- Lolita has nothing to do with the book (or the films created afterwards) by Vladimir Nabokov.
- Lolita has nothing to do with underage females attracting older males.
- Lolita has nothing to do with martini or shot glasses.
Lolita is a Japanese fashion inspired by the Victorian and French Roccoco period in history. The style is emphasized by petticoats, knee-length skirts, some sort of covering or head decoration, and conservative dressing in general.
It is not a costume, or something where you pretend to be a character. You dress in the Lolita fashion. It is commonly referred that if you dress in the fashion, you are a Lolita. It's like dressing preppy, contemporary, or metro. It's a fashion style.
To understand why Lolita fashion exists and how it began, you need to look into certain group mentalities and societal dynamics specific to Japanese culture and history.
In Japan, femininity is ideal. Japanese women and men respect equality, but understand the concept of male and female, their differences, and portray those differences through their choice of career. Feminism has tried to root itself in Japan, but has been, in the majority, rejected by women and men alike. This is due to Japanese women simply not wanting to be like Japanese men. Being the quintessential goal of feminism, it failed miserably. In the United States, if you’re not equal, someone is putting you down, controlling you, or getting the better piece of the pie, but in Japan, this is not the case. It’s a hard concept to understand for those outside of Japan.
Based off of the above paragraph, now Lolita’s origins can be explained. The most accepted origin of the fashion is that Lolita began in the late 1970s in Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan. This was supplemented by a new desire in the young women eligible for marriage and those already married to emulate a cute, adorable housewife. The otome (maiden) style came out to cater this new desire. Emerging stores like Pink House and Kaneko Isao’s Wonderful World provided styles with knee-length skirts, aprons, head bows, and other Country Lolita-esque elements. They didn’t necessarily sell “Lolita fashion clothing”, but their items were similar to the clothing items you see in Lolita brand stores today.
There has been a constant debate on which style came to fruition first – Country or Sweet. Since they appeared at the same time, there isn’t any factual information proving either side, but both were prominent in the tender years of Lolita fashion.
The 1980s and early 1990s was a time for development for most brands as otome began to die out, and Lolita fashion began slowly but surely to develop. Several now-popular brand stores opened, including Jane Marple in 1985, Baby, the Stars Shine Bright and HeartE in 1988, Metamorphose in 1993, Atelier Boz in 1995, and Innocent World in 1997.
Lolita fashion emerged into what is now known as the “older style” with the popular style being towards the Classic or Country Lolita look with head dresses and knee-high socks topped with lace. Around 1999 or 2000, Gothic Lolita emerged as the popular fashion, especially from endorsement by Mana, a member of a popular Japanese Visual Kei band called Malice Mizer. He is occasionally credited for the spread of Lolita fashion to the Western world, but there is no factual information to support this.
In 2006, a huge turnabout changed the focus to the Sweet Lolita look. Brighter, imaginative colors and themes including sweets, ponies, teddy bears, candy, etc. from Angelic Pretty began to overwhelm the Lolita fashion market to become the popular style for the next few years.
At the end of 2011, beginning of 2012, Classic styles began to overtake the popularity of Sweet styles as a majority of the Lolita Fashion crowd became older. Now, the popular styles tend to be Classic or Bittersweet, which is Sweet but in a darker sense, so it feels more Gothic.
To learn about the different styles of Lolita fashion, click here.
To learn about the different stores that sell Lolita fashion, click here.
To get involved on the LiveJournal communities, where the majority of Lolitas interact with each other across the world, use the following links:
- Click here for the main community.
- Click here for the online sales community.
- Click here for the community where Lolitas share everyday photos of themselves.
- Click here for the plus-sized community.
I’ll address some common questions from parents that I have received personally or seen before. If you are a parent and your question is not addressed here, please feel free to e-mail me directly with any concerns you have about your child dressing in Lolita fashion.
Q: Are Lolita meet-ups safe for my child?
A: It’s very important that you treat local meet-ups with the same caution as you would any new afterschool program your child would attend. I would recommend if you do not know anyone that is at the meet-up to attend the meet-up with your child. After meeting with some of the local Lolitas a few times, you should find that almost all meet-ups are very safe, educational, and fun! Note though, that every meet-up is different, and each place is different, so treat each meet-up with an open mind.
Most meet-ups are at places that many Lolitas would enjoy, such as tea parties, restaurants, Japanese culture conventions, parks, museums, amusement parks, and more. The idea is usually about being elegant, although Lolitas who find similar interests amongst each other such as video games, bowling, knitting, etc. might hold a meet-up for special interests.
Q: Lolita fashion is extremely expensive! Are there places that have Lolita clothing more appropriate for my budget that I have with my child?
A: I would highly recommend looking through the EGL comm sales community on LiveJournal. Your child will most likely already have an account. This is heavily monitored by older Lolitas, and provides an exchange community for Lolitas to sell to other Lolitas. Most of the time, these clothing items are brand new or gently used by the seller. Explore this with your child, and utilize the EGL Feedback community to find good, reliable sellers.
If you would like to buy brand new for less, there are items called Lucky Packs that send your child a bag of brand new items for one very low set price. You might spend $100, and your child will receive $250 worth of items. Usually, the amount of clothing items you receive are at least double than what you pay. You might not know what’s inside the Lucky Pack, but if your child really wants brand Lolita fashion, they probably won’t care. These are sold by different brands at different times during the year.
Bodyline offers some Lolita fashion appropriate items, and your child can help you pick out what he or she wants. Bodyline resembles most department store prices for everyday clothing for their Lolita clothing.
Also, look around on this blog and others for DIY Lolita fashion. Sewing can save a lot of money, and is a great skill for your child to learn. There is a Lolita sewing community on LiveJournal as well.
Q: Won’t my child be seen as weird and strange? Lolita fashion seems like it will make my child the target for ridicule. How can I prevent them from dressing in Lolita fashion or protect them from the bullying they might receive?
A: This is a sensitive topic because all parents want their child to be safe and happy. If your child expresses interest in Lolita fashion, you should support them. I can't tell you how to prevent your child from dressing in Lolita fashion because I don't believe you should stifle their creativity or desires. There may be a good chance that your child is underage to work, and in that case, you can control their clothing choices by your wallet, but otherwise, you really can't.
As for how your child will be perceived, that's all about confidence. There are instances of Lolitas in public dealing with other people making fun of them, or giving them weird looks. Support your child by helping their self-esteem, and showing them how to deal with conflict. No matter what, be there for your child's interests. Let them attend events that have others who also share their interests.
This is really for any interest including Lolita fashion.
Q: How can you deal with the connotation with the name? I struggle trying to understand and help my child understand the differences.
A: I highly encourage your child (if old enough) to read the book. It's a great novel! Then, watch the movie with your child. If these two things are too much, read and watch them yourself as a parent. Understand what that Lolita is, and then look at this Lolita. Lolita fashion is such a huge contrast to the word Lolita. Unfortunately, they have the same name. In Japan, they are able to differiate between the two Lolitas by changing a symbol in the word, reading it differently. The western world doesn't have that luxury.
Instead, the best way to approach this is to understand the differences, accept them, and then support your child's confidence in explaining to those who are polite and curious the differences between the two if the question arises. Make sure they know the differences and how they are not related. They may know more about Lolita fashion, but you can bring insight to the word connotation associated with Lolita. Your child, if choosing to dress in Lolita fashion, is choosing a modest, cute, and lady-like fashion over the pressures to be sexy at a young age. This should be appalauded! Instead of looking at it with disdain, the more you support your child, the more others will see how you support her, and the more people will come to understand the differences between the two.