Apologies if this post reads a bit jumbled, I am not feeling my best at the moment.
I was having a think back to some posts I did in the past and I realised it is about a year ago that I wrote a post about how simpler outfits could do with a bit more appreciation and that sometimes, they can be a refreshing alternative to all the OTT outfits that seemed to be around. Then I got to thinking about OTT Lolita as a style, and why was it that I came to the conclusions I did when I wrote that post. I don't dislike OTT and in fact, I do dress OTT some of the time.
I am not somebody who religiously follows Closet of Frills on Facebook, but a lot of the more popular outfits do come up in my news feed still. The vast majority of the time it is either because the poster has gone to a vast amount of effort to take a spectacular photo, has a lot of mutual friends with me, or because the poster is wearing some elaborate OTT creation. I came to the realisation that there is so much thought and planning that goes in to a good OTT outfit, and I am not even talking about the crafting that goes in to some of them. What makes me hit the 'like' button is not how costumey and detailed an outfit is, but how well-thought out and considered it is. Obviously that is just my own personal opinion, and there are other times where I will focus on one particular part of an outfit and go "ooh that was clever" and hit 'like' anyway. But I thought I would go in to some detail about what I personally, as an individual, thinks makes an OTT outfit good. As the title of the post would suggest, I feel the key is balance.
Firstly, placement is super important. If you just throw a load of accessories on without putting much thought in to it, it tends to show. As an example, usually an OTT outfit head area will either have a big hair accessory or a large hairstyle with a lot of smaller accessories. And if you are using a big hair accessory like a veil for example, do you add anything on top of it or is it enough of a statement on its own? As silly as it may sound, it is very easy to ignore our hair when thinking of hair accessories. A hair style should either fit around your accessories and work with them or compliment what you are wearing. And if you are piling on accessory after accessory, it is vital that you have a good stable base, which is why your hair is super important. If you are back-brushing or adding extra bits to your hair, you need to be aware of how secure it all feels. It is also good to check that there is a good balance between the complexity of your accessories and your hair style. If you are wearing lots of accessories, then perhaps just leaving your hair plain and simple is not the right way to go. Oh, and as a general semi-related comment- if you happen to have added a lot of extra height to your head, could you please sit at the back at events? I speak for every short person who has ever been stuck behind the lolita wearing the massive bonnet!
And to bring up the subject of balance again, it is important that an outfit is balanced out from head-to-toe. What I mean is, the outfit should never look top-heavy or bottom-heavy and the amount of details in the outfit should be evenly distributed. If you have an area with lots of detail, then to keep things balanced you will need to make sure that there are plenty of interesting details going on elsewhere too. A lot of OTT outfits seem to focus on the head quite a bit, but there are so many ways you can distribute detail throughout your outfit. Choosing a blouse with a fancy jabot or bold collar, layering bracelets/wrist cuffs, going for patterned leg wear instead of something solid coloured, attaching accessories to things like your shoes or your dress... these are all just examples of how you can add details throughout your outfit and stop areas from looking too plain. Once again, the key word is balance!
Another thing to think about is if the accessories you are adding really fit the theme of your main piece. Bows, star clips and floral clips are prime examples of items which are usually used to bulk up accessories. Obviously these sort of items are usually very useful as generic accessories to help build up a lolita wardrobe, but do they go with this particular outfit? As an example, if you are wearing something floral, what flowers are actually in the print? Roses are a very common flower used for accessories and they are very easy to pick up on the high street in any accessory shop. But what if your dress features violets, not roses? Violet accessories are not as easy to find, but roses may not necessarily go. As another example, dangling star clips are seen loads with sweet lolita, but have you stopped to think how it ties in with what you are wearing? If your outfit does not have a night sky/cosmic theme, then does that star clip actually work? Maybe I am being a bit too picky here, but I tend to appreciate an outfit more if it has a cohesive theme running through it. I think it is a good idea to take a look at every accessory you are considering and have a good think about how it goes with the rest of the outfit, or if you are simply using it to add another accessory.
And of course, you have to consider if what you want to wear is actually practical. If you are wearing an outfit specifically for a photoshoot, then that is a bit different. But if you are in a situation where you are likely to be doing a lot of walking or sitting down, then you need to think about how you are going to move about and get through the day. Even if a meet plan seems quite straight-forward, sometimes an extra bit of walking may happen which you had not planned for. When you are sat down, you may find that any details you have added on top of your skirt may get crushed or crumpled. How fragile are all the pieces of your outfit? If you are wearing a new pair of shoes, then I really do recommend taking the time to properly break them in. Having bleeding, blistered ankles is probably only going to work with a guro outfit. Also, if you are wearing shoes with a higher heel than you are used to, give yourself time to practice walking! That practice may come in handy when you are posing for a photograph.
Another important thing to remember is this- can you still see that all-important lolita shape? The right shaped petticoat is vital and if you are adding items such as under-skirts you will need to take those in to consideration as well. But another thing to think about is can you still see the lolita silhouette if you add details on top? In my opinion, my favourite lolita shape is one where the bodice is well fitted and then the skirt flares outwards generously, using whatever petticoat shape is appropriate for the dress you have chosen. But if you were to add an accessory on top, such as a peignoir or a cape, are you still going to be able to see that shape? I suppose one way to tackle this would be to find a more fitted peignoir or use a belt. Also, I think it is a good idea to keep in mind how long accessories such as peignoirs and over-skirts are. If these accessories are too long in length and finish way below the bottom hem of your dress, it can occasionally look a bit awkward.
As a final thought, I think you have to ask yourself when does an outfit stop being lolita and become a costume? If you were to ask this question to a bunch of lolitas, chances are you will get a lot of different answers. And even if an outfit still looks lolita, it doesn't mean that everybody is going to like it. Some lolitas just don't like certain accessories and there are some items that do get associated with costumes. I personally don't like scepters (unless it is a photoshoot setting) and I think they look too much like a costume prop, but I know plenty of other lolitas really love scepters and carry them around to all sorts of events.
So on reflection, I guess there are different challenges involved with making an OTT outfit or a simpler outfit. I suppose a lot depends on the situation and where you are intending to wear an outfit. I think we all have our own personal level of what we feel comfortable with, and that is okay.