Thursday, 31 December 2015

2015 Lolita Goals Revisited + An End of Year Summary

At the start of 2015, I came up with some lolita goals, so I think it only makes sense that I revisit them now the year is finally over!

Get more old school items into my wardrobe.
I made a lot of progress in getting more old school clothing and accessories, and it's been pretty exciting for me as I feel like I'm truly indulging in what made me love lolita in the first place. I'm more excited about my new items than I used to be, and it's a great feeling.

Branch out with footwear.
I failed at this one miserably. I tried ordering a pair of cute, chunky lolita shoes online and ended up getting shoes which were too small even though I sized up a bit just in case! Better luck next time, I guess.

Buy a plain black bag! 
The plain black back came in the form of a super cute Angelic Pretty boston bag I got on the auctions early this year, and it's basically the bag I carry the majority of the time now.

Stop forgetting the wardrobe staples! 
I made sure to get some more basic items like blouses and knitwear, though I don't expect that aspect of my wardrobe will ever be truly complete! I am seriously looking forward to doing my wardrobe post for January 2016. Not a whole lot has changed, but the changes really round things off nicely.

Visit Baby, The Stars Shine Bright in Paris! 
I was so thrilled that I managed to see not only Paris, but the Baby shop located there! The emptiness of the shop was a little disappointing, but I had a pretty magical experience nonetheless.

Make my own "main pieces" of lolita clothing.
I made a ridiculous amount of bloomers this year, but made very little progress in the way of main pieces. I had a motivation slump in the summer, did a lot of procrastinating, and then ended up having neither the energy nor the necessary free time to figure out the projects I drew up for myself. Next year, for sure.

Have a stall at a lolita event.
This one is probably the biggest disappointment for me as I've applied to be a vendor at numerous lolita events at this point. All I can do is use it as fuel to work harder, be better, and know that I can make the best of the opportunity when the time comes. And I believe it will. I have a lot of faith in myself, even though that procrastinating side of me tries to kill it.

Well, 3/6 ain't bad.

I don't know if I'm going to bother setting any lolita goals for 2016. Making resolutions is a bit restricting, especially where something as open as your personal style and involvement in subculture goes. I don't think there's any specific things I want to achieve now. I just hope to have as much fun as I can. go on as many great adventures as possible, and wear great coordinates while doing it.

❤   ❤   

2015 was a challenging year, but I feel positive about who I've become as a person as a result. I undoubtedly have a lot more confidence in myself than I did one year ago. I have faith in myself, and I think it is mainly down to the fact this year was so drastically different from any other year I've experienced before. It was my first year outside of education since I was a small child. More or less my entire life had been shaped by a strict regime of academia and forced interactions with people I'd rather forget-- people who tore me down and made me feel unworthy of love. 2015 was the first year I was able to let go of a great deal of the emotional baggage that had built up over the years to smother me everywhere I went.

I used to be the sort of person who was always terrified of change, but now I seem to embrace it with open arms. I want change. I find myself getting restless when it seems like things aren't moving forward quickly enough or transforming in some way. This restlessness inspired me to appreciate the beauty around me more, and go off in search of more of it. I went on lots of lovely solitary walks. I went out and took pictures of the nature. I tended to houseplants and bought a pot of my favourite flowers (daffodils). I was super observant of the gradual change of the seasons, and I appreciated them in a whole new way because they were no longer tied to terms or semesters or deadlines. I did a little travelling, and visited new places both at home and abroad. It was like I was really seeing all the gorgeous things in my life from a whole new perspective.

I think putting a lot of focus on my so-called "lolita lifestyle" was a very therapeutic thing for me. The various romantic additions to my day-to-day life proved so inspiring, and kept me going during the times when things felt hopeless, and the future looked overwhelmingly bleak. I think the most significant thing for me this year is that I haven't coped this well for an extended period of time since... goodness knows how long. My depression didn't have the stronghold it once did. I really kicked its arse this year to the extent that I sometimes forgot I even had it. I'm not going to get complacent and think it's gone for good, because I don't think it will ever fully disappear. But for now at least, I'm doing well, and while the future seems so uncertain, I also see that it's full of hope.

I would like to go back to blogging more in 2016, and putting together more topical posts and articles because I love doing those. Thank you so much to everyone who reads this blog and has been following my thoughts, ideas, and adventures up until this point! Your support and comments mean so much to me.

Happy New Year to you all, and I hope all of your wishes will come true. Here's to 2016! Let's make it a good one 

Thursday, 8 October 2015

A Picturesque trip to the Botanic Garden

On Saturday 26th September, I went to a lolita meetup at the Botanic Garden in Oxford. For those unaware, it is a beautiful green area filled with flowers and plants and trees and greenhouses of natural beauty. I had never been before, but I can safely say I will definitely be going again. 

I was in such good spirits as I set off that morning. I've recently taken to using my village's train station instead of the main one in the town centre. Even though it runs a slower service, I find the lack of crowds and abundance of trees there to be very peaceful and pleasant. It's nice to be able to sit at one of the benches on the platform, and gaze into the distance, waiting for the train to appear.

Once on board, I settled myself down and listened to some music. I'd had the new Macklemore song "Downtown" in my head for days now, and I couldn't help watching the music video on my phone. I have been a fan of Eric Nally for years now so to see him pop up in some mainstream track is still quite surreal to me. 

I soon arrived in Oxford, and after using my trusty travel sewing kit to sew my friend's broken shoe strap back together (this turned out to be a very temporary fix, unfortunately), we headed off to our meetup destination.

It was a photoshoot meetup, organised so that we could come up with a picture to contribute to the upcoming Tea Party Club calendar. Our month is April, so it seemed only sensible that we try to create a springtime gardening scene. I was initially worried about the fact we would have pretend it was April in September, but these gardens looked like they were stuck in spring, and we were surrounded by flowers of all colours in full bloom. To contrast, there were also great trees sprinkling golden leaves onto the luscious grass, so it was like experiencing two seasons at once. The weather that day was sunny and hot, so the only unrepresented season was winter. The brightness was perfect for my camera, and I excitedly snapped away endless sharp images. One of the items on my overly long list of interests is photography, and I particularly enjoy taking pictures of flora and fauna.

We only stayed for a couple of hours, heading off for lunch as soon as we were done taking pictures, but we managed to see a lot of the gardens while we were there. I particularly enjoyed the plant life in the greenhouses, though sadly these were fairly busy and excruciatingly humid, so we could not linger for very long. Despite this, I was still able to get some nice shots before we left for lunch.

So many flowers!

I am so proud of this shot.

A little pumpkin!

I was focused not only on capturing our lovely surroundings, but also on getting pictures of myself! I have so few genuinely decent pictures of myself in lolita that I feel determined to keep a better record of my outfits moving forward. My friends felt the same way, and in between posing for the calendar we found ourselves moving into our own little spots to take outfit pictures of one another! I made a particular effort to take pictures of Sammi as I didn't even get an outfit shot of her at the recent big lolita event we attended last month. I went a little "street snap" with her to make up for this neglect.

I decided to put together a country inspired coordinate using my newest dress, Meta's Gingham Cherry Ladder Lace jumperskirt. There are cherries, strawberries, and daisies in the print-- perfect for the spring theme!
I love this photo of me! 

So, that was my experience of the garden. There's something very revitalising about being surrounded by plant life, I feel, though that might be my tree-hugging side talking. Being out and about in pretty surroundings lifts my spirits and gives me things to marvel at and appreciate, which comes as a welcome relief from the stresses of the world beyond it. I must make more time to indulge in these days out, and remind myself that life has its good moments, too.

I hope you enjoyed this post! On warm sunny days, do you enjoy garden strolls and walks in the countryside, or would you rather be doing something else? I'd love to know what sorts of outings you like best! As always, thanks for looking and reading.
See you next time 

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Ode to Autumn

Good day, my lovely readers! I dislike having long breaks in between my blog posts, but I also feel as though forcing myself to churn out content would be detrimental to its quality. Still, I'm going to work harder to be a little more disciplined about my writing. It's something I truly enjoy doing, and I think it deserves to have some more of my time devoted to it. Anyway... I'm back with some more musings.

In the month or so since my last post, the seasons have been changing. September is my favourite month, not only because it's when my birthday falls, but because it's when the first little whispers of autumn fill the air. My house is surrounded by trees and greenery, and it is all beginning to change colour, with the first magical golden leaves appearing. I don't quite know why I feel so drawn to this season. Maybe it's because it's always so short and sweet, full of colour and vibrancy. Fail to take notice and you might miss it entirely. Perhaps it's that bittersweet feeling I feel every time it ends that makes it all the more special to me. When you know you only have a limited time to enjoy something, it motivates you to go out of your way to make every second count, and stops you from ever taking it for granted.

 The view from one of the windows in my house on an autumn day.

It is this time of year I seem to spend the most time outdoors, going on walks and bike rides, and taking pictures of as many crimson leaves as I can find. I love this in-between temperature, where it's too warm to wear a coat, but too mild to leave the house without throwing on a cardigan before you leave the house. 

As you may have guessed by this point, I am autumn obsessed. Therefore, it is only sensible I share with you some ideas for making the most of this season, so you can join in with my fall fanaticism.

  • If you have rich, or earthy colours in your wardrobe, now is the perfect time to wear them! If you are into mori fashion, this season is surely where you will feel most in your element.
  • If you're into tea, why not try out some new flavours? I've recently discovered there is such thing as gingerbread tea and I fully intend to get in on the action.
  • Organise a lolita woodland ramble! If you live somewhere with a lot of wooded areas, it could be a nice change of pace to go on an autumnal outing with your friends. You could collect pine cones, and horse chestnuts for decorative purposes if you're into that kind of thing. I know I am.
  • Take lots of pictures. Could this season be any more beautiful for vibrant, atmospheric photoshoots!? That contrast between the fiery leaves on the trees, and the perfectly clear blue sky always makes for some breathtaking images.
  • Get started on your themed lolita coordinate for Halloween! I love to see broken dolls, tasteful guro, witchy outfits, and vampirey gothic looks. It's one day of the year you can be truly outrageous and imaginative with your coordinate as you won't look out of place to people outside of the fashion!
  • Do some baking. Make spookily-decorated Halloween biscuits or share out fairy cakes at your next meetup. Have a go at deliciously warm apple pies or crumbles, and rich pumpkin desserts.
  • Are you a scrapbook lover? Why not try adding pressed autumn leaves to your pages, and creating fun earthy mood boards.
  • Go antique shopping! There's something so cosy and nostalgic about visiting secondhand shops. Perhaps you will find some new items to match the decor of your living space, or even a loliable item of clothing, depending on what kind of shop it is.
A picture I took at a shop called the Courtyard At No. 6 in Buckingham, England.
  • Put together a Halloween meetup! You could visit a themed café, go on a local ghost walk, carve pumpkins (though make sure you have a cute apron on hand!) or host a movie night with your closest friends in your community! I personally like to do tarot reading on this day!
  • Visit a local craft fair or event. These are fun places to browse and perhaps take home a special, unique item for yourself or someone you love.
  • Channel some autumnal vibes into your creative outlet of choice. Make a vivid, nature inspired painting, write story set during this season, record a song inspired by your feelings during this season, or do a themed photoshoot. The possibilities for self expression are endless.
  • Have a calm, quiet day to yourself to simply breathe in the fresh, earthy air and savour the gentle sunshine on your face. 

Many of these tips are based on the things I did last year and really enjoyed. I loved my university town. It was small, quaint, and filled with unusual independent shops, pop up markets, old listed buildings, and picturesque scenery. I can't help missing some of the places I used to haunt at this time of year, such as Secret Messages (click here to wander around the shop's three levels!) and the footpaths that weaved all around-- alongside the river, through woodland, and onto an abandoned railway bridge from which you had a clear view of the entire town. Oh, sweet nostalgia! Last autumn was a truly gorgeous time in my life, and I'm glad I captured so much of it through lovingly taken photographs. I can only hope I will be able to add some whimsy to life here in my hometown, where one has to do a bit more digging to find its beauty and quirks. I like the challenge, though, and hope to follow the suggestions from the above list I haven't tried here yet!

I overuse this photo, but it's probably my favourite non lolita picture of me, taken on Halloween 2014. It's so expressive of my love for this season (and for 90s style lunchboxes). I could have looked at those leaves all day long.

Do you like autumn? Have any special passtimes you enjoy doing at this time of year? I'd love to hear all about it! See you next time 

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

I Want To Live Beautifully.

Post holiday blues aren't really something I tend to suffer from, but after my Paris trip I couldn't help feeling a bit differently about life. Not in a bad way as such, but my brain has been whirring and pondering ever since. Sitting outside a cute Japanese bakery in the heart of Paris wearing a food themed lolita dress, and savouring a rich blueberry cheesecake was truly a moment of pure bliss for me, and I realised that I don't have those moments nearly often enough.

In my early lolita days, reading lolita lifestyle blogs was perhaps my favourite pass time. I completely immersed myself in these romantic writings, soaking up each tip to guarantee me a life of beauty and elegance that I could also represent through my mode of dress... or so I thought. 

Lately, I've been going through a bad emotional slump. So many aspects of my life aren't where I want them to be, and constant disappointments have rendered me feeling a lot less positive about 2015 as we work our way through the second half of the year.

I let my passions and interests begin to fall by the wayside as I tried to tackle a whole host of new responsibilities and challenges. In life, there's always going to be dark times and stress and unpleasantries... but it's even harder to deal with them when you're not making a special effort to ensure your free time balances out the negativity and enriches your soul. One thing that's been encouraging me to revisit these romantic notions is the small but certain online stirrings of a lifestyle lolita revival. I want to now, more than ever, celebrate femininity and softness and the picturesque-- qualities I always appreciated but felt I couldn't truly express until I got into lolita, which transformed my way of seeing the world. I want to live beautifully, as often as I can.

I'm one of those overly nostalgic people who likes to take the things I enjoy and hold onto them, even if the world around me continues to change. I feel a little uncomfortable with this decade, due to the fact it seems to be killing off the very notion of subculture, and watering it down so that it becomes nothing more than a tumblr reblog away from being the subject of yet another mainstream clickbait article. With the increasing popularity of the lolita, I suppose it's no wonder some of us are developing a "get off my lawn" mentality as we see the aspects of the subculture that meant the most to us being replaced with a superficial, OTT costuming mindset. I think we miss that old livejournal, longform blogging atmosphere, which actively encouraged us to to not only wear lolita, but to be lolita-- to wear the fashion because it allowed us to express ourselves and extend or carve out our own complementary way of life, as members of other subcultures like goth or steampunk might do. 

A few weeks ago, I spent the day with my friends, having afternoon tea on board a floating tea room. This day could not have come at a better time for me, as I was desperate for a nice day out where I might be able to forget the greyness day to day life can bring, and enjoy the company of like-minded people. I don't think my friends have anywhere near the same sort of lifestyler view of lolita as I do, but us all joining egl around the same era means we have a lot in common, and enjoying meeting up for a peaceful meal in lolita is no exception.

The weather was truly glorious that day, and beyond the little windows of the barge, we could see the waves of the River Thames rippling as the boat swayed so gently it was impossible for us to feel it ourselves.

We were able to adapt the afternoon tea to suit our own tastes, which meant we got to maintain the elegant set up, but with the food and drink we personally liked best. Being a hot day, I opted not for a traditional cup of loose leaf tea, but instead sampled their elderflower cordial. It was light and refreshing, perfect for the summer heat. I deviated yet again, this time from the traditional sandwiches, and opted for a bacon one instead. This ended up being so filling I was sadly only able to devour half of my fruit scone and jam. I had a lovely time, and can't wait to try out other places which serve afternoon tea.

One of my rarely mentioned passions in life is interior design. I could (and do) watch property programmes, tours of people's homes, and DIY homeware tutorials on YouTube for hours. I currently only have a small bedroom to deck out as I please, but I still have a couple of pieces which convey the theme I'm hoping to have running through my future home.

It's an easy one to forget, but light fittings can create such an elegant focal point in a room. I did not realise this until I was gifted this one, which makes me think of an opulent bird cage. 

This difficult-to-photograph framed painting is so special to me. It used to hang in the family living room, and naturally it reminds me of my childhood. I always loved fairy imagery, so the scene depicted here enchanted me, especially due to the the glittery, shimmery, highly textured paper. I've never seen anything quite like it before, and I have no idea who the artist is or where it came from. I wouldn't be at all surprised if it turned out to be a portal to a magical realm.

A bed takes up a significant surface area in a room, so dressing it up in a nice throw can really help to create a wonderful aesthetic. A lot of lolitas seem to own this Primark patchwork print throw that I'm using at the moment, and I'm not surprised as its so soft and cottagey. Its delicate florals are not overwhelmingly cutesy, which suits me well.

A decor blog I find particularly inspiring is Fairy Nests, which is filled with images of homes which have a balance of cuteness, elegance, and historical influence that really appeals to me. There is something so inherently lolita to me about these overtly feminine homes, and I think that by simply changing up the colours and accessories, you could easily come up with the perfect aesthetic for sweet, classic, or gothic lolita dwellings.

I find that even the mundane can evoke positive feelings. Today, I had to go to the post office to send out an order from my online shop. When I woke up in the morning, it was rainy and dreary outside, and didn't exactly make me feel excited about my excursion. But rather than let pessimism take over, I showered and dressed in a simple old school inspired coordinate. By the time I was ready to leave, the rain had stopped and the sun had come out. Newly energised, I decided to take some pictures.

I'm not sure what this pose is all about, but either way, it was a lot more fun organising my own awkward photoshoot on the landing in front of my bedroom door, rather than taking a rushed, blurry mirror picture like I usually do. 

Simply putting on even a basic lolita coordinate for a brief venture outdoors never fails to brighten my mood. It's fun, it's freeing, it's ever so slightly rebellious, and it makes me appreciate how lucky I am to live in a town where I can express myself in this way without fear.

Honestly, I cannot imagine only wearing lolita a few times a year for special events. But I am glad that I can take comfort in knowing that if it had to come to that, I could still find fun little lolita-esque treats to indulge in, which for me include things like burning delicately scented candles, listening to my favourite music, reading new lolita blog posts, or keeping up with threads where I continue to be inspired by others trying to evoke the noughties egl lifetstyler sensibilities again.

A lolita lifestyle can be anything a lolita wants it to be. The aim for mine is to make my life as beautiful as it can be. As our exceedingly bizarre friend Novala Takemoto would say:

Sew frills onto the hem of your heart! 
Put a tiara on top of your soul! 
Have pride.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

My Paris Lolita Adventure!

On Thursday 2nd July, I set off very early in the morning for Paris. It was my first time going there, and I was incredibly excited! The check in process at St. Pancras to catch the Eurostar was a little stressful, as we were in the midst of a ridiculous heatwave. We finally got on the train, and leaned against one another, already exhausted by our early starts!

Two hours and forty minutes later, we were at Gare du Nord! We were staying close to Richard-Lenoir, so after buying a carnet, and being accosted by a woman trying to pull a money laundering scam, we found ourselves on metro line 5, rushing through the city.

A really nice man came to our rescue where we were stood outside the station, staring at our maps in confusion, and he pointed us in the right direction. This was most unexpected, considering how rude people had been thus far (and were for the rest of our trip! I got given so many angry looks when wearing lolita...) We finally made it to the apartment we were renting for the weekend through Airbnb, and it was on the fourth floor of a building with no elevator. Swell. Still, we somehow made it to our room, and were content to sit around drinking water for a while.
The decor was so lovely! It was cosy and yet chic, and the abundance of house plants was very pleasant. Our hosts also had a cat! To be honest, we didn't get along with it very well, and this is coming from two self proclaimed "crazy cat ladies". It was very antisocial (moreso than most cats!) and kept staring off in random directions with its eyes looking very possessed and scary, haha!

I was incredibly sweaty from the journey to Paris, so after freshening myself up and cooling down as best I could in a room without air conditioning (I am not sure how I survived this trip but I am proud of myself for dealing with the extreme temperatures!) I finally got changed for my pilgrimmage to Baby, The Stars Shine Bright!
The apartment had this lovely, old, ornate furniture and I couldn't help posing on a piece of it! I went for a very casual, summery look with a very loose broderie anglaise blouse as I didn't want to boil in the heat! 

We were a mere 20 minute walk from the shop, so set off on foot. It was incredibly hot by mid afternoon, around 35°C, maybe more. I was so relieved when I came round a corner and finally saw the flash of pink that let me know I was in the right place.

I was a little faint by this point but still excited to be there! I loved the designs on the window!

The interior of the shop is pretty basic, and there wasn't exactly a massive amount of stock. I ended up going back to the shop a couple days later, as I wanted to make sure I had a good overview of everything before making a decision. You see, my next stop was the Angelic pretty pop-up shop! On the way there, I saw the Pyramide du Louvre, the Carrousel, the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, and in the distance I spotted the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe! It was like we were in the ideal tourist zone! We didn't linger, and didn't really have the energy to go inside museums as the weather was so hot we wanted to wrap up the day early.

I was pretty annoyed to learn that the AP store opening had been on Tuesday, so I missed out on the true bargains like the lucky packs, and probably a lot of the accessories I might have wanted were already gone by the time I rocked up there. The space was even more bare than Baby. There were a lot of blouses, a handful of very pricey OPs, and an array of incredibly basic accessories. The Drained Cherry OP was super cute up close in real life, but again, it was simply too much for my budget. On the other side of the shop was all the Putumayo stuff, which, whilst interesting, was definitely not my style at all. 

I left feeling a little disappointed. I wondered if I might return home totally empty handed! I tried not to get too down about it, got some rest for the day ahead.

On Friday I got up early so I could get a simple coordinate ready for a morning trip to a Japanese patisserie called Aki Boulanger. I was quite excited, as I was going to finally meet my blogspot friend, Miuko! The café was situated a mere several doors down from the AP pop up shop, so it was very easy remembering how to get there.

We finally arrived, and as well as Miuko, I got to meet her friend Miriam. After introductions, we went to order food, the process of which totally confused me. The people working the tills didn't seem to understand me and I certainly didn't understand them, and as a result, I ended up walking away thinking I had paid for everything, but they informed me I hadn't paid for the drinks. Why they didn't add everything up together at the same time was totally beyond me. A little flustered, I settled myself back down again at our tables out on the street.
My partner and I had blueberry cheesecake. It was absolutely delicious! The texture was perfect!

What occurred next was a few hours of funny conversations about a lot of random topics! The weather that morning was nowhere near as hot as it had been the day before, and for the most part there was a nice breeze so we were able to stay outside comfortably in the shade. I had a really great time getting to know them, and was sad when they had to leave for the tea party they were going to later! Before parting, I made sure to get a photo of us!

I hope we will meet again soon! 

We didn't do much for the rest of the day. We made our second trip to Angelic Pretty where I got a pair of OTK socks. I must say, I kinda regret this purchase. 
I made the silly assumption that they would fit because they were the same length as another pair of OTKs I own that fit well. But when I tried them on back at the apartment, they had pretty much no stretch to them, and barely covered my knee. I may have to sell them, sadly. I really don't want to, though, as they're so cute!

We spent the entire evening talking to our hosts, a French gay couple who were such interesting people! I loved that they took the time to get to know us, and it was definitely one of the more memorable parts of the trip.

On Saturday, I had initially planned on going to the Kawaii International event at Princess Crepe, but I just wasn't feeling well when my alarm went off that morning. I tried to psyche myself up to get dressed and go but I just couldn't do it, and instead allowed myself a lie in. Luckily, I was feeling much better after a few hours, though was rather disappointed that I didn't get to hang out with any lolitas that day.

I wanted to take a final trip to Baby so that I could have another scout around for something to buy. I put together a simple, pop kei inspired coordinate, as I figured this would be the most sensible option in case I wanted to try any dresses on (which I totally ended up doing!)
Ironically enough, I sweated more wearing a t-shirt and short skirt than I did when I wore my lolita jumperskirts layered over blouses! 

Before settling on my purchases, I looked around  the shop feverishly, wanting to come away with something cute, and determined not to leave until I had seen absolutely everything. I came to a headdress display and scanned it carefully.
I ended up finding a really adorable rectangle headdress which I was shocked to find suited me. I then tried on the Dot Ribbon jumsperskirt in pink, but it was unshirred, and I couldn't zip it up because of my damn bust. I then tried on a different pink dress on a whim, and it fitted perfectly! It was another shock moment as it wasn't the type of dress I would normally go for, but I loved how it looked on me. 
It is the Crown Embroidered Sailor School jumperskirt, and I will be sure to make a video about it so I can show all the details properly! It looks so different in real life than in photos!

We had a quiet night in, ready for what was sure to be another exhausting day of travelling ahead.

On Sunday morning, we got ourselves ready nice and early so that we could see the Eiffel Tower. It was on the other side of the city from us, but it only took about a half hour on the metro. There was barely anyone about at that time of morning, so we were able to get seats immediately. On our way from the station, we found out there was some sort of cycling event going on (Tour de France? Who knows. I don't keep up with sports at all), and we had to cross the roads strategically so as not to interrupt it.

Before long, we were stood in front of the famous structure. 
It was just as I imagined it would be, and I couldn't help feeling kind of excited to see it in person. 

Navigating the crowds closer to the tower was pretty unpleasant, what with street vendors shoving selfie sticks in our faces every 5 seconds, and more scammers trying to get us to sign their "petition" and donate to charity (read: their pockets). I was pretty glad when we finally broke away from the crowd and made our way back to the station.

We returned to the apartment to remove our suitcases from the room in time for the next people to come and stay there. 

We finished off our Paris experience with one of our hosts kindly filling us with French fruits,  coffee, croissants, bread and various cheeses while we got into another long conversation! We got so carried away we completely lost track of time, and were so close to being late for checking in at Gare du Nord! It was a really lovely end to our trip!

So overall, I had a good time in Paris. I was underwhelmed by some of the touristy things, as I'm not really into museums (so the things I might be interested in seeing are narrowed down dramatically!) I also hated how hot the weather was, but of course, a random heatwave cannot be helped. Would I go back? Yeah, maybe. I never got round to visiting Princess Crepe or any of the tea parties or events. It would be nice to go back with a bigger budget so I don't have to be a cheapskate about everything next time, and really make the most of the activities on offer.

I hope you enjoyed this travel diary! Have you ever been to Paris? What did you think of it? I look forward to reading your comments! See you next time 

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Summer International Lolita Day 2015

Last Saturday, I co-hosted a meet along with my friends Sammi and Luna for ILD.

Over the past few months, I have felt that meetup planning itch, which I wasn't sure I'd ever feel again after having had a lot of negative experiences in the past. Still, I broached the idea with them of doing something a bit more organised and special than the usual restaurant meets, and we put our heads together to come up with something that would be affordable and yet a lot of fun. We knew we would have to charge entry to the event, and were at first sceptical as to whether the comm would roll with it. After a few weeks of making the event, however, we found ourselves with a guest list of 12 people, a great group size!

Using the money we put together, we were able to book out an entire floor for 5 hours in our favourite pub, came up with a whole host of activities and games to fill the day with, not to mention putting together a feast, and buying prizes for the winners of each activity. On the day of the meet, we were running a little behind schedule and rushing through the city centre like our lives depended on it! We managed to get everything sorted (somehow!) and ended up having a really amazing day!

We made silly little goodie bags for everyone to take home! I don't think it's a concept you ever truly grow out of!

Here is the table of food! Sammi really stole the show here, and prepared homemade potato salad, couscous dishes, and even macarons which came out perfectly! She truly is a culinary goddess.

Our first event of the day was one of my infamous quizzes. I put together yet another print name test, where you had to guess which of the print names were real, and which ones I'd made up. The highest score was only 11/20! 

After this, we did Luna's Lolita Assault Course! The tasks were as follows: walking through a slalom as elegantly as you could while having balloons thrown at you, doing the best lolita pose you could, sitting as nicely as possible, tying the best bow, putting a sugar cube into a teacup and stirring daintily, and then doing your best lolita laugh! As you can probably tell if you've seen Misako's series on Kawaii Pateen, a lot of that activity was inspired by it!
Gorgeous Maddie got the highest score in the assault course! She is so elegant!

At the start of the day, us organisers hide one of the prizes somewhere in the room. We gave no clues or hints as to how to find it, but whoever did find it would be the one to keep it! Only two people seemed to remember to look for it, and one of those two found it immediately!
Eva was victorious! She found the super cute and fluffy macaron purse.

The next activity was pass the parcel! It took myself, Luna, and Sammi close to an hour to wrap it and put it together a few weeks ago! It had so many layers we couldn't remember which layer was the last one, and so the game (aided by some cheesy pop music we found on one of the pub's CDs) went on for quite a while! 
 I think everyone won something, even if it was only a lollipop or a lip balm. The last layer had a pair of cute Bodyline knee high socks in it. 

Next up, cupcake decorating! Everyone was allowed to decorate two cupcakes each, to be put into an anonymous display where everyone then had to vote for their favourite one!
Some cake decorating action! People got really creative with their designs.

A few of the finished cakes! Some of the ideas were incredibly adorable! It was interesting to see how differently each person approached it.

Our final event of the day was lolita charades! This was so much fun! Us organisers took it in turns to pull a print name out of a hat, and act it out. Whoever guessed it right first got to claim one of a selection of prizes. It was a really nice way to end the day!

After this, people hung around for a while and we all ate more of the food as we were getting a little hungry again! Luckily, we had bought and prepared more than enough, so there was plenty of food to go around still. 

Of course, the day wasn't complete without a (most of the) group photo! 
So much Angelic Pretty made an appearance! It was like going back in time to when sweet lolita ruled the roost!

And now for an outfit picture!
I decided to give Dreaming Macaron an outing! Lately, I've really wanted to try to stop myself from wearing so much black, so this was definitely a success. I didn't feel particularly out of my comfort zone either, so I think it would be nice to do some more proper pastel outfits more regularly. I also tried out twin buns for my hair and I like how it turned out! It's a shame I didn't get any photos of my outfit in natural lighting, but I'll probably do a similar coordinate again soon!

And finally, a mirror picture for the organisers!
Luna went with her adorable Sweetie Violet dress, and Sammi rocked up in glorious Honey Cake! We all had fun being super sweet AP lolitas that day!

Overall, I had such an amazing time, and I'm really glad I got over my mental block for organising meets! Everyone else seemed to really enjoy themselves too, which was really nice to see! One thing I did learn is that three heads are definitely better than one. Putting things together as a group gives you so many more options, points of view, suggestions, and a certain comfort in knowing that if something isn't going to plan, someone else can step in with a plan b. Plus, it's so much fun planning things to do with your best friends! I am so looking forward to us putting our heads together again to come up with another extravaganza in the near future!

What did you get up to for Summer ILD? I'd love to hear about it! Thanks for reading, and I look forward to your comments ❤

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

The Trials and Tribulations of a Budding Lolita Seamstress

Last month was quite intense for me. I spent weeks sewing and crafting constantly in preparation for debuting my collection of lolita items for a local handmade independent boutique.

During this time I learnt an awful lot, particularly about working to my own set schedule, and simply motivating myself. It's hard to do things when you have no motivation, but that in itself isn't something you can wait for. Even when you can't be bothered to do something, but you know you need to do it, you have to get up and go for it. At least, that's the mindset that worked for me-- not dwelling on it too much and not psyching myself out, but taking my sewing machine out, preparing my fabrics and threads, and getting on with it.

I did have these little Momoko-esque moments at times, feeling the occasional panic about whether or not making lolita items dulls the magic of lolita because during my production process, I finally stumbled upon an item I found truly tedious: aprons.

I love aprons in lolita. It's not so much something I like in coordinates especially, but I suppose the idea of it, and the practical nature of it has always really drawn me in. After buying a small Bodyline maid cosplay apron from a friend, I felt inspired to make a larger, more lolita friendly one. I liked the end result, and figured I'd make some more. I must be honest and admit I hated every second of it. I've never known something so seemingly straightforward could end up being so unbelievably dull. That in itself scared me. I normally find sewing a calming, therapeutic process, but when your topstitching goes wrong for the billionth time, and your waist-ties refuse to cooperate, you can't help but have a bit of a mental crisis. I suppose I berated myself for finding something so challenging, which is obviously not what we should do to ourselves. 

The life of the lolita seamstress isn't as cutesy and picturesque as I might have hoped. I normally sew in t-shirts and comfy house trousers, fringe brushed back, ready for action. I spend time awkwardly trying to promote my shop and facebook page, while being hyper-aware people don't like being advertised to. I spend a lot of time fretting about sales, page views, my fabric stash, my severe lack of space, my serious need for a dressform etc. 

I suppose it can impact on your enjoyment of the fashion. I planned on making the jumperskirt of my coordinate for an event in September, but it's been at the bottom of my priority list, with only the pattern drawn, and the design sketched out. I've neglected to go and choose my fabric, lace, ribbon, or even to do a mockup. 

Still, I know it's important to make sure that lolita itself doesn't become a chore for me. If I weren't so passionate about all this, there's no way I would still be doing it. I don't think people realise just how taxing starting a brand is. Mine is still in its infancy and yet it does consume a huge portion of my time and my life, and I'm not even making and selling the big items like dresses yet, or being inundated with orders for that matter. I feel a bit anxious at the task looming of making my dress. I have the fear that my plan won't match the final result. It's a big deal because I will be a walking advertisement of my skills, and to get feedback from others see whether I can dresses that people would genuinely want to buy. I want to enjoy the process though, and focus on the end result of another pretty dress to add to my wardrobe I get the added bonus of being proud of because I made it.

I don't want to fall into the trap of something I love becoming something I despise because I turned it into work rather than leaving it as a personal hobby. For now at least, I'm OK with giving all of this a shot. It does bring me joy to know there's now a space where one can go in store to purchase lolita items (even if only a small and sweet selection) in my local area. I know realistically my business will probably never provide me with enough income to be my main career, and that ultimately, that might be for the best, in terms of retaining my enjoyment of lolita and sewing itself. I'm fine with that.

Nevertheless, to be directly contributing to the lolita community at large by being a creative force is an important thing to me, and I think that so long as this fashion continues to add beauty to my life, then this is what I want to do.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Taking Inspiration From... Yourself!?

Lately, I've been going through old coordinate photos and wondering how some of my earlier coordinates look so good to me now. Sometimes, taking a step back (or in my case, letting about 4 years pass) allows you to look at yourself a bit more objectively, plus hindsight allows you a much better understanding of past situations and experiences. Focusing on your personal style as a way to come up with new ideas also prevents you from getting the urge to compare yourself to others, and simply allows you to build on your own successes.

While I have no burning issues with my current style, I sometimes can't help thinking it's not where I had planned on going. I've ended up putting together the perfect wardrobe for daily wear-- which is good, as I wear lolita wherever I go: work, errands, hanging out with friends, etc. But I rarely look at recent coordinates and feel there's anything special about them. I mainly stick to black dresses, small hair accessories, and little to no jewellery. 

I can't help feeling a bit of nostalgia for my older photos, so I'm taking things back to 2011 in hopes of figuring out what it is I want to change.

May 2011

This was my first full on lolita coordinate where nothing was half-arsed, I had a real petticoat, and I made an effort with my hair and makeup. A lot of hard work went into putting that outfit together, and I was especially careful with it seeing as it was my outfit for London Expo. There's a lot of red going on but I think it remains balanced. I think I like this outfit so much because it's precise, carefully coordinated, and unapologetically bright. It's certainly matchy-matchy, but I like it for that reason. And as an aside, I wish Bodyline would re-release those shoes so I could get the next size up as sadly, those amazing shoes never fit me properly!

June 2011
This... this was a good outfit. I love the otome kei vibe and very simple use of colour. Again, very matchy with all the red, but who cares? I think the simplicity of this look really suits me, and it makes me want to get into otome kei properly. I think wearing lolita super casually can make you look a bit frumpy, so it would be nice to own more dresses which aren't made specifically for use with a petticoat like this one.

June 2011
Still summer 2011! What was happening that season that made me put together such great outfits?! This was the day I took the photo that was to become my blog banner. I think I liked this outfit due to its unusual shades of pink and brown. The headbow is the waistbow from the skirt, with a plastic headband threaded through it. Once again, effort went into the hair and makeup, and everything in the outfit has its place, from the cute bag bringing out the pink in the skirt print, to the cupcake necklace. I must say, I really love this outfit. Great job, 17-year-old me! I can't help but wonder why I don't still wear large headbows sometimes. I think I'll rectify that!

So, my conclusion? I think I used to put a lot more care and attention into my outfits. They were never heavily accessorised or OTT, but I definitely think I've become a bit lazy when it comes to lolita-- hence why the vast majority of my outfit pictures never make it online! I know it's because I wear it all the time now, and back then it was just a special occasion thing. Still, I prefer how I looked in lolita then, to how I look now. Perhaps the fact I've gone from teenager to adult-in-their-twenties has allowed some of the whimsy and softness to leave my coordinates at times, plus the general lolita climate has changed a lot since then, stylistically speaking. Sweet was still very much the dominant force in 2011, but now it's all about OTT classic, and I think I've subconsciously felt the need to wear my clothing in a more mature, refined way.  Even how I do my hair has completely changed, and I find myself trying out up-dos and wearing extensions to look more mature. Looking back at these pictures, though, I don't think my sweet lolita style was ever garish or tacky, and I simply began to second-guess myself by spending so much time agonizing over what the current trends are. One solution for my overly casual outfits would be to try out otome kei, as I mentioned before. It's still a cutesy fashion (with retro sensibilities I love), but it's more suitable for day to day life, and would mean I could "save up" lolita for days when I want to go all out again, Failing that, I think I should at least try to make more effort when going to meetups, instead of dressing exactly how I would any other day!

Going forward, I still want to continue on with my old school lolita quest, but I also think I'll go back a few years and look over the sweet lolita trends I used to love, which almost seem old school to me now! The ever popular classic lolita doesn't suit me sadly, so it's time I focused more attention on what does, and what made me feel so excited to wear lolita in the first place. I used to obsess over Angelic Pretty, and although it's probably not apparent in these photos, my aim was to one day graduate to being an all pastel-wearing sweet lolita.

It's like I'm regressing! Surely the natural order is to graduate from sweet to classic as you get older? I don't know... somehow, sweet lolita always pulls me back in again. Even if I only wore super pastel sweet dresses on special occasions, it would be great to finally have the confidence to look as unashamedly cutesy as I've always wanted to. It feels almost like a final hurdle in terms of self confidence. If I can wear an all pastel outfit comfortably, from a large headbow to pastel OTK socks, I'd feel like I'd come full circle.

Do you ever look over older photos of yourself? I'd love to know if you've ever tried to return to your roots in a certain style, or revisit past aims you forgot about! Thanks for reading, and I look forward to your comments!