Thursday, 29 September 2016

OTT and Balance

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.

Monday, 26 September 2016

A Metamorphose Double

Today is going to be a Metamorphose print double. Scroll down further to see Chess Collection.

But first today I am looking at Nostalgic Matryoshka Doll by Metamorphose. This series includes 3 dresses, 2 skirts, socks, 4 hair accessories and a bag.

First up is the OP. The bodice seems well fitted and the shape is quite smart. The sleeves seem to be a generous length, with a good amount of puff to them. In fact, I am wondering if the sleeves are a bit too long, as they reach the border print part of the skirt. Or maybe it is that the skirt is short in length? The sleeve cuffs are really cute. I like that they are kept quite simple and just finished off with some lace. The gathering on them looks quite stretchy too. There is a ribbon waist bow, which is quite simple in design, but I think it works quite nicely. This bow has been topped with some lovely floral themed lace, although you can't really see it on this off-white version! There is a really cute Matryoshka doll shaped charm dangling from the bow too. There is a line of buttons going down the front middle of the dress. The buttons are quite basic in design and well spread out. What I don't quite understand is why the buttons were continued part way down the skirt. It would have looked a lot better if they had finished when they met the waistline. Although to be honest, I could take or leave the buttons. I don't think they add much to the dress design anyway. The bodice also features a solid coloured bib, which is neatly pleated for added texture. Unfortunately, the line of buttons interrupts the ruffle lining the edge of the bib. I also think that the collar looks a little bit messy. This bib is also topped with a bow, similar to the waist bow. This bow could do with being a little bit smaller, but it otherwise looks okay. I think it is a bit much having the doll charm on this bow as well as the waist bow though. The back has a panel of shirring, which is topped neatly with a ribbon corset. This shirring does not go up the whole length of the back, so there is no shirring on the shoulder area. That is something to watch out for if you have wide shoulders. The stock photos show that the skirt flares outwards a lot and there is room for a fair amount of petticoat. Judging by the worn photos on the model, I do think the skirt is a bit short in length. The skirt is kept simple in design, so the print is displayed perfectly. The bottom hem is then finished off neatly with a simple ruffle and a couple of well placed bows.

Here we have the Switching JSK. The bodice looks well fitted, but the shape of the bodice is a bit too basic. I really feel as though the bodice is lacking something. I especially don't like the square neckline and even though it is decorated neatly with the use of solid coloured material and lace, I don't like the harsh lines and corners. The straps are an okay width, but I feel they needed to be lined with more lace. The neckline could have done with some more lace too, and possibly a small bow or two. The waistline features a 'belt' which really helps to define the waistline. It also provides a nice break to the gingham. This belt is topped with a line of lace, which is then carried on with the design for the bow on top of the 'belt'. The bow itself is quite large, but I think it suits the style of the dress. It has a cute shape, and it holds its shape quite well too. It sits really nicely on the dress, with only a slight bit of drooping. This waist bow is detachable, but I strongly feel that the bow really pulls the design together and the dress looks too plain with it detached. There is a line of 3 buttons on the bodice, which are well spaced out. These buttons are lined with the solid coloured fabric and a tiny line of the lace used throughout this dress design. I don't think I would have bothered with the lace on the buttons, as solid coloured buttons would have stood out more. The back has a panel of shirring, which is topped neatly with a ribbon corset. The stock photos show that the skirt is very full with plenty of volume. There is the potential to create a really sweet shape. The skirt is once again kept simple in design, so the print is displayed brilliantly. The bottom hem is again finished with a neat ruffle of the gingham fabric and some small bows.

This is the Apron JSK. The bodice looks well fitted, although I feel this bodice shape could have also been a bit better. The straps look to be a reasonable width and are generously lined with lace, At least the lace stops them looking too plain, although I don't feel the lace does much to soften the harsh neckline shape. A more rounded neckline could have looked quite cute. The apron looks cute. I like how it has 2 useful pockets and also how it is short enough that it doesn't cover the border print at all. The ruffle around the edge of the apron and the edges of the pockets has been well gathered as well. Underneath the apron, the waistline has a few lines of horizontal lace. The lace doesn't look bad, but I would have preferred it if it had a solid coloured belt like the other JSK has. I felt the belted design looked a lot smarter. However, I am impressed that Meta did at least make a waist bow to pin to the dress, either with or without the apron. This shows that Meta at least put some thought in to how the dress could be worn when the apron is detached and didn't just leave it bare. The bodice features many thin lines of lace and a ribbon corset in the middle. The many lines of lace give the bodice a frilly, ruffly appearance. As for the ribbon, it maybe could have been spaced out a bit wide, but it looks okay. There is a bow on the neckline, which is done in the same style as most of the bows in this series. I like the solid colour and use of lace. This bow is detachable, but I would leave it attached. The back is fully shirred, which means loads of size flexibility but also that there is nothing to conceal the shirring. However, with the gingham fabric, dare I say that the shirring doesn't look too bad? I don't feel the shirring stands out as much as it might have done if the fabric hadn't been gingham, but more solid coloured instead. The stock photos show that the skirt has a good amount of volume and it flares outwards well. I think the shape created for the stock photos looks really cute and the skirt has a lot of potential. Even with the apron, you can see the print is displayed excellently. The bottom then has a line of lace and several small bows running just underneath the print. These details have been done neatly, and I think it is a lovely finishing touch. The bottom is then finished off with a ruffle again.

Finally, this is what the print looks like. This series comes in off-white, red and green (looks more blue to me...). I don't feel the off-white really does the gingham justice, but the other 2 colours look amazing. I am usually not that keen on gingham, but with this series I think it is perfect. It really works with the border print. As for the border part, it looks super cute. Each doll features an adorable design, and I like the use of different animals. The dolls are well spaced out and a good size. The semi-circle line breaking up the border and the gingham has been done well too. I really love the lines of floral ribbon with the gingham as well. It gives the print a bit more of a folksy feel. The little dolls floating around the background are spread out enough that the background never looks too cluttered too. I really don't think Meta could have done anything to make this print any better. It has been really well executed.

So overall, I am very impressed with the print and I really hope this series sells well. Admittedly, there are things I would tweak with each dress design, but some of these changes are only minor things. Would I buy this series? No, but only for the sole reason that it is not really my style, otherwise I would be snapping it up right away. Despite finding this dress too simplistic, I would choose the Switching JSK in red. I would definitely be adding a couple of my own adornments though! I think this series has so much potential.

I am also looking at Chess Collection today. This series includes 3 dresses, 2 hair accessories, a blouse and tights. I am hoping they release some nice chess themed jewellery as well at some point.

First up is the Bishop JSK. The bodice seems well fitted and the overall bodice shape is quite cute. I really like the neckline shape and how the lace lining it creates a very soft rounded shape. The straps are an okay width, but I feel they could have been just slightly wider. They are suitably frilly looking though, with the ruffles topping them. This is quite a good match for the gathered lace on the bodice, as they have a similar texture and appearance. There is a belt, which helps define the waistline nicely. It looks as though the ribbon used for the belt is very cheap though, and overall the belt looks a bit basic. I am not sure if I would leave the belt on or not. It depends how it looks in person, although I don't like that the ribbon is quite shiny. The bodice features many lines of good quality lace, which has been well gathered and fairly well positioned. There is also a line of buttons running up the middle, which are well spaced out, but also have a basic design and I don't feel they add much to the dress. The bases of the straps also have some ribbon bows, which I think would look better if they were a bit smaller. I don't like the way they droop slightly in the stock photos. The back is fully shirred, so there is plenty of size flexibility, but it also means the shirring is exposed. I suppose leaving the belt on would at least cover a small bit of the shirring. The stock photos show that the skirt is full with enough room for petticoat. It looks very rounded, which I think goes well with the bodice shape. The tiered skirt is generally kept quite simple in design, so the print is displayed excellently. I like that the tier join has been well executed and doesn't create a bumpy silhouette. The tier join has been topped very neatly with a line of the same lace and some ribbon bows. There is plenty of continuity throughout the dress design. The bottom hem is then finished off neatly with a line of lace.

Here we have the Night JSK (I think Meta meant to put Knight). The bodice shape is bold and interesting. I really like the waistline and how the gold braid really helps it to stand out. At first I felt the neckline shape was too harsh, but the ruffle going along the neckline and on top of the straps softens it considerably. My only complaint is that maybe this ruffle is a bit too big, as it does look a bit messy. It just needs to be toned down a little bit. The straps look a decent width and very supportive. The bodice features some lines of gold lace and a set of clasps, which are really nicely set out. It looks as though the clasps are not quite the same shade of gold as the lace, but I don't feel this is too big an issue. Unfortunately, I really hate the matching choker that comes with this dress. I think it is a strange shape and it looks too bulky. It also doesn't look too comfortable to wear, so I would just not bother with it. The back is again fully shirred, so there is lots of stretch but once again there is nothing covering the unattractive shirring. I am not really sure what to make of the skirt. The shape of the skirt looks better in some stock photos compared to others. I think I may have picked one of the worse pictures of this dress to show off the skirt shape. It looks like it flares outwards plenty, although in some photos it looks a bit short in length. I think there is the potential to create a pretty shape, but it would depend on the petticoat used. There isn't too much obscuring the print, so the print can be seen quite clearly. The skirt features a pearl chain, which has several chess themed charms dangling from it. The chain is an interesting idea, and I really like the charms. I am not sure I like how it has been attached to the skirt though, or how it sits on the dress. At least the chain is detachable, so people have a choice whether to use it or not. The bottom is then finished off with some gold lace lined ruffles. The ruffles look really cute and create some nice shape and volume. I just wish they had been under-stitched instead of over-stitched.

This is the Queen OP. The bodice seems quite well fitted, but I feel the bodice shape needed just a few small tweaks. There is something about the shoulder area which looks a bit 'off' and I feel the neckline with the modesty panel attached is too high. The sleeves are a good length, but I think it would have looked really pretty if they had been a bit more bell shaped. The bottoms of the sleeves flare out a little, but Meta could have gotten away with flaring them outwards more. The waistline is topped with a line of lace, which I think looks messy and does not need to be there at all. I suppose the lace could be a discrete way of hiding the ends of the skirt chain though. I just don't like the way the lace sticks out. The bodice features several lines of lace and a row of 3 bows, with the top bow being particularly big. I don't mind the smaller bows, and I feel they could have had a lot of potential. These smaller bows feature some gold lace detailing on them, which is a nice touch. However, I hate the bigger bow. It is far too big and when the modesty panel is attached is looks awkwardly positioned. It is a shame, because Meta have gone to the effort of giving this bow an interesting shape with the folded tails and the charm dangling from it is pretty. When the panel is detached, the neckline is very pretty and nicely lined with lace. I feel the modesty panel makes the bodice look too busy and fussy. There is already a great deal of detail going on, so I would definitely detach this panel if it was me. The back features a panel of shirring, which has been topped neatly with a ribbon corset (finally!). I like how the sides of the panel have been neatly lined with lace too, giving the area a tidier appearance. On the back of the skirt there is a bustle, which has decently spaced out tiers, which sit well on top of each other. I like that soft material has been used for the bustle, so it doesn't create too much volume at the back. The use of lace to line the bottom of the tiers makes it look smart as well. The stock photos show that the skirt is very full with more than enough volume. I would have maybe preferred a slightly less triangular shape, but I think it looks fairly decent. This skirt features a tiered design again, which has been well executed. This time though, the bows sitting on top of the tier join are a different design to those on the Bishop JSK, to tie in with the style of bows on the bodice of this dress. I like this good use of continuity. The bottom ruffle is over-stitched though, and I feel that the bows on this bottom ruffle could have been positioned a bit better. The bottom hem is then further finished off with a tulle ruffle, which I don't feel is needed.

Finally, this is what the print looks like. This series comes in chocolate, off-white and blue. I think the off-white looks okay, but somehow I feel it could have looked better? (If that makes sense) I also wish that the chocolate colour had the diamonds in 2 different shades of brown, instead of the brown and black which Meta have gone with. The blue is very vibrant though, and it looks interesting with the gold details on the dresses. As for the print itself, I like the bold diamond pattern. I feel the emblems in the print could have been spread out a bit better. After looking at the dresses, it feels as though there are areas with fewer emblems than other bits. I like the fancy golden frames of the emblems. I usually love chess related series and I think I probably would have liked this one as well if some of the chess pieces hadn't been upside down. Looking at the print, I can see that the chess pieces are going in different directions to each other, with some the right way and some upside down. I just feel this looks a bit silly and as though it has been done by accident, even though it hasn't. As a result, it looks a bit lazy.

It is very unfortunate about the chess pieces in the print, because if they had all been facing the right way up I may very well have considered buying this series. As it is, I will be giving this series a miss. I will be keeping an eye out to see if Meta release any cool chess themed jewellery though. The dress designs are alright, but there are things I would change about each design. I suppose my top choice would be the Night JSK in blue, but none of the designs are really standing out for me. Out of these 2 series I looked at today, I would definitely go with Nostalgic Matryoshka Doll!

Thursday, 22 September 2016

How I Would Wear it Now- Bodyline Carousel Edition

I figured it had been a while since my last 'How I would Wear it Now' post, where I take a look back at my past poor outfit choices and consider how I would wear it if I were to co-ordinate it today. So today I am revisiting that Bodyline carousel print that almost every Bodyline fan from around 2010 seemed to own. I find that when I usually do these posts, I get a little bit nostalgic and there have been a few times where I wonder if I was too hasty selling things. But in all honesty, I feel no such sentimental feelings towards this particular skirt I used to own. As time has gone on, I find more that I dislike about it. Present day me is wondering what 2010 me was thinking! I guess I just find the print a bit too cartoonish now, but back in the day I absolutely loved this skirt. It probably didn't help that the skirt sold out so quickly, that I had to get the T2L length, which was super long but did not have the volume to make a decent sweet lolita shape. The separately sold head bow was your typical Bodyline 'helicopter' style head bow, which looked ridiculous when worn. I came very close to buying the tote bag and making my own head bow.

I only properly wore the carousel skirt once, and I looked a total mess. This was back in the days where I was still trying to build my wardrobe up and I hadn't really been prepared for the massive amount of snow we had that Winter. So I had to wear it with black boots, as they were the only ones I had that could withstand the few feet of snow. I learnt a valuable lesson about building up my wardrobe basics that day. Typically, the meet got cancelled as I was walking to the train station!

So this is how I would wear this skirt now in 2016. For a more Winter (or snowstorm) appropriate look, I would probably switch to pink legwear and wear white boots and put on a nice, fluffy white coat. As I never really properly wore my skirt out before I sold it, I decided to go have a look at how other people had co-ordinated this print. I found that there were quite a few common themes that appeared, especially twin tail wigs. Seeing as twin tail wigs were a big thing around 2010 but have fallen out of favour a bit now, I felt that I should really do an outfit that didn't rely on twin tails to make it feel a bit more up to date. So out comes the beret, my trusted go-to hair accessory! I would pin the pink Chocomint star to the bow on the beret, just to spread the pink out a bit. I wanted to make the most of the pinks, yellows and purples that appear in the print. Fortunately the BTSSB necklace has all 3 of those colours covered, as does the Maniaq tights. Sometimes when making collages online it is hard to get a grasp of how an outfit will look like when worn, which is why I couldn't quite decide between the yellow or pink ring. The Red Maria cuffs could also be switched out for sax blue ones, although I did wonder if maybe that was a bit too much sax blue. I didn't want to add any more pony details, as I felt the star theme was strong enough by itself.

I think my new outfit looks reasonably well thought out, or at least it does compared to the outfit I came up with in 2010! Back in the day, I relied to much on the colour black, when I should have been buying more white coloured items. I suppose it is because black clothing is generally easier to get hold of. Thankfully, I have gotten over that as time has gone on. I just hope this new outfit redeems me a little bit. 

Monday, 19 September 2016

Antique Chocolaterie by Angelic Pretty

Today I am looking at Antique Chocolaterie by Angelic Pretty. This series includes 3 dresses, a skirt, a head bow and tights. Lots of other chocolate themed accessories have also been released in the past few weeks.

First up is the OP. The bodice looks a cute shape, although I noticed there was a bit of loose material hanging underneath the arms, so that is something to watch out for with the fit. The arms seem a good length. I really like the solid coloured shirt-like cuffs, which have been made to look really cute with the extra added details. The gold braid and lace has been used well, and I also think the small bows on the cuffs are the right sort of size. There is a waist bow, which I was very fond of at first, until I saw the way the bow tails were sticking out. The main part of the bow is a cute shape and a decent size, but I think having the tails sticking outwards with their pointy ends like this makes it look a bit awkward. The bow does sit well on the dress though, and it holds its shape quite well. There is a yoke on the bodice, with a large ruff-like collar. After looking at the close-ups, I personally think the gold braid lining the yoke looks a bit messy. When the gold braid meets the corners, AP have tried to do a loop of braid, but I don't think it has been well executed. The yoke itself features some very tidy looking pleats and a line of buttons, with lace on either side. The lace is of a good quality and it lays nice and flatly on the dress. However, I don't really get the point of the buttons being there. We can only see one button properly, before the next one gets obscured by the collar. I am not a fan of the pleated collar either. I think it looks quite bulky and I also wonder if it would possibly be a bit uncomfortable to wear. Perhaps having the yoke and collar like this is a bit overwhelming. I feel that something needs toning down a bit here. I do like the bow on the collar though, as I think it helps to break up the solid colour and it matches the bows on the cuffs too. The back offers so shirring, so size flexibility is very limited. I don't think the collar looks much better from the back either. It reminds me of a lampshade. There is a bustle on the back of the skirt. I think the sides of the bustle are too straight and could have done with being a bit more rounded and softer. I am also not keen on the way the bustle layers have been pleated, giving it a very odd texture and appearance. There are too many tiers to the bustle as well. I wouldn't have bothered putting a bustle here at all. The stock photos show that the skirt is very full with plenty of volume. It flares out well and looks very cute in the stock photos. The front of the skirt is kept simple, so the print is displayed brilliantly. The bottom hem is then finished off neatly with a line of very swirly icing themed lace.

Here we have the Pearl JSK. The bodice looks fairly well fitted, but maybe could have been better. The overall bodice shape is simple, but it looks okay. I think the straps are a good width, but I hate the way they point outwards. From personal experience, straps that point outwards have a tendency to fall off the shoulders more, especially when they are topped with heavy details like these straps are. The straps are topped with a line of pearls, which looks pretty, but I feel that it is a bit redundant just having pearls on the straps. They could have quite easily done a line of pearls dangling from the neckline bow, which maybe would have made the pearls look a bit better balanced out in the design. The straps are finished off with thin ribbon bows, which are cute but could have been a bit smaller. There is a belt, which really helps to define the waist. I really love the choice of ribbon used for the belt too. It has golden 'Angelic Pretty's written along it, and the ribbon reminds me of the ribbons you see on chocolate boxes. The bodice has some lines of gold lace and a ribbon corset in the middle. The ribbon has been spaced out quite well and I like that the ribbon has gold eyelets to hold it in place. I wish they had used a slightly less shiny ribbon though. The neckline features a line of gold braid and a line of wide lace. I think it would have been nicer if the lace tapered off gently before it reached the armpits. There is also a bow on the neckline, which has a cute well-defined shape to it. I like that it is lined so neatly with gold lace too, although I do wish it was just a tiny bit smaller in size. The back has a panel of shirring, which is neatly topped with a ribbon corset. The stock photos show that the skirt is generous in volume and it flares outwards plenty. I think there is a lot of potential to create a really cute sweet shape. The bottom hem is then finished off neatly with a line of gold braid and the same pretty lace used on the bottom of the OP.

This is the Switching JSK. The bodice seems well fitted and the shape is simple, but lovely. I would have maybe preferred the neckline to be a bit less straight, but I guess I can understand why it has been done this way, with the ribbon detailing being there. The straps seem to be a suitable width. They have been topped very neatly with a line of lace, which runs down to the waistline. I really like how the lace gives the bodice a very frilly look. The waistline again features a ribbon belt, which nips in the waistline perfectly. Inside the lines of lace, the bodice has a panel of solid coloured material. This has been very neatly pleated, giving the plain material some much needed texture and detail, and the lace and line of buttons has been well set out. The buttons are quite well spaced out, although perhaps the bottom one could have been just slightly higher so it wasn't hiding behind the belt. There is then a line of ribbon along the neckline, finished with a bow, which looks very cute. The back is fully shirred, so there is plenty of size flexibility, but it also means the shirring is exposed. The stock photos show that the skirt is very full and nicely rounded. In fact, it is pretty much identical to the pretty skirt shape on the other JSK. The skirt is once again kept nice and simple, so the print is displayed beautifully. The bottom hem is then finished off nicely with the same pretty lace.

Finally, this is what the print looks like. This series comes in ivory, green, wine and blue. I am not really feeling the ivory colour. Maybe it is because the border print features a lot of white? Something about it just doesn't appeal to me. The green and wine look beautiful. I especially love how the deep red reminds me of cherries and chocolate! The blue looks interesting, but I feel it would be a difficult colour combination to pull off if you were not that experienced with co-ordinating. As for the print itself, something about it just feels a bit lacking. I feel that the space on the plates has not been used to its full potential. The sweets on the plates look a bit flat and lifeless. They also don't look too realistic and mouth-watering. I know Angelic Pretty can be very good at drawing food items, but I don't feel this is up to their usual standard. I like the simple check patterned background, which I think adds just the right amount of detail. I am a bit unsure about the lines of melting chocolate. I feel something is needed to break up the simple check pattern, but perhaps instead of the lines of melting chocolate, AP could have drawn lines of ribbon, like they have done at the very bottom of the print. As you can probably tell, I am very fond of the look of the ribbon, both actual and in the print! I think it might be the way the dripping chocolate looks on the sleeves of the OP that are putting me off. It could have looked nice with just the check.

So overall, the dress designs are generally quite cute but I find the print a bit underwhelming. I am really not liking the collar on the OP, but both of the JSKs are quite sweet. I don't really know how you could improve the print, but I feel it is lacking something. It is missing that special AP touch that usually makes their chocolate series fly off the shelves. So I think it is safe to say I wouldn't be buying this series. If I did, I would choose the Switching JSK in wine. I wasn't even that impressed with some of the chocolate accessories AP have recently put out, although I do have a soft spot for the chocolate pass case. I was tempted to get that pass case, even though I don't own anything chocolatey!

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Recent Hauls- August 2016 (picture heavy)

It has been a while since my last haul post, mostly because I was waiting for stuff to come in. Whilst my last haul was full of quite practical wardrobe building stuff, this time it was all about splurging on items that I really wanted! I have a new cardigan and 2 new dresses. Although I am selling a couple of pieces to make room for the dresses, so I don't feel that guilty about getting them. I now know my space limitations and I hope to keep more on top of this in the future. 

First up is this Innocent World chess cardigan from 2008. I wasn't even wearing lolita in 2008! It is one of those items that was never on my wishlist, but I always admired it. It is a bit nerdy, but I like it! After getting a few pieces this cardigan could go with, I looked more seriously in to getting it, and I happened to find it on the Japanese auctions. I was warned that this cardigan was sadly showing its age and I was told beforehand that this cardigan had a lot of piling. But after deciding to go ahead, I was pleasantly surprised to find the cardigan's piling was nowhere near as bad as stated. It was never going to look brand new after 8 years, but I can see this cardigan has been well-loved and cared for. 

The black colour still looks deep and vibrant. The pattern on the cardigan looks very clear as well.

Size-wise, the cardigan generally fitted me, although as you can see in the picture it does not reach the very bottom of my torso. So it is surprising to see that the sleeves comfortably reached my wrists. It fitted me well elsewhere too, although it will be interesting to try out this cardigan with a dress or blouse which has a lot of voluminous details. I am still very satisfied with this cardigan and I think I will be wearing it both with lolita, and outside of lolita.

Next up is this Angelic Pretty Airy Girl cutsew dress, which I got in the sale. I was going to buy this to wear to a family wedding, but I didn't have the money at the time. So luckily it stayed up on the site long enough to get reduced and for me to replenish my funds. I had a hard time deciding between the black and navy! In the end, I went for the black because I felt it would be more versatile. The cutsew dress materials are exactly as you would expect them to be. The cutsew material is thick, comfortable to wear and has a bit of stretch to it. However, with the over-skirt being sewn in to the dress, you do not want to be going over the recommended waist measurement. The bust area is quite stretchy, although I don't really have the bust to try and test it to its furthest limits! I actually found that the material hangs a bit loose on me at the back. There are no waist ties or anything to make the dress smaller, although thankfully the dress still looks okay when I wear it. 

I found that there was plenty of room to put a petticoat underneath, and the dress can be worn with or without petticoat. Personally, I prefer the dress with a petticoat. I guess that is the lolita in me! The over-skirt hangs a little below the bottom hemline of the cutsew dress, but I really like how it looks. 

I tried the dress on as soon as I got it and yes, I know I need to iron the bow! The bow is a good shape and aside from me needing to iron it a bit, it does sit well on the dress. The ribbon used isn't shiny as well, which is a huge bonus.

Here is what the sleeves look like when worn. For some reason my arm was determined to disappear in to the wall, no matter how many pictures I took. I think they look pretty good. I like the pearls, although I would have maybe liked a few more pearls (only a few more though, otherwise that would be over-doing it). 

The over-skirt material is soft and lovely to touch. The ruffle has been done very neatly too, with lots of gathering to create a lovely frilly look.

A close up of the chest area. I really like how the cutsew fabric and the sheer shoulders have been done. The pearl "necklace" thing maybe didn't sit as well as I was hoping. It sometimes gets a little lost in the ruffle, or tucks itself inside the dress. I think the chain needs to be just a little longer. It is detachable though, and it is very easy to detach it. I would be tempted to detach it and add my own necklace.

Here is a picture to show the different dress layers. As you can see, the cutsew dress underneath is a very basic design. It is the over-skirt that really makes this dress. Even though this is a cutsew dress, in all honesty it looks quite 'dressy' in person. It is maybe not as extravagant as your typical lolita dress, but this cutsew dress can really hold its own.

The zip is very well concealed at the back too. I am so satisfied with my purchase and I really wish I could have gotten the navy before it sold out.

Finally... I gave in. I got Milky Swan. I kept trying to tell myself that I didn't want it, but deep down I knew I did! It is so romantic looking floaty. I keep having to stop myself from touching the dress, it is so soft! I will say that this dress can go smaller than the official measurements. Supposedly, I am underneath the minimum waist measurement for this dress, but I still found myself having to loosen the ribbon at the back a little. I had a little look at the dress measurements after trying the dress on, and I am not 100% convinced it can go to the maximum measurements stated. Or maybe it can, but it will just be quite stretched out. It is very difficult for me to comment on, as I am below the maximum measurements. Despite what some people have said about the lavender colour way (I saw somebody say that it reminded them of their grandma's house decor. Well, I guess I will be rocking the grandma look then!) I think the colour looks absolutely gorgeous. I will admit that I came very close to getting the pink though.

The dress arrived with some pretty bad creases on the bow and over-skirt. James and I had to iron this dress so carefully, which was a of an adventure in itself. Let's just say it was a 2-person job, with one of us having to hold the dress in place as the other ironed (For the record, we ironed it with a thick towel on top so it would not get damaged. These materials are lovely, but delicate). It was really fiddly because of the way the bow is sewn in to place. But despite the ironing kerfuffle, I really like the bow and how it sits on the dress. It is properly sewn in to place. I remember commenting on my Milky Swan discussion post that I was unsure about the waistline lace, but it really does do a good job of making the waistline look tidy.

The bodice details generally sit very nicely. The lace is of a good quality as well. If I was being picky, I would say the strap details look a little bit bulky when the dress is worn. The organza sticks out a lot more than I was expecting it to.

And... a close up of the print without the over-skirt obscuring it! I really love the JSK design and I purposely went for it despite knowing the over-skirt wasn't detachable. However, I do feel this gorgeous print deserved at least one picture where it wasn't covered. As you can see, this layer has a few slight wrinkles in it as well, although not as bad as the deep crease I had to iron out of the over-skirt.

It was this part of the print that swayed me in to buying it! I know they are meant to be swans, but they look like ducklings!

The lace on the over-skirt was done very neatly. There was just one very small loose thread on the entire dress, which was on the over-skirt.

This photo is to show the various layers this dress has. There are actually 2 linings underneath the print. I assume the first lining is to give the print fabric a more solid background and the lining underneath that is supposed to be the actual dress lining. Despite all these layers, the dress is very light to wear. 

One thing I was not expecting was the pocket. I just assumed that because of the over-skirt, doing a pocket would be too awkward. But there is one! I think this pocket may be part of the reason why the over-skirt is not detachable. The over-skirt is stitched to the skirt at the sides as well.

I also got the matching head bow in anticipation of the dress being a completely different shade of lavender to everything else in my wardrobe. No surprises here- the dress is a much cooler lavender than the rest of the lavenders in my wardrobe! But at least I have the bow. Personally, I think this bow is a bit of a weird shape. It was difficult to get the bow tails to sit on my head in a way I was satisfied with. The lace is pretty though.

I was slightly disappointed with the level of care that has gone to the stitching of the head bow. I am so relieved the dress isn't like this. It just looks a bit carelessly done. Whilst I know nobody is really going to be looking that hard at the back of my head bow, it is still annoying knowing it is there! But despite this little problem with the bow, I am excited to wear the dress. Milky Swan seemingly didn't seem to sell that well, but I love it.

So those are my latest purchases! I hope my descriptions and reviews have been thorough enough. Do let me know if I have missed anything out. I think at the moment, my wardrobe is looking pretty good and my wishlist is starting to dwindle. So the next haul post may not be for a while. Who knows, maybe I will end up buying a lot. At the moment, I really don't have a clue what I want to buy next.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Enchanted by Baby the Stars Shine Bright

Today's series is Enchanted by Baby the Stars Shine Bright. This series includes 3 dresses, a skirt, 2 hair accessories, a blouse and tights.

First up is the Lollipop JSK. The bodice seems reasonably well fitted and the overall bodice shape is simple, but quite cute. I think the straps are a suitable width and look quite supportive. I like that the straps are lined with thin lace on the outsides, although this detail does not really stand out that much. The waistline features a "belt" with gold lace lining either side of it. I would have preferred a solid coloured belt to really help define the waist. I also question the inclusion of the colour gold here, as it doesn't necessarily work with each of the different colours this series comes in. There is a ribbon bow topping the belt. It is a bit big, but I think it works. Sadly, this bow is very basic in design. I probably would have expected something a bit more intricate in design from a well-known brand. This bow is detachable, although I am not sure I like the look of the dress without it, so I would leave it attached. The neckline features a line of lace, which is topped with 3 bows and some dangling pearl chain details. Even though I don't feel crosses fit in to the print theme (it is quite a sweet print, even if it is Halloween themed) I am really liking the cross charm dangling from the chain. I am a bit disappointed it is not being used on a more gothic dress. As for the bows, they are set out fairly well, but the 2 bows on either side are a bit too big. One of the bows uses metallic glittery ribbon and again I have to mention that I don't feel the use of metallic really works (from now on in the post, can we just take it as read that I feel the metallic details only work on some colour ways? I don't want to keep repeating myself!). The back of the dress is fully shirred, so there is lots of size flexibility, but this does mean the shirring is very exposed. I find it interesting that Baby decided to add a detachable bow (which is lined with lace) on top of the waist ties, as the waist ties are not really an area that you immediately think to put detail. Although it is a bit big, I suppose you could use it as an alternative waist bow for the front. I am curious to know why Baby chose to do this and whether this is something we should be expecting to see more of in the future. The stock photos show that the skirt has a good amount of volume and it flares outwards a lot. It should hold more than enough petticoat. The skirt is kept very simple in design, so the print is displayed perfectly. The bottom hem is then finished off neatly with a thin line of gold lace on top of a tulle ruffle. There is no tulle anywhere else on the dress, so I do wonder why Baby chose to use tulle here, although in all fairness it has been used neatly.

Here we have the Gelato JSK. The bodice seems to be very well fitted and the bodice shape looks quite cute. I was looking at the straps for a while and wondering if I felt they could have been a little bit wider or not. In the end, I decided they were a good width, that suited the style of the bodice. They are lined very neatly with lace on the outsides too. There is a waist bow, but it looks a bit saggy. In the stock photos you can see it drooping downwards a bit. This bow features some lines of tulle and if it held its shape a bit better, it could have been a decent bow. This waist bow is detachable, and I definitely would detach it. There is enough detail on the bodice so that a waist bow is not necessary. The bodice features a ribbon corset, which is packed in very tightly to a very small area. The ribbon is not exactly too bunched together, but I feel that there is enough room on the bodice for it to be spread out a bit more. This ribbon corset is lined very neatly with gold lace, which looks really smart. My only real complaint with the ribbon corset is it stops halfway up the bodice. We then have a big ribbon bow sat just above the ribbon corset, with another heavily detailed bow sitting just above it on the neckline. Although both bows are well shaped and sit nicely on the dress, I think it is too much to have both of these bows here. At the very least, the bow just above the ribbon corset could have done with being a lot smaller. I would have liked the ribbon corset to go the whole way up the bodice and then discretely hidden the top underneath the neckline details. The neckline features a line of good quality lace, which is further topped with a ruffle of tulle. I think these details have a pretty appearance and the different fabric choices give the neckline a variety of different textures. As I mentioned before, there is a bow on the neckline which I think looks really cute. It is topped with an adorable star charm. The back has a panel of shirring. which is topped neatly with a ribbon corset. The stock photos show that the skirt has a generous amount of volume and it flares outwards wonderfully. I really love the full, rounded bell shape Baby have done in the stock photos. The skirt is again kept simple in design, so the print is displayed beautifully. The bottom hem is then finished off with an over-stitched tulle ruffle. Usually I would complain about this being over-stitched, but in this instance I actually think it looks quite cute. It adds a nice bit of extra frill to the bottom, which would not have been there if the tulle had been under-stitched.

Next up is the OP. The bodice seems well fitted, but I feel the overall bodice shape could have been cuter. I think it is the sleeves that are contributing to me not being that keen on the bodice. They are quite long and lack any real shape. I think they need to be shorter and a bit puffier. The sleeves also feature these ribbon bows which are not only too big, but they have been tied in a very amateurish way which looks a bit messy. The lace finishing the sleeves is lovely though. There is further ribbon detail on the waist area, with 2 lines of ribbon that are then folded back on themselves and tied in to a bow. This could have looked really cute, but I don't think it has been well executed. The ribbon does not look like it is the best quality and it is slightly shiny. I also feel these ribbon details could have been better placed, as they make the waistline look a bit bulky. Perhaps they could have been placed just slightly closer together and a bit more away from the sides. I don't think it helps that the bows stick out quite a lot, which is probably down to how the bows have been tied and the choice of ribbon. The bodice is mostly kept simple, with some thin lines of lace used to break up the empty space. With the waist bows and neckline details, I think this was a good idea. The neckline is my favourite part of the whole dress. The square neckline is lined with some good quality lace, which sits so perfectly on the dress. There is a line of ribbon too and a bow on top. The bow is again made of shiny ribbon, but this time the bow has a nice shape and it sits nicely on the dress. That cross charm makes a reappearance too. Overall, I find the neckline quite pleasing to look at. The back offers no shirring, so size flexibility is unfortunately very limited. The stock photos show that the skirt has lots of volume and it flares outwards plenty. This skirt is actually a tiered design, but the tier join has been done so neatly that it doesn't make the overall silhouette look too lumpy. The tier join is topped neatly with a line of metallic lace too. I am not really sure if a tiered skirt design was really that necessary, but at least it has been carried out well. The skirt is still kept quite simple in design, so the print is displayed excellently. The bottom hem is then finished off with a line of gold lace on top of a tulle ruffle.

Finally, here is a rough idea of what the print looks like. I apologise, but this was the best picture I could find at the time. If a better picture comes up and I remember, I will edit the post. This series comes in ivory, pink, orange and black. Usually the colour orange making a rare appearance would be celebrated, but I think it looks terrible. In fact, I don't like a single colour way of this dress. The washed-out looking print does not really stand out on any of the colours, not even the black. At times, it almost looks as if somebody has given up colouring in the print halfway through. It is a shame, because when you actually look at the print details, it is a very cute design. I like the sweet take on the Halloween theme. Although it is a trick or treat theme, it gives off a strong Hansel and Gretel vibe. I love the parade of gingerbread monsters marching from house to house and playing together. The houses made out of ice creams and different sweets are well thought out too. Everything is drawn so well, although I did think the owl looked a bit out of place. The candy cane background is simple, but striking. The print is really let down by the colours.

So overall, I feel this series could have been a lot better. The dress designs are generally okay, but I would change some of the details here and there. I think what really lets the dresses down is the way some of the bows look really cheap and poorly done. Sadly, the print is a letdown in my opinion. The colours in the print are way too washed out and it needs more definition. What is the point in doing a print if you can't make out a lot of the details? To make matters worse, Baby then chose 2 very light colours which has no chance of showing off the print and an orange colour, which to me is very unappealing. So I think it is safe to say I would not be buying this series. My top choice would probably be the Gelato JSK. I don't think I could pick a colour, as I dislike all of them equally. If you are going to go for a Halloween print, then I would go for the AatP print over this one.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Follow That Rainbow Chicken...

As it was almost Shalisa's birthday, we decided to gather in Reading for some fun and frolics. It just so happened that it coincided with Reading Pride. This was my first time attending a Pride festival, so I was not sure what to expect. I have always wanted to go to one. I am not sure how Reading measures up to the more well-known Pride destinations like Brighton and London, but the town was bustling with many people. There was a sea of rainbows and all sorts of different organisations and lifestyles represented.

When Sammi and I arrived, we saw that the parade had already gone past the train station, but they eventually came back around. It was very pleasing to see people of all ages, communities and even different religions getting involved. The general public walking by generally seemed very interested in seeing the parade and a lot of people were happy to join in, although there were a select few who were maybe not dressed in an appropriate way for a public area (I purposely chose a picture which did not show this).

A lot of well-known companies got very involved with Pride this year, including Nando's. They were giving out rainbow chicken stickers and they also had these rainbow chicken flags. I managed to get hold of a couple of the stickers and later in the day, I found one of the flags, which Shalisa was very pleased to get hold of! Personally, I think Nando's should adopt this rainbow logo permanently! My sticker is now proudly stuck to my fridge.

Shalisa's mum recommended this Thai food place to Shalisa, so we decided to give it a go. It did not disappoint! My usual rule with Thai places is I will only go to them if I feel I wont get a mouthful of lemongrass. I like lemongrass, but I had a bad experience at a Thai place once where it was all I could taste, so I stopped eating Thai for a while. I ordered a pork dish which featured ginger, peppers, onions and oyster mushrooms. Thankfully, the lemongrass was very well balanced! It was such a wonderful dish to eat and it was so well cooked. The coconut rice we shared between us was beautiful too. All of our dishes were decorated with these beautiful flowers carved in to vegetables. It was interesting, as each of us got a slightly different flower design. Mine was quite pointy!

The chicken satay starter we shared deserves a special shout-out because it is honestly the best satay I have ever had in my entire life. The chicken was cooked to perfection. It was juicy and tender. Whenever I cook chicken, it never comes out this good! I am getting hungry just remembering it. The satay dip was lovely too, although maybe a little too oily, as it started to separate. Very tasty though.

After a very satisfying meal, we decided to go and check out the Pride fair. But first, we had to get Shalisa's presents through the security at the entrance! The security guy was not at all bothered about the bottled drinks we were carrying, but a wrapped packet of Party Ring biscuits were apparently suspicious. So whilst Shalisa was safely out of the way, James had to explain what was in each present. When he got to the Party Rings, the security man questioned why we would wrap up a packet of Party Rings and James' response was simply- "Who doesn't love Party Rings?"
This explanation more than satisfied the security man, and we were all allowed in! I got Shalisa a pack of Party Rings after we all reminisced about them during our ILD picnic. They are an integral part of a children's birthday party here in the UK (I don't know anybody who did not grow up eating them) and as far as I am concerned, you are never too old to enjoy them.

The fair itself was a bit of a mixed bag. It was mostly different charity stalls looking for donations, a small funfair and randomly, some Lexus cars. I feel that getting together and celebrating the meaning of Pride was probably the key element at play here. There was a surprising number of people who approached us and knew about lolita fashion. There was even somebody who usually wears fairy kei, who was very excited to see us! Out of all of the stage shows, I was most moved by the talk being given by a gay man, who was also a Muslim. I can't even begin to imagine what a challenging situation that must be, and I had a lot of respect for this guy for having the courage to not only come to Pride, but to get up on stage and share his story. Afterwards there was a singer who quite frankly, needed some singing lessons. As we walked away to take some photos by the river, all we could hear was this painful rendition of Teenage Dirtbag. 

I wore Princess Honey's Tea Salon by Baby the Stars Shine Bright, which I have owned for months, but I have only just gotten around to wearing. You would suspect it would be the pinks that would cause the issue here but in all honesty, it was the ivory/off-white I had troubles with. The dress has both white and ivory on it and my Bodyline boots of doom were the only footwear I had that came close to matching the dress. I tried making an outfit with white pieces instead, but something about it just didn't feel right. So basically, I had to wait for the weather to be comfortably cool enough for me to wear the boots. Although it does not match my outfit in any way, I felt the rainbow flag was a lovely touch!

We completely forgot to get group pictures last time, so I am glad we remembered this time! Sammi looked so cute in head-to-toe chocolate and I always love seeing Shalisa is this bold pink tartan dress. We also managed to get a fantastic Instax photo that didn't cut off our legs.

Afterwards we decided to find out why this ice cream shop in the train station called Tutti Frutti is rated the number one food establishment in Reading on TripAdvisor (I think this says quite a lot about the food places in Reading). I have to say that the ice cream did win me over and the lady who served us could not have been any sweeter if she tried. She let us sample as many ice creams as we wanted, even though I felt as though I was taking advantage a little bit by asking for so many. I went for the raspberry sorbet, which was just the right combination of sharp and sweet. It was very refreshing on what was quite a muggy day too. Do they deserve their number one ranking? Yes, I think they do, because I don't really know how they could improve on what they do. Good service, clean and yummy ice cream. What more can you ask for?

As we were sat down, we finally let Shalisa open her presents. I can't help but love Shalisa's face in this photo. She really liked the cushion Sammi and I got her! The other gifts (including the Party Rings!) seemed appreciated as well.

I spotted that Tutti Frutti were selling duck shaped chocolates, so naturally I had to get one! The chocolate was nice and creamy.

We were going to head to Starbuck's, but they were all completely packed. So we ended up at the Outlook. They seem to be training new staff at the minute. Shalisa asked James to get us a jug of tap water for all of us to share, and we ended up being given this one glass of water! We ended up having to share it, as none of us felt like going back up and probably only being given another single glass of water. At least we had a bit of a laugh about it.

I am really pleased that we have found a new restaurant that all of us really enjoyed. It was good that we tried something new, and we were rewarded with fantastic food. I have never attended a Pride festival before, so that was a new experience for me too. Overall, I had a fantastic day. I really hope we meet up and go back to that Thai place soon!

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