What Age is Right for Lolita?

 

 Kaya, a very, very young lolita, whose mother modifies Angelic Pretty clothing and items to fit her. (It’s rumored that her mother is an Angelic Pretty designer.)

I see this topic coming up again and again – not only on your average online forum, but also in the many emails I receive. If I had a nickle for every girl who wanted to know about how her age fits into lolita, I’d have a very pretty brand wardrobe indeed (unfortunately I’m not getting paid on this price point… sigh!) The whole hub-bub, especially from new readers on the Doll, is this way-back-when article right here.

This was one of the first articles I ever wrote on my lolita blog, then called Lolita Charm, and it’s always attracting comments both positive and negative. For those of you who don’t want to reread it, here’s the basic synopsis: lolita fashion standards and most importantly the lolitas’ drama-laden internet culture is not something I’d want to impose on my child, or children as young as, say, 13. To put it in context, this was written when they was a lot more emphasis on ‘doing it right’ and the hammer came down pretty severely on those who put a single toe out of line. It was a commentary on our general culture and whether or not this was a good influence on younger girls, and not a VIP list of who’s in and who’s out.

Since then I’ve had girls who worry they’re ‘too young’ at eleven, or others that they’ll be ‘too old’ at seventeen. And since then, I have talked to very sweet lolitas ages younger than I, and appreciated the work of teenaged bloggers like Tavi, who are quickly joining the ranks of professional style bloggers everywhere (check out her Rookie magazine, I’m currently in love with it). On the other hand, I’ve now met many girls in my local community pushing the other end of the spectrum – don’t ask a lady her age, so we won’t address any specific numerals – but suffice to say well into the age of adulthood or even AARP status!  And guess what? They’re all pretty fabulous, dedicated lolitas.

For the record, once and for all, to be blunt, get your notebooks out: You can be any age and wear lolita. 

Anyone can appreciate the lolita aesthetic and want to incorporate that into their life or fashion style. That’s all you need to know. Lolita fashion is lolita fashion. Lolita is clothing. The most important thing to learn, at some point in your lolita experience, is that lolita is not the Internet. Lolita is not even other people, lolita or not, online or in real life. If the Internet disappeared tomorrow, would lolita still exist? Of course. I stand by my belief that lolita internet culture is not perfect, but it’s not lolita. Lolita is an idea, a concept, expressed in fashion, that you tailor to yourself somewhere between your imagination and your heart. Fashion and style has no age restriction.

Speaking of age now in this article is funny for me, because I wrote the previous article when I was perhaps 19 and now at 22 (and a half!) I can already see a difference in my thoughts. In 2008, the ‘pseudo-science’ of lolita was popular, trying to analyze ourselves for why we liked what we did, in every aspect from our desires for childhood and childlike ideals right down to whether or not we romanticize other lolitas in a notion of bisexuality. Today I find the attitude to be more that we like how it looks, it’s cute, what else is there to know? I think the emergence of this attitude in the West is due to the many cute styles filtering out of Japan that aren’t quite so loaded a gun as the concept of ‘lolita’. There is little analysis going on, in, say, the world of fairy-kei or mori-girl. It’s cute. What else is there?

As I read recently online and to my chagrin just got the meaning of, age is all between the ears (did I used to think that meant brittle hair? I don’t know.) It’s true. Age is just between your ears, in your head. If you feel young in your heart, then that’s how you’ll be. If you think, I’m already 40, it’s time to throw in the towel and get used to being middle-aged, then you’ll turn into your idea of a typical middle-aged lady, minivan and all. Who you are is all about your perception of yourself, who you most want to be.

A great example is my belly dance teacher. She is over 60 and is absolutely full of energy and sass. I saw her out at the grocery store once, dressed to kill in a caramel-colored suede jacket with flower cut outs and high heels, dripping in shimmer powder and spangly belly dance jewelry. She is not afraid to stand out, and I am sure she doesn’t let her age get her down. If you hunt around on the Internet, there are plenty of fabulous older ladies to give you inspiration. I even saw a 70ish lady in New York City once, looking like a fashion plate, with a shock of Tarina Tarantino colored pink hair. That’s who I want to be when I grow up. (Can you imagine, no more bleach! Pastel hair as far as the eye can see…)

So, no matter when you discover lolita, or at what age you want to express yourself, I encourage you to take the plunge and follow your bliss. If it makes you happy, if it makes you leap for joy in your heart, if a pile of pink lace sends shivers down your spine –

Go for it.

 

Here’s a few articles specifically addressed on helping out younger lolitas (lolitas still in junior high or high school):

Blossoming: 8 Checkpoints for Younger Lolitas: Advice for younger girls with less pocket money interested in lolita style.

Convincing Your Parents to Let Your Wear Lolita by F Yeah Lolita: How to help your parents understand lolita fashion.

 

  • Anonymous

    Amazing article!

    • http://www.parfaitdoll.com Victoria Suzanne Stella Alice

      thank you :)

      • Anonymous

        Oh, no! Thank you for the post! ^-^

  • http://twitter.com/Traeonna Traeonna

    Fantastic article. I am glad to see other Lolita of the opinion that age matters less than dressing in a manner that makes you happy, you look good in, etc. (I’m one of those “older” Lolita who will continue to wear the fashion until it no longer makes me happy.)

    • http://www.parfaitdoll.com Victoria Suzanne Stella Alice

      I’m headed towards older these days too, and I don’t think I’ll quit unless I get tired of it… as of right now, there’s no off-ramp in sight!

  • http://twitter.com/sugarcorrosion Belinda

    I’m also approaching the 22-and-a-half mark, and I have a lot of worries about aging, not the least of which is how long I can sustain being a lolita. This was a great article, thanks. :)

  • Lilly

    I have that agree age doesn’t mean much, yet some of the drama in the community is NOT something I want to expose younger girls to. I became a lolita at a pretty young age (13) before I fully grasped what I wanted out of the fashion. I felt compelled to be “right” all the time, and lied online to make myself seem more experienced. After a month or so I felt so fake that I backed off and stopped thinking about lolita for a while and shifted back into the loving anime community that I had been missing. Now, I feel more confident and don’t feel a need to inject lolita into everything I do. Instead, I focus more on presenting myself in a professional and orderly fashion, always trying to leave a good impression with my appearance. I stand out in my classes, being the only girl dressed to the nines in skirts, tights, fancy shoes, and cardigans every single day, rather than hoodies and jeans, but I feel that I can be as girly and fashionable as I want and still have time to enjoy other things on the side, without it consuming me.

    Your article on advice for a younger lolita is helpful, and it kind of addresses people in my little bracket too: repurposing children’s clothing (that I miraculously still fit in while I’m stuck in limbo between departments for all eternity) into new outfits, and embracing what is easily available without stressing out over how to order the latest clothes from Japan.

    • http://www.parfaitdoll.com Victoria Suzanne Stella Alice

      Hey Lilly, thanks for such a great, in-depth comment. It’s really something to hear from someone’s who been there how hard it is to get a handle on lolita internet culture, especially from someone younger. Even when I first got into at 17, there was a bit of culture shock! I stumbled into drama just by being myself and being scrutinized… not fun. I’d hate to see the same thing happen to younger girls, or girls of any age really.

      I’m glad you liked the article on shopping for younger girls… I have to admit I have started wearing and modifying some childrens’ clothes for casual wear too!

  • http://fashionpho.blogspot.com Jacqueline

    hi, i’m not interested in wearing lolita fashion what-so-ever and followed your blog to see how amazing you look in lolita stuff, that being said though, i think the above article is insightful and inspiring. Thanks for making me think about something that had never crossed my mind before, and now i’m about to read those articles you posted as links. thanks. ^^

    • http://www.parfaitdoll.com Victoria Suzanne Stella Alice

      A new reader! Welcome, I hope you enjoy reading Parfait Doll :) I’m glad you liked the article and that I could offer up some inspiration!

  • http://rainbowstarcandy.blogspot.com/ Kieli Heart

    Victoria, you always write such inspiring articles. You are an amazing person. I love reading your blog because I know everything you write is coming from the heart. This article is an amazing piece and I feel so lucky to have read it. I hope others will read this and realize they don’t have to hide who they are. Thank you so much for writing this piece =)

    ~ Kieli ~

    http://rainbowstarcandy.blogspot.com/

    • http://www.parfaitdoll.com Victoria Suzanne Stella Alice

      Thank you Kieli, it means so much to me to hear that from my readers! It’s true, every piece is right from the horse’s mouth! ;) Thanks for being such a loyal commenter as well!

  • http://pinksugarichigo.com Pinksugarichigo

    love this! although i am not lolita myself, i do find inspiration from them and apply it to my life  my way. this post could also apply to gyaru or any other japanese fashion out there as well <3 i love how you put it, age is just between your ears – we are what we feel! i love how your belly dance teacher lives outside the expected norm of old ladies! that's how i wanna be! :D by the way, ive added you to my links <3

    • http://www.parfaitdoll.com Victoria Suzanne Stella Alice

      Hey thanks for the comment, again I really love your site! I’ll add you to my blogroll as well, I was thinking of it just last night! And this could definitely apply to gal too – I think it’s pretty cool to see the gals living their style even with kids, which I am sure is no small feat! I love the matching outfits too, though I am sure any future children I have would hate me for it ;)

  • Paulina Rivera

    Great article! That’s the way I want to live. Who cares what age I am? I’m going to be that kind of person that’s 75 and still wearing what makes me happy–lace, Angelic Pretty, cute patterns and tea party shoes. :DD I never really thought age mattered in lolita, and when wearing fashion, age should not be a constriction. This article is great because some lolitas definitely need to know that it shouldn’t be “wearing lolita until you’re too old”, but rather “wearing lolita while it still makes you happy”. Age doesn’t matter–fabulousness is forever!
    (By the way, Kaya looks adorable! Though, does she like the Angelic Pretty and all? I couldn’t imagine forcing my daughter to wear things she doesn’t like, though I hope she’d enjoy fluffy dresses and big ribbons!!)

    • http://www.parfaitdoll.com Victoria Suzanne Stella Alice

      I think she likes it – she seems to love dressing up with her mom and the other designers on her blog. I’m sure she has simple play clothes too, her mom seems on the ball. Their blog is really cute if you check it out. Also I love your ‘fabulousness is forever!’ :)

      • Paulina Rivera

        Yeah, I just checked the blog and she really does look like she enjoys it! She looks like she’s growing up to be a lolita model one day x3. And, thanks :D

  • http://batblush.blogspot.com Nicole Bonagura

    As usual a wonderful post, Victoria. I’m thrilled to see more lolitas encouraging the “wear what you want, for as long as you want” idea–very liberating, both to fashion and to women’s rights in general! It’s horribly diminishing as a woman to be told to “dress your age” or that you can’t look good in certain things past a certain age, as if society has some sort of magical NOPE switch that’s hit when you reach 25, 45, 65… It’s also great to see you encouraging younger lolitas as well, although I have to agree that I wouldn’t want to expose my young daughter or son to a drama-riddled internet fashion/beauty community of any kind, due to the possibility of severe self-esteem damage. However, I think that’s best left up to the parent! Most 13-year-olds don’t have the means to buy lolita by themselves, so it’s up to the parent to navigate and discuss with them why they want to wear these clothes and what it is about them that appeals to them. :3 All in all, great article!

    • http://www.parfaitdoll.com Victoria Suzanne Stella Alice

      Thanks for a great comment! You bring up the valuable point that are society has a repressing notion of ‘dress your age’ as a means of looking down on people who don’t fit their social structure and of boxing them by label. After all, who’s to say what’s right for each age?

  • Miko

    Very well written ❤
    I got into the fashion when I was already past the “teen age,” so I don’t really have anything to say about younger lolitas, having not experienced it myself. However, I can share some views, being the same age as You, dear Victoria ^^
    This might sound a bit biased since I come from a small country that DOES NOT take lightly to eccentricity or extravagance of any kind, be it clothes, hairstyles, cars, books that you read on the train, or – in some sad cases – even “the body” itself… Most people back here “attack” things they don’t know or don’t understand. Sad, but true.   Because of all this scrutiny that I undergo almost every day in public, I’m very very glad that I didn’t know about lolita during younger age, for I believe that you have to reach a certain age in order to gain the self-confidence one needs when standing out. Of course, some people are naturally self-confident when it comes to these things, but I never was ^^ 
    There are days when I go all out – full lolita, bright colours, confident, blind and deaf to the world around me.

    There are days when I feel saddened and hurt because of the vicious remarks I hear. That’s when I’m glad that – after all – it’s “just clothes,” and one can shed them if it becomes too much.

    I’m glad I started wearing lolita later, rather than earlier, as I am sure I would have dropped out by now. There are far too many nasty things I hear and only a handful of compliments. Only after becoming the ME I am now, no longer the shy teenager, I can tell them all – to keep this K+ rated – “Go fly a kite!” ^^

  • Beatrix

    thanks~
    I love your ideas and opinions, I’m almost 13 and wear lolita skirts, not dresses or JSK because I’m still growing haha, imagina one day I try to put on a 100$ JSK or dress and I’m too big ;0;
    that’d suck :(
    if I buy skirts and blouses maybe when I stop growing I can still use them in my wardrobe~

    • Sasha

      I realize this is a little late for you, but for anyone in the same position, you can always buy skirts that are a little too big and pin them, or put a few stitches in the back of the waist to make them fit for now. You might also go to a seamstress and have it taken in, but have the extra fabric left so that it can be let out later on.

  • finewonderland

    Although in a way, I feel as you get toward your middle ages you should dress in more classic or aristocratic styles, and avoid OTT sweet. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000627434536 Mariana Schultz Camillo Flach

    So I’m here to say THANK YOU FOREVER FOR THIS POST, because I’m really tiiiiiiiiredddddddd of the age discussion.

    Well, I discovered lolita last year when I was 26 already, and now I’m 27 and I purchased my first lolita items ever (jsk, cutsew and shoes) and YES, I WANT TO BE a sweet lolita, I’m DONE with people saying “you’re old, go for classic”… I DON’T LIKE CLASSIC AT ALL! I want to be the sweetest pinkish thing EVER! What’s the problem with that!?

    Really, I’m a 27 years old married girl with shades of pink in my hair, I’m overweight, I cannot use heels and I will have the most cutest flat heel shoes, the most cutest dresses, the most cute accessories and I’ll be happy with it!

    Why I cannot use heels? I use crutches to walk because I have a degenerative disease that is killing the movements on my legs. YEAH, I’LL BE AN OLD SWEET LOLITA WITH CRUTCHES, and I’m thrilling with this and no one can stop me! ❤ This disease has limited me enough, why should I limit myself even more?

    So, to everyone in the world, BE HAPPY AND WEAR THE LOLITA STYLE YOU WANT WITHOUT THINKING OF OTHERS! It’s you that matters, only you.

    • Sasha

      You are an inspiration. I am very proud of you and your decision to live your dream. We never know what tomorrow may bring, living in fear only ruins our today. Thank you for sharing your story, I will remember it.