Monday, 31 August 2015

Whip Collection by Angelic Pretty

Today I shall be taking a look at Whip Collection by Angelic Pretty. This series includes 2 dresses, a skirt, a hair accessory and socks.

First up is the OP. The bodice seems well fitted and the shape is quite cute. I think the sleeves look an okay length, although I am a bit unsure about how baggy the sleeves look. The sleeves definitely need a bit of puffiness to them to give them a cute shape, but I think the sleeves are too puffy. It just needs to be a little bit more toned down. The cuffs are gathered neatly and I love that the lace and bows finish off the cuffs in a cute way, but have been kept to a reasonable size. I really dislike the waist bow. The shape looks a bit bizarre, it sticks out strangely and the ribbon used for the bow is very shiny. I really don't feel the waist bow is needed at all and the dress would look more balanced if it wasn't there. The bodice is broken up by 2 vertical lines of lace. The lace used has a pretty design and it helps to break up the plain areas of the bodice without being too distracting. I think the collar has a cute shape and the lace lining the edge of the collar gives it a cuter appearance. The collar is maybe a bit wide though and could do with finishing a little bit further away from the shoulders. The collar is topped with a cute ribbon bow, which is a good size and a lovely shape. However, once again the ribbon is a bit too shiny. The stitching on the ends of the ribbon sticks out a bit too. The back of the dress offers no shirring, so size flexibility is a bit limited. I think the zip has been relatively well concealed. The print lines up against the zip line fairly reasonably. The stock photos show that the high-waist skirt seems to have quite a good length to it. The skirt has plenty of volume and flares outwards well. The skirt shape looks quite cute in the stock photos. The skirt design is kept simple and so, the print is displayed brilliantly. The bottom hem is then finished off with a line of bow themed lace. I really like the choice of lace but don't feel it has been attached in the best possible way.

Here we have the JSK. The bodice looks well fitted but I feel the shape is very basic. I really hate the neckline shape. The straps are very thin and look quite flimsy, although wider straps would not have suited this style of bodice. They are lined really well on the outside with some pretty lace though. This lace has been well gathered and creates a lovely shape. There is a waist bow which isn't too big, but I do feel the size looks a bit odd. There is something about the waist bow which really stands out, and not in a good way. The ribbon used is once again very shiny. I don't feel a waist bow was the right choice for this dress. Perhaps a ribbon belt would have looked a bit better than a bow. This bodice also features lines of lace, which helps break up the empty space on the bodice. The neckline features a subtle line of thin lace, a shiny line of ribbon and then a ruffle of the printed fabric. I don't feel the ruffle really works here and it also seems to stick out at an odd angle. The sheen from the ribbon is also quite obvious. I do like the lace though. The ribbon line is topped with a small bow, which helps to finish off the neckline and is the prefect size. The back of the dress is fully shirred so there is plenty of size flexibility but unfortunately, the shirring is not concealed and is not that appealing to look at. The back is quite short though, and when the waist ties are worn it helps to conceal the shirring a little bit. The stock photos show the skirt has plenty of volume and it flares outwards well. There is plenty of petticoat room. I personally would have preferred the waist to be a bit lower down and then had a rounder skirt shape though. The skirt is kept simple again, so the print is displayed very effectively. The bottom hem is then finished off with the bow lace, but again I am not so keen on how the lace has been attached.

And finally, a close up of 2 bits of the print (sorry for the picture not being that great a quality). This series comes in pink, sax blue, grey and black. After Cat's Tea Party, I am starting to warm to the idea of a grey/pink combination and I do feel the grey version of this print works very nicely. The black also looks very interesting with the 'pops' of red in the print. However, I feel the pink version is a bit overloaded with pink, with the pink cakes and pink background. As for the print itself, the cakes are drawn to AP's usual standard and they are very neatly framed. I really like the details on the cakes, especially the cupcakes with their little decorations. It is really clever how the frames of the cakes are made up of whipped cream. I felt that was quite effective. The bows at the top of the frames offer a refreshing 'pop' of colour. The cookies in the background are cute too. But then they had to go and spoil it by adding that houndstooth background. I have never liked houndstooth in regular fashion, let alone in lolita fashion. With this print, the houndsooth looks far too busy and it makes the rest of the print look far more cluttered than it actually is. Unfortunately, this is a real deal-breaker for me.

So I feel this had the potential to be quite a standard Angelic Pretty cake themed series. The print would look very cute if it hadn't been for that background. I also feel the dress designs are okay, but could have been a lot better. So this is not a series I will be going for. If I absolutely had to, I would pick the OP in grey. I think the design of the OP is a lot stronger than the JSK. Overall, I am not that impressed and I am much more excited about some of the upcoming releases.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Good Habits For Lolitas To Get In To

No matter how long you have been in to lolita, there is always room for improvement. Even if you don't have any meets coming up or if you are taking a break from wearing the fashion, there are still ways you can make progress at home. I have been thinking a lot lately about how one can improve as a lolita and I have come up with a list of habits that I think most lolitas can benefit from. Like with New Year's resolutions, it is probably better to tackle one good habit at a time. My list is not a definitive list of must-dos but more suggestions of different ways you can enrich your lolita experience.

Have a dress-up day- I am not talking about preparing an outfit for a meet. I mean just dedicating an amount of time to having some experimental fun. Try going through your wardrobe and try things on together, especially items you would not usually think to put together. See how things look together. I myself do this from time to time and I usually take photos, even if a combination works out badly, just so I have a visual record of how my experiments turned out. I find that if I don't have any meets coming up, it is good to have these dress up days to keep myself in the mind-set of coming up with outfits so that when an event does come up it feels easier to get the ideas flowing. And if the creative juices are not flowing, I can always browse through my folder and remind myself of any good ideas I may have come up with. I try to have these dress-up days once a month, although sometimes I can't do it this frequently. If I can't find the time, I will at least write down any ideas I have come up with in a notepad so I have the ideas ready for my next dress-up day.

Learn some basic sewing skills- I don't know what the education system is like in other countries, but when I was in school I left without any basic sewing or cooking skills or basic life skills (which is pretty appalling, because these are the sort of lessons I probably needed!). I had never been taught how to sew on a button or repair tears and I had to teach myself how to do it. Anyway, my point is these skills are very useful to have if you wear lolita fashion. Being confident at basic sewing skills is great for those incidents when a button flies off your dress or you need to do some basic repairs. I once got a dress which arrived in a condition much worse than I was expecting and I had to repair this fraying loop that was holding some ribbon in place. I managed to fix it but I had to look up how to do it first, because I had never done this sort of sewing before. I will at least know what to do if this ever happens to me again, but the experience did teach me that as well as learning how to look after your clothes, you ideally need to know how to repair them.

Do a Monthly Budget- Sadly, we can't all be super-rich lolitas who can just buy whatever we please! Thankfully, my own financial situation is a lot better than it was a few years ago and I can afford to buy more lolita now. But that doesn't mean that I can be careless and so, every month I make a list of what I have earned and everything I need to pay out for over the next few months. I find it is definitely better to plan a few months ahead. It gives me a better idea of how much I can justify spending on lolita. Writing everything down also gives me a better perspective of how many times I can afford to go out, attend meets and do interesting stuff whilst wearing lolita! There is definitely a balancing act between buying new pieces and attending more meets. If you buy too many pieces you may find you can't go to meets and have the opportunity to wear your new purchases. Another thing I do is put a little sum of money aside each month for Christmas and also have an emergency fund, so that I know nothing nasty can sneak up on me.

Learn a new hair style- Something I have learnt recently is that I rely too much on wigs! And when I use my real hair I always do the same style. There is nothing wrong with using the same hair style if it works for you, but sometimes it can feel a bit repetitive. I am one of those people whose hair is very difficult to style, but I do try to do a new style every now and then. In fact, I am attempting to do a new hair style for Regalia in September. I don't know when I will get around to publishing this post, but if you see me wearing a wig at Regalia, it means I chickened out! The great news is that there are now more gadgets and hair pieces available that make hair styles a lot easier. Checking out your local Claire's Accessories or beauty store could prove useful.

Plan a Meet- Are you one of those lolitas who keeps meaning to host a meet for your community but never get around to it? Well, now is the time to plan that meet! As somebody who has hosted a fair few meets, I feel they get a lot easier to plan once you have hosted a couple and know what you are doing. Once you have gotten used to hosting and know your local community better, you will wonder why you were so apprehensive to host a meet. It does obviously help if you have a lovely local community and thankfully, my friends are very supportive!

Learn a new craft- There is something quite satisfying about knowing you have made something yourself. Well, that is at least how I feel. There are so many different crafts that can be used to make lolita accessories- crochet, knitting, decoden, embroidery... These are just some I have come up with off the top of my head. Learning a new craft can also be a calming experience if you are feeling stressed or just need some quiet time.

Make a scrapbook- This is something I have been meaning to do for a while. I want to print off all my outfit photos and do a diary of my experiences. This idea was inspired by some old print-outs I printed when I first got in to lolita of dresses I wanted. It was really interesting to see what I liked back then and how my tastes have changed. This made me realise that it could actually be quite fun to record all of my lolita memories and maybe in a few years time I will discover that my tastes have completely changed again. It is also quite a warm feeling to look back at old meets which I remember enjoying. I even feel a lot better looking back at my early outfits and seeing how my style has evolved, even if it is a little embarrassing!

Improve your beauty regime- I have never been one to obsess about the latest products but as I have gotten older I have noticed changes in my appearance. I realise now just how important it is to look after my skin and have a regime in place. It does make an impact. There are other small things I feel I could improve as well. Like for example, I do a lot of gardening, and my hands could really do with a bit of extra love. So I am making a note to use more hand cream and look after my cuticles a bit better. If you take care of yourself you will find that it makes a difference to how you feel when you wear lolita. I always feel a bit more confident when I have upped my beauty regime before a big event.

So hopefully this list has given you a few ideas to start with. I know I could benefit from taking some of my own advice! Even if my list did not inspire you, perhaps you can think of some of your own ideas. If you sit down and think about it, you can probably come up with your own list.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Brand Print Double

Today is going to be a double print post. Scroll down further to see Vampire Nocturne by Alice and the Pirates.

But first up today is Stardust Fantasia by Baby the Stars Shine Bright. This series includes 2 dresses, a skirt, a blouse, 4 hair accessories, socks, a few pieces of jewellery and a cape made for Usakumya.

First up is JSK I. The bodice seems well fitted and the shape is fairly cute. I am not overly keen on the scalloped neckline, but the bow covers some of the neckline anyway. The straps look quite a supportive width. I am not overly keen on the tulle overlaying the straps which also makes up the ruffle on the outsides of the straps. The colour of the tulle looks very dull compared to the stark and bright colour of the star shaped lace also going along the straps. I think the tulle is meant to be gold coloured, but it looks very pale compared to the gold lace and charms used on the dress. The ruffles have been cutely shaped though. The waist area features a star shaped brooch. The brooch has a cute design, but the star shape of the brooch is not that clearly defined. I think the lace used around the edge of the brooch stops the star shape looking immediately obvious. The middle of the brooch is filled in nicely and I like the pearl and star charm chain. I have to admit though, that I prefer the dress with the brooch detached. The bodice is broken up in the panels. I really like how the different kinds of lace have been used to line the edges of these panels. It has been done so neatly and the choices of lace are so cute. I like that different types of lace are used too, and I especially like the inclusion of the gold lace. The neckline features a bow, which is a very sweet shape. The bow is nicely formed and the size is a good. The use of gold lace on the bow and a gold star charm compliments the use of gold lace on the bodice too. This bow is detachable but I think the dress looked better with it attached. The back features a panel of shirring which is topped very neatly with a ribbon corset. The stock photos show the skirt has a decent amount of volume and it flares outwards plenty. There is the potential to create a really cute shape. The skirt is kept simple, so the print is displayed beautifully. The bottom hem features a scalloped edge which is lined with star lace and finished off with a ruffle of tulle. The scallops are well shaped and the star lace helps to soften them. The tulle further helps to even out the bottom hemline. The tulle matches the tulle used on the straps, but I still feel the colour of the tulle is a bit dull.

Here we have JSK II. The bodice seems well fitted. Although the bodice shape is quite simple, the design looks quite cute. The straps look a very supportive width. The straps are lined neatly with lace on the insides and outsides. I think the lace makes the straps look a tiny bit bulky. However, it does match up with the very lacy neckline. The waist line is topped with a ribbon "belt" which helps to clearly define the waist area and keeps things looking tidy. The ribbon used has a pretty design to it, although it is a bit shiny. The belt design is finished with a bow in the centre, which is a good size and looks quite well in proportion with the neckline details. The bow is cutely shaped too and sits nicely on the dress. The bodice is broken up in to panels. Perhaps these lines between the panels could have been topped with a very thin line of lace, but maybe that would have been just a bit too much lace for the already very lacy bodice. The lace at the neckline is very bold. I like the different layers of lace and they sit well on top of each other. I like the subtle line of ribbon threaded through the top layer of lace too. There is a pearl chain dangling from the neckline and I admire how well concealed the ends of the chain are. The ends are hidden away underneath the lace. The chain is a reasonably good length but I think it could have been shorter. I think the chains dangling from the chain are quite cute. To one side, there is an additional star shaped brooch. Despite being lined with lace again, I feel this time the star shape of the brooch is quite easy to make out. The brooch design is simpler compared to the one on the other JSK, but it works better. Both the brooch and chain are detachable but I quite like the dress with both attached. The back of the dress is fully shirred, so great for a wider size range but not so attractive to look at. The stock photos show the skirt has lots of volume and it flares outwards pretty well. I love the subtle yet sweet bell shape and think it really suits the overall feel of the series. The skirt design is kept simple, so the print is displayed beautifully. The bottom hem is then finished off simply, but neatly, with a line of good quality lace.

And here is one part of the print close up...

... and another part. This series comes in pink, sax blue, wine and navy blue. I am not overly fond of the wine version because it feels like there is a lot of pink and some of the shades of pink don't work as well with the wine background. The other 3 colours though are very dreamy looking and I feel they suit the style of print very well. I do worry the print looks a bit washed out on the pink version though. As for the print itself, it is very cute! It perhaps looks a little bit too cluttered, but I personally like all the stars floating about the print. If I were to get rid of anything, it would probably be the fireworks, just to free up a bit of space. The cats in the print are adorable. I especially love the cats dressed as witches and wearing capes. They look so cute! All the different bits of the print are rich with detail and the details have also been well thought out. 

So overall this is a very sweet take on Halloween, but sometimes cute can be a good thing. This is a print packed with plenty of details and there are quite a few different ways you could go about coordinating this series. The dress designs are pretty decent as well. Would I buy this series? Probably not, because it's not really my thing. But I do feel this is a series worth going for. I would definitely be picking JSK II in navy if I were  to buy this series.

Next up today is Vampire Nocturne by Alice and the Pirates. This series includes 3 dresses, a skirt, 3 hair accessories, gloves, socks and a necklace.

First up is JSK I. The bodice looks well fitted, but the overall shape of the bodice is very simple. I think the straps are far too thin and look really flimsy. They lack detail and the narrowness of the straps looks odd teamed with the bodice. They definitely need to be wider and lined with a bit of lace to liven them up. The bodice is broken up in to panels, which sees the panels lined neatly with lace. The lace sits very well on the dress and I think the design of lace used is quite pretty, but not too distracting. The centre panel of the bodice features 4 buttons in a square with chains dangling between them. I feel the buttons could have been positioned a bit better, perhaps with the top 2 buttons being a bit lower down so they don't get so obscured by the heavily detailed neckline. Perhaps this button design is not the best of choices to pair with the heavy looking neckline. The neckline features a couple of ruffles with alternate between lace and satin. These ruffles are very wide and heavily gathered, which creates a lot of volume. I feel this gives the dress a bit of a top-heavy appearance. I also don't feel the layers sit well on top of each other and the line of wide lace at the bottom just hangs limply. There is just too much detail going on here and something needs to go. All of these ruffles are then further topped with a shiny ribbon bow. Although the bow is a bit big, the size doesn't look too bad. The charm in the centre of the bow is pretty too. This bow is detachable, but I am not sure if I would detach it. The back of the bodice is fully shirred, so there is plenty of size flexibility but the shirring is not covered with anything. Due to the dark colours used for this series though, the shirring thankfully doesn't stick out as much. The stock photos show the skirt doesn't seem to have a massive amount of volume and flare, but there is more than enough there to create a standard gothic shape. The skirt shape looks pretty decent in the model pictures. The skirt design is kept simple and as a result, the print is displayed brilliantly. The bottom hem is then finished off neatly with a line of lace, which has a really pretty design to it. I hope AatP uses this lace again sometime!

Here we have JSK II. The bodice looks well fitted, but the overall bodice shape is a bit it. I like the neckline shape, but the straps spoil it for me. The straps are far too wide and they look so bulky. It is almost verging on being an OP. The lace along the neckline and outside of the straps is pretty though. It is perfectly gathered and sits nicely. The waist area is topped with a line of wide lace, which has been well shaped and sits nicely on top of the top of the skirt. The lace has a lovely rose themed design too, which is a good match for the print. However, I feel the lace here does blend in to the background quite a bit, which is a shame. The front of the bodice features a ribbon corset. This detail is kept quite narrow, so it's good that the ribbon used is very thin, otherwise it would look quite bunched together. The gold eyelets hold the ribbon securely and it doesn't look fragile at all. There are 2 lines of rose themed lace running up the bodice, which help break up the bodice. I am not convinced that all these details are spaced out in the best way, but I think that is because of the wide straps. The back has a panel of shirring, which is topped neatly with a ribbon corset. The stock photos show that the skirt again has enough flare and volume for a gothic shape. There seems to be a decent amount of room for petticoat and the length of the skirt looks good too. The skirt is kept simple and so, the print is displayed beautifully. The bottom hem is then finished off with some rose themed lace. The rose theme of the lace matches the print, although I think I prefer the lace used on the bottom of the other JSK. 

This is the OP. The bodice seems well fitted and the shape looks quite interesting. The sleeves are an interesting length. I think the wide length on the ends of the sleeves works quite well to add a romantic gothic look. The bodice is divided up in to a solid corset style bodice and then sheer shoulders. The 'corset' part is broken up with lines of lace and I love the choices of lace used. The lace looks really pretty, although I wonder if the lines of lace should have been positioned a bit further apart. I like the sheer material used for the shoulders and I think it gives the dress a very slight ero feel without looking too tacky. Obviously, the wearer will have to choose their underwear carefully though! The collar features generous layers of wide lace. It gives a very dramatic appearance, but perhaps it is a little bit too bulky. It almost reminds me of those neck ruffs from olden times! The back offers no shirring, so the size flexibility is a bit limited. I feel the zip line also stands out and looks quite obvious, which is a shame. The stock photos show the skirt has a fair bit of volume and it flares out reasonably well. There is the potential to create a decent shape for gothic lolita. The skirt is again kept simple, so the print is displayed very well. The bottom hem is then finished off neatly with good quality lace.

And finally, here we have a part of the print close up. This series comes in brown, green, red and black. I am really disappointed after seeing the colours on the Baby website. The brown colour looks very dreary and sludge coloured. I feel the red version needs a more vibrant, deeper red to it too. The green and black versions do look pretty decent though. As for the print itself, I think it shows a perfect gothic scene. The beds and the coffins are well drawn and I love all the details, like the roses topping them. I like the derelict looking building as well. My favourite bit though, is the spooky looking trees and the bats dancing in front of the moon. The bat themed non border part of the print is pretty too. It is just a shame the colours let the print down. I think there needs to be more hints of red in the border print as well.

So overall, I feel the print is let down by some poor colour choices and some average looking dress designs. There doesn't seem to be as much hype about this AatP series and there usually is for their annual Halloween series, and I can completely understand why. I do wonder though, if this is going to be one of those series which will gain some more popularity once we have seen it being worn a bit more. The green and black colours definitely have some potential. This is definitely not a series I would go for myself, but I think I would pick the OP in green if I were to pick anything. Although I think I prefer the skirt over any of the dress designs.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Picnic In Oxford!

Last Saturday the Oxford community had another picnic meet! It went so well last year that I decided to try and recapture some of that magic. It came very close to being rained off, but thankfully the grass dried in time! I was getting so worried that I would have to fit a group of 11 inside an Oxford restaurant without a booking- a near impossible task on a Saturday.

I wore Sugary Carnival because... I don't know why! Do you ever feel an urge to wear a specific lolita piece? Well, that is what happened to me. I didn't really plan this outfit out that thoroughly but when you are wearing a lot of pieces that you already know go together, then it isn't that difficult to make an outfit anyway. Last time I wore SC I teamed it with lots of pink, so this time I went with white for a change. You can't really see it in the picture, but the ankle socks are the same shade of lavender as the dress, which for me is quite an achievement! I hate trying to match lavenders.

We went to the University Parks and actually ended up in the same spot we picked last year. Shalisa had to tell James to stop feeding the ducks because it turned in to a bit of an invasion. It felt a bit like we were in an Alfred Hitchcock film! 

Most of us put off buying food until the actual day in case it got rained off, but Madeleine made the most adorable biscuits and cakes. I really loved the Hello Kitty biscuits. They tasted amazing. Maybe I should get the recipe off of Madeleine.

I completely forgot to get some group shots, so I am including this partial group photo that I took when I was waiting for people to get their shoes back on! There were lots of cute outfits and berry and food prints seemed to be the theme of the day. We had plenty of time to laze about and just talk. I found out that a large chunk of the group is in to strange documentaries, so we bonded over that!

Then it was time for the pinata. After the issues we had last year with the pinata not drying out, this year I got a shop brought one. Unfortunately, the shop sold the last donkey pinata literally an hour before we got there, so we ended up with the most derpy looking dog pinata called Sparky (it was either that or Olaf from Frozen). We managed to confuse a real dog with the pinata, who didn't seem to understand that the pinata wasn't a real dog!

Sammi managed to decapitate poor Sparky quite early on but didn't break the body, so we had to hang the headless pinata back up! We didn't take the head down straight away, and this random woman came by and started staring at the dog head, as if it was an art installation or some sort of protest, which was incredibly bizarre!

Eventually, the pinata was fully destroyed. Lauren seemed very pleased with her sweet and keychain haul! I think most people got at least something out the pinata. Those keychains I got in my Taobao order from the other week proved a big hit. Although the macaron keychains smelt very strongly of plastic.

Here is a random shot of the lake we were sat by. It was quite a nice view and we had plenty of trees around us. We also got to overhear a play going on nearby, which had a strange theme going on.

Afterwards a few of us went to the Mitre for drinks. I saw they had a new lemonade on offer, but was very disappointed that it didn't look like how it did in the picture! Where is the additional slices of lemon, stripy straw and cute jam jar glass!? It was lovely, but I noticed the others changed their orders when they saw they weren't going to get the jam jar glasses!

I came home feeling very tired, but I feel it was worth it. The picnic meets are usually some of the most relaxed meets and it was lovely to do something simple before Regalia in September. I hope to see the Oxford group again soon.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Brick House by Metamorphose

Today I shall be taking a look at Brick House by Metamorphose. This series includes 3 dresses, a cape, 5 hair accessories, a bag and socks.

First up is the A-line Dress. Here we have yet another sack shaped dress and there is no real defined bodice to this dress. I feel the dress at least needs a defined waist line to give a bit of shape and stop the wearer looking like a massive walking triangle. The sleeves look very cute though. They look a nice length and have a suitable amount of puffiness to them. I like the way the cuffs have been gathered too, and finished simply with some lace and solid coloured bows. Another thing I am a little unsure of is the collar teamed with the neckline. The solid coloured collar is such a cute shape, although a little bit big. But the neckline looks a bit strange the way it has been done. It would perhaps look a bit better if the collar actually went along the edge of the neckline instead of going all the way down to the chest area and then having that random bit of material on the inside of the collar. What I do like is the material used for the collar and the use of lace around the edge and the gold trim. It has been set out so neatly. Perhaps velvet could have been an option instead of the koshibo chirimen fabric, but I feel the materials used still look quite pretty. The collar is then topped with a bow, which is a lovely shape and it is the perfect size. I think the charm on the bow is cute too! The back offers no shirring, so the size flexibility is a bit limited. The zip is well concealed though. The stock photos show the skirt has plenty of volume. I suppose with the right petticoat you could probably create a decent shape, but I am still not convinced by these sack style dresses. The skirt features plenty of detail, but the print is still displayed very well. The double tiered ruffle at the bottom has been well executed and the tiers sit well on top of each other. Above the tiers, there is a line of ribbon topped with some very cute bows. The bows are a suitable size and don't look too distracting. The bottom of the tiers are lined neatly with some good quality lace. I like the choice of lace width.

Here we have the Tiered Pinafore JSK. The bodice material looks a tiny bit baggy in places and I think the bodice shape is a bit simple. The heart shaped neckline is quite cute though, and I love the lace lining the neckline. The lace softens the neckline shape and gives it a fancier finish. The straps look quite a supportive width. They look a bit basic though. Some thin lace would have helped to liven them up a bit. The bows at the bases of the straps with the charms dangling from them are cute though. These bows are a suitable size and are well shaped. Sadly, I am not so fond of the waist bow and the 3 bodice bows. I think in this instance the koshibo chirimen fabric was not the right choice, as it is very floppy. As a result, the bows look quite droopy. The large waist bow is especially saggy looking. The pearl chain dangling from the waist bow only adds to the drooping problem. If Meta had just used a stiffer fabric choice here, the dress would have looked a lot better. I also feel that all of these bows are a bit too big in size. Every single bow on the bodice, including the strap bows, are detachable but I feel this makes the dress too plain. I feel it is about striking up the perfect balance for your personal tastes I would keep the strap bows attached and possibly one of the floppy bows, provided it was positioned right. The bodice also feature 2 lines of lace, which I think is a good way of breaking up the bodice and gives it a nice paneled appearance. I do wish the lines of lace had been spaced a little bit further apart though. The back of the dress is fully shirred so there is plenty of size flexibility, but the shirring does not look that attractive. The stock photos show the skirt has plenty of volume and flares outwards well. The petticoat Meta have used makes the skirt look quite triangular but with the right petti there is the potential to create a lovely, full shape. The skirt is divided in to tiers, which are well spaced out and sit on top of each other neatly. Despite this being an all-over style print, I don't feel the print is displayed as well as it could have been. The bottom of the tiers are lined very neatly with lace, with the very bottom tier having an extra ruffle of the koshibo fabric. 

This is the Switched JSK. The bodice seems well fitted. The shape is fairly simple, but quite nice looking. I think the bodice gives off a more mature look. I especially like that the bodice is solid coloured. It helps to break up the print so it isn't as domineering. The straps are a decent width and look quite supportive. The straps and arm holes are lined with gold braid and a thin line of lace, which looks really smart and has been nicely done. I only wish the bordeaux and navy colours had coloured lace here, as I feel the white lace looks quite stark. There is a waist bow, which I feel is a bit big and I am not too keen on the appearance of this bow either. The shape could have been better and I don't like the lace and gold trim on this bow. Thankfully, this waist bow is detachable and I would definitely detach it. The bodice features 2 lines of buttons connected by detachable chains, although I would leave the chains attached. The buttons are well spaced out and the chains are a suitable length. There is another bow, in the photo shown attached to the base of one of the straps. I don't really feel this bow is needed, although it is quite a nice shape and size. It is detachable, so perhaps it just needs to be placed in a different location. The back of the dress is fully shirred, so there is plenty of stretch but the shirring is not too appealing to look at. I am also not keen on the way the straps cross over at the back and would have preferred a regular set of straps. The stock photos show the skirt has plenty of volume and it flares outwards beautifully. The skirt shape is pretty. The skirt design is kept simple, so the print is displayed perfectly. The bottom hem is then finished off with a line of gold braid and a simple solid coloured ruffle. I think this is just the perfect amount of detail and it suits the style of the rest of the dress.

And here we have a very zoomed in print close up, but it gives you a very good idea of what the print looks like. This series comes in brown, bordeaux and navy blue. I think all 3 colours work very well with the print. The colour choices are quite mature and I had a hard time picking a favourite colour. As for the print itself, it is quite a simple print but it is well laid out and has quite an interesting design. I like how some of the windows have animals peeking out or other interesting things going on. The brick background may be quite basic but it works so well. I think this is my favourite Meta print in a while.

So overall, I would say this is a really lovely print and I hope this series does well for Metamorphose. I wouldn't say the dress designs are perfect, but the issues I have with some of the dresses are quite small and some of the bits I don't like are detachable anyway. Would I buy this series? Possibly, but this isn't my usual style. I definitely think it is worth going for though. I would pick the Switching JSK in bordeaux as my top choice. It is great to see such a variety of hair accessories as well.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Taobao Order August 2015- Picture Heavy

It is time for my latest Taobao review! I placed this order right at the start of July, but it only arrived last week, as some head bows I ordered were holding things up (At the time of writing this, they still hadn't arrived at Taobao Spree, so I just decided to leave them out of the review). Everything else arrived at Taobao Spree in a reasonable amount of time. This time my Taobao Spree agent was Cici. I have been so used to getting Ray lately! I remember really liking Cici, although after getting Ray so many times, I have noticed Cici is a little bit slower and Ray is a bit friendlier and more willing to help. But Cici is still a very good agent and I still received a good service.

Here is how my box looked when I first opened it. The box could have done with a bit more padding, especially considering some of the items in my order. The box was well sealed up though, to the point that I had trouble getting in to it.

My first items are these squishy doughnut key chains I got from here which are for an upcoming meet I am hosting. You do not get to pick the colours you receive, so I ordered a few, just in case I got some of the less popular colours. Thankfully, I don't think the colour choices I received are that bad. There are definitely some stranger looking colour combinations available. These key chains were super cheap and as expected, they are perfectly squishy! I was a little confused as to why I had to attach the strings myself, especially as the macaron ones already had them attached (see below).

I also got these squishy macaron key chains from the same store. This time I was allowed to pick the colours I wanted. The blue colour is a bit darker than I anticipated, but otherwise I really like the key chains. These key chains are properly sealed up, so I haven't opened them. But I can see the macarons have a nice appearance to them and they are very satisfying to squish!

The bags the doughnuts came in were not sealed up, so I was able to pull one out to show in this post. Sadly the sprinkles are a bit loose, so some of the sprinkles did fall off. They could do with something to help seal them, so they stay in place a bit better. As mentioned, these key chains were super cheap, so I do feel I got a reasonable amount of value for the price.

Next up is a head bow from a store I have purchased from before- Kira Kira. I will be honest, I am not too happy with Kira Kira this time around. I wanted to order this other hair clip from them but after initially saying it was okay, I was then told it wasn't available. And after just checking their page, I see this clip is still pictured on their site. So either it has become available again or they have not bothered to take down the listing. But back to the head bow I did manage to order, I think it has a lovely shape to it. It is a bit bigger than I was expecting though. It is a proper head-eating bow! The gold lace and trim used is of a reasonable quality and similar to that I have seen used by the Japanese brands. The lace does sit a little strangely on the bow in places though. I think it is because of the way the bow material has been gathered in the centre. The star charm dangling on one side is cute and also of a good quality. The star charm is fairly small though, and gets a bit lost in all the lace and the sheer size of the bow. The head band feels a comfortable size for an adult's head and was covered neatly in fabric, which is a nice touch.

The stitching on the bow is quite neat. I feel the seam in the centre of the bow could have been concealed a bit better, but otherwise it is a fairly nice bow. I do find that because the bow is so big, it can be a little bit difficult to balance on my head though.

And next up is my latest purchases from Mu Fish who I buy from quite frequently. I have reviewed the ankle socks on the far left before, so I wont review them again. I am ordering another white pair not because there is anything wrong with the quality (which is good) but because some colour transferred from my shoes and I was unable to fully get the mark out. So I am really glad the price is good!

I also got these navy crew length socks. I was expecting them to be a bit longer in length, but I am sure I will find a use for them. The pattern on these socks is pretty, although the "transparent" part of the socks has a lot of golden shimmer to it, which is quite noticeable. It didn't look as obvious in the stock photos. The other thing I find a bit weird is the ruffle at the top. I am not sure if I am meant to fold it over or wear it as it appears in this photo! The size of the socks was quite generous. My feet are actually slightly bigger than the socks are intended for, but they fit me fine with a bit of extra stretch to spare.

These are the transparent diamond socks that Mu Fish recently added to their store (worn over blush coloured tights). This time the transparent part of the socks is in fact a bit more transparent, although there is still a bit of tell-tale sheen there. I got both colours and I have to say, I am very surprised by the difference in quality between the 2 colours. The black socks are perfect with neatly defined diamond shapes. The lines start getting a little fizzy near the top, but otherwise the black ones are perfect. 

The white socks however, had a lot of issues. As you can see in this picture, the diamond edges are a lot messier on the white socks and there were even some random blotches of white in the middle of some of the transparent diamonds. The quality is so bad, I am not even sure I am going to keep the white pair. I don't really understand how the quality can vary this much, just because they are a different colour. Perhaps I just got given a bad white pair. But I definitely wont be ordering another white pair to find out. As for the size, both pairs fitted me but there is a limited amount of stretch to the socks. These are definitely not plus-sized friendly. The socks are a good length for me, but I am only 5'4'' and with the limited stretch it may not be worth getting these socks if you are a lot taller than me. 

Finally from Mu Fish, I got these strawberry print tights. I was surprised to see the bottoms of the tights were yellow, as this wasn't shown that clearly in the stock photos. The tights were a good size and I found them to have plenty of stretch. Although the print looks a bit faded in my photos, I could have pulled the tights down a little bit to stretch the print a bit less. I feel the print looks a lot better in person than it does in my photo. Unfortunately, I was having troubles getting decent photos of these on my own! The print is very cute and I am looking forward to wearing them. After the disappointments I had with some of my other Mu Fish stuff, I am relieved these tights turned out fine.

Next up today is these shoes from Angelic Imprint. These were not my first shoe choice, but sadly the store I wanted to order from decided to they wanted to stop making shoes in my size (so frustrating!). I received the shoes in a zip-lock plastic bag and the heels were suitably padded with tissue paper. I was a bit annoyed that no attempt was made to pad the shoes with bubble wrap or something similar though.

My shoes arrived covered in a layer of dust. This was easy enough to remove, but it still isn't too great. It makes me wonder how long they have been sat in a warehouse before I ordered them. The heel feels quite sturdy, although you may be able to see in this photo that the sole has been attached a bit wonky and has little air bubbles. So I am a little concerned about how well the shoes have been constructed. The stitching on the shoes seems relatively neat and the bows are a cute shape.

And here comes the annoying bit. When you put the shoes on, the strap with the bow on does not un-do or have a buckle anywhere. It is simply elasticated. So when you put the shoes on, you have to stretch this elastic and slip your foot in. This wouldn't be a problem, except the elastic is quite tight and does not stretch a great deal. I have wide feet and I had some serious issues trying to get my feet through this elastic loop. It just seems like such a terrible way of doing things and probably done to keep things cheap.

Eventually, I managed to get my feet inside the shoes and after walking about for a few hours to break them in, I can say these shoes are quite uncomfortable. I am hoping once I have worn them a little bit more I will find them more comfortable but so far, it is not looking good. 

Here is a little side view of the shoes. Don't be fooled by the little gap at the back of these shoes. That is just the way my feet seem to want to sit in the shoes when I wear them. They actually seemed an okay size at first. These shoes arrived with some free gel cushions and I can now see that this should have been a warning sign. I wont be buying shoes from this store again. The main issue is definitely the elastic and the narrowness of the shoe itself. I am supposed to be wearing these shoes at Regalia. Wish me luck...

And just when I thought I had had enough disappointments with this Taobao order, I finish today's review with these Fuwa Boom over-skirts. If you look at the listing, you will notice they are very careful not to show a back view of these over-skirts when worn by one of the slim models. I was about to discover why. At first glance the over-skirts look quite cute and the material they are made of is quite soft with no stiffness to it. I feel the pleats at the front are a bit too straight, but the over-skirts hang fairly nice from the front view, as you will see below. You can wear the over-skirt with the detachable bow or without if the dress you are wearing already has a waist bow.

The stitching is done neatly and the lace is of a good quality. Look at how tidy the edges are. Although I am not overly fond of the pleats, I do like the shaping along the opening at the front.

Unfortunately, the elastic leaves a lot to be desired. It is cheap and sloppily done. The over-skirt is one-sized but I found the size to be far too big. I am hardly plus-sized, but I am not the thinnest lolita either. This over-skirt is huge on me. I also found the bow on my navy over-skirt was poorly shaped and was crooked.

The 'fastenings' are messy and also a bit confusing. The listing for the over-skirts does give a good idea of how you are meant to use the hoops and the buttons, but I found it didn't feel that secure. On a positive note, I was given some spare buttons and some additional pearl beads, so I could alter these over-skirts if I so desired (and I probably will have to).

I decided to give the white over-skirt a go with my Sugary Carnival JSK. For reference, I am wearing my Classical Puppets bell-shaped petticoat underneath, which is giving me a reasonable amount of volume underneath. As you can see, from the front it does not look too bad.

From the side however, there is visible signs of drooping. I didn't notice until after I took this photo that there were button holes on the over-skirt meant to be used with the waist tie buttons (this of course, depends on the dress or skirt having waist tie buttons). If I had spotted these holes sooner, perhaps the back would not have been slipping down so much in the photo. However, when I tried this out later, I still found the over-skirt was too big for me and the elastic puckered strangely. The elastic is simply no good at all. It is cheap and does nothing. So for me to wear these over-skirts I am probably either going to have to replace the elastic or alter it some other way. If anybody has any suggestions then let me know.

So as you can tell, I have been left feeling a bit disappointed by this order. The tights, some of the socks, the head bow and key chains turned out great but the rest of the order has a lot of problems with it. I even had issues with my white diamond mu-fish socks, and they are usually my go-to Taobao store for socks. I don't really know what else I can say about this order. I just hope my next order goes better. And that the head bows I am waiting on don't turn out disappointing too.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Luminous Sanctuary by Angelic Pretty

Today's print shall be Luminous Sanctuary by Angelic Pretty. This series includes 3 dresses, 2 hair accessories, a blouse and socks.

First up today is the Dress OP. The bodice seems well fitted, but I am not too keen on the bodice shape. I am not overly fond of the 'false bolero' style to the bodice and I feel it looks a bit frumpy. If the shoulders and sleeves were removed and straps added, this could have made a really pretty JSK. I do like the neckline shape though. The sleeves are an interesting length with a suitable amount of volume to them. However, I hate the way the cuffs of the sleeves are shaped. The cuffs are otherwise quite nicely finished, and I like the look of the lace and the bows on the cuffs. The waist area has a ribbon bow, which I think is the perfect size and has a really lovely shape. It sits so well on the dress. My only criticism is the ribbon used is very shiny and looks quite cheap. There is also a chiffon over-skirt, which I feel looks beautiful. It is perfectly gathered and sits so well on the dress. I like that the over-skirt finishes before the border print starts, so it doesn't really obscure the print. The bodice features a ribbon corset, which is nicely spaced out and the size is well proportioned with the other details on the dress. The ribbon is shiny again though, and I think there needs to be a bit less ribbon length, so the bow tails don't hang down so far. The bodice also features some very subtle lines of lace, which do blend in to the background a fair bit but help to break up the empty spaces. The neckline is finished with a double layer of lace. The lace is of a good quality and the double layering gives it a frillier, fancier appearance. The choker that comes with this OP looks a bit cheap and tacky in my opinion, but I am not a massive choker fan anyway. The back of the dress has a generous panel of shirring, which is topped neatly with a ribbon corset. I dislike the lines of gold braid circling the arms on the back of the dress, as I think it looks a bit strange. The stock photos show the skirt has plenty of volume and it flares outwards well. The shape is beautiful and will hold plenty of petticoat. Apart from the over-skirt, which ends at just the right place in my opinion, the skirt design is kept simple. So the print is displayed perfectly. The bottom hem is then finished off with AP logo themed lace. The lace is nice enough, but I was surprised AP didn't choose themed lace to go with the print.

Next is the OP. The bodice is quite well fitted and the shape is very cute. The sleeve length is lovely and they have a suitable amount of puff to them. I like how the sleeves are finished off with just one line of lace and small buttons. I think the simpler sleeve design of this OP works better than the other OP. The lace used is pretty too. There is a ribbon waist bow again, but I am a little unsure I like the size. It looks quite small in comparison to the yoke. I can't work out if it would work out better if the bow was bigger. The ribbon used is again quite shiny, but the bow has got a cute shape and it sits nicely on the dress. The bodice again features some subtle lines of thin lace, although this is mainly obscured by the yoke. I think the yoke is a cute shape and I love the gold braid and ruffle around the edge. However, the yoke is definitely too big in size. The yoke is very detailed with some neat pleats and lace, which sits flat on top of the yoke. The yoke is also topped with a small ribbon corset. The ribbon corset is well spaced out and done very neatly, but I wonder if the ribbon corset is maybe overdoing the detail a little bit. I would be tempted to switch the coloured ribbon for white ribbon, which would blend in. The collar of the dress has a suitable amount of lace. It doesn't look too tight or stuffy. The back offers no shirring, so the size flexibility is a bit limited, especially when the dress doesn't have waist ties either. I really love the shape of the skirt. It flares out beautifully and there is the potential to create a fantastic shape. It has more than enough volume. The skirt design is kept simple and so, the print is displayed beautifully. The bottom hem is then finished off with the good quality AP logo lace. 

Here we have the JSK. The bodice looks fairy well fitted. The shape of the bodice is quite simple, but I think it looks quite cute. I think the straps look quite thin and flimsy but wider straps would look awful with this style of dress. The straps are lined with lace on the outsides, which is well shaped and sits nicely. It adds a bit of interest to the straps as well. The ribbon waist bow is a suitable size for the dress and the shape is lovely. I like that the ribbon looks a bit less shiny this time. It is a shame that the bow is a little bit obscured by the loose material on the bodice. The bodice features loose material, which is then gathered in the centre. I feel the gathering needed to be done a bit better, so that there is less droopy and loose material. It could have worked if it was executed just a bit better. The neckline is lined beautifully with lace. It really compliments the neckline shape and softens it perfectly. The back is fully shirred, which is great for a bit of extra stretch, but it doesn't look too appealing. The stock photos show that the skirt had loads of volume and it has plenty of flare, despite the over-skirt. The skirt is dominated by the chiffon over-skirt, which goes over almost the entire skirt. I like the shape of the over-skirt, but I feel more of the print needs to be visible. This sort of full over-skirt would probably work better on a non-print dress. Luckily, the border print colours are quite bold, so the print does show up quite well underneath the chiffon. But I am still not convinced I like the over-skirt on this dress. The edges of the over-skirt with the lace has been done very neatly though. The bottom hem is then finished off neatly with the same AP logo lace.

And finally here we have the print close up. This series comes in white, sax blue, navy blue and black. I think the colour choices are perfect for the print. Even the black version seems to work fairly well with the blue in the print. As for the print itself, I think it is a really neat idea to combine the pegasus with the stained glass window design. The layout of the print works perfectly and the pegasus fits in well among the windows. I like how the pegasus have been drawn, but perhaps they are a little too cartoonish. They do look quite cutesy. I don't think this bothers me too much though. I see AP have done yet another print with crosses in it (it seems to be their current favourite theme!) but the crosses are small and limited to the non-border part of the print. And I feel the crosses actually work out very well and fit in with the print. The stars are cute too. I do feel the constellations just above the arches look a bit out of place though, and I am a little unsure about the inclusion of the swans as well. I like that the Angelic Pretty name is fairly subtle in the print, but like the pegasus, I think the AP banners are drawn a bit too cutesy. 

So I am actually quite keen on this series. I really love the print. I am not 100% sold on the dress designs though. I think there are just a few small tweaks I would make to the dresses, but the things I dislike are not bad enough to put me off this series. Would I buy this series? Yes, I think I probably would. It wont be going on my wishlist though. I would probably go for the 2nd OP in either white or possibly the navy blue. I can't quite settle on one colour, as I think both those colours look really pretty!

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