Thursday, 11 August 2016

So Why Do People Become Itas?

Somebody I know (who shall remain anonymous, unless they decide to speak up!) made quite a bold statement about lolita a few months ago- "With all the information out there, there is not really an excuse to be an ita in 2016".

On some level, I guess I can understand where they are coming from. There is a wealth of information out there and it really is not that difficult to google it. Most of you will be familiar with F Yeah Lolita's article on "How to Avoid Being an Ita" and even though that was written years ago, a lot of the information is still relevant today, especially if you can't quite get your head around the Western community's idea of the lolita "rules". And yet, there are still a lot of people who break these "rules". Some of these rule-breakers manage to get away with it, whilst others end up being mocked on cgl. I think there will always be those people out there who just try to do their own thing, and those who wish to be hand-fed every single little bit of information. Some people just have different tastes. But as time has gone on, I find myself developing a new view on itas and maybe in some cases it is more about a certain state of mind.

I myself had a quite lengthy ita phase. I am not going to sit here and make excuses for myself- I looked terrible and I know it. But I sort of shrug it off now. The truth is that almost every lolita I know has either had an ita phase or at the very least made the odd mistake. As somebody who has experienced a lot of backlash in the past, I can say from my personal experiences that being called an ita doesn't have to detract from the fun you have at meets. A lot of the time, the drama just dies down and most people do forget all about it.

But from time to time, I like to look back at the mistakes I made and try to figure out where I went wrong. The interesting thing is, that I started to notice certain patterns in my behaviour. I came to the realisation that my outfits got better or worse depending on what was going on in my life at that time. Like I said earlier, I am not making excuses, it is more that I am trying to get to the reason as to why people become itas in the first place. So taking a bit from my own personal experiences, I have tried to identify certain types of "ita behaviour" and tried to come up with some ways of how to overcome this, should you wish to improve. I guess you could say this is a bit like how to avoid being an ita, with a more mental focus!

The Dream Dress Ita- You have been eagerly searching through all of the sales and auction pages for ages when all of a sudden, that dress you have ranked as the top priority on your wishlist makes an appearance! Sure, you may not have anything in your wardrobe that matches, and maybe it is going to leave you broke for the rest of the month, but it is your DREAM DRESS!!!! You stalk your postal delivery guy to the point where he is considering getting a restraining order out on you, and then finally the dress is in your hands. Instantly, you find yourself falling in love with this dress. It is every bit as beautiful as you imagined. In fact, you want to wear it it. Right now. So you put together an outfit, only for it to turn our terrible. You have been so focused on this dress, that you have almost become 'blinded' when it comes to the rest of your outfit. Pictured above is the skirt which gave me my very own rose-tinted glasses effect.
Solution- The only way to really overcome this is to make sure you have a ready supply of good basic wardrobe building items. Try and see which colours and themes appear the most in your wardrobe and flesh out your blouse, socks, shoes and accessory collections in complimentary colours. When I was properly expanding my lolita wardrobe, I had a want vs need list. For every item I got from the want side of the list (and really, your dream dresses are a want and not a need, no matter how much you try to convince yourself otherwise) I had to buy one or two things from the need side, which included the essentials like blouses, or a new petticoat.

The Emotional Ita- Ever find that life is just a bit tough? Going through a bad patch? Had a life-changing tragedy? Well now is really not the best time to be thinking up new outfits or attending meets. When my granddad died, I made the mistake of going to a lolita meet a week later and I really regretted it. Not only did I throw together an outfit at the very last minute because I had been so focused on my grief, but I was an emotional wreck. Making sure I looked presentable was the least of my worries. Even now, I can't look back at the photos from that meet.
Solution- You need to take the time out to properly let yourself get over whatever emotional issue is having an impact on your mental well-being. There will be other lolita meets and if your comm is sensitive and mature, they will respect you for taking time out for yourself and not read anything else in to it. My advice would be to impose an internet ban on yourself for a while as well. Some things stay with you for the rest of your life, but as cliche as it may sound, time really is a great healer.

The "But it's by ____ brand" Ita- The tag says Angelic Pretty, so naturally it must be sweet lolita right? Well, the answer is no actually. A lot of the big Japanese brands, especially ones like AP, take inspiration from other Japanese fashion trends. At the time of writing this, Larme-kei is big news, and Angelic Pretty are about to release Dolly Dot. Whilst Dolly Dot is intended to be lolita, it could easily fit in to the Larme-kei aesthetic. Similarly, in the past, AP have put out a lot of mini skirts. There are some of these AP mini skirts which became popular in the fairy kei scene, and AP were probably intending for these to be worn in a more casual, street fashion kind of way, rather than lolita. Let's take the series Sugar Hearts as an example. Angelic Pretty released an OP and JSK which were clearly designed in a way that was meant to appeal to lolitas. They also released a mini skirt. I own this mini skirt and believe me, that skirt is not long enough or full enough to create the perfect lolita shape which is so vital in lolita fashion. The bad thing is though, that if that skirt had been just the tiniest bit longer, it could maybe just about have passed as a lolita skirt. Because it is so close to being nearly lolita, and with the dresses from the same series fitting lolita fashion, I think this caused a bit of confusion for some people. You could also make the same argument about salopettes. Some people class them as lolita, whereas others will tell you outright that a salopette is not lolita.
Solution- I would just be careful about how you tag your outfits online. It is fine to tag an outfit with the brand, but if you are not sure if something is lolita or not, just don't tag it as such. If you wish to add more tags so it reaches a wider audience, use more generic terms such as "kawaii" or "Japanese fashion". It also may be a good idea to refresh your memory on the basics of a lolita outfit, so you can compare your outfit and see if it meets the "requirements" of your typical lolita outfit.

The Anime Ita- So your primary passion happens to be anime, and then you see one of your favourite characters dressed in this fashion called lolita. Chances are, this character is wearing some incredibly OTT ensemble covered from head to toe in bows and with added sparkly backgrounds. You discover that lolita fashion is actually a real thing, only it doesn't quite match up to the characters that introduced you to it. The trouble is, the 'ideals' of anime lolita are very different to what somebody who is in to lolita fashion, but not anime, sees as the ideal lolita aesthetic. With anime lolitas, you don't really get a feel for how important lolitas value the quality of the materials they are wearing (to be fair, that would make for some very slow-paced anime!). A lot of the time, the focus is just on the cuteness.
Solution- This is one situation where it depends how seriously you are in to lolita fashion. If you are serious about wearing lolita as a fashion outside of anime, I feel it is vital to start from scratch about learning about the fashion and ignore what you think you may have learnt from anime. It is important to remember that anime is a very exaggerated take on reality and a lot of these lolita characters are deliberately designed in an OTT way (and sometimes in a very deliberately sexual way) so that they will appeal more to the audience. That is not to say that all anime/manga lolitas are equal. I personally have always loved Misato from Nana and her old school lolita look!

The Multiple Fandom/Fashion Ita- You love lolita fashion, but maybe you feel that it is only one aspect of your life and that lolita doesn't really fully represent who you are as a person. So maybe you wish to try and do a cross-over with another fashion you are in to, or maybe make an outfit based around your love of Doctor Who/Sherlock/Other fandom. You see somebody do something like 'steampunk lolita' and think "Hmm, I could do that...". The only trouble is that when you add another fashion or fandom on top of lolita, you are adding in another set of fashion's rules or a character's aesthetics. These aesthetics may not always gel together 100% with lolita and as a result, you end up having to make compromises. The problem comes when you compromise too much, and the outfit stops looking lolita altogether.
Solution- Make sure that you make time to fully enjoy each of your hobbies and interests. Look online to see if there are any communities that are about the fandoms/fashions/hobbies you enjoy. If you still feel strongly about combining 2 fashions together, have a look to see if lolita brands have released any series which may appeal to both of your interests. For example, a lot of Angelic Pretty releases have a slight retro feel to them, Meta did a series which had a steampunk influence to it (Wheel of Time) and quite often you will see brands do collaborations. Disney and Japanese lolita brand collaborations are something that come up quite often, for example. You may even be surprised at the influences in some lolita series. Alice and the Pirates just did a Sherlock inspired series. That is the sort of series where you could wear it and then casually bring up the Sherlock theme in conversation, to show that you are a fan of that particular show. If you are in to character cross-overs, maybe instead of trying to mash them with lolita fashion, just ask yourself "how would this character wear lolita" instead. A Sailor Moon inspired outfit could just have a star or sailor theme for example, rather than going all-out with an Usagi wig and an almost cosplay-like outfit.

The Poor Ita- You really want to get in to lolita, but your budget just wont allow it. When you are starting out, it can be very overwhelming thinking of all the different things you are going to need to buy, just to get one complete outfit together. You find yourself trailing budget stores such as Primark for 'loli-able' finds or tell yourself that if you add lace to something, maybe it will look a bit more appropriate for lolita, only to forget about your craft plans after you brought the stuff. And when there is a lolita bargain on offer, you get so excited about it that you snap it out without thinking it through first. Perhaps you have even considered cutting a few corners. Maybe you have a nice lolita dress, but you spent out a bit on it, so you are now considering wearing a basic work blouse you already own anyway. After all, a blouse is mostly going to get hidden by a dress, right?
Solution- Sorry, but the only way to truly get over this is to learn how to budget. You have to scrutinise every single purchase you make. If you see a good deal on a sweet skirt, but you are a gothic lolita, then it isn't really a bargain because you are not likely to actually wear it. When I started out, I struggled with money. I still have piles of £1 Primark loli-able socks that I still haven't worn years later, as I never really thought about if they actually went with any of my dresses. And believe me, all those little £1 purchases do start to add up. There may be other little frivolous purchases you can cut back on to add to your lolita funds You could also consider cutting down how frequently you spend on lolita. For example, if you have about £30 to spend a month on lolita, save it up for a few months and you will find that you have enough money to buy something of a better quality, rather than lots of cheaper and poorer quality pieces. And if you are buying better quality products, there is less chance of them breaking and you needing to buy replacements. Another thing to watch out for is how much people are selling these supposedly good deals for. For example, there may be a lot of Bodyline on Ebay, but sometimes you will find that these products are actually being sold cheaper on Bodyline's site.

The 'Lost' Ita- Gothic? Sweet? Maybe classic? There are so many different sub-styles as well. When I first discovered lolita, I was like a kid entering Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. There are so many dresses to choose from, how do you know what is right for you? Maybe you are one of these people getting in to lolita who just goes aimlessly about and buys pieces which seem like a good idea at the time. The only trouble is, you have found you are now stuck with a classic blouse, a gothic skirt and a sweet Alice bow, and none of it goes together.
Solution- If this sounds like you, then now is not the time to be purchasing anything. Sites like are your friends (Well, when they are working they are. Be aware that Lolibrary goes down a lot. Be patient.). Empty your schedule and devote a few hours to going through Lolibrary. Whenever you see something that piques your interest, make a note of it. Make a board on Pinterest, reblog Tumblr pictures that you like, look through some Gothic Lolita Bibles and bookmark pages which have stuff you like on. Once you have a good collection of pictures, it is time to look through them and make notes. Is there a certain style that is cropping up more than others? Certain colours? Certain recurring themes? Before you go buying anything, try to imagine yourself buying them. If you had to choose between 2 of the dresses you have picked out, which one do you think would make you feel the happiest? What items from your collection of pictures would go with this dress? And be aware that sometimes your tastes in lolita may just naturally change as time goes on.

Looking through this list, I have noticed a couple of themes seem to be quite frequently appearing. Impulse-buying, over-enthusiasm and mis-information seem to be big factors. These are things that can be overcome. It seems to be a trend with people who get labelled itas that most of them do go on to improve naturally. I think it is something that comes with time, and I suppose time is a key thing to focus on here. Lolita shouldn't really be a race to see who can get the most dresses or a contest to see who can get the most likes and reblogs. Sometimes it is this pressure to make a name for yourself in the lolita community that causes us to make mistakes in the first place. Changes in lifestyle can also be key. It isn't really fair to compare a teenager just out of school for example, with somebody in their late 20's or even older who is more likely to have a stable job, a good income and have maybe gotten married or gone through other big life changes.

I hope that this post doesn't come across as judgemental, as that was really not my intention. It was more that I was curious to explore the mindset of people who have maybe been labelled as itas, and to also reflect on my own past mistakes and why they happened. The subject of this post is a bit sensitive for some and I found this post was incredibly difficult to write! And maybe there are even people out there who happen to not care about their mistakes or just feel confident and comfortable enough to make their own choices. Do you have any further advice that you feel should be added to this post? Or do you have any general comments about the content of this post? Let me know what you think!


  1. That's a very well written post, I didn't find even a hint of judgement. Your exploration of ita as a behaviour rather than a product (so looking at the causes and not the results) is very thorough and I think your observations are spot on. I know that in my case my ita-phase was certainly to do with misinformation (or rather lack thereof, as I didn't really do much research until a lot later) and wanting to engage in the fashion as quickly as I could've, although I like to think that even with some of my impulse purchases I at least had a better idea of what style I liked and wanted to pursue - both in terms of Sweet/Classic/Gothic and cuts of the dresses, blouses etc. And because you added a solution to every one of the behaviours you identified, I think this should help a lot of Lolitas. After all, many may not realise that they are/are labelled as itas until much later, but they may find it easier to say "Hey, that sounds like what I'm doing" when reading about the behaviours above - and then improve a lot faster as a result. This is a post that I think should be shared to newbies alongside the FYeahLolita one to maximise the chances of newcomers to the fashion avoiding the most common mistakes early on in their Lolita journey.

    1. I am glad to hear you didn't think I was being judgemental. There seems to be some mixed views about that, although I knew right away this would be a bit of a controversial post. I think I was the same- I wanted to experience the fashion as quickly as possible and do everything. When I think back to how my wardrobe looked when I first joined a comm, I was nowhere near ready to be attending monthly meets, but I was determined to join in anyway. It didn't help that I was falling in love with sweet, but still wanted to wear classic and gothic as well! I am not sure I would put this post alongside FYeahLolita's one and I am sure Caro-chan would have worded this post a lot differently, but that is a huge compliment, so thank you!

  2. Maybe instead of being aggressive and telling the reader, "You do not need to be shopping right now." You can recount an anecdote, and say "I found it was the worst time to shop when I wasn't focused on my own style."

    I think comparing Lolitas is rough. In my community we have a few more well-todo ladies, and they're experienced and know their style. Their coords show all this at a glance. The rest of us wear lovely coordinates, but sometimes you'll see an experiment gone awry (like me and the wrong shaped wig for my face), or an overly simplistic coordinate. Cute and Lolita, but still in pursuit of the #LolitaGoals.

    Newbies often make ita mistakes mostly just from the enthusiasm and wanting to try out styles that they haven't experimented with yet. I think of this as growing pains. I love this pink wig that I bought. Does it go with anything I own? not really. I'm a classic and gothic lolita mainly, and pink rarely appears in my wardrobe. Can I do an impromptu casual dressy bittersweet Lolita with this wig, yep, and I felt great wearing it. That being said, there's some overlap with sweet and being a child that an 18 year old has trouble escaping. Don't carry around a plush toy and hug it constantly if you want people to think you're an adult and not a lost child. When she wandered away from our group, we worried about her like a lost child too.

    1. See, it was not my intention to come across as aggressive in this post, so I am sorry if you feel I did. This was a very difficult post to get the wording right on and I came very close to not publishing it. In the end, I took a chance. Maybe it needs a bit of tweaking.

      I do feel that a lot of newbies do experience that overwhelming sense of enthusiasm and just want to dive right in. You make some very good points.

      And I hope that whoever wandered away from your group was okay.

  3. If I hadn't had to wait a few years between discovering lolita fashion and starting to wear it, I would have been what I'd call a 'It Will Do' ita. When I discovered the fashion, I saw it as something unobtainable. However, brands like Hell Bunny and Living Dead Souls did dresses with floofy skirts and lace, and they were sold in the local goth shops so no having to order from abroad! Surely wearing those with a blouse from the high street would be close enough, right....?
    Fortunately, I couldn't afford any of those dresses, and by the time I could I'd done enough research to find out what was and wasn't lolita.

    1. That is a really good example! I see people recommend Hell Bunny from time to time and usually it is in the context that they considered Hell Bunny to be more convenient. I do completely understand that mindset as well. As Spiffykidd mentioned, as a teenager she didn't have a Paypal account, which is a huge factor when it comes to buying lolita. And as used as I may be to using shopping services and buying from stores now, I can still remember how scary it was to do these things for the very first time. I managed to convince myself that I was going to get blacklisted the first time I brought from Baby!

  4. That sounds like a very "me" thing to say! :P To be fair, I mainly feel that way in terms of people who continue to buy shoddy replicas when there's so many other options out there. Colour coordination and dressing for your size are things that might be difficult to learn for people who've never been particularly into fashion in general, but these days, they won't have to contend with some of the accessibility problems that used to exist. I'd actually say the lolita market is over-saturated at this point! But yes... I'm tired of bad replicas and people who want to cut corners and focus more on how cheaply they can get everything (though these people don't tend to be that invested in lolita as a whole and don't stay in the fashion for very long, so swings and roundabouts). That rather misses the point of the fashion. As a general thing, though, we all have outfits that miss the mark every now and again! I also think that the definition of "ita" seems to vary from person to person.

    My ita phase was partly due to age. I was a teenager without their own PayPal account and all purchases had to go through a parent. These restrictions made wardrobe-building difficult. My first couple of outfits were made up of high street items, then Bodyline, and later on, when I finally owned a brand dress, I did the "dream dress ita" thing you mentioned and wore it even though I had nothing to go with it (this outfit coincided with a lot of other stuff happening in my life, too, so I guess I didn't stand a chance!) I felt a lot of pressure to be wearing a brand piece, when it would have better for me to have just worn a well-coordinated offbrand outfit, even if people had seen me in it before. I was also a lot more self conscious and would often not bother wearing a petticoat if I knew I would be in my hometown that day (I'm talking about the first meet I ever hosted if it wasn't clear!), and I'd try to casual-ify things by wearing black (don't think I ever quite broke this habit haha) in an attempt to draw less attention to myself, and in case I bumped into people I knew from school. Looking back it's strange... the coordinates I put together before that one were A+ and I still like them to this day. Then I had this absolutely terrible outfit, even though I knew what I was meant to be doing. I included so many different factors in this paragraph but hopefully I made some sense.

    I like the way you've arranged this post because it does make you stop to think about what might have influenced a bad outfit, and it's always good to work on being less judgmental of others :)

    Another kind of "ita" I would include would be the the experimental sort-- where you decide to try something different, but it ends up going a bit wrong. That's another thing I've done many a time! I think that because my style is so casual anyway, I can't really afford to do anything too ~edgy~ because it just makes my outfit not lolita anymore. I think I'll save all my wacky ideas for non-lolita outfits!

    1. I feel that a lot of the people who continue to buy shoddy replicas are those who either don't own much else and don't have anything to compare it to, or those who just settle for it because they have the mindset that lolita is just clothing. That sort of touches on what you are saying about those who don't stay in the fashion that long. They never really get to fully appreciate all the different aspects of the lolita experience. I feel that colour co-ordination and dressing for your shape are things that we do get bombarded with in our day-to-day lives, or at least that was my experience! I will admit that some of the weeklies magazines are a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine!

      As I was 21 when I first decided to not just admire the fashion and actually wear it, I will never be able to fully understand what it is like to be a teenager wearing lolita. I can only imagine the issues that throws in to the mix. It reminds me of the time I jokingly mentioned GLP in London and then you said you were wearing a dress you brought from there. Sammi and I both went "What..!?" because we couldn't believe this lovely dress came from a shop so well known for lace monsters and cheap replicas. But without Paypal, that really was one of your only options. I miss GLP, even though I made some bad choices in there! Thinking back to the meet you are talking about, owning brand was still a big deal. Owning brand sort of still is a big deal today, but back when you are talking about, Taobao still wasn't as big a thing and Bodyline was looked down upon by a larger portion of lolitas. It is so strange to think this was only a few years ago. Even though nobody really said anything, I felt in my early comm days there was this unwritten rule that you should wear a different main piece to each meet as well, which made the quality of my outfits worse. I can completely understand feeling self-conscious in your hometown. I still do now to be honest. Back when I was starting out, I used to change in to casual clothes before going home! Although in my defence, I have had some bad experiences in that station car park after dark before.

      I am so guilty of being an "Experimental Ita"! I think my problem was that I had these wild ideas in my head which did not translate that well in to reality. I was very much inspired by people like Sakizou, but you really do have to know what you are doing if you are going to try and emulate artists like that. It takes a lot of practice and OTT is so easy to get wrong. Even doing something simpler but out of your comfort zone can be daunting.

  5. I am so much the poor version. But I am aware of rather limited money and save.

    1. I was the poor version for a long time too and I really wish I had thought out my purchases at the time better. It was a learning experience, I guess.

    2. I think It is important to make mistakes. If my first loli blouse was too long in the sleeves, I wouldn't learn to make shorter Sleeves. Desåite it also was a Grey/Black blouse. Bad first choice.

  6. This is a really good post. I look back at a lot of my outfits and think that they weren't all ita, but some of them are quite boring, and others just don't really look lolita, even though I have followed "the rules". I think it is down to experimenting (e.g. my last coord was a blend of mori and lolita, and I might have veered too far into mori territory for it to work), and others are down to not understanding the subtle nuances of the fashion – I wear classic most of the time, but thought tea party shoes were an appropriate choice, or I style my hair carefully only for it to go back to it's natural state, dragged-through-a-bush-backwards, in an hour's time. I do feel frustrated because I keep researching the fashion and have been doing it for over 2 years now, but I still want to keep going. I think it's hard when you are more of a lone lolita and don't have many people to discuss the fashion with outside of comm meets, too.

    1. Thank you! I actually really appreciate simpler outfits. A lot depends on the setting and the type of event. I can say with complete honesty that I have never looked at one of your outfits and thought that they looked ita!

      Are you talking about your Wicked and Whimsy outfit? I saw it and thought it looked really pretty! It is one of my favourite outfits from all the pictures I have seen so far actually. And the mori feel worked with that particular dress.

      I have taken to making sure I get pictures first thing in the morning now, because I know my hair is going to be messy as soon as I leave the house! I always end up taking off my jewellery and I have make up melting off too.

      I think the only thing to do is keep researching. I still so some research myself. Comm meets definitely help. Seeing lolitas in person definitely gives a better insight than seeing pictures and reading information online.

    2. Thank you, that is very kind of you to say! I feel honoured that it was one of your favourites. We are our own worst critics, after all. It is definitely a good idea to get pictures first thing, I will remember to do that in future, so that I look a bit fresher. I am hoping after September, I will have more time and be able to plan a couple of meets. Even reading physical copies of lolita magazines isn't as good an insight as seeing lolitas in person.


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