So, You Think You Want to Be a Lifestyle Lolita


Recently on Ask a Lolita, a girl mentioned that she wanted more information and guidelines on lifestyle lolita. She said that most lifestyle things are learned through ‘tips’ and that a more definitive guide might be helpful for the newer girls who want to give it a go.

I’ve been a lifestyle lolita for most of my lolita career, and this is a lifestyle-geared blog, so I figured I’d put up a few sign posts, so to speak. If you have any questions or comments (like, ‘Well, I interpret this differently’) then please leave a comment on the post! The comments other readers leave can be really helpful. In the latest post about school and lolita style, girls had some very handy things to say about lab coats, handkerchiefs, and science goggles! Thanks for your comments, they’re full of information I’m sure can be of use!

So, you’ve done some poking around the communities, started thinking that a skirt shaped like a cupcake is a good idea, and got your frilly little bonnet on. And now you’re thinking you’d like to get into the world of lifestyle lolita – land of butterflies, unicorns, and pink-tressed heroines! ;) Well, not exactly! Here are a few soul-seeking questions that should sort out your concerns!

What do I expect lifestyle lolita to be like? How do I think it differs from non-lifestyle lolita?

This is the best question to start with. What do you envision when you think of lifestyle lolita? Do you think it’s more of a princess-y feel, or do you think it’s more about a cellphone with lacy phone charms? Do you think that lolitas should listen to a certain kind of music, or maybe enjoy reading the classics? How do you think it differs from being a non-lifestyle lolita? Do you think it has more personal meaning to you, or just more bows on your tissue box cover? Do you think that one is right, and the other wrong – or one is crazy and the other more realistic? Some of these sound prejudiced, and they should – we’re trying to sort out your preconceived notions about lifestyle lolita before beginning. The idea is to work out what you believe the concept to be, and then see which parts of it are actually suitable for your life.

In my case, I decided to be a lifestyle lolita because that’s simply what I identified with, even before I was interested in the actual fashion. As a child I embroidered (badly!), read Alice in Wonderland until it fell apart, and managed to alienate the entire second grade by deciding that I could talk to wind spirits. I continued to read fairytales long into adulthood (I still look for vintage illustrated children’s books!), and my mother taught me the customs of English tea. I dressed up as Thumbelina every year for Halloween, and play the harp. I think a lot of lifestyle lolitas are pre-disposed to the sort of things that define lifestyle – namely, your outside interests or views that fit well with the fashion. If you’re interested in lifestyle lolita, you probably already have some ‘lifestyle interests’ – maybe a musical instrument, a craft, anything! After all, the things that drew to the fashion’s style in the first place were probably the same sort of thing, right?

The great thing about lifestyle lolita is that you get to cherry-pick what you want from it. If it makes you happy, do it!

The other thing I’ll mention briefly is lolita stereotypes of the lifestyler versus non-lifestyler. No matter what camp you fall into, you probably have ideas about the other that probably aren’t true for the majority. I’d like to break you all into groups and stick Post-Its on your forehead like diversity training on the Office, but that’s completely ridiculous and over-the-top, so never fear ;) The simple thing here is to decide that people just have differing opinions, and that neither view is better than the other. And since lifestyle lolita is all about making your own decisions, don’t worry about trying to drop people into one box or the other, if they don’t want to be labeled. The lifestyle lolita label is for the people who enjoy it, not really the people who are watching. If you consider yourself a lifestyler, then you are. If other people consider you one or the other, just keep doing your thing and enjoying it!

Do you feel you need to give up anything or stop doing something you enjoy to be more lifestyle lolita?

Danger! This is a warning sign. It’s easy for people to build up a lolita addiction – whether this resembles a shopping addiction or escapism gone too far. There’s nothing sadder than a girl saying, oh, I can’t do that, even if I want to – because I’ve decided to do this instead. Don’t limit yourself! If you start to feel like you’re doing things because they’re expected of you – like constantly dressing for your lolita peers or other people in general, only ordering tea, or not being athletic – take a few steps back and take a breather! If the way you envisioned your life isn’t making you happy, then what’s the point? Keep working on your vision and lifestyle to fit you best – they’re entirely custom built. Sometimes I feel pressured to dress lolita merely because I typically dress lolita. It’s like I’ve actually built myself a 2-D character to fit into – pink-haired girl in poofy dress, end of story. I worry that if I wore Gothic or maybe just jeans, everyone would be weirded out! It’s easier to do what people expect. But it’s much harder – and more exciting! – to break yourself out of others – and your own – expectations. Go with your intuition on what would make your life better, and go with it – even if it means breaking out of the rut and doing something spontaneous.

What little things can you slide into your day to make it feel more beautiful?

I know we just did a big talk about deciding what makes your lifestyle personal, but here’s my take, and nature behind lifestyle ‘tips’. No matter what you decide is an important facet in your lifestyle definition, I think i can safely say they’re all about adding something beautiful. The key is spotting these moments in your life and acting on them. One could almost call it pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone, or pushing yourself to change your life. For example, maybe you’re shy, but your idea of a lifestyle lolita is that she brightens the day of perfect strangers. Make it your mission to coax a smile out of everyone you meet that day! (God Mode: Try this next time you’re at the airport. Hardest mission ever!) Or if you discover a place that makes a perfect chai is right next to your office, take a little ‘me time’ break and grab one. Pick yourself wildflowers; tote around something like a Jane Austen novel to read on the train. If you idea of lifestyle lolita is all about dark roses and baroque music, keep a CD of it in the car for your commute. These little additions, things to make you smile – that, to me, is what lifestyle is all about. First, decide what you want, and why; then decide how to work it into your real life.

And that’s really all there is to becoming a lifestyle lolita! I hope this helps you to make your life into the story you want it to be!

Want more on lifestyle lolita? Since there seems to be quite a bit of confusion and I hate repeating myself, all explanatory lifestyle lolita articles are going to start linking to each other at the bottom. If you want a quicker fix while I edit the archives, just click the ‘lifestyle’ tag on the entry and you’re all set!

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  • La Petite

    I wore jeans to work one day. I had absolutely no stares on the bus, charity muggers walked right on up to me, the barista in the coffee shop served me with a straight face.
    All my friends did double-takes, came up and poked my shirt and asked me tons of questions.
    (mostly: "Are you okay???")
    I loved how delightfully Looking-Glass-House the world became, but I'l stick to my pannier and 20 cups of tea from here on in!

  • Musouka_Ningyou

    I always love your articles on the nature of lifestyle. :D

    I started out not really considering myself one way or the other, simply because I never thought about it, but I have come to realize that I probably am lifestyle simply because I -feel- lifestyle. That's really all that lifestyle vs. nonlifestyle comes down to for me — a lolita feeling vs. lolita just for the aesthetics. I don't mean that non-lifestyle lolis don't have a certain feeling when they wear the fashion, but more me it's that I feel like a lolita. It's an emotional connection for me. I just love it when I see people at school smile at me or even tell me that they admire me for wearing something so unusual (I even had a woman at the farmer's market, a high school teacher, tell me that I was refreshing!) because I like to exude my loliness onto others and make them happy, even if just for a brief instant.

    Another part of lifestyle, at least for me, is that you should live how you want to live. Live your ideal life, and savour every moment of it. It's hard, and I don't quite have it perfected yet, but I'm working on that. I always tell girls that even as a lifestyle loli, they can scarf down a cheeseburger if they like, they should just savour every bite of it. :D

    Also, you remind me a lot of me when I was a kid! If you replace "Alice in Wonderland" with "an anthology of Hans Christian Andersen" and "Thumbellina" with "Disney princesses," we are nearly exatcly the same!

    @La Petite: that reminds me of my patternmaking teacher from last semester. I wore a '60s style mod outfit to school and she was amazed at how "straight" I was from the lack of pettis, and she hardly recognized me, even though it was near the end of the semester!

  • mousse

    This was a lovely read. You certainly have a great talent for writing.
    I was raised by a family who perceived themselves as royal (they still do). I never understood why, but I noticed at a very young age that my family was different. I was taught to be proper, well-mannered, and to always look my best, no matter what the occasion. I learned to sew and embroider at a very young age. I had formal art lessons in my home, and for a time, was home-schooled. I have always had a wild and vivid imagination and make up as many fairy tales as I read (including Alice in Wonderland, which is my favourite!) I still talk to trees and on lonely nights, I write letters to the moon. I keep a dream journal and sleep on lavender scented sheets beneath a lace canopy. Sure, I would consider myself a lifestyle lolita now that I know the term, but this has always been my life. I have always lived in a magical world alone, but since I discovered lolita fashion, I have found kindred spirits to share this rose coloured world!

  • Victoria Suzanne

    @Mousse: This is a beautifully written comment, and exactly how I feel myself. thank you ♥

  • Kyra

    Lovely post. I'm a non lifestyle lolita who loves contrasts [like lolita with tattoos drinking beer, lol], but I think lifestyle lolitas can be cute too. I agree, you need to do what you want, not other people say is right or not. And one of my best lolita friends is a lifestyle loli, I love her drinking tea, she loves me drinking beer. Respect = all.

  • Wendella

    I love lolita in all its forms! Lately mesmorized by sweet! Adore your site!

  • Lucius Sikil mi tuile

    Hi, thanks a lot.
    I’m a person with many many facets, and allways had the problem, of how to combine my love for so many things, with what you call real live. I really know what to do, deep down there, you know, but most of the time I’m just to letargic to even try.
    discipline is the word for me, prehabs my own guide and tip list is gonna help me, so I hope you don’t mind this lazy girl putting some of your tips on her own very personal day to day training.

    Have a nice day,
    Yours
    Lucius

  • aikochan

    Hello!

    I loved your post so much!

    I translated it to our brazilian lolita community, here’s the link:

    http://www.modalolita.com/t2621-traducaoentao-voce-acha-que-quer-ser-uma-lolita-lifestyle#56241

    Aikochan

  • Sophie

    I just have to say, my ordinary lifestyle is the same as the Lolita one. >w< the best fashion of all time Alice in Wonderland got me into it.