Feb 28, 2011

Loliprompt: Lolita Lifestyle

I stumbled a while ago upon Loliprompts, a brilliant site providing prompts to respond to and to give ideas to all the lolita bloggers out there.  One of these prompts was on a topic that I've been considering for quite a while now.

What is the “Lolita lifestyle”? Is it real or imagined? Does your idea of such a lifestyle differ from the ideas of others? Do you, or would you like to, adhere to this lifestyle?

To be honest, this is something that I've been puzzling over. Because this is obviously something that many people see as a reality and that many people strive to be. That being said, I'm sure it's something that is a reality... but I'm not entirely sure that's a good thing.

But then, don't I fit all the qualifications?

I enjoy tea, so much so that it's a daily ritual to sit and relax with a cup every night. I wear my frills very nearly every day, only wearing jeans on special occasions or when skirts are completely impractical. I enjoy ladylike crafts such as jewelry making and embroidery. I like to surround myself with things that are cute and beautiful and I value manners and modesty. I adore sweets, eating and baking them. I love picnics, especially in fancy settings. One of my favorite places to go in good weather is the zoo, where I stroll around in a pretty dress twirling my parasol. I even write a lolita-themed blog and have a lolita pen-pal. So aren't I a lifestyle lolita?

Yes. I guess. But... no. Yes, I define myself as a lolita, but I do not one of those things because I'm a lolita. With perhaps the exception of the parasol, but even that I bought months before I started really wearing the fashion. While it's true that I acknowledge some fashions are backed by ideals and ways of living - is it odd to say that I don't really consider lolita a sort of lifestyle? To me, lolita fashion is about an expression of the me that was already there. Being a lolita isn't about things I do, but the confidence I have in who I am. I didn't change to fit the fashion, the fashion just happened to fit me. I view the style as an enhancement, so to make an attempt to define any sort of likes/dislikes you must have attached to it would be a lie.

If there is an ideal attached to the fashion I don't think it's to be a pretty pretty princess at all times. So what is a lolita lifestyle, then? If I had to define a code to live by as a lolita, I would say it is simply be joyful. The aesthetic theme of the style is in its details. So should we not, as a group that tries to define itself by our fashion, take the cue directly from our clothing? So take joy in the little things. The texture of the fabric of your skirt, the lines of embroidery, the colors in a favorite print, the way the sun turns clouds pink in the afternoon, the flavors of a well prepared meal, the pride of doing well in a favorite game, the company of a friend or the pleasant peace of being alone. Find joy in everything.

If you are looking to be a lifestyle lolita, don't turn to a checklist and edit you life accordingly. If you love the fashion that much, your passion for it already qualifies you for the title. Don't do things you don't enjoy. Don't stop doing the things you love. If you love paintball fights, go for it. (I'd recommend not wearing frills during this activity, but if that rocks your world...) If you love skateboarding, making salsa, comic books, science, welding, veggie farming, playing video games with persistent gore turned on, tree climbing, whatever it is that isn't a classic girly lolita activity - do what makes you happy. Even all the checklists defining what a proper lolita should be include spoiling yourself, right?

Feb 24, 2011

Pretty of the week: Scent of Rapunzel

It wasn't all that long ago that I saw Tangled for the first time and replaced Belle as my favorite Disney princess. So needless to say, I was thrilled with this new print. I'm especially in love with the pale blues and lavenders in the white colorway. And the clutter of print reminds me a little of the movie even if the style is largely different.

I'll paint the walls some more
I'm sure there's room somewhere

Feb 22, 2011

Photoshoot: steamy goes sweet

My husband recently bought a new camera and, being the wonderful man he is, decided to break it in by taking an unplanned photoshoot. I ran to get into a dress I'd wanted photographed for a while and quickly fixed my hair. Here are a few of the shots we really liked.

Even though I don't normally wear things that could be called sweet, the idea of a sweet-steam loli is one that I'd love to pull off.

With a few of the books I'll be reviewing once I work through the fairy tale list.

A close up of the embroidery.

As a bonus, the coordinate I actually wore today.

Books for Lolitas: The Swan Kingdom

What by Who: The Swan Kingdom by Zoe Marriott

Another of my favorite stories is that of the princess who were turned to swans and saved by their sister, who remained mute as she wove thorn-spun shirts to break the spell. This... is not really that story at all. Which is, really, the worst thing I can say. Unlike Goose Girl I can't lay this on a mix up - it is simply a grand re-imagining. And one that works quite well, though it left me slightly confused as to what had happened at certain points.

The story centers around Alexandra, a princess that runs about the woods around her castle and studies earth magic with her mother, all the while admiring her three brothers and wishing her father wouldn't be so disappointed in her. When her mother is attacked and dies, her father marries a beautiful witch and her brothers disappear. Alexandra is then sent away in a rickety cart to live with her aunt in a far away kingdom until she manages to break the spell on her brothers, defeat the witch and return home.

It isn't so much the story that comes from the familiar tale that made me recommend the book, however. Nor is it the old world magic elements, though they were an interesting touch. No, what really spoke to me was the princess's transformation while at her aunt's house. When she first arrives she is horrified at the order of the place, and of her aunt. She is a wild sort of princess, one that plays and digs in the earth and has never cared overmuch for her appearance or her manner. But during her time there she transitions from a carefree child to a confident, elegant woman. She wears her hair in a neatly styled bun, enjoys her formal gowns and holds herself as one who deserves respect. And yet through all this change she remains herself.

It's a situation that speaks to me, in a way. In school I was very much like the princess at the begining of the story. I never wore make-up or put much thought into what I wore. In college I seem to remember being covered in a nearly constant layer of charcoal and took to wearing black daily simply because it was easier than keeping the stains from art class out of my clothes. But some time after graduation and after getting married I found myself somewhat changed and was dealing with changes around me. I couldn't be the art student anymore and was working less with charcoal and more with books. I was free to try a new image and for the first time I really wanted to. And eventually I came back around to lolita, a fashion I'd admired but been afraid to try in high school but had forgotten in the craze of classes and friends after. It is a far cry from the image of myself that I've put forward before, but at the same time I'm still utterly myself. And I have a hard time believing I'm alone in this transformation.

I'm not sure how much I would recommend this book, however. I suppose it hits the right notes. The story is well told, though not as advertised. The characters are good and the addition of the magic tied to the land gave it a great feel. However, the plot was predicable and slightly confusing all at once and the countries seemed to be separated by time periods rather than distance, which was slightly unsettling. Still, it is a quick, pleasant read that's a decent filler for a rainy afternoon.

Feb 18, 2011

Pokemon Weekend

To start off I'd like to apologize for missing the normal updates this week due to the move. However, we are now all moved in and except for the weekend of unpacking that looms before us, we shouldn't have much left to do until we go on a planned new furniture and decorating spree. Which means that not only will there be a return to normal posts next week, but that thanks to my new and gradually getting prettier craft room, I'll be posting some more tutorials and craft updates. In the mean time I thought that perhaps I'd enlighten you all to the fabulous pre-move weekend I had with my good friend Lira.

It all started with this.

It's not really a big secret that I'm a bit of a geek, about some things more than others. I'm pretty sure the pokemon games qualify as one of those. I've played the games since the first versions came out (I started with blue) and have never yet had a main game release come out that I didn't own rather quickly. So it goes without saying that I'm a tad bit excited about these new games. So when Lira informed me of the national tour we decided that we would make at least one of the stops. And, though she isn't into the frills, we would do it all dressed up for the occasion.

I went dressed in my "marshmallow" skirt and my favorite white blouse.

 Lira went in a really great outfit to match/contrast mine.

It was a great weekend, and I recommend that anyone who's a fan of the games and can make it to one of the stops to do so. There is a trial room set up to play a demo of the new games - we went through twice to test out each version and get both of the pins they give you as you exit. The malls with theaters also host free showings of the newest film, a real treat since the US hasn't seen a theater release of a pokemon movie since the third film and this one is quite a bit better than a lot of the straight to DVD films. There was also a mall wide stamp hunt, which ended in a chance to spin a prize wheel. My prize was a starter stylus, while Lira won a phone charm. But other prizes included plushies, which we bought at the pokemon center booth after failing to win. The Gamestop was giving away Celebis as well, which triggers events in gold/silver as well as in black/white.

All in all, it was just fun, a great way to spend time with a friend, get some free stuff, buy a few awesome plushies, get way too excited about the game and to get away from packing boxes for a day.

Feb 11, 2011

Pretty of the week: Bodyline rose jsk

So let's talk about bodyline for a bit. As a lolita with a very small budget I have more than a couple items from there. I'd heard the horror stories long before I ever ordered my first piece - an emergency petticoat replacement that had to get there a lot sooner than anywhere else I knew at the time could get it to me. And honestly, that one depressed me by a lot. But later I had a friend tell me her gorgeous jsk was a bodyline piece. What was it she was wearing that had me rushing home to spend my last bit of birthday money?

I almost didn't find it on the site. The main picture is of the not-so-elegant all red colorway, surrounded by other single color prints that, especially in blurry bodyline photo-vision look cheap and costume-ish to me. This little treasure is hidden away in the corner of the photograph. I broke down and ordered the black carousel skirt when I got the dress,  along with some shoes and little accessories. Some things I was more than pleased with, others I wasn't.

However, this winter I've worn this dress more than anything else in my closet. It's a very versatile piece, really. I made it into a holiday outfit my paring it with a deep green cardigan, a fluffy polar bear open back hat based on the MintyMix design and a teddy bear necklace. I wear it most often with an off-white blouse and tights, but it looks very dramatic if I switch those to black and add in cameos and pearls. But lately I'm wearing it with layered, flowing cream colored vintage shirts and lucky antiquing find jewelry.  It gives it a sort of dreamy, older fairy tale feel. I've been wanting to try it with a wine cut-sew, which is something I'm planning to try for Friday when I'll be doing more than packing up the apartment and meeting cable instillation crews.

It's a great dress that can work in casual wear or in fancier coordinates. The deep red roses with green leaves are great as a holiday print without being limited to just the one season. It's also only $31, which means I'm not terrified of ruining it every time I wear it.

Feb 7, 2011

Books for Lolitas: Howl's Moving Castle

Who and What: Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

I'll be honest. I love stories, but far far FAR more than stories or characters I love language. I especially love books that mix modern sorts of stories with language that comes from a much older time and fairy tales that know they're fairy tales. Because if you honestly lived in a fairy tale sort of world there are certain rules you would know. Never turn away old women asking for a night's shelter, never say thank you to fairies, kisses are the best way to break spells and that carrying a hunk of milky cheese around is a good idea when you might be meeting giants. This is one of those books that allows the characters to be aware of the rules.

Sophie is the oldest of three, and is well aware of the fact that destines her to be the least successful of her sisters. As such she is somewhat content to talk to the hats she makes in the hat shop she will one day inherit while her sisters go off to learn trades that will help them seek their fortunes. Only, she isn't all that happy with the lonesome task. One day fate intervenes in the form of a witch and a curse and sends her off on a journey that introduces her to the famous and feared wizard Howl.

There are morals to the story and briliant themes filling the pages, but they are not why it makes the list. Not at all.

Behold! The story you thought of when you saw the title!

Don't get me wrong, I adore this movie. Love love love. But it really only has the plot set up in common with the book. I'll not say the book is better than the movie. They are so very different and follow such different methods of story telling and contain such different themes that it's pretty hard to compare the two. I will say that if you enjoyed the film you are very likely to enjoy the book.

So if you like quirky, reluctant heroines, handsome wizards, talking fires and the things they get into, or even if you just want to see what on earth the differences might be, I highly recommend picking up both the book and the movie.

Feb 3, 2011

Pretty of the week: Cherry Berry Bunny

The sound I make when I see those bunnies makes the cat very angry.

Now for something a little different. I don't really wear sweet style. That's not to say I don't like the aesthetic. To the contrary, I adore seeing others in all their sugary over the top glory. But when I consider decking myself out in pink candy, kittens and pastels I just don't get the pitter-patter in my chest that I get from elegant lines, floral prints and warm creams. That being said, I would wear sweet if I could have this dress. There are very few dresses I can say that about, and most of them tend to toe the line with warm chocolate colors or slightly more grown up themes. This is bunnies and pink and berries and far more cute than my old fashioned princess aesthetic should be able to handle. 

But when I look at this print I want poofy, curly pigtails covered in berries and bows, a pink blouse and cherry red shoes. I want a giant bunny as my purse and I want to dance down the street leaving a trail of glitter and passers-by in sugar comas. And I honestly am not sure why this dress makes me wants that. The bunnies are adorable, but so are a lot of other prints that I don't look twice at. The colors are nice, but not unusual. Perhaps it has to do with my weakness for berries? 
 I also really like the blue version.

Feb 2, 2011

Books for Lolitas: Dramacon

I hope you all enjoyed comic week. I wasn't quite able to fit everything into it, but if I said everything I had to say at once then what would be left to write about? I wanted to make a quick note on the update scheduel before going into the meat of today's post. During the next few weeks my husband and I will be moving into a new house, which is never an easy task. I will try my best to keep the blog updated, but beg your forgiveness if I miss a post or two.

What by Who: Dramacon by Svetlana Chmakova

I've heard several differing opinions concerning the relationship between lolitas and anime and manga. On one hand, that's how quite a few of us were first exposed to the fashion we love and shows like Sailor Moon and Card Captor Sakura will always fill many of us with happy nostalgic sparkles. But on the other hand, our chosen fashion suffers more than a little from the misunderstanding that it equals cosplay. But whatever your opinion of anime, the fact remains that cons play a role in the culture. Meet ups are planned around them, many host fashion shows and many have lolita clothing stashed in the dealers room - both true loli and lace monsters. So I feel it's safe to say that a good percentage will at some point venture into the insanity called a con. This is a book that will appeal to those who have been there and prepare those who haven't.

The story revolves around Christie, who we meet as she attends her first anime convention as a writer selling her comic in artist alley. This is a venture that sparks more that just con shenanigans, though. While at con she falls for a mysterious man in sunglasses, creates new friendships and breaks old ones. The whole series is filled with the inexplicable mix of the ups and downs that I've always known to come in extremes during con time. It's a really good read for anyone that enjoys the atmosphere and for those anticipating their first attendance since it includes many of the inevitable happenings such as unfortunate cosplay and getting lost.

Since it is a manga, it's a pretty fast read and I highly recommend picking up the ultimate edition rather than the separate books as it's a nicer copy with added content and cheaper than buying the separate books together.