!! :D 
I wear it all the time! :)

Bone hair clip :)
Great for Creepy Cute and Pastel Goth

<3 :D <3
This is so amazing :) I'm such an Xbox girl ;)

Pretty glittery resin keychain.
I might put a chain in this and wear it as a necklace!

From Nerdy Little Secrets Facebook page

Another Cuty necklace coord for work! :D
Matched up with Fairy Kei leggings ;)

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

I was lucky! :D Bodyline Lucky Pack 2014

Today I finally received my BL LP!
It took a month for me to receive it ^^

I ordered it immediately at it's release, on New Years Eve 
- and I must say that I was very lucky!!! :D

I received a total of whopping 6 items!

I was hoping for 3-4 items, at the most! So my LP must well be worth 3 times 5000 yen.

Which is lucky since I paid 179 SEK (2800 Yen) for customs-fee and tax on top of the LP price.
So total cost of the LP for me was 7800 Yen (ca 502 SEK).

6 Bags in total (One bag is hiding under the black one)

When I saw these, I got really excited!!! 
I have been thinking of adding some Sweet Lolita to my Classic Wardrobe, so I immediately ripped up the White and Pink packet - I was hoping for an OP, and got a really cute white JSK with pink lace and ribbons:

White x Pink Hime JSK (size M) with matching bow

Bodyline L438

As you know, Bodyline are very inconsistent in sizing - so even though I'm tall and have a broad rib-cage, sometimes I fit size M. 

Even though this JSK has shirring, it was at least 6 cm until I could close the zipper (unfortunately). The skirt was very short for me as well, so I'll be puttng this up for sale to a short and petite Lolita :).

White blouse, size M

Bodyline L383
- looks much better IRL (and with the blouse tucked in) than on the Bodyline model!

This blouse, is really sweet, and it fits me well! :D
The collar is rather big and fluffy, but I actually really like the sweet effect.

The necktie is missing, but I received the cameo as a loose item.

Cute skirt, size M

This skirt is so adorable! It has full shirring, so it fits my 75 cm waist without any problem - BUT it is so short! It barely covers my butt when I have it on my natural waist. I can pull it down a little on my hips, but it is still nowhere near a modest length... So this will end up on sales as well. 
Bodyline L453
Punk Lolita JSK and a High Waist Belt

Again a M dress in a completely different size ;) Haha
This was rather large on me!

I was hoping for something gothic in the LP, and this JSK would make a good Punk Lolita outfit with ripped stockings and Dr Martens. Yet somehow, I didn't really like how I looked in it. It's a bit too big, and it didn't flatter my body at all. Maybe it's the maid-wings on the shoulder straps...
Good length on the skirt, however. 

Bodyline L495
The High Waist Belt, however is very small, maybe for a 65 cm waist. So both will be sold!
This dress has been found in other BL LPs this year as well ^^

Fruit Parlor Tote Bag Pink x Black
This bag has been turning up in a lot of the LPs! I have nothing to match it with, so I'll be selling this as well.

The only odd item i received... 
...was this:
This is the "EroX Star Fire"
A reminder that Bodyline isn't really a Lolita Brand...
They are a sex costume shop after all ;)

Oooh... thongs (going to the bin - I like my knickers BIG ;) LOL this is soooo shady 80s ;)
Don't you get that Samantha Fox feeling?

In total, this is the haul! :D
A tote bag
A mini skirt
A Hime/Sweet Lolita JSK
A Punk lolita JSK
"Sexy" undies
White blouse

So, one Bodyline blouse and a cameo for 500 SEK (7800 Yen) isn't really worth it, but I'm booked in on swap meets and Lolita sales in March and April (Stockholm) so hopefully I'll get some of my money back on the sales!

I don't think I'll get a Bodyline LP again, but for this time it was a good laugh!
I rather put my money towards commissioned indie-items or brand :)

I've been kind of spoilt with luxury quality when buying Indie and high-end brands such as Btssb, so I don't think I'll ever buy from Bodyline again (and the customs always charge me extra fees).

Seeing so many BL items together, you realise that they are a good, cheap alternative for Lolitas that can't sew - but still the quality is nothing compared to just adding a little more money to your purchase from Infanta on Taobao, or excellent seamstress Bunny House in Vietnam.

 You get so much more value for your money when buying commissioned Indie-brands or sewing the items yourself.

BIG HUGS! /Mary Hazelbelle
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