Lolita Fashion and Minimalist Lifestyle

Something that seems to be gaining a lot of traction in blogger and vlogger circles is minimalism-- that is, getting rid of anything that isn't essential to your day to day life in order to simplify it, thus encouraging you to live life more fully than you might if you're heavily focused on your possessions. As soon as I heard about this lifestyle I was very interested in it, and immediately began applying its principles to my life.

I have been watching a lot of extreme minimalist YouTubers lately, trying to decide how I feel about the lifestyle on that level. Honestly, while I am totally behind the idea of simplifying your life (last year it was a series of de-cluttering videos that inspired me to get rid of a load of junk, re-organise my clothing, and feel a lot better for it) I'm not overly impressed by a lot of what I've been seeing these days. Perhaps it's because I sense a certain undercurrent to their life philosophy that seems to say: "if you don't follow this lifestyle you are inherently less enlightened and probably don't lead a fulfilling life." Or maybe it's because it infringes on my lolita sensibilities. By their definition, the fact I own an array of clothes isn't very minimalist of me.

In my opinion, extreme "hipster" minimalism is just the cousin of materialism, only this time with a pseudo-intellectual mission statement. I have felt this more and more as I see videos dedicated to getting the number of items a person possesses down to a specific amount, like 50, and a constant showing off of how few things they own, and how easily they can be transported. Rather than sticking to what I assume the initial purpose of minimalism was, it's become entirely about numbers and one-upmanship for some people. Are they really much different to those who like to have a lot of possessions, who want to complete certain collections or aim to have x-amount of a particular item? I'm not so sure. Taking anything to an extreme level tends to be a bad idea.

Still, I think it's perhaps the excess of materialism that is the more immediate, dangerous cousin of the two, and lolita fashion is something that seems to drive a lot of people towards it whether I like to admit it or not. Discussions in lolita Facebook groups about shopping addictions, getting overdrafts to pay for dresses, and other financial irresponsibility with regards to acquiring new releases are worryingly common. I can't help thinking that some of these people would benefit from applying minimalism to their life.

Despite all this, I don't believe that lolita is completely at odds with minimalism if you go into it with the right mindset. Lolitas get a bad rap at times, and are often described as being materialistic or spoilt by outsiders. It probably doesn't help that some of the most popular lolita videos out there are unboxings, haul videos, and wardrobe tours; these are all very much focused on possessions and acquisition of said possessions, which can cause viewers to feel inadequate and thus view such content as something to aspire to. There are so many lolitas who are incredibly visible and popular online, presenting very attractive, luxurious lifestyles, which seem to have spawned a competitiveness, and a need to "keep up" with other lolitas that was never previously present to this extent.

Interestingly, though, lolitas are often very fluid when it comes to possessing clothing. The secondhand marketplace has always thrived, and many lolitas will sell off items after a mere season, so they can afford new releases from the next one. In this way, wardrobes don't become out of control, pieces get re-used by other lolitas rather than ending up in landfill, and a lolita's life isn't ruled by their possessions as they have no intense emotional connection to them. Some lolitas really do have huge collections, but they are often daily lolitas/lolitas who are able to wear the fashion very often. If all of your possessions have a purpose, aren't taking over your life, and aren't causing you financial instability, I don't think it's necessary to downsize for the sake of a minimal aesthetic, and I believe it's possible to be passionate about lolita without it leading to your eventual downfall.

There are lolitas like myself, for example, who rarely sell off their pieces, and don't really keep up with acquiring new releases, or adopting current trends. I have been building my lolita wardrobe for 6 years and it now fills up a free-standing wardrobe. It's not big. I am not a shopping addict, am pretty frugal when it comes to treating myself to physical items, and have always added to my wardrobe at a very slow pace. When I see something hung up that I'm not into anymore, or I haven't worn for a long time, I sell it. My pieces get a lot of love, and I wear them in heavy rotation. I own a fair amount of miscellaneous junk outside of my lolita collection, but I know that those things are replaceable (and I don't even think I want to replace most of it. I've got so much crap to get rid of, and am looking forward to the space it will free up afterwards, both physically and mentally) and therefore have no control over me. It's funny really-- I actually think getting into lolita helped me to conquer a hoarding mindset I used to have in other areas of my life, because my new focus became quality, rather than quantity. Maybe being a lolita minimalist isn't quite as far-fetched a concept as one might initially think! As with anything in life, it's what you bring to it that counts, and if what you bring to lolita is a healthy mindset towards your possessions, I don't see why it isn't possible to create a lifestyle complementary to both lolita and minimalism.

While I disagree with the increasingly popular, extreme version of minimalism presented in certain circles of YouTubers lately, I think the re-evaluation that minimalism encourages is something that should be a regular part of our lives, and can be really useful where a lolita wardrobe is concerned. As an exercise, I would suggest you take a look at your wardrobe. Is your spending getting out of control? What do you hope to gain by making your next purchase? Are there pieces you never wear? Are there items collecting dust that you keep for "sentimental value"? Do you feel overwhelmed when you think of your possessions? Sometimes we need to be a little drastic with ourselves, and make sure we are not hoarding things or making bad financial decisions just to fulfill what is really a mental or emotional void. Or, quite simply, it might just be time for a spring clean.

And what if you don't want to get rid of rarely worn items? Then wear them! Push yourself to come up with a new way of coordinating your pieces. Show them some love. There's nothing wrong with having a lot of things if they all have a purpose and bring happiness to your life. I haven't yet had a chance to read Marie Kondo's "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" (which I'm told is a good read if you're in an organisational rut), but I do know of the main KonMari principle: keep only the things which spark joy. That seems like a good motto to live by, in addition to all things in moderation.

Do you consider yourself a minimalist, or the complete opposite? I'd love to know about your relationship with your possessions, and how it informs your choices when it comes to your lolita wardrobe!

Thanks for reading, and I'll see you next time 

6 Comments

  1. I always was a little Minimalist, because my student apartment is really small, so I’m constantly reorganizing my room and throwing out stuff I don’t need. My biggest problem was that I was always buying cheap crafting materials, decoration, make-up etc. even if I didn’t had a specific use for them, and I ended up with so many things were I even forgot that I own them, because they were at the back of my drawer etc. So since 1-2 years I really tried not to buy random stuff anymore and I’m successful most of the time. Also I’m currently making a bigger clean-up, I always do a clean-up 1-2 times per year, but this time I especially focus on the items I never throw away because of “sentimental value”. Since I have a small apartment, I stored many of those items in boxes on top of my closets or at my parents home, and not seeing them for a long time made me loose the sentimental value on most items.

    The quote of KonMari really sums it up, Minimalist doesn't have to mean that you only own the stuff you need to survive. In my opinion, not having many items can make life more difficult (e.g. you don’t need a washing mashine, but it makes washing way easier than hand-wash) and it is only useful, if you actually have the chance to travel around all the time, but most people can't have such a free lifestyle.

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    1. Having a limited amount of space can be really useful sometimes! I used to have large amounts of storage, and I filled it with all sorts of useless junk. A few years ago I drastically minimized this, and I too have been able to more or less prevent myself from accumulating things I don't need. I think I am due for a "sentimental" item clear up though! Mine are stored away in a similar fashion to yours, and the expression "out of sight, out of mind" is very applicable here. I'm aware of things I have, but they have definitely stopped feeling important seeing as I can literally go years without needing them or missing them. One trick I have for certain things I know I need to get rid of but don't want to lose the memory of is just to take a picture of it before throwing it away. Oftentimes we are holding onto the memory associated with the object rather than the thing itself, and having a photo on a memory stick or hard drive is really all you need to muster the strength to let things go.

      I completely agree with you! It is certainly possible to lead an extremely frugal, basic lifestyle but it won't necessarily simplify your life on a practical level, and could actually cause more problems in the long run if you aren't some sort of backpacker. I'm sure a person can learn a lot by experiencing life with just the absolute necessities, but if you are able to have other things as well, such as comfort, homeliness and things which bring true joy to your life, then I don't see how that can ever be a bad thing!

      Thanks a lot for commenting, dear 💖

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  2. I like the concept of minimalism. However, I feel that everyone needs to do what feels right for them. I do have a lot of stuff, stuff I will never part with. However, I did recently de-clutter and get rid of lots of stuff that was no longer serving me. I also think twice before purchasing something, since I used to buy things just for the sake of it and then soon after disposing of them...

    Nagareboshi9

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    1. Yes, I agree! Too often lately people will preach to and judge others for not living more basic lives, but honestly, basic and stripped back doesn't work for everyone. So long as your possessions aren't controlling you and having a negative impact, then why completely overhaul your life just to fit a mould?

      I've been de-cluttering gradually and it has taught me a lot about my attitude towards "stuff". I'm so much better at letting go of things now, and I think this newfound balance means I'll never amass such a huge and pointless accumulation of junk again. Instead, I can focus on things that have a use and will continue to bring me joy for an extended period of time!

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  3. I must be wandering round different parts of YouTube because I never heard of tis extreme minimalism trend. But having read about it here, I think I agree with you - not being too focused on material possessions is important, but not at the cost of being a self-righteous and obnoxious knob or the cost of missing out on the things that bring joy to your life. I know that I don't wear Lolita or my vintage clothes as often as I'd like to, but they make me happier, so I'm trying to find/create more opportunities to wear them rather than give/sell them up for the sake of clearing up some space. Like with most things in life, balance is key, but that balance will be different for each individual, so you just have to try things out and find the things that work for you.


    http://cupcakes-and-unicorns.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Honestly, it's probably for the best! I tend to stumble upon these videos by typing in things like "minimalist apartment tour" or "minimalist lifestyle." A lot of the videos feature the sort of content you'd expect, but others are far more intense and seem to be focused on one-upmanship.

      I like that approach you're taking with the things you don't wear often-- finding new ways of appreciating what you have rather than getting rid of it all in a rush. An idea I see passed around a lot is that you need to get rid of clothes you haven't worn in 6 months. I have pieces I intentionally don't wear often because I like to save them for certain events or seasons, but the time in between wears in no way means I do not value these pieces or that they do not have a purpose in my life. Like you said, balance is very much a case by case thing, and we shouldn't feel pressured into living a lifestyle presented as the ideal if it doesn't work for us.

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