Saturday, 1 March 2014

Confusing Lolita rules, guidelines and mean Lolitas' - a guide for the beginner Lolita

When searching for ideas of what defines Lolita fashion,
you will often come across this phrase:

"Please remember that these are not rules, 
they are simply guidelines to help you make better coordinates"


So there are no Lolita fashion rules, the beginner thinks.
They are just guidelines?!

At least that was my first reaction...

My second reaction occurred when browsing the communities, 
because the comments of the "daily coords" that Lolitas posted where very strict in the sense of what you name your coords.

If you step "out of line" (not following the guidelines?! ;), there will be correcting comments from Lolitas that DO consider to know the fashion better than you: 

These comments always start with the corrector saying something nice, followed up with the main purpose of the comment: a correction.

(I've masked words to make this comment anonymous)

This comment is just an example of what you run in upon when browsing the communities.

When you look upon the comments in the communities you realise that:

1) There must be some Lolitas that consider that there are general "rules" for Lolita.

2) For the same Lolitas, if you cohere to the general "rules" - you may consider the rest "guidelines".

3) Every one has an opinion ;) And with that, I mean there are some things one Lolli considers to be a "rule", that another Lolli considers to be a "guideline".

The "rules" and "guidelines" change over time as well. In 1999 Kera made this article about "what makes a Lolita coord". For example, Kera recommends you to wear an apron for "an even more Lolita-look". 

If you dressed like this today and posted it online, you would probably receive various comments, especially about the non-matching accessories, non-existing all-thought-through coordination and the apron. The apron was in 2006 deemed "costumey" or more specifically: 

"Aprons aren't just for Alice in Wonderland costumes or french maids anymore, but they still have a bit of a costumey feel so only wear during appropriate situations (such as while cooking) or if you feel confident you can pull it off without it looking like a costume"

 Source: Lolita Handbook that was published by American Lolitas. 
The Lolita Handbook is actually one of the first western try on defining Lolita fashion to a bigger audience, and there was a storm of debate following it's publication and that is where the more "open", but confusing, "There-are-no-rules-only-guidelines"-comments started.

Misako Aoki as a convention host
Misako Aoki, larger-than-life Lolita, Kawaii-ambassador, Btssb Model and President of Japanese Lolita Association, reveals that she is working on a "how to book" for new Lolitas. It will only be released in Japanese, so we'll see how much it will affect the rest of the Lolita Fashion World. (And which fan-based translation we will abide to! ^^)

Misako also states the following, concerning how Lolita Fashion has evolved when interpreted outside Japan:

"In Japan, the coordination is very conservative – single colour palettes, a very solid theme. Nothing too adventurous. Elsewhere, it seems that it's a lot more adventurous; the colours are more vibrant. The coordination is something that a Japanese lolita wouldn't even think about. In that sense, it actually works out – the coordinations are very unique outside of Japan."

Lolita fashion is always changing. Over decades and continents... As it is filtered through culture, accessibility and economy. Yet there is no doubt that there is a cookie-cut shape for Lolita, that is more strict than mainstream fashion that most people are used to.

So, how do you navigate through these confusing Lolita fashion guidelines and rules? And what is this Lolita cookie-cut shape?

Well, I actually was rather confused until I realised that first and foremost, there are "rules" in Lolita fashion - BUT they should actually be called "fundamentals".

The fundamentals of Lolita fashion is* the following:
(*What I believe most Lolitas in the online communities agree too)

* Covering up /Being modest *
(Even Ero-Loli isn't flaunting)

* A poofy skirt *
(Aka having some type of petticoat. 
Anything from a little poof to mega poof)

* Coordinating clothes *
(colours, themes etc. to get the "Lolita look")

* A certain amount of elaboration is needed *
(If the op/jsk/skirt is solely in one colour, it seems that a certain amount of frills, pintucks, lace or ornaments are needed. A bold print does, however, not need a lot of the above named "sewing-accessories", since the dress is elaborate in itself.)

* What people consider to be Lolita accessories *
(Depending of what style you want: Bows, Crosses, Flowers, Mary Janes, PU-shoes, PU-handbags, brand totes, plastic necklaces etc.)

And the rest are guide-lines...

About sub-styles

You can start a new sub-style by yourself, but it will not be accepted until you've prooved that it looks good according to the rest of the Lolita community and everyone else starts to wear it!

Generally, as a Lolita beginner, you have to realise that there is a strict hierarchy in the Online Lolita fashion communities. You often have to "prove" yourself worthy of other Lolitas respect by for example, posting multiple good coordinates in the communties.

If you "step outside the box", aka if you do not follow the Lolita fundemantels/Rules/Guidelines and you post it in a community, you will be corrected by other Lolitas that do not agree with your point of view.

If you are a beginner, it is a good idea to post photos of your coords in a beginner-friendly environment, for example Facebook page Lolita Fashion Mentoring.  

About Mean Lolitas

DO NOT post anything on EGL Livejournal until you are a little more seasoned as a Lolita... 99% of all Lolitas are very tolerant to beginners, BUT there are some "back-pages" where the-not-so-tolerant Lolitas' complain, moan and bitch about anything you post that can be considered annoying, wrong or "ita"... and the comments on these pages can turn rather ugly. 
So please beware.

If you are posted on one of these "back-talk" pages, just keep your cool.

Don't take anything personal - they really know nothing about you!
If you can stomach rude comments, read them and think about what the not-so-tolerant Lolitas' are trying to say (inbetween the hate):

Maybe you have come of as annoying online, can you change how you phrase yourself? 
Or maybe you have written something wrong/ faulty - can you delete your comment?
Have you been interpreted as rude? Can you say that you are sorry?

And again, keep your cool.
There is no need to defend yourself, just keep your head down and out of the fire, and eventually people will forget all about it.

Always be polite, it is actually the most elegant way to deal with this :)
Don't read, post or comment on these rude pages about other Lolitas, either.
Do become a tolerant, open and elegantly polite and nice Lolita. 

And remember, that most Lolitas' are really wonderful creatures and they do care, and they love to share their experiences. So if you find someone nice online that has a lot of experience, ask them nicely if they perhaps could answer your Lolita beginner questions or join a Lolita mentoring community. (I highly recommend Facebook Group "Lolita Fashion Mentoring")

Here are a few other links to various blog posts on the topic:

Good luck!
Big hugs/ Mary Hazelbelle

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