Sugar and spice, but not necessarily nice.

17.5.11

Taking the Ita Out of Wa-Lolita and more on that raffle*



*AKA, That time where I cockblock Amber on that post about lolita and sex.

Holy shit, I don't know how much I can ask forgiveness for my epic absence. Remember that big gap of no posts in December? Kinda looked like this?

Yeah, due to a mystery virus that was going around my campus, two relapses, Anime Boston and very poor scheduling choices, my whole spring semester looked like that. Even as I'm typing this, I know there's a chance I won't be posting this until after the weekend (speaking of, I will get to the giant cock blocking of raffle ticket purchases from Paypal).

So, for the umpteenth, sorry for the silence in anything that doesn't involve me apologizing extra and trying to make money.


Ok, 'nuff o' that.

So, for most of us that aren't stuck in weather limbo or cooler climates, we're at that nice point of spring that sometimes feels like summer. Hell, a lot of us have just graduated or are running right into summer break. (Special shout to the lovely and awesome Yanise of the NYC lolis! You are now a certified animator! You can see the fruits of her literal basement dwelling hard studio work here at Amani's blog.)



Summery spring and actual summer for me mean three things, in regards to outings: street fairs, festivals and conventions. Earlier in the month, I enjoyed the Sakura Matsuri at Brooklyn Botanical (OMG, it wasn't as crowded with tourists on Saturday AND was lovely weather!) with our local lolitas, as well as some awesome visitors ('sup, Christina of Ramble Rori!). Surprisingly, there wasn't much in the way of wa-lolita, either by our group or by the cosplayers or visiting Long Island lolitas.

But they were there. A little.

Now, the wa style tends to be a bit cringe-worthy, and not just in lolita. Many cosplayers wear "kimonos" with poorly tied obis (I'm guilty of this when the main obi is made of soft fabric, tbh), and when it isn't worn well, nothing screams "weeboo" louder. Mixing it in lolita gets trickier in most cases, since you'll have beginning lolitas jump right into what is probably one of the hardest looks to work next to ero. At best, they'll be wearing a piece from Bodyline or a sacrificial yukata they cut up as according to this old tutorial (both acceptable, but the most commonly seen style of wa and this blog is about bluntness and mixing it up). Worst case, they did the later with a poorly hacked Chinatown "silk" kimono they got for $10 without realizing how much satin can fray when you don't zigzag or surge the fuck out of it, not to mention the oozing of $1 bin chemical lace from the craft store.

Or they're throwing random traditional Japanese accessories into the mix. Like clunky geta. With tube socks. Yes, I've seen this.


The sad thing about this it that it results in making it difficult to wear wa-lolita items outside of Japan. We always tell ourselves that we can only do it for cons and festivals, and even then, a lot of us shy from it. It's difficulty to wear and it's high rate of complete weeboo fail make a lot of lolitas want to not wear it. We deem it too costumey.

We forget that the same things can be said about lolita as a whole, and that certain styles should really not be judging on the costumey thing in the least. I'm looking at you, Over-the-Top Anything.


The truth of the matter is that wa-lolita can be very fun and elegant if, like the rest of lolita, we consider the taste levels. It's a style that I want to seriously wear more often and be no less ashamed of than lolita in general.

So, let's start off with some general tips:

Knock that synthetic satin shit out.

I don't care if you even actually got it in Narita International Airport and the print is soundly more elegant. If it is made of flimsy synthetic satin instead of silk and it cost under $60, it will not look that good altered for lolita. If you still insist on doing it, you better have a serger, a thick skin and be a fashion and design god, 'cause I have extreme difficulty believing that it'll look good.

Keep balance in mind

If you have a print, especially a busy kimono print, you want to go extra light on the lace. It will look super busy if you put too much lace on where there is a lot going on in the print, as a lot of kimono prints have, and this is the absolute last style you want that issue with.

You can get kimono print fabric, if you are making your own piece, in some quilting sections and through kimono retailers.

You don't have to go and buy a ready-made yukata or kimono and tear it up to make a wa-outfit. It's a great shortcut if you aren't that skilled a seamstress or are pressed on time to do that. However, if you are good at sewing or you are commissioning someone else to make it, you can also get a nice kimono or kimono-inspired fabric in several quilting sections that aren't all dragons and geisha and kanji you don't know. Check out the novelty print section, too. Just keep in mind that you may need to line it, since quilting cotton isn't as heavy as some apparel cottons.

You can also easily get a bolt of actual yukata or kimono fabric. The bolts can be pretty cheap if you look right (though a lot of them to ship straight out of Japan, so keep that shipping cost in mind). I got a brand new bolt of yukata fabric for about $13 through eBay. There are also cut but incomplete kimonos you can buy through online auctions. The fabric is put together with long dart stitches that you can easily cut just to obtain the fabric panels. Just keep in mind, if you go this route, that kimono fabric bolts are woven narrow, unlike the longer bolts we produce in the west. They're about as wide as a kimono sleeve is (from shoulder seam to the hem of the wrist).

As with all lolita, accessorize accordingly.

This does not mean wear those awful, un-lacquered samurai geta they wear in Bleach. If you do want traditional Japanese footwear, invest in a nice pair of zori or a more feminine pair of geta and if you need a split-toed sock, wear them with taller tabi or toe socks. You can get plain OTK tabis through Sock Dreams. Regular lolita shoes work just as well, though. Granny boots with hakama are also a common look, so boots are also good.

Incorporating traditional hair pieces with lolita ones, though? Always a good plan. Keep the neckline in mind for necklaces, though.

Don't wear friggin' geisha makeup. You're probably doing it wrong anyhow.

We don't white face in EGL and we won't be doing it in wa, either. If you want to make an homage to geisha with your wa-lolita outfit, just stick to matte red lips and black eyeliner, please, and keep your lines neat.


Ok, now that we have that defined, there are two main incarnations of wa-lolita: the mini-kimono style and the motif look. When I say "motif look", I'm of course talking about lolita clothes using kimono prints and traditional Japanese motifs, but not the actual shaping of a kimono as it's based. This is wa-lolita's safe haven, more often than not.

The mini-kimono is the style that pops into mind first when talking about wa-lolita. This look, however, tends to be why wa-lolita suffers a serious case of cookie cutter, costumey fashion. It often ends up being literally just a kimono with a flared skirt and peticoat, with a biased hem being the best hope for variety in the look in most cases.
We forget that there are a lot of different looks to a kimono itself that isn't taken advantage of in wa-lolita, and sticking to style only makes it appealing with a sweet, gothic or gyaru-inspired motif when we step away from traditional Japanese-inspired prints. But, if we take into consideration hakama, different styles of obi-tying, jinbei, the changes of clothing in the Meiji period, and combinding it with we can obtain many more looks, including some boy-styles. Some of these looks can come off as more subtle, too, which makes it easier to wear as a style outside of festivals and events.


There are also, of course, full kimonos you can wear, but this is more so kimono with lolita influence than wa-lolita. Now, with using Japanese motifs in more conventional lolita shapes, there is still a lot of exploration that isn't taken advantage of, even by the craftiest of lolitas. For those who want to take a stab at it, though, here are some ideas:

  • Cutsews with appliques of traditional motifs (i.e. kokeshi dolls, origami, plum and cherry blossoms.)
  • Dresses that feature a panel of more decorative kimono fabric, similar to this Twinkle Journey jsk by Meta.
  • accessories made with chirimen crepe fabric or origami
  • for more sweet looks, you can make accessories with miniatures or erasers of traditional treats like dango.
  • Combine the look of common lolita hair accessories with kanzashi (the traditional flower pins, sometimes with metal tassels).
So, to finally conclude my point, wa-lolita, just like the old school black and white look, isn't inherently an awful ita mess. It only can look bad based on who's wearing it and how, just like any other style of lolita.

But please, still try to stay away from this.



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Now, on that raffle... I hate to do this again, but I only had two purchases before Paypal informed me that I was promoting illegal gambling. So I'm again extending the raffle to June 11th (one week after Lolita Day) so that more people can enter. However, due to the fact that raffles count as gambling, I can't use Paypal for direct ticket purchases.

There is, however, a loop hole that is win-win for all**:

I have a lot of bookmarks left over from the convention. They're cute, printed on archival cardstock and have a ribbon looped on the top, coordinating with the design. The three I sold at the con look like this:


So that's Meowth, Sailor Moon and Chibitalia with Holy Roman Empire. I am also going to print up some bookmarks using the two lolita prints that are included in the raffle lucky pack.

If you buy one bookmark (which I marked down from the con price to $2), you will automatically be entered for one ticket in the raffle. If you buy more than one, I will put you in for three. Everyone gets some!





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**For the two who already purchased tickets: just let me know if you want in on this too, and I'll throw it in at no extra charge.

7 comments:

  1. Though I still would feel shy for wearing it because of people that are all "OMG CULTURAL APPROPRIATION!!!!1" I would certainly prefer Japanese themed lolita over the Kimono style dress personally.

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  2. Ehh, on cultural appropriation: I've never seen a non-Asian get serious shit for wearing a kimono if they wear it well. Fetishized geisha? Absolutely. Yellow face? Damn straight. But if you wear kimono properly, or wear a style that is currently worn there that's based on kimono well, it's a far jump from, say, hipsters wearing First Nation people's war bonnets. Plus, again, as kimono is still worn by some in Japan as everyday wear, it's far less disrespectful than wearing something that is of a predominantly more historical or religious importance.

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  3. Fun article! I like the guide even though I'd never use it. XD Hopefully it will aid brave souls who choose to master that look.

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  4. I love the little pics throughout XD
    One BIIIIG "don't" is do NOT wear chopsticks in your hair... Geisha did not wear chopsticks in their hair. And it looks about as stupid as sticking an elaborate spoon in your updo :X
    -
    I personally like Meta's kimono prints.
    http://hellolace.net/wardrobe/metamorphose-temps-de-fille/type/jsk/item/85/

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  5. eternal haet i'd love my sex talk

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  6. It's coming.

    *rimshot*

    @gensou-alice: Oh goodness, the most embarrassing thing I've ever seen was at my first Sakura Matsuri in the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. I sat down with my then SO to partake in our illicit lunch and we both did a head turn and lost our appetites when a "geisha" walked past. A fully grown woman was seriously wearing Vaseline and baby powder all over her face with messy red lipstick, Chinese takeout chopsticks in a messy high bun, one of those awful Chinatown "silk" robes with the dragon embroidered in the back with a towel tied around her for an obi, tube socks and $1 flip flops. I'm still hoping that was a comedic parody of Japanese beauty, but either way... *shudders*

    But yeah. No chopsticks. No knitting needles, either. Proper hair sticks, combs and pins if one goes that route, please, be it wa-lolita or kimono.

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