My personal blog as a 'grown-up' Goth and Romantic living in the Highlands of Scotland. I write about the places I go, the things I see and my thoughts on life as a Goth and the subculture, and things in the broader realm of the Gothic and darkly Romantic. Sometimes I write about music I like and sometimes I review things. This blog often includes architectural photography, graveyards and other images from the darker side of life.

Goth is not just about imitating each other, it is a creative movement and subculture that grew out of post-punk and is based on seeing beauty in the dark places of the world, the expression of that in Goth rock. It looks back to the various ways throughout history in which people have confronted and explored the macabre, the dark and the taboo, and as such I'm going to post about more than the just the standards of the subculture (Siouxsie, Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, et al) and look at things by people who might not consider themselves anything to do with the subculture, but have eyes for the dark places. The Gothic should not be limited by what is already within it; inspiration comes from all places, the key is to look with open eyes, listen carefully and think with an open mind..

Thursday, 29 January 2015

5 Style Lessons I Learnt From Lolita Fashion

Lolita fashion, when done well, can be incredibly elegant and beautiful, and over the years, the Lolita community have been very good at putting together information that helps newer Lolitas join the fashion and learn how to put together some really amazing outfits. I've learnt a lot over the last couple of years (and still have more to learn!), and I've noticed how there are things I have learnt from Lolita fashion that carry over to Romantic Goth and other anachronistic and ornate fashions. Here are a few of those things.

Photo from autumn by Raven of Chance Photography
 ♛ Wig: eBay ♛ Head-dress: Alice And The Pirates ♛ Blouse: Zanzea  ♛ Necklace: Restyle.Pl 
♛ Gloves: Accessorise♛ Skirt: Restyle.Pl ♛ Tights: H&M ♛ Shoes (not visible): TUK 

1) Bad lace can ruin an outfit, good lace can make one. 
Good quality lace can make an outfit look really special, add lovely layers of detail, and really be something wonderful in an outfit, bad quality lace can make it look like you are wearing something from a halloween outfit, and undermine the effect of the rest of your outfit. 

If you are going to wear lace, try and get the best quality lace you can afford. Cheap, scratchy lace - often poorly made, or cheaply made raschel lace is something that seems very costume-y, and tacky. There are several Lolita sites which have guides to lace quality - it's certainly worth googling. A lot of Goth fashion, even the more expensive pieces and brands, often use cheap and scratchy lace, and it is something that frustrates me - especially when I find a design that is nice and otherwise well constructed, but is let down by the quality of its lace.

Stretch lace can often fray, and is also often best avoided if you are wanting something with longevity - the elastic threads within the lace tend to snap, or fray at the seams, and you end up with little threads of elastic poking up everywhere... If I particularly like an item, when this starts to happen I will pick out every last elastic thread until the stretch lace has become just lace, with no stretch, but that is a very obsessive and time-consuming labour of love, and I would not recommend it!

2) Get the right petticoat or crinoline for your skirt or dress
In Lolita, the main skirt types are A-line and cupcake, with some empire waisted dresses and tea-length dresses in the mix, and in Romantic Goth, there's a lot more variety. Whichever fashion you wear,  if it incorporates skirts that need pouf to work, it is important to get the right sort of petticoats, underskirts and under-pinnings. I've seen too many otherwise beautiful outfits where the drape of the skirt has been interrupted by the hoops of their crinoline as there's not enough layers between the outer-skirt and hoops, or where their petticoats are too short for their skirt and the skirt has changed direction part way down, or where someone has tried to stuff too many petticoats under a skirt that just wasn't accommodating to that much pouf.  There are tutorials and information pages on the internet picking the right ways of getting your skirt voluminous for all sorts of skirt styles, whether you are into re-enactment historical accuracy, or picking a good bell-shaped petticoat for a cupcake skirt.

3) Think about visual balance
In Lolita, which has puffy skirts, curly wigs, and often chunky shoes, balance is important - in fact, the curly or voluminous wigs and chunky shoes are often there to counterbalance the visual effect of skirts with considerable pouf. This is codified into the 'rules' of Lolita, and this balance is an integral part of the fashion.

This concept is easily applied to Goth and its hybrids as well - if you are wearing, say, Cybergoth hair extensions, then the fluffy leg-warmers and chunky boots help balance this out, if you are wearing a big bustle-skirt, a fancy up-do for your hair and plenty of hair-ornaments can help balance that out, etc. The basic idea is that if you wear something voluminous at the top of your body, you need to balance it lower on your body, and vice versa. Chunky boots (from the platform Mary Jane heels I wear with Lolita to big stompy New Rock boots) can really help with this balance. 

4) Accessories can radically change an outfit
I have seen outfits based around the exact same dress that look radically different because of the choices of wig, tights, jewellery and other accessories. As Lolita fashion has a focus on specific prints and dresses and these are often tagged and/or labeled on people's 'outfit of the day', I have become accustomed to noting when the same dresses come up even when they are styled differently, and have started really noticing just HOW different an outfit can be even if it includes a few of the same items as another. 

I would suggest experimenting with different accessories and layering with a few key pieces to see the different looks you can create.  I think this is a good way to keep variety in a limit wardrobe, or to create variety on a budget. 

5) Use small splashes of contrast to add to the coherency of an outfit.
This is often done with the use of a complimentary or contrasting colour to the main outfit colour - for example gold with a pink and white outfit, or white or blue on a black outfit - something that both stands out from the main colour(s) but looks good with them.

For example, a Lolita might be wearing a pink dress with white trim, white socks, white blouse and pink head-bow with white trim. In this case, the main colour is pink, the accent colour is white, and it would be the use of white trim on the dress, white socks, and white trim on the bow that create the visual coherence. That dress, though, might have a print with gold on it, and to make sure that gold doesn't seem out of place, the Lolita might chose to wear pink shoes with gold bows, some smaller gold-coloured and pink hair decorations, golden jewellery, and a golden-blonde wig. The little touches of gold would then be giving the visual coherency to the outfit.

This can be achieved in Goth just as easily. If you are wearing a black jacket with red trim, you could wear a cuff with the same shade/hue of red on it, or red and black boots - just little touches of red here and there in the rest of the outfit. If you are wearing say a dress that's mostly black and silver but with touches of purple, you could wear accessories that include both silver and touches of purple, such as a black velvet choker with silver pendant, but with a small purple stone. 


  1. Another brilliantly well thought out and researched article from you! It's very interesting to see it from the perspective of someone with a good background in other alternative fashions. You pick up on a lot of detail, that even experienced lolitas don't think consciously about. This is a great article for beginner lolitas and other people interested in the fashion. I really like your coord, you look very elegant.   

    1. I'm so much of a newbie Lolita myself; I've been skirting the fashion (pardon the pun :P ) for a while, but it's only been something I've really gotten into in the last year or so - I'm wearing Lolita far more regularly and actively trying to incorporate more Lolita elements into my wardrobe (even if I'm going more for Romantic Goth in this sort of winter weather because full-length skirts, boots, and brocade trousers are warmer), but I still think of myself as quite new.

      I actually feel like I broke one of my own tips in that photo - I'm actually wearing two petticoats, but the skirt is made of quite heavy material, so I feel I could have done with wearing ones that had more "pouf" to them.

  2. I used to wear lolita when I was younger but I somehow grew out of it. Nevertheless, I always incorporate some lolita accessories and skirts into my current style. :) I loved this article so much! <3

    1. Thank-you :)

      I've been into Goth for over a decade, and I'm only just getting into Lolita! I guess that's sort of the other way around with me, then! :P

  3. It´s nice to see you are interested in Lolita! I am very fond of it, but I find really difficult to find good opportunities to wear it around here, which is a pity. Have you got a solid community in your homeland to meet and interact?

    I hope to see more of your loli-outfits!

    1. There's a big and pretty drama-free Scottish Lolita community, and a tiny community for Highland Lolitas... We're actually having our first ever meet soon, so I'll report back on that here :)


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