I am writing this post near the start of August 2015 and it is almost the 6 year anniversary of when I became a lolita. It has been quite a journey and I have lots of fond memories of when I started out. I miss the old Livejournal community days, the day I first discovered the Bodyline website, when I got my first Lolita Valentine and I even look fondly back at my old outfits, even if they were sometimes really awful! I look back at my past self and the old photos and I wonder, what would I tell myself 6 years ago as a more experienced lolita? Nowadays there are plenty of guides out there to help new lolitas and the clothing is a bit more accessible than I remember it being when I started. But perhaps my own mistakes are somehow still relevant today. It is really interesting to look back and see how attitudes and trends change. But back to myself, and here are the lessons I would teach my past self if I had the chance.
You can't please everybody- You could have the prettiest outfit and there will still be people out there who will criticise your choices. Every lolita has their own tastes and preferences. Not everybody will like the latest trends. That dress you love will be another lolita's idea of hell, and vice versa. So don't take it to heart if somebody tells you they don't like your style. It is not necessarily an attack on you as a person, and more about having different tastes.
The colour black does not solve everything- When I first started wearing lolita I wore SO much black. If I din't have a suitable item of clothing, I would just substitute it with a black item. White and black may be staple wardrobe colours, but that doesn't mean they are always the best choice. Like for example, if you are wearing a pastel outfit but pair it with black shoes. It may have been a popular choice in the early old-school days, but now those black shoes will really stick out.
Don't buy too many main pieces right away- When you first start wearing lolita it can be exciting to see all these different brand dresses and want to wear them all. I used to buy so many pieces without first thinking about whether I would be able to co-ordinate them and then they would sit in my wardrobe, not being worn. It is better to build up the wardrobe basics like blouses, socks, shoes and hair accessories first. Yes, these items may not be as exciting to buy as dresses, but they are important!
Also don't be in a rush to wear new pieces right away- Another trap I fell in to was giving in to that rush of excitement of having a new dress to wear. I would desperately try to put pieces together and as a result, I had some terrible outfits with my new pieces which did not work at all. Once you have gotten a new piece, it isn't going anywhere. So take your time and really savour putting together an outfit for your lovely new dresses.
You wont be friends with every lolita- Have you ever met a lolita, greeted each other and made small talk about lolita, only for the conversation to lull after a few minutes? Every lolita is different and sometimes you will find that lolita is literally the only thing you have in common. Try not to take it personally. You can't think that because you have one thing in common it means you are going to be the best of friends. Nowadays I just try to be polite and make small talk with these lolitas, and then focus on my friends instead of desperately trying to keep the conversation going.
Brand does not have to mean expensive- I really wish I had learned how to use the Japanese auctions sooner. When I started out I got a lot of Bodyline, as I had this mind-set that brand would be too expensive for me. But actually, if you look around a bit you will find some good deals on brand. I am not saying that Bodyline is not good enough, but I remember when I first started buying lolita I actually missed out on some of my dream dresses going for good prices because I had just put in a big Bodyline order and couldn't afford both! Another lolita lesson I had to learn quickly is that you have to get over 'the dress that got away'.
Being called an 'ita' is not the end of the world- Everybody has to start somewhere and even nowadays you will find that a large number of lolitas have had an 'ita phase' or perhaps a dodgy outfit or two. Lolita may have many guidelines, but a big part of the lolita experience is having fun and enjoying the fashion as a hobby. When I look back to some of my more dodgy looking outfits, I find I tend to remember what I was doing at certain meets, rather than how I looked. I remember laughing with people and having a good time. And the fact is, even if you didn't look so great, nobody can ever take away those happy memories from you.