Category Archives: inspirational

Do Not Slog, America

pinkslog

In the aftermath of the American presidential election and the dark days that lie ahead, I am here to do what I do best: write. As always, I will focus on survival. My entire life has been about survival, whether minute to minute or week to week. I have spent years under the knowledge that every good day I am given is a gift. And now, I hope I can impart some of this wisdom I have hard-won and wrested from my hardships – chiefly, my chronic disease – onto you.

A friend of mine, even before the election die was cast, was going through a pretty tough time. She is, without a doubt, one of the sweetest people I know. Incarnate angel has never been a truer description, and I am proud to symbolically refer to her as my ‘other mother’. She has stood by me when I could do little more than watch the pattern of the sunlight fall across the drapes in my living room day by day. I hope, too, that I can give her a little of what she has given me.

Anyway, she is having it a tough right now – medical, family, the works. Over tea the other day, I hear her talking to her best friend, my mom. The weight of her struggles gray her voice over the speaker. After an outpouring of emotion, there is a brief pause in which both she and my mom exhale. Mom is mustering up some kind of pep talk. “Well,” she says finally after a deep breath, “You just gotta keep sloggin’ through.”

My ears prick up over my coffee cup. I disagree.

“No. You do not slog through.”

She laughs bleakly.

“What should I do, prance? I’ll get my tutu.”

“No,” I said. “You won’t prance. You will have bad days, yes. It will be awful, and hard, and you’ll wonder if you can do it for even one more day. You’ll wonder if you can even continue being in this body, in this time and space, for another minute. But that’s not all that will happen.”

The white noise of a heart listening over the fuzz of a speakerphone.

“There will be bad jokes. There will be good cups of tea, and there will be sunny spots on kitchen faucets. You will pet dogs on the street. You will be with the people you love. The will be songs you like on the radio. You’ll do your best, and they will be hard days, but in each hard day there will be a few brief moments to savor. It’s up to you to hold onto them tight, and never let go. Those are the moments you are fighting for.”

When I was in the hospital, growing up as a kid, I collected my share of horror stories. I met a little four year old girl who had been operated on so many times she no longer had a belly button. I have gotten such bad news from a quavering attendant doctor that I have screamed and cried for him to get the hell out while I mourned my broken body. I have felt a complete physical paralysis from a bad drug cocktail, late at night, while my bedmates groaned and shrieked around me. American Horror Story has nothing on my childhood.

But in the deepest pit of places, places I try to scrub from my mind, even there I had my tiny golden moments. Stupid jokes with my dad over piped-in hospital reality TV. Wheelchair rides from my big sister up and down the corridors, even more treasured now that she’s no longer with us. Praying with my little sister in the thick silence of a hospital atrium studded with stargazer lilies. Microwaved tea straight from the warm hands of my mother.

This is not to downplay or trivialize the very real fears and pain we, the marginalized of the United States, feel right now as we look straight into the faces of our friends, neighbors and family and realize they do not see us as quite as human as they are. The hate crimes against the people I love and cherish are already here. But if we are to survive this, it will not just be on blood and fire in the belly. 

We will need music more than ever. We will need art more than ever. We will need prayer, in whatever way you choose, more than ever. We will need, in the face of so much hate, kindness. We will still need those tiny moments to feed the softness inside us, the very thing we protect. Love. Equality. Faith.

Tomorrow the sun will rise on this world again and you will have a choice. Be angry. Be grieving. Be fighting. And through that grief, find those tiny moments throughout your day. They are there, buried in even the darkest places. Make those moments for others. Speak with more love to the people we care about. Speak with more kindness to the strangers next door. If you can genuinely ask someone how they are, and really listen to the answer; and if you have a spare dollar, give it.

There is no election inside your heart.

Do not slog, America. The tutu is optional, but if you like, I’m happy to lend you one of mine.

Open Letter: A Slice of Dream

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It’s cherry blossom season. For weeks I have avidly been watching the sakura tenkyou, the forecast of blooms, waiting for that single weekend that signifies the beginning of life again. The pink clouds that mark the earth like lace. It’s been a hard winter, but it finally feels like we have made it to the other side.

It hasn’t been easy to keep up with updates on my Hello Kidney fanpage. I’m not sure what to say, when I have no sunny, upbeat news to report. Most of my struggle in the past two years has been silent. Even when I’m out with my friends, I’ve tried my best to hide my pain. I’m from old New England stock. We are stiff-upper-lip types.

The only person who really knows what I deal with on a daily basis is my boyfriend, Paul. They say love is made up of 50% vulnerability and 50% authenticity, and in this recipe, there is nowhere to hide. He has seen every muscle spasm, every struggled step, and every bad day. He has half-carried me up the stairs and been my support when I am too stubborn to give up. He has slept in a chair with me in the hospital during a blizzard and stayed awake when I couldn’t any longer. He has gotten me medicine when I wake up in the night, crying with pain. Every day he amazes me with his strength and loyalty and unwavering faith.

He’s my hero. And now, he’s going to be my kidney donor.

Fate is a funny thing. It takes so many coincidences to get two people to occupy the same space after they were born and raised worlds apart, that you start to wonder if coincidences even exist. I met Paul eight months ago. To be sappy and blunt, it really was love at first sight. It’s like a little voice said to me, “OH, there you are” and I could really breathe for the first time.

In the following months, my health slowly began to decline. My heart was a strong as ever, but the things we used to love to do together – aquariums, parks, city walks – became harder and harder. There were more and more sick days, long weekends on the couch watching movies. And then, right before Christmas, Paul told me he had the donor form all filled out.

I was amazed he would even volunteer. It takes a lot of guts and love to even offer. We both tried not to get our hopes up as the system slowly unfolded its bureaucratic machine of testing and insurance and paperwork. Meanwhile, I was slowly fading. With each passing day new pain arose. I surrendered more and more things to my disease. High heels, for example. Cheese, for another. Meetups with friends.

Then, after many hospital visits and false starts and “not promising anything”s, we got something concrete. Paul is a match. And we have a date to share an operating room – April 28th.

I still have further procedures to undergo to prep my body for accepting the transplant, including other minor surgeries and transfusions. My first surgery is April 21st and my treatments begin the following Monday. On that Thursday, God willing, they will very carefully take one of Paul’s healthy kidneys and connect it to my veins and arteries.

The cherry blossoms have struggled this year against the sudden onslaught of cold snow. We did, too, with each pitfall and obstacle. The dream we wanted so badly – the ordinary life of parking tickets, grocery store runs, and studio apartments – was so far out of reach. We kept praying and hoping. There is no magic bullet. I will always be disabled. It may be we have only bought a slice of our dream. 

But for now, we have this chance. We’ve always had to believe we were the exception to the odds.

This is the truth.

Fairytales do happen.

We’d also like to thank everyone who has supported us during this hard time, and everyone who volunteered to get tested or submitted crossmatch samples. We wouldn’t be here today without everyone’s prayers and wishes, and we appreciate every last one. There is no such thing as a wasted prayer, and I know we have felt each tiny ray of light from every good thought. We especially appreciate our friends, who have supported us as a family would.

Please continue to wish us well on April 28th! I or a family member will let everyone know when we are both safely on the other side. And yes, for those of you playing at home, the family joke is that I will now be 5% Korean ;D

Love always,

Victoria Suzanne & Paul

paulvictoriacollage

 

What Not To Do If You’re Posted to a Hate Site

Unless you’ve been living in your closet (without wifi) for the last several years of your lolita life, you’ve probably encountered at least one of the many viral lolita hate sites. Whether the site is specifically directed towards fostering hate, body-shaming, or just straight-up ‘she made out with a hot dog’ trash talking, they’re out there for every subculture, and lolita fashion is no exception. (No, I’m not going to name names and link links in this article – they don’t need any more publicity!) So, what are you going to do when you see yourself with a ‘so-anonymous’ blackout bar on your eyes, or your friends drop the bomb that you’re getting hate? Here’s what you’re not going to do:

1. You’re not going to freak out.

It’s Sunday morning and you are scrolling through the secrets community, laughing at whatever weird brand faux-pas have been committed now, when all of a sudden, you spit out your cornflakes. That is a photo of YOU – someone took a photo of you, at that meetup, doing that thing, at that place, and they have scribbled obscenities all over it!

I know what you really want to do is rant out on your Tumblr, or leave a huge string of comments, or make a video of you crying like Chris Crocker, but that’s not the answer. For now, make yourself a cup of tea and step away from the computer. Go pet your cat, play a round of violent video games… even ones where you can bitchslap Victorian ladies.

2. You’re not going to feed the trolls.

There are lots of reason someone decided to make a bad MS paint secret, post, or journal rant about you. Maybe they’re insecure about how they look or dress, maybe they’re jealous of you, maybe they have their own issues… maybe you just butt heads with this other person. But what they really want to gain from saying anonymous, ugly stuff about you online, is for you to get upset. They want you to react. The worst thing you can do to encourage more hate postings is to get involved and give everyone a catfight to watch. When it comes to hate or even just rumors, the best thing to do is ignore them. If someone spread a rumor that the Queen of England looked fat, do you think she’d run outside and start telling everyone how she’s not fat? Nope.

 

3. You’re not going to give up.

I know that getting posted to hate communities hurts. There’s no way around it, it sucks to have people point out your real or imagined flaws. I mean, a girl suggested once that she’d like to brain me with a toilet seat. Does that make me feel warm and sparkly inside? No, of course not.

But here’s the deal – if you let it haunt you, if you decide to sell all your lolita clothes and never see another lolita site for the rest of your life, guess what? They win. The haters are trying to intimidate you. They want you to feel bad enough about yourself, to believe so deeply the lies they’re spreading about you, that you give up.

So every time you pull up your unicorn-printed socks, head to a meetup, or post your outfit shots, regardless of what the haters may or may not think, you’re winning. Trust me.

The Princess Code

{via Sabatomic.com}

When I first started dressing in lolita, in 2005 or 2006, I can’t quite remember – there was really only one lolita blog available on the Internet. Mostly a collection of pretty photos with a few articles on etiquette, inspiration, and dressing well, the Princess Portal was a diary-style website many fell in love with. The author, an Australian lolita called Princess Skye, was one of my first lolita inspirations. I don’t think there has been anything quite like her site since she closed it several years ago*.

One of the most beloved pieces Princess Skye wrote was titled “The Princess Code”, meant to be an inspiring poem and guideline for the budding lifestyle lolita. Since she’s taken down her site, this manifesto has only continued to circulate through social media sites and copy-paste. When I ran across it again, I wanted to preserve it – so I decided to give it a place here on my blog, Parfait Doll. Although we’re very different people and websites, I still credit her with first inspiring me to try my hand at blogging – creating the then-named Lolita Charm.

Because the style of this work is very fairytale-inspired and flowery, it is not to be taken too literally. It feels to me like a more archaic view of the lolita lifestyle, but I felt it was too precious to lose to the flow of cyberspace.

 

The Princess Code

written by Princess Skye

A Princess inspires others to follow their hopes and dreams through pursuing her own.

A Princess greets everyone with a welcoming smile, melting the hearts of friends and disarming her enemies.

A Princess has dignity, which protects her from the opinions and spite of ignorant people.

A Princess always looks beautiful, even when she is asleep.

A Princess aims for perfection in every step.

A Princess should be given fresh flowers everyday, even if she has to give them to herself.

A Princess grows in recognition and stature in proportion to how much she treats others as royalty.

A Princess reflect’s her inner beauty in her aesthetic choices.

A Princess goes to war against the violence of incivility with the weapons of etiquette and prodigal generosity.

A Princess lives each day from the heart, expressing herself freely and treasuring every moment.

A Princess has the right to spend her funds on beautiful things she does not need because beauty in itself is priceless.

A Princess should follow her heart and believe in her dreams, even if the whole world seems to be against her.

A Princess respects her environment and nurtures the beauty of nature.

A Princess is never too busy to give a kind word or smile where it is needed.

A Princess’s most precious jewel is Hope, which lights her darkest days and shows her the beauty in every soul she meets.

 

*With the closure of the Princess Portal, Skye opened a new website called “The Lost Princess” which is a collection of photographs and stream-of-consciousness fairytale imaginings. She no longer posts photos or article related to lolita or fashion. I am not sure if this website is active.

My August Bucket List: 8 Things to Do Before Summer Ends

When it’s the end of finals in May, it seems like the summer is going to last forever – and now here it is around the corner, almost gone. I suddenly realized the other day I only have two weeks left before my classes start again! With that in mind, I scribbled on a piece of junk mail my “August Bucket List”.

Go to the beach one (or two) last time. Living in New England means beach time is picturesque, studded with chintzy Nantucket basket jewelry, and all together too short. Before autumn sweeps in I want to hit up my favorite beach, Watch Hill, for one more day, and maybe snag one lolling around on the Connecticut shore in a decidedly more casual fashion. Accessories: fishtail braids, lavender bikini, and mermaid wish bracelet.

Pick a new pair of boots and a new purse. Nothing cleans up the rest of your wardrobe like a new pair of boots (admit it, last year’s boots look like they survived some kind of Matrix-worthy war) and a new purse. Structured purses are in, slouchy hobos and eco-totes are definitively out. As for boots, pick something that will go with almost everything – a neutral or your most-used color is a best bet. (Yes, I consider pink to be a neutral.)

See a summer film. There were tons of blockbuster summer movies this year and to be honest with the exception of Moonrise Kingdom, I didn’t find the time to see any of them. I saw a special showing of Totoro last week on a double date with Dalin of Magic a La Mode, but what I really want to see is Farewell My Queen, a film tribute to Marie Antoinette. French history, cute girls in Rococo dresses and mile-high wigs with romantic ladies’ love? I can’t wait! For added kitsch points, the nearest theatre to me showing it is an old barn repurposed into a one-room cinema. Not sure if this will explode my faded-floral-hipster-girl-logic or what.

Go to an outdoor ice cream stand. The one I like best in town has lavender ice cream, flavored with the herb lavender for a spicey and sweet and heavily perfumed flavor. On top of that, they’ve just opened our town’s first gelato shop, too. Where will my allegiance lie?! Maybe I’ll just have to try both to decide the winner…

Take all those photographs from this summer and slap them into some kind of album. Whether you have hard copies and make a scrapbook, finally order all your Instagram photos from Prinstagram, or get your Flickr in order. Don’t let those summer memories languish on a hard-drive somewhere!

Start my school year off right – with a fresh, clean manicure. Chipped glitter tips and fun colors are playful at the beach or on a summer date to a drive in movie, but look shabby in class and offices. While I could go get  a manicure, I’d rather sit around in my pajamas and muck around with the paints. (I’m also one of those repeat offenders that buys “easy French” gimmick kits and never uses them…) Using this great tutorial from The Beauty Department (one of my favorite no-nonsense beauty websites) I gave myself a cute French this morning with strawberry milk tips. Classy and cute! On another manicure related note, for getting off that chunky glitter polish, I finally tried the tin foil method (thanks to the Pink Sith!) and it works like a charm.

Read at least one more book that you haven’t been assigned. I’ve ended up reading some pretty decent books this summer – my top five right now are The Happiness Project, about how to enjoy your life more (doesn’t hurt that it’s written by a New York City mom, who knows where it’s at); The Handmaid’s Tale, a feminist dystopian novel by the famous Margaret Atwood; Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl, which chronicles the feminist movement of the 90s through punk rock (did you know even Kurt Cobain told his fans they should be listening to feminist band Bikini Kill?); Thirteenth Child, a great young adult novel in a world where magic, not science, settled the American pioneer west; and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which you should definitely not judge by it’s movie – the book was so much better. Those are just a few of the ones I really liked, amidst a crowd of others. Right now I’m curling up with the manga re-releases of Sailor Moon at night!

Don’t mourn summer. Okay, maybe you didn’t make it to the band-palooza-thing or you never got around to camping. There will always be next summer. Instead of thinking about how much I hate dark days in November, I’m trying to look forward to all the things I do like about fall and winter: seasonal Starbucks, maple sugar candy, Thanksgiving with my family, and planning New Year’s Eve with my boyfriend at Disney World this year!

What’s on your summer bucket list? Did you get everything squeezed in this summer or are you still hoping to fit in a few more days of sunshine?

Mister Rococo

I didn’t realize until recently that Mister Rococo, a Japanese short film I had been anticipating, had already hit the Internet with English subs – I was so excited to finally watch it! Late as I am to see it, I really enjoyed the film and found it very inspirational, as well as a great view into one of the Japanese lolita-featuring movies since Kamikaze Girls. I bought the app, but you can watch it for free on Youtube below – great if you don’t have any kind of Apple product!

Warning! Complete spoilers ahead! I really recommend you watch the video first!

As for aesthetics, I was thoroughly pleased with the look and feel of the film. It did remind me of Kamikaze Girls in style, making it feel a little like an unofficial sequel, but being such as Kamikaze Girls fan I enjoyed that. The shopgirl chasing her through the Japanese countryside at a wide angle particularly reminded me of days in Shimotsuma. The mix of girly anime “episode titles” and random shoujo art was also intruiging, making me yearn for a graphic novel rendition. Another note is that all of the clothing and the boutique provided in this movie was Baby the Stars Shine Bright, giving a much more fairytale feel than the pop-cute style of Deka Wanko, which was sponsored by Angelic Pretty. This also contributed to the Kamikaze Girls homage sense – the fashion and story of that film was also based around Baby the Stars Shine Bright.

Added to this, the song was inspired by and featured a song of Anna Tsuchiya’s, Brave Vibration. You may know her by a different name – she’s also the actress to play Ichiko/Ichigo in Kamikaze Girls. The song’s lyrics, I felt, were very key to understanding the main theme of the movie – changing your life and not giving up.

I’ve heard that people were disappointed with the film because the heroine ‘changes for a man’, which we all know is feminist cardinal sin, and it’s considered practically a mortal one to give up lolita for your partner (How many times has we seen lolita decry girls who give up the fashion to please their partner?). While one could argue that, I think what was more overwhelming was that Neko Hiroshi was only the catalyst for change. Their relationship isn’t really stressed as very loving, and we don’t really see them being affectionate as a couple. In the end, it’s just not about him.

Yuri says at the end, “I am no longer just cute.” She explains in the prologue that her whole life, she’s been focused on cute and not cute, starting with her parents onward. While being cute and enjoying cute things has made her happy, it seems that she’s never really felt a drive or passion to be anything more. This movie was about her realization that she can be something more. The metaphor she references, “I wanted to become a French doll”, was particularly telling. It’s pretty, sure, but dolls do nothing.

Her dumbbell covered in pink crystals, like her soft pink workout clothes and raw eggs drunk from a champagne glass, were particularly amusing – a little farcical stab at the lifestyle lolita, but accurate none the less – making her daily life, however “un-lolita”, cute and lolita-like. One reason I love this movie alone is that when else will you get to see a sweet lolita do a Rocky montage? I’m only sad they couldn’t run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

It also fits in with my current theme that I mentioned I love about Sailor Moon, that being cute does not make you weak. Being feminine doesn’t make you fragile. The juxtaposition of masked wrestling, one of the most ‘un-lolita’ things, mixed with her absurdly feminine and princess-style fighting outfit, really connected the two for me. As she says, “I might have been delicate, but I have never been a wimp.”

The other topic hinted at, if not by the film makers, but by the lolita watchers was body image. In the lolita community, I see us open to many things other groups wouldn’t accept, like genderbending and a wide range of sexual orientation and expression – but one of the few roadblocks we still have in lolita is body image. Perhaps this is because lolita fashion is so oriented on being that cute, dolly girl, body-shaming and body inferiority is not an area we do well in. Several of my friends have had the misfortune of anonymous hate lately and I was shocked at how easily lolitas bandied about body-shaming for any part of the body, from “boob loaf” to fat knees to wide “cankles”. I think this is why girls seemed dissatisfied with the film – it struck one our sensitive nerves.

In Mister Rococo, not only does she dedicate herself to something un-lolita-like, it even changes her body from her previous lolita ideal – i.e., brand-sized and delicate. One girl even commented she was appalled to see what Yuri had become after all her training left her looking bulky. (As a side note, you’ll notice that her female opponent isn’t nearly as bulky and musclebound. The reasons? Girls don’t usually bulk up even with rigorous muscle training. “Mister Rococo” is obviously played by a hulking Japanese man for the body shots, and only the face in the mask is actually the actress, Aimi Satsukawa.) But you know, if that’s how she was happy, that should be okay. For another, we only see her in her wrestling costume – who’s to say her new bod wouldn’t look cute in lolita still? Better yet, why do we have an “ideal lolita body” at all?

The last thing I want to mention is a little Easter egg – the tough-looking bald white guy in the film she originally sees pumping weights becomes her trainer or workout buddy, encouraging her. I’d liked to see more about their relationship! If you watch closely, you can see him carrying her teddy bear purse on the beach during their sunrise run. How hilarious is that?!

So, what did you think? Was it what you expected, better, or worse? Are you going to start a lolita cage wrestling club?! Leave a note (and where we can meet for lolita fight clu – DON’T TALK ABOUT LOLITA FIGHT CLUB) in the comments!

Style with Sailor Moon!

In case you haven’t heard yet, big news for cute magical girl lovers everywhere – Sailor Moon, the iconic magical girl schoolgirl-turned-warrior of our generator, is getting a whole new anime series in honor of her 20th anniversary! As a lot of magical girls are hitting big anniversaries lately, they’re coming back into the forefront with fans and fashion designers, like Creamy Mami, so they’re suddenly having a fresh surge in popularity!

The claim is that the new anime will more closely follow the manga, which got its own re-release just a few months ago. I got my first copy when I was in San Francisco this June! I can’t wait to see how the new anime differs from the first!

While I only vaguely remember watching Sailor Moon as child (if I recall, it came on too early for me to catch it after school… but I did have a glittery t-shirt!) I’ve got more into the series lately since the fans and the beautiful artwork of the series can be a little addictive. (And then I found out that Sailor Moon and I have the same birthday… and zodiac sign… and are both kind of lazy and don’t want to study…) I’ve also really attached to magical girls as a whole because they kick butt while looking cute – proof that you don’t need to be masculine (please, businesswomen of the 80s, spare us the macho shoulders pads) to be aggressive, driven, or focused. In a nutshell…

I only occasionally think of cosplaying as one of the characters, but since my sewing skills are pretty shabby, I love the idea of taking fashion influence from Sailor Moon! Here’s a little collage of items I’d love to add to any sweet lolita, fairy-kei or pop pastel outfit! I’m really liking that dip-dye sailor uniform – I think it’d be a cute project, especially since I’ve been dying a lot of my clothing lately. Both my pink denim jacket and my lavender lolita blouse were accomplished with a little fabric dye and a few hours’ time.

★ Sailor Moon Heart t-shirt ★ Cosmic Sailor Moon necklace ★ Moon sceptre necklace ★ Sailor lolita blouse (Angelic Pretty) ★ dip-dye sailor uniform, unknown – but a great DIY project! ★ Sailor Moon Series R pendant ★ pink bow heels ★ Sailor Moon pochette (with Luna) ★ Sailor Moon coin purse ★ Sailor Moon PGSM badge ★

Do you have any favorite Sailor Moon accessories or outfit inspirations I just snapped up the pink and lavender pochette above, and the PGSM badge for my collection! They’ll be great additions to one of my Otakon outfits in two weeks!

Speaking of, is anyone else going to Otakon? I’ll be there representing Sugar Freedom as their spokesmodel, taking them stateside for the first time! Make sure you check out the indie lolita designers’ fashion show!

Sweet Punkabilly

Sweet lolita punk has been a fascination of mine for a while that I have mostly failed to act upon excepting my pair of pastel-pink Doc Marten fakies. I always thought, “If only I could go on endless shopping sprees to Nile Perch and Spank! and these other weird underground Japanese boutiques, I could look like a kawaii sweet punk too.” But mostly here in the west the few items we can access are the brand productions, which as fabulous as they are, never seem to be half as unique and strange as some of the concoctions you see girls and guys wearing in Harajuku street snaps. It took me a few issues of Kera with crafty fashionistas-turned-weekend-designer types to realize that most of these really cool accessories and fashion concepts were being cooked up in someone’s apartment with hot glue and dollar store teddy bears glued to a lot of pink lace.

Now, whenever I find a cool photo that screams, ‘You could do this if you went to Joann’s Fabric Store with $10 and a free weekend,” I paste it into Photoshop for a later date. Eventually I turn them into mish-mash collages that I insist on sharing with you lovely readers on the Internet. You could say I’m almost creating my own ‘lookbook’ pages, or a journal of sorts, with DIY ideas that I think are both cute and doable (the essential D in DIY). A few of this week’s ideas have been bobbing around in my head for a while, but I decided to revive them in the name of sweet punkabilly (a new sub-sub-genre I just made up and you should not take at all seriously). I’m considering making this into a weekly feature called ‘Lookbook Wednesday’ or something catchier and maybe with alliteration, which would essentially be a collage of hair, makeup or DIY ideas that could be easily copied at home.

The first idea in this min-collage is buttons. As I said in last week’s Fairy Denim DIY post, I’m on the lookout for strange and vintage buttons. When I saw this button on a lilac-dyed denim jacket, I knew it had to make the collage. First, because pale pink and black and white are some of the essential colors of sweet punkabilly, and second because the kids’ phrase of ‘Let’s play barbies’ is too kitsch to ignore. I have this daydream where I make my own buttons to match all the very cool ones I see floating around the fashion world, but button makers are sold in one size at a time at around $200 a pop.

The second is three favorites in one little photograph. First, thick white sunglasses – looking very retro. Fake glasses and now, increasingly, super-retro glasses frames has been in as of late: I keep seeing lolitas pushing the envelope in pastel cat’s eyes or owlish 80s and 90s secretary-type glasses. Next, tiny white and black dot on the bow, one of the key themes of sweet punkabilly at work again. For summer, topped off with dark red faux cherries.

The big photo is a wristlet-meets-decorative-scrunchie bracelet (Who else wore scrunchies on their wrists as fashion accessories when they were young? I pretended mine where the cuffs of fancy, invisible princess dresses) with a large black bow adorned with spikes and safety pins. I’d seen this idea a few years prior in a Japanese magazine, using gold safety pins rather than silver for a more princess-y look. While the black and silver style here is cute, I picture a sweeter version of such a bow in pink shiny satin like for hime-style, topped off with studs and safety pins, the open arm of the pins threaded with pearls or maybe star-shaped beads. A crossbreed of the two would be perfect for ‘bittersweet’ lolita. I just bought my first black-and-pastel printed Angelic Pretty dress, so I’m exploring how black plays a role in the pastel world of sweet styles.

For an easy sweet punkabilly addition to your wardrobe, there’s always this PINK IS PUNK tee, on sale for only $7! I wish it was actually pink, but I think it’s definitely destined for some cute surgery.

 

Fairy Denim DIY

I have been so inspired by denim in fashion lately, most specifically fairy-kei fashion and other corners of Japanese street fashion. I bought an 80s cropped vintage jacket on Etsy a few weeks ago and dyed it from barely-there-pink to a rosy tone that exactly matches the lining of my Angelic Pretty hoodie (which I know as I wore them together for that 80s’ mall rat look, with a pop palette.) Although I’m not finished decorating mine yet, I couldn’t help but turn my favorite ideas into a DIY-inspiration collage of the other things I want to try with denim.

Pale-wash denim skirts or jackets are ideal for dying pastels. Any of these projects above could easily start by dying some out-of-date light wash denim with the same tye-dye you kits you can get at a craft store. I used a kit in pink, and then diluted the heck out of it to get the shade I wanted. By testing drops of it on an unseen inside of a lapel, I could gauge the darkness of the dye. When I finally washed the whole thing in a basin of water-diluted dye, I made sure to try the sleeves first – if it came out the wrong color, you can easily cut off the sleeves and boom, you still have a vest to play with. And make sure you follow the package instructions to set the color – you don’t want it rubbing off or bleeding onto your other clothes!

After you dye your denim item, you can have fun decorating it however you want with any kind of kitsch. Mine is still plain, but I am thinking about pink pyramid studs for some texture on the shoulders, with possibly lace on the pockets and replacing the brown buttons with something star-shaped or sparkly. (The big surprise of the jacket I’m still working on, but I think it’ll be a hit!) In the meantime, I’m wearing my jacket with cute pins I’ve collected like in the photo on the lower right. I have a few Angelic Pretty pins, and today my first vintage pin came in the mail!

(Yes, I’m lazy lately and I’m using Instagram to edit and post my photos…)

This is a vintage My Little Pony pin featuring the ‘queen of Dream Castle’, Majesty. I actually only paid $4 for it!

I’m looking all over for cute badges and pins, whether they be 80s and vintage or even just kitschy things like ‘FRODO LIVES’ to decorate my jacket. (Try searching on eBay, you can find a lot of strange one-offs from promotions or made by people with button machines.) A lolita kilt pin would also be a cute edition, or maybe to sew on some lengths of pink chain in loops. I’m even considering fake zippers at an angle for a motorcycle jacket look like the one in the upper left corner. Now there’s a jacket that went crazy with decorating! (…I even have that unicorn patch, so…)

Nile Perch and Swimmer both make cute buttons that would be sweet on a jacket.

The skirts in the lower left look like fabric paint, so you could paint on any kind of designs and then accent it with studs, glitter, or even embroidery stitches. The shooting star rainbows remind me of a cutie mark from my favorite My Little Pony Streaky, so I think it could be a cute idea to copy your favorite pony’s cutie mark onto a skirt as a homage!

If you wanted something simpler, I also really like the pink silky bow on the back of the denim vest. It feels like hime-lolita or himegyaru teamed up with punk for a collaboration. I think it would look great as an accent to a spring or summer Jesus Diamante or delicate floral or solid-colored Angelic Pretty dress. Studs are also very easy to place – you don’t usually need a tool to apply them.

I think any of these items would be a cool weekend or afternoon project, and it could add some originality to any cute-themed outfit, like lolita, hime, fairy-kei, or even just pastel day-to-day wear. I tried my jacket on with my summer ‘beach’ dress – a long strapless one made with vintage 1970s rose-patterned sheets – and it’ll be perfect for an easy day in the summer or spring as a light layer.

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.

 

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