Saturday, 28 February 2015

Making Your Mark in Lolita Fashion

I think it's something we all go through from time to time... a certain feeling of inadequacy, or a strong urge to be known, to make an impression, to go out there and DO something and have others witness it.

Now, more than ever, those who wear lolita clothing cross-post outfits here, there, and everywhere. Through tumblr especially, lolita has been spread to a wider audience and as a result, more and more people have discovered the style. In the last year alone there have been numerous "kawaii" related contests in which you must submit your best coordinate photos, and then get people to vote for you to win some sort of prize. So-called "e-famous" lolitas have found themselves overwhelmed with the popularity they've ended up achieving for themselves, and getting an unexpected backlash which forces them to reconsider even wearing the fashion they once loved so much. I can't help but wonder if the shift of the online community from its cosy, humble Livjournal beginnings to the internet at large is to blame for not only the change of atmosphere, but also the change of expectation when participating in the fashion.

There have always been lolitas who are more popular than others: the ones who would get the most comments on daily_lolita, or who ran a blogspot with a lot of followers. The difference then was that there was no real pressure for them to be anything more than a regular person occasionally sharing their outfits, or someone running their amateur blog. Lately, it seems as though people enter this fashion with the very aim of posting the best coordinate photos as a way to increase their online popularity, and with the aim of putting together the most dramatic outfits specifically for photoshoots they can post to tumblr for notes and eventual notoriety. That isn't to say I believe there is anything wrong with wanting attention. I think, at the core, we as human beings are all attention seekers to a degree. If I wanted no interaction with others, this blog would be private. If I didn't ever want opinions on my outfits or my thoughts, it would make more sense for me to have no online presence whatsoever. Of course I want people to see me!

However, I do believe there comes a point where you cross the line between wanting some recognition for pulling off a particularly cute outfit, and getting dressed up for the sole purpose of having content to share with your fans. I think it's a matter of priorities, and how we view ourselves within the lolita community at large. We must not be consumed by the urge to be "the best", the "most popular", the "most easily recognised" or the one with the "most impressive wardrobe." When these things come to epitomise the lolita experience for you, it won't be fun anymore. You become self conscious. You use meetups as photo opportunities rather than a chance to make friends and meet new people. You begin to treat clothing as a competition, and rather than going with the flow and being involved in lolita for the pure joy of it. You begin to compare yourself to others. You begin to come up with unrealistic expectations for yourself, such as the number of likes your photo should get each time, or how many followers you must gain by a certain date. What once was a beautiful method of self expression becomes a toxic, vicious cycle. How do I know all this? I speak from personal experience.

Lolita was the first fashion I ever got into that I felt suited me. It was also the first time I was able to break away from an unsatisfying social life made up of shoddy relationships gained through being in education, and instead surround myself with people I actually had things in common with. I got into the fashion fairly young, at around 16, and during the first few frilly years, I became too obsessed with measuring up to everyone else. Even now, there are older coordinate photos that I can't bear to look at. Not so much because the clothes looked off or ita (which they sometimes did), but because I remember how I felt the day the picture was taken. I remember my low self esteem. I remember every occasion I returned from a meetup only to cry because I hated every single photo of myself from that day. I remember painstakingly taking photo after photo of myself on self timer, and never achieving the perfection I craved. Every derpy face, bad angle, and poorly put together outfit impressed upon me that I would never be good enough. I desperately sought self validation through my mediocre blogging, and underwhelming outfit photos.

Between October 2011 and January 2013, I didn't attend a single lolita meetup or event. I wanted to leave the emotional baggage of lolita behind, but I couldn't bring myself to get rid of the clothes I adored so much. As a compromise, I decided to have no real life interaction with other lolitas. I think that hiatus was good for me. I finished school, was thrown into university life, and was able to come to terms with a lot of things about myself I hadn't been able to previously. The big thing for me was the realisation I wasn't truly this antisocial introvert. I loved meeting people. I loved talking to others. I knew I needed to give it one final shot. But before I could, I knew I needed to stop wanting popularity so badly. I needed to stop measuring my worth against how much of a mark I had made on the lolita world, and the world at large. I do not exist to be seen as successful or useful or important. I exist to exist, and what I choose to do with my existence needn't be spectacular in order for it to be one worth having. With this firmly in mind, I began attending meetups again. I grew the confidence to take photos of myself again. I gradually improved my styling of hair and makeup and filled the glaring holes in my wardrobe essentials. I treated all of these as personal missions, rather than public declarations of my worth.

I feel a lot better about myself these days. I have made wonderful friends, and I love attending lolita events with them. I revel in the excitement of planning new coordinates, of meeting up with friends to chat about lolita and also life in general. Lolita is truly a fun thing for me now, and I didn't need to do anything drastic to make that happen. Maybe one day I'll carry out my own little plans for my local communities. I would love to have a big J-fashion bring and buy sale that everyone could participate in. I would love to organise proper activity-filled meets. I would love to be ambitious, and make attending local lolita meets a super fun thing to take up the time between the large scale lolita events. But if I do choose to go ahead with my plans, it won't be because I want to prove something to the world, but because I think they would be fun things to take part in, and believe others would think so, too. Nothing more, nothing less.

The biggest thing for me is that I stopped comparing myself to others, and now I have a lot more confidence. The fact I'm not adored by endless fans or considered anyone's style inspiration is no longer important to me. Right now, the only mark I feel I need to make in the lolita world is to treat every person I come across with kindness, and continue to make good friends within the community. I am being the best me that I can be, both as a person, and as a lolita, and that in itself is more than enough. 


Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Japonica Market Review

I must rather shamefacedly admit that I had never bought anything using Japanese auctions before the experience I am about to tell you about. I used to psyche myself out whenever I read online explanations of using a shopping service, and just sort of gave up on the idea. And now? I've decided to stop being a wimp and limiting my options for secondhand lolita goods! 

After hunting fruitlessly on the western secondhand market, and also Japanese secondhand stores, I decided to trawl my way through Yahoo Auctions in an attempt to find the black bag my heart was aching for. A friend recommended Japonica Market to me for this very purpose in the past, so I decided they would be who I would try this time.

Ordering Process
On 30th January I decided to go for an Angelic Pretty bag that only had about 17 hours left on its auction. I wasn't sure how often Japonica checked their emails so I did what their website advised about auctions ending soon, and sent a deposit to them via PayPal. And then, I went to bed because it was coming up to 1 in the morning.

About an hour after I went to bed, I received an invoice for the PayPal fee for the deposit. I paid this, and then simply had to wait for Japonica to bid on the item for me.

I was emailed the following day from their agent, Tajima (who always emailed in such a timely, easy to understand manner, making the process very simple for me!) about the fact I had won the bag. I then waited for the bag to reach their warehouse. This happened on February 6th, and they emailed me asking for the go-ahead to pack up the item to be shipped out to me. I said this was fine, and they responded the next day (the 7th) telling me they could take a few days to do this due to a backlog of orders they needed to work through. Immediately after this email, however, I received my final invoice, which I paid the same day. Later on, I got an email telling me the package would be shipped out the following Monday as this was a Saturday.

So, on Monday 9th February I received a final email from Japonica telling me my package had been shipped out, along with a tracking number to use.

The package made it into England on the 12th and then... the tracking information remained the same for 5 days. What on earth were they doing with it?! 

On the 17th it finally started the journey to my local postal depot, was retained on the 18th (which of course meant a nice big import VAT charge looming as I completely forgot about trying to bypass the fees by asking for the package to be marked down. SO annoyed at myself!) and on Friday 20th, I was given the fee slip. 

On Monday 23rd February, I finally had my package! By the time it came I had half forgotten about it and it meant I was super excited to open it!

My bag was sent out in a sturdy box.

After slicing it open, I was greeted with this.
The bag was carefully wrapped in bubble wrap, and had no space to move around in the box. The bottom of the box was also carefully padded with bubble wrap.

The bag out of the box. Here you can see how they secured the bag straps. The bag itself was stuffed with huge wads of tissue paper to help it retain its shape.

My beautiful bag! It's Angelic Pretty's Jewel Ribbon Boston Bag (2011 release I believe.)

Apart from the minor hiccup about ending up shelling out an extra £22+ because I didn't mark the package down, I would say this was an overwhelmingly positive shopping experience! Tajima was a pleasure to work with due to their fast emailing, and easy to understand breakdown about how far along in the ordering process I was. The packaging of my item was great, and I really liked that you get asked beforehand about whether or not you are happy to go ahead and have the item sent to you yet. Japonica's fees were incredibly reasonable given how attentive their service is, and I would happily recommend them to anyone. Thanks, Japonica Market!

I hope you found this review helpful! If you have any questions about my order, then please feel free to ask! See you next time  

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Some Recent Winter Coordinates!

Hey everyone! I didn't meant to not post for a couple of weeks... it just happened! Today is Valentine's Day and I have no plans this time, so I figured now would be as good a time as any to catch up on some blogging!

Lately I've been busy with job hunting, sewing bloomers for my online shop, taking driving lessons, revising driving theory... amongst other things. 

Sometime last month I had a nice catchup with my friends. It felt so good to get out of the house and leave my worries behind for the day. We headed to a Korean restaurant, where the food was really nice and good value for money.

Toilet pictures are never classy but the mirror was so big I had to...
Headdress: Handmade
Bolero: Bodyline
Skirt: Angelic Pretty's Chocolat-Chan Going Out
Bag: Floozie by Frost French
Shoes: Bodyline
I was feeling in the mood for monochrome and ended up putting together this cream and black coordinate.

A couple of weeks ago I decided to check out a large vintage fair happening in Oxford. I didn't have a great time but I really liked my outfit that day.
Hairbow: Handmade
Blouse: Bodyline
Jumperskirt: Baby, The Stars Shine Bright's Serenade
I definitely like how more old school styling looks on me and will definitely continue to incorporate more non-printed dresses into my wardrobe.

Last Sunday was a large anniversary meetup for the Oxfordshire Lolitas. I was incredibly anxious in the run up to the meet seeing as I hadn't been to one in a while, and a lot of people were set to be attending. However, I needn't have worried, and Luna pulled off a really lovely day for us. Definitely glad I went in the end!
Headdress: Handmade
Jumperskirt: Metamorphose's Vintage Poodle
Wristcuffs: Akilya on Taobao
Shoes: Bodyline
I won the prize for Best Sweet that day which I'm really pleased about, particularly because I don't think I was wearing a typical sweet outfit!

So... there's my short but sweet roundup of some of the outfits I've been wearing lately. I still seem to wear a lot of black considering I'm a sweet lolita, but I don't know-- I think it suits me somehow! I know I need to branch out more but for now, I am pleased with my style!

I'd love to see your comments! Hope you're all having a great Valentine's Day, and I'll see you next time!