Being a Plus-Size Lolita

artwork taken from the English Gothic & Lolita Bible

On my blog and my Tumblr, I get a lot of questions about wearing lolita and being plus-size. It’s true that lolita fashion is mostly made for tiny Japanese girls. It’s NOT true that you have to be a tiny Japanese girl to wear it. I’m not plus-size myself, and I don’t want to make assertions for others without first-hand knowledge. So I went right to the source – interviewing plus-size lolitas on their thoughts on wear to shop, the fashion industry, and lolita culture.

Meet Tomoyo – and, below the jump, Vanessa!

Average dress size: 24 – 28

My style is… Sweet lolita!

How do you define plus-size? 

In general fashion, I think it’s when you cannot find your size in regular stores or if you have to shop at stores that sells only plus sized clothing. In lolita fashion, I think it’s when shirred brand doesn’t fit you.

The majority of my closet is…

Mainly I wear offbrand pieces from Taobao stores that accept custom sizing requests, or replicas from Oo Jia.

If I could tell a starter plus-size lolita anything, I’d say…
Don’t let the sizes from the Japanese lolita brands refrain you from wearing lolita! A lot of Taobao stores and indie brands or seamtresses can make you clothing according to your size even if you are very plus size like me. :3 Lolita is accessible to everyone no matter their sizes as long as you are willing to take the time to research stores that sells custom sized clothes.

As a plus-size lolita, have you had positive or negative experiences in the lolita community, or both?

I had both positive and negative experiences in the lolita community online. I received a few messages from random lolitas, both plus-sized and normal sized, saying that I was an inspiration for them! It’s one of the positive things that light up my heart and make me proud to be a lolita! I also receive a lot of positive comments on my outfits when posting on my local lolita community forums.

However, if you are a very plus sized lolita like me, you may get a lot of negative comments on the wank communities where plus sized lolita is always something there will be hate about. I have personally experienced some hate on wank communities but I don’t really care because I know that I can be an inspiration for some people too so that’s why I’m not ashamed of wearing lolita and posting my pictures online.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

 I would like to add that I’m wearing lolita everyday since about 3 years now! In fact, my closet is only filled with lolita clothes. So it’s possible to be a very plus sized lolita and to wear the fashion regulary. Also, I live very far away (about a 5 hour car ride) from any other lolitas so I wear lolita alone in my area where nobody knows much about alternative fashion.

Thanks so much for participating, Tomoyo! Don’t forget to read past the jump to meet Vanessa, too!

Average dress size: US 10 to a US 14, although I’m currently firmly a US 12. My weight/size fluctuates pretty heavily during the course of a month (anywhere from 5-10 lbs which can be a dress size or two).

My lolita style is...

Sweet, usually on the OTT side, with a touch of hime. I’m fond of candy pastel prints, polka dots, and ponies. Things that glitter or sparkle I add in. I wear pink, mint, lavender, and black almost exclusively. I’ve a huge fondness for lolita shoes, especially tea parties. I wear very gyaru inspired makeup and I love wigs, circle lens and false lashes (lens and lashes I usually save for big events and cons though).

How do you define plus-size?

In lolita, we often define plus-size as basically anyone who is above the “standard Japanese size M” (around a US 6~8 depending on the brand) that brands make, so anyone above a 10 could easily be considered ‘plus-sized’ in our community. In the US, a 12 and up is considered ‘plus-size’ in women’s clothing. A 12 is also the average women’s clothing size in the US (unless I’m mistaken). I try not to be defined by a sized based term. Am I plus-sized? Technically I guess. I really struggle with a definition though.

The majority of my closet is…

Brand! I’m a huge AP fangirl (I’ve considered covering my walls with photos of Maki, but I don’t think my BF would like that very much…). I feel lucky to be short (158 cm) and small footed (23.5 cm) because it makes certain aspects of lolita much easier; like I don’t have to worry about finding shoes like many of my friends do, or knowing that AP JSKs will not be too short on me. I buy a lot of socks and I make most of my own jewelry at this point. I’ve got a good collection of brand blouses now, but my favorite for fit is my Innocent World one (is is an L size), even though it goes with little in my closet at the moment.

If I could tell a starter plus-size lolita anything, I’d say…

Learn your body, learn what looks best on you. Everyone is shaped differently; some of us have bigger hips, some have a bigger chest. Some of us do not have a defined waist. Some of us have long legs, short torsos, or long arms. It doesn’t matter in the end what brand the dress is from, just that it works for you.

As a plus-size lolita, have you had positive or negative experiences in the lolita community, or both?

 Oh, definitely positive. Many of the girls in my community are around my size (give or take a dress size), and I’ve found them to be great and wonderful resources about the way items fit. We’ve many good seamstresses in my comm who are making wonderful things and are good at alterations as well. I’ve made so many good friends here and I love that our comm isn’t the kind of comm that cares about size or what people own, we accept pretty much everyone. I love that I can ask for advice on something as needed without worry about terrible commentary (like fit/style/etc). I’ve also been lent/tried on some pretty amazing dresses from my friends

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

A little more about closets and finding items that fit you, because this is increasingly on my mind. I see a lot of girls who post online who think that brand won’t work for them because they’re not a US 6 or 8. Many times that might not be the case. Us “non-Japanese size 8″ girls have to be more careful and choosy about what we get from brands. We might have to miss out on a highly desirable print release or not get an adorable blouse, but there are plenty of brand items that will fit a girl who is anywhere from a US 10 to a US 14. And Japanese brands are increasingly releasing items that are more friendly to our size.

I’ve been an active lolita in Chigothloli (Victoria’s note: the official Chicago lolita community) since 2009, although I started following the fashion in 2005. Some of the things that were hard for me to learn were which brands make dresses that give me the least boob loaf, or none at all (Angelic Pretty and Baby have been my best friends in this regard, IW gives me terrible boob loaf sadly), who makes blouses that I can wear (Baby, Metamorphose, and Innocent World all make wonderful ones, I want to try Angelic Pretty’s new L size when I get a chance).

I’ve been tricked by official sizing before (2009’s Sugary Carnival OP for example) and made some costly mistakes because of it. I keep a detailed list of my current measurements I check it every time I go to buy something. And I always make sure, especially with AP, that I know how the cut of a jumperskirt typically fits before I buy it.

It is completely possible for a lolita on the smaller end of ‘plus-size’ to wear exclusively or almost exclusively brand if she shops carefully and is well aware of her body… What shapes work, and which ones do not (especially when it comes to JSKs). No one makes skirts I can wear really unless I have them altered, so I avoid skirts. I’ve been able to find any number of JSKs that work for me, and even blouses and cutsews. Onepieces are a bit harder. Certain dress cuts work better than others. Among my favorites for my body type are Angelic Pretty halter jumperskirts and their tiered chiffon jumperskirts.

Now it’s your turn! If you could give a newbie plus-size lolita any advice, what would it be?

  • Caroline Cherry

    I’m still a newbie [and plus size] but I’m already noticing that my ability to sew is going to be mighty handy in regards to lolita! If you can modify, or make your own from scratch, you can make sure clothes will fit you and be flattering.

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

      Sewing is a great way to make sure your clothes fit well! I wish I could sew, but my few attempts have proved me all thumbs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kathleen.sweitzer.1 Kathleen Sweitzer

    My advice to all new plus sized lolita, being one myself, is just this…
    ‘Wear what makes you happy. If you aren’t comfortable wearing it for and hours, you won’t be comfortable wearing it for eight. Don’t trying to impress other people by trying to fit into a lolita ‘mold’. We are all different and that is beautiful.’

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

      Good advice Kathleen <3

  • http://www.glittering-rainbow.com/ Flavia Signori de Lima

    Great post, love it! I’m not a lolita, but I may say that I’m a big fan of Sweet Lolita style ^_^ Also I’m more to Fairy Kei side (not all the time, I’m still getting FK stuff to build some looks). Well it’s not hard to find FK clothes in my size, since FK is more about wearing tees and skirts/shorts. But unfortunately I just know a few FK girls here in Brazil and they’re are the super slim size lol Yet, one of them is really nice and it’s also helping me out finding some FK stuff custom size ^_^

    On Lolita’s side… even if we’re brazilians and most of girls here have curves, there’s prejudice around plus-sized ones. I’ve already saw some YT videos about this, saying that plus-sized girls shouldn’t wear lolita u_u Thankfully many plus-sized girls are appearing in Lolita meetings and conventions ^_^

    =*****

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

      We have a lot of plus-size girls in my area, and the only negative things I see are online. Good to hear that the fairy-kei girls in your area are making good friends :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/sofiaaliciel.martinezlopez Sofía Aliciel Martínez López

    I’d add: be creative with your resources! Sometimes you can find lolita-friendly clothing in mainstream stores. Vintage is also a great option, and you can find very unique things. Etsy is my best friend, there are many vintage shops AND lolita seamstresses there.

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

      Lolita seamstresses are a great way to get custom clothes and help your fellow lolita make a living :) Vintage clothes – and Etsy – are also way too much fun!

  • Brievilone

    Great interviews! This info is good for anyone to keep in mind, especially Vanessa’s comment about working with your body type. Everyone is different, and there is no shame in avoiding certain cuts/styles because you feel like they’re unflattering. Don’t limit yourself based on what other people think, but try new things for yourself if you feel like you want to step outside of your normal defaults.

    Also, a tip I can add is this: If you have a friend who wears a size close to yours and has some different cuts than you, ask them if you can try on their pieces. This will save you money when a new print/piece comes out because you’ll know, “I didn’t like the way empire waists sat on me.” or “AP dresses like that give me boob loaf.” Most of the girls I know are fine with borrowing/trying on clothes, so don’t feel silly asking! (But always ask, of course!)

  • Tina Furlett

    As a plus size lolita, I have found that Spanx and other shapewear (sometimes layered) can cinch and smooth my waist that last bit it needs to zip up jsk’s. Also, your choice of bra makes a huge difference; these dresses are designed for much flattee girls, so sometimes going without a bra improves fit a lot!
    Finally, belts have changed my lolita life! Most dresses have a too-short bodice on me (I am 5’7″) but a belt can lengthen the waist and add a bit of definition.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kathleen.sweitzer.1 Kathleen Sweitzer

      I tend to disagree here. I find no bra with the shape of most lolita dresses is horrible. Always wear a bra! Even if it’s a flatening sports bra. Give yourself shape. The cut of most dresses are not forgiving.
      A belt is a wonderful idea and so over looked with Lolita styles. I find belts inhance my punk looks ten fold. Especially vintage 80’s belts.

  • Pop Princess

    This was a lovely article, I’m so happy that you wrote this! The girls are absolutely gorgeous, and I immensely enjoyed reading their interviews! <3 They are so inspiring, and wonderful. I think you should share/submit this article to {http://gorgeouspluslolita.tumblr.com/} the Beautiful Plus Sized Lolita community, as I'm sure there are lots of cute curvy girls there that would love to share this article on their tumblr blogs!

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

      I might do that! I was only aware if the older Livejournal community. I’m glad you liked reading this article! :)

  • lady_saltina

    What a great article! I myself am not a plus-size lolita, but I have so many friends involved with and interested in lolita fashion who do identify as plus-size (actually Vanessa is a good friend of mine, great interview Vanessa!!!), and I understand that as a smaller sized girl, its sometimes hard to discuss fashion-for-all-body-types. It’s wonderful to see such a respectful article covering this subject on a blog not authored by a plus-size lolita. Down with body privilege! Everyone can be beautiful, large, small, or somewhere in between <3

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

      Vanessa’s a good friend of mine too! Isn’t she cute? :D <3 I wanted to right a useful article on plus-size, but I know nothing about it, so I just went to the real experts! I'm glad you liked reading it.

  • TheresaChristineTFZ

    I really enjoyed reading this article, especially the insights from the two lovely Lolitas that were featured. It is very hard, as I am also plus sized to fit into dream brand dresses but I’ve learned to make it work with what I have and to do research, lots of research. It is very encouraging to see two plus size Lolitas be so positive and candid about how they wear the fashion!

  • http://twitter.com/AppaLoli Appalachian Lolita

    Thank you for the article! I’d say to give a newbie advice – don’t give up! Don’t get discouraged! Get creative! Actually I have bought two of the same skirt, taken them apart at the seam, and sewn them together ^_^

  • http://www.facebook.com/tehrinny Bobbi Shaw

    One tip I have is wearing a nice corset underneath (make sure it’s steel boned). Some bodices might be too short if you’re busty, but a corset (especially an underbust) will lift your bust up a bit higher. If a jsk or a dress is nearing the discomfort zone, I find it to be a bit more comfortable with a corset so long as you’re not tight laced. I usually pull mine in about an inch or two, just enough to give my waist a bit of definition and flatten myself out. But keep in mind a good corset may add to your measurement, and not exactly take away from it. Cardigans and Boleros (look for indie seamstresses for pretty lolita ones) can help hide stretched shirring and lessen the appearance of boob loaf. Just be sure that you’re not overstretching it, otherwise you might risk ruining the garment.

    I like Meta’s fully shirred skirts! There’s a lot of really cute prints and they go up to about a 40-50inch waist fully stretched.

  • http://milkyheart.blogspot.com Milkyway Heart

    What a beautiful article! Thank you for writing it, and I’m happy to see plus size lolita’s being recognized and shown in a positive light. One of my stick to tips especially for girls like myself with larger thighs, is that tights can be your best friend. Opaque tights look so good with lolita, they make your legs look great, and they are so easily to decorate!

    Not to mention they can be very cheap, and come in a huge range of colors.

  • Pia Chérie

    Hello,

    I’m no Lolita or anything, I just stumbled across your blog through google-mace and I informed myself hear like … selfeducation? haha

    your blog is amazing! I’m inhaling it! And this post is epsecially great. We have this problem everywhere in fashion so thank you for this entry!

  • Doriane Rémond

    Hello! I wanted to know if the ladies of this article had a blog platform for us to follow! : D

    • Tomoyo Ichigo

      Hi! ^w^ I have a personnal blog where I post my outfits, my buys and all the stuff related to my life. XD; Keep in mind that is a personnal blog and not a lolita specific blog. ^w^ You can follow me at; http://petitetomoyo.blogspot.ca/

  • Aina Noire

    I really enjoyed reading this :]

  • Kat E

    I looooove this article! But alas, I am queen of the super boobs but with a small waist so lolita searching is quite hard for me

  • Xii <3

    I am plus-sized, and I actually have LOTS of fun searching for Lolita clothing of my size. It’s exciting, almost rushing-feel. Like if I’m some adventurer searching for diamonds in a mine! Haha :P

  • Mai

    Ehmm… hi. o.o
    I’m interested in lolita fashion, but have never worn any…but I have an interest in doing so. I was just wondering if you were able to give me any form of contact with Tomoyo, as she is about my size, and that way I could ask her about specific stores where she orders from? ^_^
    I’m having quite a hard time finding stores like the ones she referred to x____x

  • La Lolita Rebelde

    I think that Vanessa is a gorgeous woman, she looks awesome. I can’t consider her as a plus size instead of the first girl who is heavier than the second one and still can look great.

    I hope you both inspire a lot of girls, both look so awesome and your thoughts are really impressive! ♥