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.
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.
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.
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.
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?