Thursday, 28 May 2015

Casual Outfit- Plotting and Eurovision!

Today's post is a bit of a quick one because it feels like ages since I last posted anything about my outfits. To be honest, with my holiday and lots of stuff going on, I haven't really been wearing J-fashion much at all. I have vowed to myself to change this soon and give my wardrobe a chance to shine.

To break my J-fashion slump, I have been wearing more casual looks which are not remotely lolita. I am gradually building myself back up to more elaborate outfits where I actually bother to do my hair and make-up properly! I am wearing my DreamV cutsew style dress. I am not sure what style this would even come under, so I am calling it Casual J-fashion, as that is essentially what it is. I was having Sammi and Shalisa over and I didn't want to look out of place. I teamed my dress with my Ciciworks constellation beret and casual black. I would have used my moon embroidery cardigan as well, but it was surprisingly muggy. 

Shalisa and Sammi were pretty casual as well so thankfully I didn't feel out of place! I always have a great time with these 2 anyway, regardless of what we are wearing.

Our little gathering was partly to watch (In other words, laugh at) Eurovision and partly a chance to plan our International Lolita Day meet. The 3 of us are co-hosting and we planned out all the party games and everything else. We ended up getting sweets all over the floor!

We wrapped up a pretty large pass-the-parcel parcel. These sort of things are always more fun to prepare when you do it together! Guests will have to wait for the meet to discover what is inside. We have also come up with some interesting games to play. If lolitas had super powers, mine would be my ability to scare lolitas with only a packet of sugar cubes (as witnessed at Alice Day 2013!) so I predict there is going to be a lot of silliness involved.

Once we had finally got all the meet stuff out of the way, we celebrated with our own Pimm's punch and we watched Eurovision with a pizza takeaway. I have to say, I found this year's Eurovision a bit disappointing, what with all those ballads. The Pimm's definitely made it more interesting though! It had felt like ages since I had last seen Shalisa and Sammi, so I was so grateful to see them. I am looking forward to ILD a lot more knowing we have put this meet together as a team.

Here is a random photo of the last time I wore lolita. This was over a month ago, so I definitely need to resolve this situation, especially seeing as I have been buying a fair few new accessories and some new dresses lately. I am hoping today's post will give me the prompt I need. I love this fashion so much, so it is about time I started enjoying it and actually wear it again!

Monday, 25 May 2015

A Baby and AatP Mixed Print Double

Today is going to be a brand print double. Scroll down to see my views on Baby's Juno's Bouquet.

But first up today is Swan Lake by Alice and the Pirates. This series includes 2 dresses, a skirt, 2 hair accessories, socks, a blouse and an apron.

This is the Standard JSK. The bodice looks well fitted and the shape looks quite interesting. I wish the neckline shape was just a little bit softer though. The straps are a bit thin but wider straps probably wouldn't have suited the dress as well. The straps are lined with a ruffle and then further finished with lace on the outsides. I think it is quite a pretty design for a ballet themed series and the lace used is very pretty. I do worry they may look a bit bulky though, especially if the wearer already has wide shoulders. I see in some of the photos the straps are worn off the shoulders, which is an interesting idea. Hopefully if they are worn on the shoulders they wont slip down though. The waistline is a bit of an unusual shape but the band of wide lace really helps to soften it. The lace has a pretty design to it and it sits well on the dress too. The bodice features lines of lace running up it and it gives the bodice a panelled appearance, which I think suits the design. What I really love is the decorative lace placed between the lines of vertical lace. The more decorative lace has a beautiful floral design to it. The neckline is then lined with lace, but it doesn't do much to soften the harsh neckline. The back has a panel of shirring which is topped neatly with a ribbon corset. The stock photos show the skirt has enough volume to create a lovely subtle bell shape. It flares out well. The skirt design is kept simple and so, the print is displayed beautifully. The bottom hem is then finished off neatly with some good quality lace, although I thought the choice of lace was a little boring.

Here we have the Mini Sleeve JSK (so, an OP?). The short bodice is quite gathered but despite this, the bodice still has a relatively nice shape albeit a bit simple. The neckline is very square and doesn't look like anything special. My main concern with the bodice is the waistline looks very high up and on some wearers it may sit across the chest area, which could look quite awkward. The short sleeves are very basic looking but have a nice amount of puff to them. The sleeves are finished off with some pretty lace. The waist area is topped with a ribbon belt, which will help nip the under-bust area in nicely provided it sits on the right place of the wearer. I love the design of the ribbon used for the belt and the ribbon only has a slight sheen to it. The neckline has a line of wide lace running along it. The lace is pretty but I don't think it has really been used that well. Overall, the bodice is quite underwhelming. The back of the dress has a panel of shirring but it is not topped by anything, so it isn't really well concealed. The stock photos show that the skirt has a good amount of length to it and it flares outwards gently. It has probably got enough material for it to hold a bit more petticoat but I think the petticoat used for the stock photos creates a pretty shape. The skirt is again kept simple and the print is displayed very well. The bottom hem is then finished off with beautiful lace, which looks a lot more interesting than the lace used on the bottom of the other JSK.

And here we can see the print close up. This series is available in pink, green, purple and wine. Maybe it is just my monitor, but the pink looks very brown to me. The colours in the background have a bit of an ombre thing going on, which I think looks very pretty. I think all 4 colours work well with the print, but some colours definitely work better than others. As for the print itself, I think the ballet scenes have been drawn well. There are lots of different scenes going on which gives the print a more interesting appearance. One of the parts of the print I really love is the pillars separating the ballet scenes with the roses twisted around them. They are well drawn and romantic looking. The curtain part is lovely, although I feel it looks a bit flat. The print layout is good, with the bottom set out like a stage. The one thing I don't understand is the random bits of tree just above the curtains. I think it really looks out of place. The background has a mottled textured look to it. I think this is an interesting idea because it makes the background look less flat and empty, but without cluttering it with loads of floating objects like a lot of lolita prints do.

So I feel this series is nice enough, but I think it could have been done better. The print is gorgeous and I love the use of colour in it. But the Mini Sleeve JSK is quite underwhelming and I feel it lacks something. The other JSK is a bit more interesting. I feel this series could have done with a third dress with a more elaborate design to it. Would I buy this series? Possibly, but for me it would have to be the Standard JSK in green or nothing at all. There are aspects of this series I do like though and would like to see being used again in the future.

Next up today is Juno's Bouquet by Baby the Stars Shine Bright. This series includes 4 dresses (one non-print), a skirt, 8 hair accessories, 2 blouses, a corsage, socks, gloves and a few pieces of jewellery.

Here we have JSK I. The bodice looks well fitted and the shape is generally quite lovely. I am a bit unsure on the low waistline though. The straps are a suitable width and look quite supportive. I love the way the wide lace has been used on part of the neckline and on top of the straps. The lace is pretty, well gathered and sits well on top of the straps. It gives the straps a very soft fluffy appearance too. The waistline is topped with a line of lace. I think the lace used is pretty but it makes the waist area look a bit clunky and emphasises the lower waist. The bodice has a panel of tulle overlaid over the bodice material. The panel is well shaped and I like that the tulle material isn't laid completely flat. The polka dot design of the tulle is cute too. I love that the edges of the tulle are lined neatly with lace too, as it keeps the design looking tidy and also, the lace used is beautiful. The centre of the panel is topped with a line of pearl buttons. The buttons are well spaced out, although I think Baby could have possibly gotten away with one or two less buttons. The neckline is topped with a bow which I think is a bit too big. It is a cute shape though and looks very perky. This bow is detachable and I think I prefer the dress with it detached. Perhaps it is because I think the photos of the dress co-ordinated with the rose corsage on the neck area works really well. The back has a panel of shirring which has been topped neatly with a ribbon corset. The stock photos show the skirt flares outwards plenty and has a decent amount of volume. I am not overly fond of the skirt shape though and I think that is because of how it looks with the low waist. The skirt design is kept simple and so the print is displayed excellently. The bottom hem is then finished off with pretty lace, which matches the lace used elsewhere on the dress and so shows continuity in the design.

This is JSK II. The bodice shape looks a bit simple and also quite tube-like. It would be interesting to see how well the bodice fits in person. The straps are a suitable width and look supportive enough. The straps are lined neatly with wide lace. The lace used for this is again very pretty but with all the lace going on at the neck area it looks a bit too much. There is a waist bow on this dress which I think is far too big. The lace around the edges of the bow just emphasises how large it is and if it needed to be lined with lace then perhaps much thinner lace would have been a better option. I am not overly fond of the bow shape either but it does sit quite well on the dress with minimal drooping. Thankfully the waist bow is detachable, and I definitely would detach it. The main part of the bodice is kept simple, with just a few lines of lace running vertically up it. Given the OTT neckline, this is understandable and at least the subtle lace stops the area from being completely empty. As for the neckline, the lace has a pretty design but it is far too wide. It makes the area look very messy and unkempt. This lace is then topped with a ribbon bow, which is a cute shape and size, although the ribbon is a bit shiny. If the neckline lace was less domineering then the neckline bow would probably look a lot better. Underneath the bow there are 3 buttons but they don't really contribute much to the design and are hidden away by all the other details anyway. The back has a panel of shirring which has been well concealed by a ribbon corset. Thankfully the messy looking lace doesn't continue on to the back of the dress, so the back actually looks quite neat and tidy. The stock photos show the skirt has plenty of volume to create a pretty bell shape. The skirt flares outwards nicely. The skirt design is again kept simple and the print is displayed beautifully. The bottom hem is then finished off with a wide line of tulle. The width of this tulle line is good, as it helps to balance the neckline a bit. But something about the tulle at the bottom doesn't quite look right to me, and I think it is because the material is more sheer and looks quite contrasting with the rest of the dress design.

And here we have the OP. The bodice looks well fitted and the shape is quite cute. It is very old-school looking. The short sleeves are cute and work with the detachable sleeves. I really love the detachable sleeve part. They are almost identical to the sleeves on several of Baby's princess sleeve blouses. The shape is perfect and the lace is pretty. As mentioned, this part of the sleeves is detachable, but I feel the dress looks much better with them attached. The bodice features multiple lines of lace and a sheer panel overlaid on top. The lace is again very pretty and the floral design fits in with the overall theme. The panel is topped with many large bows. The smaller ribbon bows are well shaped and the ribbon is matte with no shininess to it. However, I am not as keen on the larger bow on the neckline. I think it is too OTT and too big. Without it, the bodice would look a lot less crowded. I also feel the wide lace along the neckline would look better without the neckline bow there. Thankfully, the neckline bow is detachable. The lace used for the neckline is also very pretty and of a good quality, but I am a little unsure I like the way it looks. The back offers no shirring, so the sizing is quite limited. There doesn't appear to be any waist ties either, which further limits the sizing. The stock photos show the skirt is very full and flares outwards loads. There is enough petticoat room and the shape is very pretty. The skirt design is kept fairly simple and so once again, the print is displayed beautifully. The bottom hem has a scalloped edge and usually I wouldn't be so keen, but in this instance I love the scallops! The scallops are quite subtle and very gently shaped. The tulle used along the bottom hem further softens the scallops. The tulle is further topped with rose ribbons which are beautifully shaped. In my opinion, the bottom hem and sleeves are the best bits of this dress.

And finally, here is the print close up. This series comes in ivory, pink, mint and navy blue. The 3 light colours work really well and contrast with the deeper pinks used in the print. However, I feel the navy blue looks a little bit unusual. It offers something a bit different to the other 3 colours but I am not a fan of it myself. As for the print itself, it is very cute. It reminds me of a lot of old-school floral prints. There are a couple of modern hints though, like the crosses, which seem to be a big thing at the moment. The best bit in my opinion is the rose heart filled with more roses inside it. It is a nice arrangement. The sweeter elements like the bows and brand logo heart are cute too. It is a very busy print with a lot going on, but I think it works.

So overall this is a lovely series. There are a few small things I would change about each dress design, but overall the dresses are quite good. I love the romantic feel with all the lacy elements teamed with the floral print. It is also lovely how it is reminiscent of older sweet prints but wouldn't look out of place worn today. Would I buy this series? Possibly. It wont go on my wishlist but I would consider getting it if I saw it at a good price second-hand. If I were to choose a dress I would probably pick the OP in pink or possibly JSK I if I think I could pull off the shape. The thing I really love about this series is the hair accessories and I already have my eyes on one of the veils. 

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Overcoming an Inconvenient Location

Life is gradually getting back to normal since my holiday, but there was something else about the holiday that caused me to pause for thought. Whilst James and I were staying at this castle a little bit outside Edinburgh, we decided to take advantage of the afternoon tea that they offered. Despite purposely avoiding breakfast and lunch in preparation, I was still unable to finish everything on offer!

This dessert platter was only one part of the tea we had. There were large sandwiches, crips, salad, jams and sweets as well. The view from the orangery we ate in was spectacular too. Anyway, whilst we were stuffing our faces, a thought came to me and it turned out James had been thinking the same thing as well. If we were to go for afternoon tea with the Oxford community somewhere in the town centre, this large spread would not only cost double what we paid, but there would also be a service charge placed on top of that as well. It is incredible how you can go to different parts of the country and get charged such different amounts of money.

Oxford is such a beautiful city and if you have never been, I suggest you come at least once and experience our beautiful dreaming spires. But actually living in Oxfordshire has its down points. Oxford is a university city and also a tourist hot-spot. Oxfordshire is one of the most expensive places to live in the UK outside of London. The issue with the city's reputation is that people will charge you extra money, purely because of the Oxford name and because they know they can get this money out of tourists. The service and offerings are no better, but we are losing out money-wise. If you are a tourist on a one-off visit, perhaps you are willing to pay a bit extra. But for me as a local, it is very difficult to justify hosting regular meets when you feel like you are being ripped off. The Oxfordshire Lolitas are a very varied group, like a lot of communities. We have students, younger and older members, people who travel from neighbouring counties and people who are in employment or not. This means we usually have to cater for a variety of budgets and needs. A lot of the time this is pretty straight-forward, although people's circumstances are always changing. The other issue with a town like Oxford is the size. Oxford is the smallest city in the UK and as a result, a lot of the shops, cafes and restaurants are very compact with limited seating. If a meet is especially popular and you get lots of people attending, your choice of locations is quickly cut down to a very limited few. And as I mentioned, Oxford is quite a tourist city. At the weekends you find yourself competing with the shoppers and tourists for spots everywhere. The tourists can also cause other issues. For the most part, I am pretty relaxed around tourists and will take photos with them, but sometimes it gets a bit tiresome. So now I find myself trying to steer the group away from certain areas of the city in case we get bombarded. 

I promise I will stop ranting about Oxford now! Despite its flaws, I do still have a lot of love for this city. But to overcome the issues I have with Oxford I have had to adapt, think outside the box and quickly come up with solutions when meet plans go awry. So here is how I have been dealing with the problems up until now.

Know your comm- It is important not to make assumptions. If you think a meet idea may be a bit troublesome, ask your community for their opinions. You never know, that meet idea may be more popular than you realised. I also try to keep an eye on who become more regular attendees and who maybe only shows up from time to time. If somebody is not coming that often when they seem eager to attend, then perhaps there is an issue there that I can try to deal with discreetly. I also try to avoid doing more expensive and elaborate meets at times of the year when there are lots of big events going on and during exams season.

Know your city- Who knows a city better than the people who live there? We can figure out which areas are likely to be crowded but we are also more likely to know the hidden secrets that the tourists are unaware of. Share information with your fellow members. I also go in to the city not in lolita and just make note of places I think the group can enjoy.

Make the most of local magazines- I hate junk mail but sometimes the local newspapers and magazines that get put through my door can be helpful. It will give you insight to any local fares, carnivals and exhibits going on in the area that could be of interest. It does mean you will probably have to sort through a lot of uninteresting stuff, but sometimes you can find a few hidden gems.

Groupon is your friend- There are so many coupon websites out there that communities can take advantage of. Sometimes companies will offer you deals if you sign up for a certain amount of time as well. You can get deals on lots of local attractions and restaurants. Sometimes it is worth looking up certain restaurant websites and newsletters as they will have deals too. Even the cereal I am eating has a coupon on the box for popular attractions. Also keep an eye out for freebies as sometimes you can use them to pad out prizes for games.

Look out for hidden charges- Sometimes it is worth looking up where you are visiting beforehand to check there are no hidden fees. Some restaurants can get very insistent about you paying a service charge. If you are not prepared then your meet can end up costing more than you initially planned for. My recommendation is to always have a bit of money spare whenever you go to a meet anyway.

Cheap meets can still be fun- Picnics are always very fun and can be cheap to host if everybody brings a dish along with them. Is it any wonder picnic meets are so popular? Other ideas could include berry picking, visiting free museums... There are a lot of options if you sit down and think about it. And there is more to a meet than spending out on activities. Socialising and chatting with your community members can sometimes be the best bit of a meet, no matter what you are doing.

Think outside the box- Oxford is quite a small city and there are only so many times you can see the same things without getting a bit bored of them. So sometimes you have to try and make a bit more effort to come up with fresh ideas. I still think one of the best meets the Oxford group has ever had was when we made fudge at the fudge kitchen shop in the city. It is so unusual and a bit different. Because of the shop's location, we were mainly left alone by tourists as well.

Don't feel obliged to pose for photographs- If you feel comfortable letting tourists take pictures with you then by all means go ahead. But don't feel like you have to. A lot of tourists don't understand that lolita is a fashion and you are not some sort of attraction, so they may not realise you are just trying to get on with your meet. Sometimes tourists can really hold you up, especially when there is a large group and every one of them wants to get a picture. Chances are, some of them will try to get a sneaky picture of you anyway so I don't feel too bad about ignoring their requests from time to time.

Hopefully this post doesn't sound too harsh about Oxford! I have found our meets to be very fun and my comm members are always very entertaining to hang around with. If anybody has any further suggestions to add to my list then do feel free to leave a comment. Any help is always welcome!

Monday, 18 May 2015

Candy Bar by Metamorphose

Today I shall be taking a look at Candy Bar by Metamorphose. This series includes 3 dresses, 2 hair accessories, 2 pairs of wrist cuffs, a collar, a necklace and socks.

First up is the Circular Pinafore JSK. The bodice looks well fitted and the shape is quite nice. I think the heart shaped neckline is lovely. The straps look quite a supportive width and are very neatly lined with lace. The lace looks fluffy and softens the straps and neckline. The waist area has a belt. The belt nips the waist area in very well but I feel the belt is a bit too wide. I also don't think the lace running along the belt is needed and Meta could have chosen a bolder colour. The bow topping the belt is cute though. The front of the bodice features a ribbon corset. The ribbon only has a slight sheen to it and the ribbon has been very well spaced out. The ribbon is also held very securely in place with some thick hoops, so it wont break or get damaged that easily. The sides are then lined with lace, which keeps everything neat and pretty. There is also a large brooch. I think the brooch is a cute idea but I don't feel the components that make up the brooch have been well thought out. The bows on the brooch look poorly formed and I feel the little glittery heart doesn't go with the rest of the brooch. The strawberry looks weirdly positioned, as does the pearl chain dangling from it. The back has a panel of shirring which is topped very neatly by a ribbon corset. The stock photos show the skirt has loads of volume and will hold more petticoat than needed. It flares outwards so well and it compliments the nipped in waist. The skirt is nicely rounded too. The skirt design is kept simple, so the print is displayed beautifully. The bottom hem is then finished off with a tulle ruffle which has been neatly done. This bottom ruffle is topped with some bows, which are cute, but I feel could do with being just the slightest bit smaller.

Here we have the Scallop Pinafore JSK. The bodice material looks a bit loose in places but the shape of the bodice is generally quite nice. The straps are a good width and look very supportive without looking too bulky. They are also lined very neatly with lace, which adds a bit of extra interesting detail to them. At first glance, I thought the waist bow was a bit big but now I feel it is actually the perfect size for the dress. The shape of the bow is simple, but well formed and the edges are again very neatly lined by the thin lace. There is also additional heart shaped lace on the bow, although this detail is a bit lost in the background and doesn't stand out much. There is again another detachable fruit themed brooch. Meta seem to suggest that you should put the brooch on top of the waist bow here but I wouldn't personally bother with it. I think the dress design is strong enough without the brooch. The waist bow is also detachable, although I am on the fence about whether the dress looks better with or without it. The bodice features 3 ribbon bows. The bottom ribbon bow is obscured by the waist bow but obviously it will be visible if you opt to detach the waist bow. The ribbon material has a slight sheen to it and I feel the bows could have been a little smaller, but otherwise they look quite cute and are fairly well spaced out. The bodice then features a yoke. The yoke is a suitable size and I think the shape is quite lovely. The design of the yoke has been kept simple, with some neat pleats and some well spaced out flower buttons, but sometimes simple is good. The yoke part is actually detachable as well and I would be tempted to detach it, depending on how the low scoop neckline looks when the dress is worn. The back of the dress is fully shirred, which is great for size flexibility but not so appealing looks-wise. The stock photos show the skirt has loads of volume. There is the potential to create a very OTT full bell shape with the skirt. The skirt is nicely rounded with more than enough flare. The skirt is divided up in to the printed fabric material and a chiffon skirt underneath, creating a very interesting design. The edge of the printed fabric has a scalloped edge. Usually I am not a fan of scalloping but I think it has been executed quite well here with nicely shaped scallops that are well spaced out. The gathering of the printed material near the front centre of the skirt could have possibly done a bit better, but otherwise the printed fabric sits really well on top of the chiffon skirt. I really like the line of heart lace running an inch away from the fabrics edge as well. It really emphasises the interesting scalloped shape. Despite the chiffon taking up most of the skirt, you can still see the all-over print fairly well. The chiffon skirt underneath is divided in to tiers, which are well spaced out and sit neatly on top of each other. My main concern is the possibility of a petticoat being visible through the thin material. Also, I feel like this is an overly elaborate skirt design for what is quite a simple print.

This the Puff Sleeve OP. The bodice looks fairly well fitted but there is something about the shape that I find a bit off-putting. I can't quite put my finger on what that is though. I think the sleeves are too long and lack any real shape. I would have liked them to have been a bit puffier too. The ruffle of lace along the edges of the sleeves is cute though. There are 2 smaller waist bows which I think look very out of place and are oddly positioned. With the generous bow at the neck area I don't feel either of these waist bows is needed at all. They just add bulk to the waistline. Thankfully they are detachable. I think the thing I dislike the most about the bodice is the way the main part of the bodice is solid white. I think it looks a bit strange paired with the printed sleeves. The white material is neatly pleated though, which stops the bodice looking too boring and gives it a bit of added texture. The other thing I really don't like about the bodice is the line of fabric and buttons running down the centre of the front. I just really dislike the way is looks, especially when the neck bow is detached. The buttons used along this line of fabric are also plain in design. The collar on the dress is far too large and makes the shoulder area look massive. If it had just been a bit smaller the collar would have looked quite cute, as it has a nice shape to it. The lace along the edge of the collar is cute and really helps to finish it off. The collar also features a detachable neck bow, which I personally would leave on, as I think it helps to balance out the collar. The bow is quite simple in shape and design but otherwise looks nice enough. The bow is a little bit floppy but I think that actually adds to its design. The back of the dress is generously shirred with nothing covering it, and with the solid white material, the shirring really stands out and looks very obvious. Even the collar, which is massive from the back as well, can't do much to hide that shirring. The stock photos show the skirt has a cute A-line shape. It has enough volume and flares out quite well. The shape of the skirt is a good match for the bodice. The skirt design is kept simple and so, the print is displayed brilliantly. The bottom hem is then finished off neatly with lace.

And finally, here we can see part of the print close up. This series comes in yellow, pink and lavender. In the promo pictures on Meta's website, they showed a mint colour way and I feel it is a real shame that they didn't go ahead with that colour, as I think I prefer the mint to the 3 colours on offer! I suppose the pink and lavender versions look okay though. I am a little put off by the yellow version as I am not overly fond of the shade of yellow they have used. As for the print itself, I think ice lollies are a good choice for a lolita print. It is not something we have really seen before in lolita. I like all the different fruity designs. The fruit floating about in the print is well drawn too. I think this is quite a fun print idea and very playful. However, I am a little put off by the gingham background. The gingham in this instance really strongly reminds me of these dresses I was forced to wear in primary school during the Summer months. This may not make sense to some of my foreign readers by my UK readers will know exactly what I am on about! The only real difference from those gingham dresses is the colours are different (I was always made to wear blue gingham dresses and I hated them).

So overall, I appreciate that Meta have come up with a cute new print theme and I wouldn't mind seeing ice lollies in a print again. However, the gingham background clashes a bit with the print and I am not overly fond of the dress designs either. So this time around I wont be buying this series, which means I wont be reliving my primary school Summer uniform days any time soon. If I absolutely had to though, I would go for the Scallop Pinafore JSK in lavender. Despite being quite an elaborate design for the print, I think it is the prettiest of the dresses on offer. 

Thursday, 14 May 2015

The Joys of Edinburgh Through the Eyes of a Lolita

As we made our way to Edinburgh, I made a promise to myself that during this holiday I would completely "switch off" from my day-to-day life and just lose myself in the experience. Things had been a little bit stressful for me as of late and I wanted to escape for a while- end of. For the most part, this is exactly what I did but from time to time, there were the odd moments that lolita and Japanese fashion in general came to mind. I have to say, I am now a little jealous of the Scottish Lolitas now! Admittedly I was freezing cold a lot of the time, but there are loads of things for a lolita to do in the city of Edinburgh. And so, going against my original plan, I am now writing a post up about Edinburgh and the more J-friendly aspects of my holiday!

It didn't take me long to find some inspiration in Edinburgh. After settling in after the long drive, the following morning James and I decided to go on a shopping day around the Old Town area. I purposely made a point of going in to this vintage shop called Armstrong's Vintage Emporium after looking it up online. There are a few branches of Armstrong's in Edinburgh but I went in the Grassmarket branch, as it was the one closest to our first hotel. In fact, if anybody reading this happens to go in that branch any time soon, check the guest book- I wrote a message on the 27th of April and you can see my little duck doodle! When I initially went in, I was greeted by loads of tartan. But on closer inspection, there was loads of petticoats and when I looked up, there were lots of vintage hats too. This was just the first room! Going past the sarcophagus by the changing rooms, I discovered 2 more massive rooms full of dresses. I am not joking when I say the tall rooms were stuffed from ceiling to floor. There was stuffed crammed in every nook and cranny. I was so scared I was going to miss something! Considering the sheer volume of stuff on offer, there was a bit of order to the overwhelming displays. The dresses, tops and skirts were arranged by decade and also by colour. I would open up little drawers and find pairs of gloves and there were more boxes with hats and all sorts of bits and pieces. I wasn't intending to spend long in here, but I must have been in there for at least an hour, and I even went back later on in the week! Vintage items can look fantastic mixed in with a classic lolita wardrobe. Even some of the retro pieces could look really good with certain lolita pieces. I was really spoilt for choice with the gloves, tights, blouses, peignoirs and hats. There was lace everywhere! But the best bit is, this place has really good prices. You could get a blouse for about £8. Take it from somebody who has been vintage shopping in the South and in London- £8 for a blouse is very good!

Truth be told, I could have spent a small fortune in there. However, after the incident at Christmas where my wardrobe collapsed because it was too full, I had to be relatively sensible. So in the end, I only actually came out with a few bits. I really wanted to get some blouses but perhaps that can wait until next time. I got a waistcoat which was missing a button, but I decided I don't like the buttons anyway so I am going to replace them. I also found a floppy navy bow tie in the men's section. I haven't quite figured out what I shall do with it yet but I have so much navy blue in my wardrobe that I knew this wasn't that risky a purchase. And because I wanted to take a little bit of Scotland home with me, I also got a vintage kilt pin. I don't own a kilt, so I shall be using it like a normal pin.

The pin I got has a Celtic style to it and if you are in to that sort of thing, you will see a lot of it in Edinburgh. I think Celtic designs could look really interesting in a Gothic outfit. There was definitely plenty of choice. I was seeing Celtic designs on practically every street I walked down and there were loads of Celtic market stalls too. Antique shops are also plentiful in Edinburgh Old Town, so it is worth having a quick check at the jewellery in there too.

If you go down Cockburn Street you will find lots of retro and vintage style shops. There was even one with a Megadrive set up in the corner, so James could play Sonic whilst I was browsing! Some of these shops are more like boutiques and are not as cheap as Armstrong's, so I would recommend checking out Armstrong's first. Also on Cockburn Street, I found a little anime themed shop. The store is tiny, but it is packed with stickers, pins and other small bits. I saw Rilakkuma, Hello Kitty and even some Sailor Moon themed goodies in there, so it is at least worth a quick browse. I would highly recommend not wearing lolita in there though, as I guarantee your petticoat will knock something over. If that wasn't enough to satisfy you anime fans, there is also an anime shop in the downstairs of the Princes St Mall. It reminds me a lot of Tokyo Toys in London but this store is dominated by all things Pokemon. There are many different series in there but Pokemon had by far the biggest selection. There was even a bit in the back where you could sit and play card games. A few people were playing Yu-gi-oh when we went in.

Another great thing about Edinburgh is that there are loads of little cafes with pretty desserts on offer. I was really tempted by this macaron in the window of a cafe on Victoria Street, but sadly I didn't get to go here. At least I got to take a photo. I love looking at cute food. I did get to try Lovecrumbs though, which is a cafe which sells cakes and only cakes! I could definitely go with Lovecrumbs' philosophy... There are also loads of hotels and stuff which offer afternoon tea as well. But if you are looking for something a little more adult, there is an American diner style place called the Filling Station, which does dessert based cocktails! I really wanted to try their Creme Brulee and Key Lime Pie cocktails but sadly I was a bit too full after eating a large lunch there. 

There are loads of free places in Edinbrugh that could be perfect for hosting meets at. The picture above is one I took at the Museum of Childhood. Far from being childish, it is filled with so much history and nostalgia. I loved looking at the doll section, although some of the dolls were a bit creepy looking (I have spared you the worst!). It brought up some memories for me as well, because I used to own one of the lunch boxes they had on display! I cannot recommend this place enough, and it is completely free.

Another free place is the Scottish National Gallery. I especially appreciated the rococo room. My favourite painting was this Gainsborough. 

One of the other fantastic things about Edinburgh is that everywhere you go, there is something worth taking a photograph of. Even the shopping streets feature some stunning buildings and architecture. There are plenty of photo opportunities! I was a bit sad that I had no room to take any lolita with me on holiday (although with the cold weather I probably wouldn't have worn it. We even got caught in a hail storm) because there were many times when I thought I could have gotten some amazing pictures. There are loads of gardens dotted about as well. The Princes Street gardens were in full bloom when I went. The blossom looked beautiful and the flowers would have made a fantastic backdrop for a lolita outfit photo.

So as you may have gathered, I have fallen in love with Edinburgh. I even made James promise me we would make the effort to come back here again sometime. We did so much during our time there, but I hope people enjoyed my representation of the more lolita-friendly aspects of the city.

Monday, 11 May 2015

An Angelic Pretty Double

Today's post is going to be an Angelic Pretty print double. Scroll down further to see my views on Dolly Cat.

But first up today is Melty Berry Princess. This series includes 2 dresses, a skirt, a hair accessory and socks. I expect we shall be seeing further items, such as some jewellery, soon but at the time of writing this is what was available.

First up is the OP. I am a little put off the appearance of the bodice. I think that despite the huge amount of size flexibility, the appearance of the shirring does not appeal. The neckline shape is okay but it looks very casual. The sleeves are a good length though and have a suitable amount of puffiness to them. The sleeves are finished neatly with cute lace and ribbon bows. My main complaint here is that the ribbon used for the bows is very shiny and the bows could do with being a little smaller. The waist area has a solid coloured belt. I am really torn about this belt. On the one hand, it defines the waist area and I do feel the dress looks a bit odd without the belt there. On the other hand, the matte ribbon is in contrast to the shiny ribbon used elsewhere on the dress and the shade of red used for the belt on the white and red versions is different compared to the reds used elsewhere on the dress. The belt also looks very basic, as though somebody has just taken a length of ribbon from a craft store and not really done anything else with it. I personally feel the more casual details are in contrast to the OTT print. I think this isn't the sort of print you can use with a more casual design. The bodice is divided halfway down by a line of lace with ribbon threaded through it. This could cut across the wearer's chest awkwardly, although I think the line could be low down enough to avoid this on most wearers. The neckline is lined with more of the lace with ribbon threaded through. I think because the neckline is so gathered, it makes this lace look a bit messy. The neckline is then topped off with a small shiny ribbon bow. The bow is a cute shape and size. This bow is detachable and weirdly, there is a thinner ribbon bow left underneath if you do detach it. I would probably leave the detachable bow on, although I dislike the way the long thin tails of the bow underneath poke out from underneath the chubbier detachable bow. The choker that comes with the dress is kept quite neat and simple in design. It is a good match for the dress and I would definitely consider wearing it. The back of the dress is fully shirred, so there is plenty of size flexibility. It does mean the shirring is quite exposed though, with nothing covering it, and I really dislike the unattractive lumpy appearance. The stock photos show the skirt has more than enough volume and it will hold a very generous amount of petticoat. The skirt flares out well and creates a beautiful full, rounded shape. The skirt design is kept simple and so, the print is displayed very clearly. The bottom hem is then finished off with cute bow themed lace. I was a bit surprised AP didn't use strawberry themed lace but to be fair, there are bows in the print.

This is the JSK. The bodice looks quite well fitted, although the overall shape is a bit blocky and square. I think a less straight neckline would be a bit of an improvement. I feel the straps could have been a tiny bit thicker but the width does suit the style of dress. The straps are lined neatly with lace on the outsides, which has been well gathered and creates a nice shape. It also makes the straps a bit more interesting. There is a waist bow which is a bit on the big side. Perhaps the tails of the bow could have been a bit shorter. The bow is well formed though, with a good shape to it and the thin lace lining the edges has been done quite neatly. I don't like the wider lace on the ends of the bow tails though. The bodice features a line of lace with ribbon threaded through it running across the chest area. Unlike the OP though, the JSK has less shirring and the measurements are not as generous. Large chested wearers should proceed with caution. This line of lace is topped with a shiny ribbon bow which is a cute shape and size. The neckline is topped with a line of lace, which means it a bit more interesting, but doesn't seem to soften the harsh straight neckline all that much. The bases of the straps are then topped with 2 small ribbon bows. I think the bows look very cute and they are small enough to add an extra finishing touch without being too distracting. The back is fully shirred, which means the shirring is quite exposed. The skirt is again very plump with a lovely full, rounded shape to it. It flares out really well. The skirt is simple in design so the print is displayed beautifully. The bottom hem is then finished off with the same bow themed lace.

And here we can see the print close up. This series comes in white, pink and red. The colours are pretty good choices for a berry print. It is a shame there wasn't a 4th colour offered though. Maybe mint or black. As for the print itself, I love the big berries at the bottom. They are drawn very well with a good amount of highlighting and shading to make them look a bit more realistic. The daisies are positioned well around the berries too. As for the lines of whipped cream, they look very cute but I feel there is too much of them. The print looks overcrowded and cluttered as a result. The bows in the print look very sweet. I am a little unsure about the circles at the bottom though.

So overall I think it is a nice enough series, but I don't really get the hype behind this print. The dress designs are okay but there are definitely things I would change. As for the print, I like the bottom bit but not so much the cream part. Would I buy this series? Probably not, because I can think of many berry prints I like a lot more than this one. If I had to, I would go for the JSK in red.

Next up today is Dolly Cat. This series includes 3 dresses, a head bow, a beret, wrist cuffs, gloves and socks. 

This is the OP. The bodice looks well fitted and is an cute shape. The sleeves are an interesting length but what I really like about them is the lace overlay. The lace material gives the sleeves a really pretty shape and also gives the sleeves an interesting texture. I also feel the lace makes the sleeves look quite mature. The sleeves are well gathered at the cuffs and finished neatly with lace. I am not overly fond of the band of solid coloured material on the sleeves and the bows topping them though. There is a waist bow, which I feel needs to be a bit smaller. The shape and design of the bow is pretty though and it is very well formed. The waist bow is further topped with a cluster of pearls, which I feel is a bit too much. The bodice features many lines of lace. The lace towards the sides of the bodice is subtle and helps fill in the empty space in a soft way. The wider lace in the centre of the bodice is well gathered to create some interesting shape and texture. The lace collar around the neck area combined with the lacy sleeves give the illusion of this being a JSK with a blouse worn underneath. Further lace along the edge of this detail sits well on the dress and looks very elegant. The line up the centre of the bodice is dotted with bows and buttons. The bows are a cute shape but the material used for them is too shiny. The buttons have a pretty design but they are too cluttered around the neck area and overall they are spaced out weirdly. I feel the ruffle around the neck is a bit messy looking, although looks as though it wouldn't feel too tight against the neck. The neck area also features a detachable bow. The bow is a cute shape and I actually quite like the large size. I think if the waist bow had been a bit smaller the bows would have looked a bit more balanced. The neck bow features a pretty cameo in the middle too. Despite being detachable, I would leave it on because it covers the cluster of pearly buttons underneath. The back offers no shirring, so size flexibility is quite limited. The zip on the back is very well concealed and the print lines up along the zip line reasonably well. The stock photos show the skirt has lots of volume and it flares outwards well. I really love the shape of the skirt and I feel it is a good match with the bodice. The skirt design is kept quite simple and so the print is displayed excellently. The bottom hem is then finished off with some pretty bow themed lace. 

Here we have the Standard JSK. The bodice seems fairly well fitted and the shape is quite lovely. The straps are a decent width and look very supportive. The straps are lined both on the insides and outsides with lace, which has been done very neatly. I like how the straps are topped with a line of pearls as well. It adds an extra finishing touch without adding loads of bulk to the straps. There is a waist bow, which I think is a bit large. It does have a good shape though and it looks very perky, sitting well on the dress. The bodice features a wide lace yoke. The lace is of a good quality and looks quite pretty. The size and shape of the yoke suits the dress too. The yoke is topped with 2 small bows which are a bit shiny, but otherwise help to break up the large area of lace. The neckline is topped with 3 bows. The size of these bows is quite generous. I personally would prefer them to be a little smaller, but I don't think they look bad at all. The bows still have a slight sheen to them though. The bows are cutely shaped and I like the cameo in the middle of the centre bow. This cameo is detachable but I would personally leave it on. I think the bows really add something to what is a fairly plain neckline underneath. But my favourite bit is all 3 bows are detachable so you can play around and combine the bows in any way you wish. The back of the dress has a panel of shirring which is topped neatly by a ribbon corset. The stock photos show the skirt has a lovely full bell shape to it. There is loads of volume and it flares outwards well. The skirt is again kept simple and the print is displayed beautifully. The bottom hem is then finished off with the same pretty bow lace.

This is the Low Waist JSK. I personally am not a fan of the bodice shape, especially the low waist. I feel this sort of dress tends to only look good on certain body shapes. I also feel the bodice on this dress looks quite tube-like and I don't like the straight neckline shape. The straps are quite thin and look a bit flimsy but I feel thinner straps suit this style of dress. The straps are lined neatly with lace on the outsides. The lace is gathered well and it creates a nice frothy look. The dropped waist features a large bow. I think the dress would look a great deal better without any waist bow at all. I think the large bow emphasises the dropped waist. The bodice has 2 lines of lace running up the sides which helps to break up the plain space, but I feel it looks a bit weird on this particular dress. This JSK also features a lace yoke. The lace is pretty and used well. I think the yoke is an okay shape and size for the dress. However, I think the large bows and buttons topping the yoke are far too OTT. The bows are far too big and the ribbon used is too shiny. It makes the bows look really cheap. The line of bows and buttons is also over-crowded and the pearl buttons just get lost underneath the big bows. The neckline is lined with a thin line of lace which helps to soften it a little bit. I like the 2 tiny bows at the bases of the straps too. They look so cute! The back has a panel of shirring, which is concealed by a ribbon corset. Considering how short the skirt is, the skirt still has a decent amount of volume to it and it flares out well. The shape reminds me more of a salopette than a JSK though. The print is displayed quite well on the skirt too. The bottom hem is again finished with the bow lace.

And finally here is what the print looks like. This series comes in pink, sax blue, lavender and black. I think all 4 colours look great with the print. There are plenty of different pastel options and the black offers something a bit different. As for the print itself, it looks like a more detailed version of Vanilla-chan. The cats are sweet. I like the way the cats are posing with one cocking its head to the side and another looking up. It makes the cats look cuter and gives them more personality. I love how the cats are wearing bows and bonnets too! The one thing that puts me off about the cats is the one that at a quick glance looks like it has a giant butt (it is actually its tail...). The boudoir background and mini stools compliment the fancily dressed cats too. As for the non-border part of the print, I like how the ribbons and bows are shaped and twisted. It looks like a cat has been playing with the ribbon. I am not overly fond of the lines of circles though as I think it makes the background look a bit crowded. Overall though, I have to say I prefer this print to Vanilla-chan. The cats really make the print.

So I feel this series is pretty cute. It is nice to see AP do a very pastel themed series that doesn't look overly immature. I feel the dresses also offer some very different options and they all look different from each other. The print is also very sweet, but the black colour version helps to break up the pastel if you dislike the pastel colours. Would I buy this series? Probably not, but only because this isn't really my sort of thing. If I were to choose I would go for either the OP or Standard JSK in lavender. I like the way that the lace adds a touch of elegance to the OP but the Standard JSK has a great design too. The accessories for this series are lovely too.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

DreamV Rakuten Review- Positive

I did a small DreamV order last month. As I have previously reviewed DreamV (search DreamV on my blog if you wish to see what I thought of the ordering process last time) I wont go in to too much detail about the ordering process. But what I will do is once again provide the ordering guide I used, as it is useful for working out what size you are-

Communication and Shipping

The guide in the link above also tells you what emails you should expect from both Rakuten and DreamV. I found the emails arrived in a very timely manner. The initial DreamV email took a day or 2 longer than stated but that was because I ordered over a weekend, so this isn't too big an issue for me. Apart from that, all the emails came very quickly. The shipping took barely any time at all. The longest delay in the shipping was once again the UK customs, which isn't the fault of DreamV. 

My order was placed inside a large cardboard box, which was very well sealed. My only complaint here is that because I ordered 1 dress and a pair of shoes, there was a bit of space in the box and the contents were moving around a bit inside. Perhaps a bit of extra padding could have been put in the empty space on top of the dress.

My shoes were very well packaged. The shoes were wrapped in tissue paper. The insides of the shoes were stuffed in the toes with tissue paper and some of those plastic rod things so that the shoes held their shape.

And here are the shoes. The pink colour does not look quite as pastel pink as the stock photos, which is a bit disappointing. The shoes were in very good condition. There were a few small marks on the shoes when I first got them but I was able to simply wipe them off without much effort. 

I was very surprised to see that the last strap nearest to the toe area was not on a popper but simply elasticated. Still, the elastic is well concealed when the shoes are worn so that is not much of an issue. The other 2 straps do have poppers so you can simply snap them on and off. I feel the straps on the shoes could do with being a bit longer. I found that with my wide feet I had to adjust the straps a fair bit to get the straps to fit.

I don't feel the bows look as neat as they do in the stock photos. Quite a lot of the white underside of this bow shows up. I did try to reshape the bow a bit but I wasn't that successful. Apart from this issue, the stitching on the shoes is really neat and tidy and the heart shaped holes have been neatly punched out.

So far I have only worn the shoes for a few hours, just to break them in. I have found the shoes to be quite comfortable so far. The soles of the shoes have a bit of padding, which is a bonus. I have heard that DreamV shoe sizes run a bit small, so I went for the 25.5cm instead of my usual 25cm. My feet are actually a 24.5cm but I always order up with Japanese shoes because of my wide feet. I found that there is a bit of empty space in the toe area, so I probably could have gotten away with my usual size. However despite being a bit big, the shoes don't seem to be causing me any issues.

The other thing I got was this dress. I had a bit of a dilemma with the sizing as my waist measurement fitted a smaller dress size than my bust did. In the end, I went for the larger dress size and thankfully, it doesn't look like a sack on me. I do feel it is a shame that the bust measurements are not more generous, but I suppose the clothing is designed to fit Asian girls. There is a zip which is well concealed going up one side of the dress, underneath the armpit area. I find the zip did make putting on the dress easier, although I do wonder if the zip would have been more efficient if placed on the back instead. I was expecting the dress to be made of thin cutsew style material and it is made from something similar. However, the dress material is in fact thicker. I probably wont be able to wear this dress in the midst of a heatwave but otherwise, the thicker material was a pleasant surprise.

The embroidery has generally been done quite nicely. You can see one slightly thicker line near the middle of the moon and one of the 'O's in the text has an extra little line underneath. Otherwise, the embroidery is clean and you can read the text clearly. 

The chiffon ruffles feel quite soft. I have seen softer chiffon than this but it is still fairly nice. They are gathered and shaped well and sit nicely on the dress. The edges are kept neat. The stars on top of the chiffon are generally quite nice, although one or 2 have slight scratches on them.

After putting the dress on, I can confirm the dress material feels very soft and pleasant to wear. I was worried the sleeves were going to be too short, but they actually did reach my wrist area. They could perhaps do with just being a centimetre or 2 longer. I was also initially worried that the bottom hem would sit too high up on my thighs but actually, I think the length was perfect for me. I am about 5'4'' and on me it sits about mid to low thigh. So I wouldn't recommend it for taller wearers, although I think you could get away with being an inch or 2 taller than me to wear this dress.

So overall I am very pleased with my second DreamV order. You get good value for the low price you pay. In fact, I would say the dress is actually very cheap considering how pleased I am with it. It definitely exceeds my expectations. The shoes are also quite nice, although I was expecting a slightly more pastel colour and one of the bows is a bit misshapen. I would definitely get more dresses in the future and possibly more shoes as well, if the shoe design was a bit simpler. I would still recommend DreamV to friends and I will be ordering again.

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