Lolita Fashion 101
What’s Lolita Fashion?
Lolita is a street fashion and subculture in Japan which is known for its doll-like look. One very important thing to remember is Lolita is not cosplay, it’s a fashion movement. It’s a common mistake people make because they often see Lolitas at conventions where people cosplay, but it’s not not a costume or character, it’s a fashion outfit.
The Lolita style is heavily inspired by the Rococo and Victorian eras, but also have some influences from current fashion trends. One of the wonderful things about Lolita fashion is there are lots of different sub-styles. There are sub-styles ranging from sweet to gothic so you’re bound to find a style that’s a perfect match for you and your personality!
Lolita, Not Nabokov
Another big misconceptions about Lolita fashion is the meaning of the name. By definition, Lolita means, “a young girl who has a very sexual appearance or behaves in a very sexual way”. But, this definition doesn’t apply to Japanese Lolita fashion. The origin story of the name is still up for debate, but it may have been an example of wasei-eigo when the Japanese adapted the term lolita, they flipped the meaning and went for modest, elegant and cute rather than sexy.
Sweet Lolita or Ama Lolita or Kote Lolita
This style is the most child-like and uses a lot of bows, ruffles, light colors. Light or natural makeup looks best with this style and big teased out pigtails and curls are commonly worn by Sweet Lolitas.
This style is a Victorian inspired gothic style. The looks usually have black or rich dark colors like burgundy, purple and navy. Makeup can go from light and natural to dramatic smokey eye with dark red lip.
Probably the “tamest” of all styles. Many Classic dresses can pass for a garden party, church or summer dress. Classic Lolita is all about looking classy and invokes Victorian fashion a lot, especially with floral patterns and elegance of the era.
This style can be recognized by its straw baskets, hats, fruit and gingham patterns.
Aristocrat or Elegant Gothic Aristocrat or EGA
This is a more mature style and doesn’t include cutesy motifs like bows, prints, etc. Skirts are usually long and the style can include corsets, fitted jackets with tail coats and frilly shirts, top hats and veils. This style can easily be worn by both men and women.
Guro Lolita or Gore Lolita
This style resembles a broken doll, so think innocent yet gruesome. The gore included in this style is up to you; it can range from blood splatters on your clothes to a sling, bandages.
This is a more toned down version of Lolita fashion while still keeping the basic elements.
Shiro Lolita (White Lolita) & Kuro Lolita (Black Lolita)
This includes outfits made entirely of black co-ordinates (coords) or white, cream or off-white coords. Kuro and Shiro Lolitas often pair up with each other in twin outfits to show the contrast.
This involves more masculine clothing. Ōji means prince in Japan, Kodona is the western term.
Hime Lolita or Princess Lolita
Princess lolita is a elegant style that often includes mini crowns, tiaras, extravagant hair and dresses.
This style adds punk fashion elements to Lolita fashion. Motifs include tattered fabric, safety pins, chains, plaids, etc.
This style is nautical-themed that is inspired by the Japanese Sailor-styled uniforms.
This is a Kimono-esque style that involves long ‘sode’ or sleeves and ‘obi’ or sashes from Kimono/yukata outfits. Of course to make it lolita these elements are fused with bell-shaped skirts. Qi Lolita is similar but uses Chinese clothing and accessories.
Ero Lolita or Erotic Lolita
This involves more fetish elements like leather, collars and corsets while still being modest. Skirts may be shorter than the other styles, but it’s still not supposed to be overly provocative.
Shout-out to Lolitafashion.org, they are a great resource!