As time went on, I realised not everything is so clear cut after all. Actually, the 3 mains styles can sometimes blend with each other. Take the Holy Lantern series from Angelic Pretty as an example...
If you were to show this to one person they may tell you that as this dress has crosses and darker elements to it, it is probably gothic lolita. Show it to somebody else and they will tell you that it is still sweet lolita. Maybe somebody else would tell you this dress fits the creepy cute style (Is creepy cute still a thing? I have not heard that term in ages...). Which person is right? Well, in some respects, all of these people would be right. This is just one example of a piece which doesn't neatly fit in to the confines of one style. But maybe that is okay.
This is not anything remotely new to lolita fashion. Innocent World may be known as a classic brand, but there has always been some more cutesy sweet elements to their pieces in comparison to other classic lolita brands, like Juliette et Justine for example. A lot of sweet brand Baby's pieces are bordering on classic. This new style of what I call 'hybrid lolita' has definitely become more prevalent in recent years. The Japanese brands are pushing the boundaries more than ever. Of course, it makes tagging outfits on Tumblr a bit more difficult but apart from that, I see no harm in the styles blending.
I personally am a big fan of blending sweet and classic lolita together and I would go so far as to say that some of my outfits could be labelled as being "Sweet-Classic Lolita". It is not sweet or classic- it is both. There are some benefits to blending the styles together. Recently, I have noticed I am a little more self-conscious about wearing sweet lolita. Sweet Lolita is still a style I wear frequently but I feel like I have my own limitations with how cute I am willing to push an outfit. Maybe it is because I started off being an average age for a lolita, but I would now be considered a mature lolita. I am by no means the oldest of lolitas, but I would probably say I am at the age where I fit in to the older lolitas age-group. I have noticed I don't feel as comfortable wearing sweet as I did when I started out in the fashion. I even sold some of my sweeter dresses because I felt too insecure wearing them.
But by introducing what would be considered more classic lolita elements in to my sweet outfits, I am finding that I am still happy to wear sweet lolita. I am relieved about this because even though I do wear more classic now anyway, I still have a place in my heart for sweet lolita. I guess by introducing the more classic elements, I am in effect making my sweet outfits more mature and perhaps a bit more suitable for my age. Yes, people still think I am younger than I actually am, but I still feel more comfortable in my hybrid of sweet and classic than I do in just standard sweet. It also works the other way around. Sometimes when wearing classic lolita I will add a few cuter elements in or maybe a sweeter colour.
It is also quite a lot of fun being able to blend accessories in combinations that you would not usually expect to work together. If you take away the usual boundaries on what style something fits in to, I think there is the potential to come up with loads of new ideas. Even though crosses are typically seen as a gothic lolita staple, I think crosses look amazing in some classic lolita outfits too. Flowers are a good example of a theme which works well across all the 3 main styles of lolita. The colour combinations are also more varied. Who says that classic lolita should always be muted colours? Why should sweet lolita always be sugary pastel coloured? If something works and looks great, then does it really matter if it doesn't fit neatly in to one style?
There are certain situations where labeling outfits can prove useful, but I don't feel it is always necessary. If something looks amazing, does it really matter if it doesn't fit neatly in to one category? At the end of the day, lolita is a fashion, and a big part of fashion in general is adapting it to make it work for you and having fun experimenting.