Monday, 27 February 2017

Tales of Kingdom by Metamorphose

Today I am looking at Tales of Kingdom by Metamorphose. This series includes 2 dresses, 3 skirts and a head bow.

First up is the Bustle Dress. The bodice seems quite well fitted and the shape is lovely. I think the straps are a decent width and look quite supportive. However, I don't feel the second set of off-the-shoulder straps really work here. They look messy in appearance and look accidental, rather than being a deliberate style choice. I also think no care has gone in to how the fabric for these straps has been gathered and the final effect. In addition to the second pair of straps, there is also a pearl chain. This doesn't look as bad as the off-the-shoulder straps, so I am not sure if I would keep it attached or not. The off-the-shoulder straps are also detachable, and I would definitely remove them in an instant. The regular set of straps and the neckline has been topped with a line of lace, which sadly does not sit very well on the dress. I think a lot of this is to do with the pair of bows at the bases of the straps, which disrupts the lace, causing it to sit awkwardly. I wouldn't have bothered with the strap bows anyway, because they look too fussy on a bodice which already has a lot of details. The ribbon used for these bows, and some of the small bows on the bodice, is really shiny and cheap looking too. There is a waist bow, which has a simple, but well defined shape. It is a bit too big though, especially when teamed with the large bow on the chest. When you factor in the over-skirt and other bodice details as well, it looks overcrowded. I personally wouldn't have bothered with a waist bow, or at least not a big one like this. The bodice features 2 sets of criss-crossed ribbon and a row of shiny ribbon bows between them. This part of the bodice also looks cluttered, although these details do get concealed a little bit by the chest bow. The chest bow actually has a lot of potential in my opinion. It has an interesting layered effect with the different materials used, and I really like the charm in the middle and the chain with the dangling crown charm. Annoyingly, it is the chest bow which is detachable, but the strap bows and waist bow are not detachable. It is really frustrating when you can't get rid of the bows you dislike, but you can remove the only bow you do like! The back is fully shirred, which means plenty of stretch, but also that the shirring is quite exposed. However, the style of print and the dark colour choices makes the shirring look a tiny bit less obvious. The stock photos show that the skirt has a lot of volume and flares outwards generously. It should hold plenty of petticoat. I really dislike the shape of the over-skirt. Something about the way it has been gathered doesn't look right to me. It makes the material sit funny, which causes some odd lumps and bumps. I also feel unsure about the choice of material used here. There is a bustle on the back of the skirt which is made of the same material, so at least that part is consistent. The bustle actually looks okay, with it being a nice shape and having well spaced out tiers. However, having both an over-skirt and a bustle is absolute overkill in my opinion. It is far too much detail and it makes the back look really bulky. I would get rid of the over-skirt and just have the bustle, which I think could have potentially looked pretty if the over-skirt wasn't there. Despite all this detail going on, the print is still displayed excellently on the front. The skirt is tiered, with the join being topped with a chiffon ruffle, but fortunately this sits above the border print and isn't too distracting. The bottom hem is then finished off with a line of gold lace layered well on top of a chiffon ruffle. I personally am not a fan of how the gold lace looks, but the chiffon ruffle has been well gathered.

Here we have the Collared Dress. The bodice looks well fitted. Although the bodice shape is quite simple, I think it looks really smart and suits the overall 'feel' of the dress. I don't even mind the straight neckline, which is something I seem to end up complaining about a lot on this blog usually! The straps look a decent, supportive width. There are some small military style epaulettes on the shoulder part of the straps, but unless you were looking from above, you would not really see this detail. The waist is topped with a belt, which I absolutely adore. Some may say the belt is a bit basic looking, but I like it like this. It really helps to define the waist area too. The bodice features a fake jacket 'lapel' design with a row of buttons running up the middle, and several lines of gold lace. I think these details have been set out really neatly and the 'lapels' are a good shape and size. My only slight complaint is the placement of some of the buttons. I am not a fan of the buttons that appear on the lapels, or the very bottom button in the row of buttons, which is so low down it is almost sitting on the lapels. I really like how the lapels and neckline have been lined with gold braid. It keeps the lines looking sharp and not too 'frilly'. The back has a small panel of shirring, which is topped neatly with a ribbon corset. The stock photos show that the skirt is very full and flares outwards plenty. I think there is the potential to create  a great shape. The skirt is kept simple in design, so the print is displayed beautifully. The bottom hem features some small flaps with buttons, which are a suitable match for the bodice details. This is then finished off with a gathered ruffle. I think pleats could have looked quite smart here, but the ruffle looks pretty too.

Finally, this is a rough idea of what the print looks like. I will update with a clearer picture if I can. This series comes in black, wine and deep blue. The dark colours are very mature looking and I think all 3 colours fit the overall 'feel' of the series. As for the print itself, it is not particularly original, but it is well set out. I really like the thrones and I feel the way the curtains drape around them frames them perfectly. There are some lovely extra little details in this print as well, such as the roses trailing around the pillars and the subtle golden 'M' hiding behind some of the thrones. The brand name is placed on a banner underneath the throne, which is broken up with pretty roses. Overall it is a nice, regal looking print.

So overall I have some mixed feelings about this series. The print is lovely, but not something that I would go out of my way to get hold of. Despite being pretty, there is nothing particularly original or groundbreaking about it. As for the dress designs, I think I have made it very clear that I favour one design over the other. So I guess it is safe to say I would not buy this series, or at least not at full retail price. My top choice would be the Collared dress in black, as I really like the deep purple on that colour way. 

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Making a Comeback

It is very easy to just dole out advice when you know a situation doesn't really affect you. However, today is a bit different, as I am actually going through this myself right now. It came as a surprise, and if you had asked me even just a year ago, I wouldn't have thought that I would ever be in this situation. But now I am in it, I feel as though I have a better understanding of the mentality surrounding it and I can appreciate that it isn't always as straight-forward as it may seem. I am of course, talking about returning to wearing lolita after taking a break. When I stopped wearing lolita, I always knew that I was going to come back to it. I still love the fashion, I just needed some time away from it. As I have mentioned in recent posts, I feel like this was quite an eye-opening experience and I learnt a lot about myself. So I wanted to detail the ways in which I am re-introducing lolita in to my life.

As my situation has settled down somewhat and I am in a better place mentally, my mind has returned to my lolita wardrobe once again. As I am writing this, I have actually worn lolita recently. I wore Rose Toilette last weekend, but it was quite a laid-back casual affair. I didn't bother to curl my hair or go overboard with the accessories. I guess this was because I didn't want to overwhelm myself as I gradually ease myself back in to lolita fashion. When you have taken a break, it is very easy to make up excuses to not wear lolita. Things such as the weather not being right, not having a specific reason to dress up, or if you are feeling unwell are just some of the many excuses you may come up with. So to go from not wearing lolita to suddenly planning elaborate outfits with fancy hair styles and complimentary make up can be intimidating. I had forgotten just how much effort goes in to wearing lolita! So to combat this, I went more casual and simply didn't share it on places such as Tumblr, so only my friends saw it.

Another way I have been getting back in to lolita is to focus on why I fell in love with the fashion in the first place. This involved me re-reading a lot of the magazines and blogs that I used to read years ago. Sadly, a lot of the blogs from that time are no longer active, but I could still go back and check all the old advice and meet reports. As I looked at the pictures, I remembered how I felt when I first saw them. The lolitas in the pictures were happy and going on fun adventures. But I also fell in love again with the aesthetic and the styling. A big part of me wearing lolita used to be that I liked to express my personality through the way I was dressing. Outfits were a bit like mini works of art and I loved seeing how they turned out. It was also fun reading the English Gothic Lolita Bibles again. It was actually a picture in the first English GLB (A model wearing the AP Fruit's Parlor apron skirt. I never did get a hold of that print, but years ago it was a dream of mine to own that skirt) that turned me from being a simple admirer, to an actual wearer of lolita fashion. Seeing that picture again stirred up a lot of old memories, and it made me miss dressing up. I saw this as a big indicator that I was missing wearing lolita.

I also ended up looking through my old lolita scrapbook again. For a recent blog post I did on collections lolitas seem to accumulate, I dug out all of the old notes I had received from lolitas over the years, as I store them in my scrapbook. For years I have been meaning to go back and completely re-organise my scrapbook so that I have a timeline of my time spent as a lolita. Going through all of the magazine cuttings and pages I had printed off reminded me of what inspires me. I even had notes written down for outfits I had been planning which I had completely forgotten about. I don't even own some of these dresses anymore, but I could read the notes and visualise the end result. It made me think about how I never really seem to make these notes anymore and how I want to go back to doing that. Writing down how I feel and my dreams for the future has been a bit of a healing process. I think a big part of returning to lolita is reminding yourself why you loved it in the first place.

Taking a break also reminded me of the aspects of lolita fashion I didn't like as much. As my break from lolita was not just about stopping wearing lolita, but also about not buying any clothing or going on lolita-related sites, it meant I was completely free from the bits I didn't like about lolita as well as the bits I love. It gave me a good idea about what I didn't miss, and as I return to lolita I am making a conscious effort to rid myself of the more negative aspects of the lolita lifestyle. I came to the realisation that I loathe trawling auction sites for stuff I want when I only have a few accessories left that I really want to get, so I am not stalking second hand sites or auction sites as much as I used to. I am not on Tumblr as much, because recently I have been getting followed by a lot of kink and fetish blogs and that is really not my scene. There are also certain situations I don't really want to return to, so I am simply avoiding them for the moment until a time where I feel a desire to be a part of them again. I can still wear lolita for myself, in the way that I want, without any negativity. It may mean that it changes the way that I share my outfits, or how and when I wear them, but the important thing is that I will be doing this for myself and nobody else.

Trying to care less about what others think has been a big part of my return. If I want to try a new sub-style, then I will, even if I have no experience of wearing that style. If I don't want feedback, then I just wont share things in places where I may get it. I almost ended up with a completely new hair cut recently. I chickened out at the last minute, but the idea that I could have a new look and start afresh was reassuring. So I think trying a new style is something I would consider suggesting to somebody taking a break from lolita. Sometimes it is refreshing to get a new spin on something you love. When you have been in to lolita fashion for a long time, you start to see the same themes and styles repeat themselves over and over again. It is about finding a way to reignite that initial 'spark' you felt. Alternatively, if you have a style that you have always worn and absolutely love, you shouldn't feel bad for wanting to stick to it. Every outfit doesn't have to be super original and unique. Another thing I have been considering is whether I want to stick solely to lolita, or branch out in to other J-fashions. I have really been getting in to otome and larme-kei recently, so I think I may want to give them a try. I will still wear lolita, but sometimes I get the desire to try something a little bit different. And trying a different fashion means a different aesthetic and way of styling outfits.

So I guess my advice, at least from my own personal experience, is to try and remember what you love about lolita fashion and focus on that. Wear lolita fashion for yourself and nobody else. Cut out the negativity where you can (and for different people this may mean taking completely different actions, depending on what bothers you the most). Most importantly, don't rush back in to it. If you do, you may find yourself associating lolita with more negative emotions. Take your time, decide if coming back is what you really want. And try not to forget how you felt when you took a break from the fashion, as that could give you a good indicator as to why you decided to take a break in the first place. I am not sure how helpful this post is, as I am still in the midst of making my comeback. When I wore lolita the other day I felt positive about it. The sun was shining, I was dancing around the garden and I felt cute in my dress. However, I do know that this is only the beginning of my comeback. There may be times when I don't enjoy wearing lolita as much as I did at the weekend. But as long as I still love the fashion, I will keep wearing it, no matter how frequently that may be.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Heart Marguerite by Baby the Stars Shine Bright

Today I am looking at Heart Marguerite by Baby the Stars Shine Bright. This series includes 3 dresses (one non-print), a skirt, a blouse, a bag, socks, 5 hair accessories and a bracelet.

First up is JSK I. The bodice seems quite well fitted and the shape is lovely. I am a bit unsure about the straps though. Although they look very supportive, I think they are maybe a bit too wide, which makes them look a bit bulky. These straps are neatly lined with thin lace, which thankfully does not add much to their width and also keeps them from looking too bare. There is a waist bow, which I think looks a pretty decent size. I am not that fond of the waist bow shape, but it sits well on the dress. I do like that this bow has also been lined with thin lines of lace. The waist bow is detachable and I think the dress looks a lot better with it removed. There is a lot of detail on the bodice, so detaching the waist bow makes that area look a lot less crowded. The bottom half of the bodice features a ribbon corset, which makes a sheer yoke on the chest area. I think the ribbon for the ribbon corset has been well spaced out and I am pleased that a non-shiny ribbon has been chosen. The sides of the ribbon corset are lined with lace, which sits well on the dress and keeps the area looking tidy. I think the yoke is a cute size and shape. Maybe a slightly more interesting lace choice could have been used to line the yoke, but the lace used is at least of a good quality. The bases of the straps features some ribbon bows. I think these bows are cutely shaped, but are maybe lightly too big. This may have something to do with them being teamed with wide straps, and if the straps had been narrower, perhaps these bows would have looked more in proportion. The back offers a panel of shirring, which is topped neatly with a ribbon corset. The stock photos show that the skirt has plenty of volume and it flares outwards a lot. I really love the skirt shape created in the stock photos. The skirt is kept simple in design, so the print is displayed beautifully. The bottom hem is then finished off with a ruffle of polka dot tulle, which looks pretty, although I wish it had been under-stitched instead of over-stitched. I also feel a line of daisy shaped lace could have looked amazing going along the bottom.

Here we have JSK II. The bodice looks well fitted, but I feel the bodice shape is far too basic looking for lolita. It looks more like a casual sun dress than a lolita dress. I also wonder how bust-friendly that scoop neckline will be and the straps are quite flimsy looking. The straps and neckline are both lined with lace. I think the neckline lace is really pretty and a lovely choice, but overall the lace doesn't do much to liven up the look of the bodice. It still feels as though something is missing. The waist area is topped with a ribbon belt, which helps to define the waist area brilliantly. I especially like that non-shiny ribbon has been used but also, the belt is topped with a really sweet line of daisy shaped lace! Although the daisies appear on the neckline, I think it is a shame that this daisy themed lace is not used more as a feature in this series. The belt is then finished off with a bow. I think the bow is a good size and shape, plus the choice of material means the bow is quite firm, with no signs of drooping. The back is fully shirred, so there is plenty of size flexibility but it also means the unattractive shirring has nothing covering it. The stock photos show that the skirt is generous in volume and flares outwards well. I am really impressed with the skirts on both dresses. The skirt is again kept simple, so the print is displayed perfectly. The bottom hem is then finished off neatly with a line of good quality, but slightly boring looking lace. Once again I feel that the daisy themed lace could have been used here.

Finally, here is one part of the print...

... and another. This series comes in ivory, pink. lavender and red. I think the colour choices are really cute and suit the print. I am maybe not as keen on the red as the other 3 colours, but that is just my personal preference. As for the print itself, it is very reminiscent of Baby prints from around the 2010 era, which is not necessarily a bad thing. It is sweet and dreamy looking. I also think it is a perfect print for Spring. The daisy wreaths are well shaped. I especially like how the middles of the daisies are heart shaped. That is a nice finishing touch. The pansies mixed in with the daisies offer a bit of variety and extra colour. The gingham and polka dots fit in well with the print and look really cute. I am not usually a fan of gingham, but I feel it works well here. The trails of ribbon help to break up the non-border part of the print too.

So overall I am quite impressed with the print and I feel it has that typical 'Baby' look to it. I think this style of sweet is what they do best. There are maybe a few missed opportunities with the dress designs, but overall they are quite solid looking pieces. Would I buy this series? Possibly, but at the same time I can't say I have really fallen in love with it. I think it is pretty, but not wishlist material. Despite slating the simple bodice style, I think I would go for JSK II and just spruce it up with some fancy details. My top colour choice is the lavender.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Tokyo Treat Review- Positive

So today I am doing a post which is not really lolita related and I do apologise if this post is not something that my followers are particularly interested in seeing. I am still sat in that metaphorical fig tree, trying to figure out what to do. I promise I have some more Japanese fashion related content coming soon. I have a Taobao order and a Japan haul coming in the post, plus I have a few ideas for other posts as well. But if you are a fan of Japanese food and snacks, then today you are in luck!

I have been wanting to order one of these monthly snack subscription boxes for a while now. I have a bit of a passion for food, especially sweets and food that looks cute. There are so many options out there, especially for Japanese candy, but in the end I decided to go for Tokyo Treat. I based this decision on a few things. Firstly, in comparison to some other similar boxes, it feels as though you get more content in the Tokyo Treat box. Tokyo Treat also offer free shipping worldwide. If you go for the larger sized boxes you are also guaranteed to get a soda, a DIY candy kit and a gachapon. Also, if you go on their Facebook page you can see what the monthly theme is going to be and some of the contents. That helped me to make a more informed decision about whether I wanted to get that particular month's box. The good thing about Tokyo Treat is that you can unsubscribe at any time and it is really easy to do so. So if you wanted, you can just sign up for one box and then cancel right away if you only wanted to get that one box. Just be aware that you will need to cancel before the payments for next month's box comes out, which should be some time near the end of the month. If you search their Facebook page, you will find that Tokyo Treat also do a lot of discount vouchers, so it is worth having a look and figuring out which deal works out the best for you. Subscribers also get entered in to a competition to win a free 'Lucky Treat' each month and there are also competitions to win further prizes.

There are a couple of points I feel I should mention. Obviously with a lot of these boxes the contents are not worth the price you pay for them. You have to weigh up how much you are getting and how much of it is cheap stuff that doesn't cost many yen. The other thing to consider is how much it would cost you if you didn't live in Japan, but wanted to buy these sweets from a specialist sweet store. There are stores out there that offer snacks from various countries, but a lot of the time you get hit with high prices because the store has to pay to import them. I know that if I were to buy my box contents from one of these stores it would have cost me a lot more money. Yes, you don't get to choose what is in the box, but that is part of the risk. But out of everything I received in my box, I was very pleased to discover there was only one thing I didn't like. I also tried things that I would have otherwise avoided like the plague. I would have never thought about trying clam soup flavoured crisps, but it turns out I actually quite like them! So that was a bit of an eye-opening experience. I can't wait to see what surprises await me in the March box. At the moment Tokyo Treat do not guarantee that their boxes will be vegetarian friendly. I see a lot of people commenting about this. I would suggest keeping up the comments and then maybe they will consider doing one. Also, if you have a food allergy, that would be another reason to avoid getting these boxes.

So, on to my box! I got an email as soon as the box was dispatched. Tokyo Treat are very responsive on their Facebook page and I feel it would be really easy to get in contact with them if there was a problem. They do say that if your box does not arrive by the end of the month to contact them on Facebook. Thankfully, my box turned up okay, but I do have some faith that Tokyo Treat would be able to send out a replacement box if necessary. 

I was told to expect my box any time between the 20th and 28th of February. Obviously my box arrived well before those dates. It took just over a week from getting my dispatch email for my box to arrive. There were a few dents in the box, but it was generally well packaged.

The box was absolutely stuffed with products, so there wasn't much room for extra packaging. I was a bit worried that the soda bottle would crush stuff like the crisps but actually, the box was so full that there was no way that stuff was going to be rolling around inside the box. The more fragile items, such as the crisps, were sensibly packed right at the top.

You get given a handy magazine which goes in to depth about everything you get in the box. It is always nice to know what you are eating beforehand! The magazine also had information about Japanese culture surrounding the snacks. So because this was a Valentines themed box, there was a small piece written about 'obligation chocolate' and some of the traditional customs around this time of year. As this was a Valentines box, a lot of the items were pink! There were also some instructions in English on how to use the DIY candy kit. This time around, the DIY kit was a strawberry mousse with stencil, which you have to microwave. I haven't gotten around to making it yet, but I did notice I am going to need to do a bit of converting with the microwave cooking times. It only tells you how long to cook it for 500W microwaves. Apart from needing to alter the cooking time, the instructions are super easy to follow to the point where it is almost patronising. You would struggle to get it wrong because Tokyo Treat are super careful about making their points crystal clear.

This month's gachapon was an Amuse lucky charm. I was hoping to get one of the bird designs, but out of the cat designs I think I got the cutest one!

I wont go in to details about every single snack, because we will be here all day. If this is something that people are interested in, I may consider doing videos of James and I trying the snacks, but I have no plans to do this at the moment and it wont be on this blog if I do decide to give this a go. I decided to share my favourite snack from this box though. These are the Mini Peach Ramune candy, which taste of peach soda. They were so refreshing and left me wanting more. The can style packaging with the ring-pull was cute too. I would definitely buy these again! 

So after this first box, I have decided that I am going to remain subscribed for a while. March's box is going to be sakura and matcha themed, and I am really excited to see what they do with this theme. The good thing is, there is plenty of time to cancel my subscription if I didn't like a theme, because Tokyo Treat usually announce their theme long before the payment comes out. To tell the truth, I have always been a bit wary of these monthly surprise boxes, but this has turned out to be a very positive experience. I also really love surprises, so this is definitely my sort of thing! 

Monday, 13 February 2017

A Print Double

Today I am looking at 2 different prints. So scroll down further to see Alice with the Lost Pieces by Metamorphose.

First up today though, is Memorial Library by Angelic Pretty. This series includes 2 dresses, a beret, socks and a blouse. There is also a British Bear themed book bag.

First up is the OP. The bodice seems quite well fitted and the overall shape is cute. It has a sweet, yet mature look about it. The arms look as though they have a fair amount of length to them and I like the way the cuffs have been set out. The cuffs have 3 emblem themed buttons, a line of gold braid and are finished neatly with a line of lace. These details have been set out well and I feel the cuffs go well with the collar. There is a belt, which helps to define the waist area nicely. The belt matches the rest of the dress and I love how bold the gold buckle is. The bodice is broken up with some thin lines of gold lace and some emblem themed buttons. I was going to say that the buttons are quite well positioned, but with the collar ribbon bow attached you can barely see any of them. However, the collar bow offers an interesting pop of colour. I also think the bow is a cute shape and size, although the ribbon used is a bit shiny. So I am very undecided about whether I would want to leave this bow attached or not. I guess it is down to personal preference. The collar is a very striking shape and lined really neatly with gold braid and lace. This matches up with the details on the cuffs. I was initially unsure about the collar shape, but it has grown on me. The back offers no shirring, so size flexibility is very limited. The back is very neatly set out. What I love is how the edges of the waist ties have been shaped so it follows the tassel part of the print. I thought this was a nice touch. The stock photos show that the skirt is very full and flares outwards generously. I really like the full, rounded shape created in the stock photos. The skirt is kept simple in design, so the print is displayed wonderfully. The bottom hem is then finished off neatly with a wide pleated ruffle. I think the pleated ruffled is very smart and goes well with the overall 'feel' of the dress. Lace here would have maybe looked a bit too cutesy.

Here we have the JSK. The bodice seems quite well fitted and the shape is simple, but lovely. I am not keen on the straps though. I don't like the way they appear to be slanting outwards slightly (maybe this is just how it looks in the stock photos) and I feel they could have been just a little bit wider. Despite being lined with gold lace, the straps also look a bit plain. This dress features the same belt design, which again I feel works really well. The main part of the bodice is also set out in a similar style with the gold lace and buttons. I personally feel the buttons look a bit too close together, but maybe it is because the bodice looks quite crowded anyway that it gives off this impression. The neckline features 2 folded down flaps and a 'tie'. I personally think the tie looks awful and I am not fond of the shape of the flaps on the neckline either. I was very relieved to discover the tie part was detachable, although I still don't like the look of the bodice even with it detached. The back offers a panel of shirring, which is topped neatly with a ribbon corset. The stock photos show that the skirt has a lot of volume and flares out well. There is a lot of potential to create a great shape. The skirt is once again kept simple in design, which means the print is displayed excellently. The bottom hem is finished off with the same pleated ruffle as the OP. Again, I feel the decision to use pleats here is wise.

And this is what the print looks like. This series is available in pink, wine, navy blue and black. I personally don't like the combination of black with brown, so I dislike the black version. There is something about the pink version that doesn't look quite right to me too. So for me, the best colour is a choice between the wine and navy blue. As for the print itself, I like that it offers a slightly sweeter alternative to the library prints we see classic brands offer a lot. The books are well stacked and Shy Bear fits in well with the print. The chess pieces are well drawn, but feel a bit random in my opinion. I feel that if AP wanted to include chess elements with the print they should have included a chess board somewhere to make it a bit more balanced. But I personally wouldn't have bothered including chess pieces at all. Considering this is AP, the background for the print is surprisingly subtle. I really like it. My main concern with this print though, is the sizing. If you look at the size of the print on the actual dresses, something about it looks a bit 'off'. It's almost as if the print is too big.

So overall I can't imagine this series being a bit hit. I do feel the balance of cute and more mature features has generally been handled well, with the exception of that awful tie on the JSK. I am not overly impressed with the print though, especially the way it has been sized. So this is not a series that I would personally want. My top choice would be the OP in wine. I suppose this series does offer a slight alternative to the more classic styled library prints though, which tend to look quite similar to one another.

Today I am also looking at Alice with the Lost Pieces by Metamorphose. This series includes 3 dresses, a corset, tights and 2 hair accessories.

First up is the Ribbon Dress. The bodice material looks just slightly baggy and loose. I also feel some of the bodice lines could have been softer, giving the bodice a nicer overall shape. The straps are a reasonable width. Despite being lined with lace though, the strap and neckline area looks rather bare. I feel this area is lacking something. There is a ribbon belt, which nips in the waist area nicely. However, the ribbon used looks really cheap and shiny. It looks like cheap ribbon you can find in any craft store and I am really unimpressed. The bodice features several ruffles. These ruffles are well gathered and are layered neatly. It creates a cute frothy appearance. There are then a few small ribbon bows running up the middle. These bows are a cute shape and size, although once again the super shiny ribbon has been used for them. The back is fully shirred, which means lots of size flexibility but also that the unattractive looking shirring has nothing to cover it. The stock photos show that the skirt is very full and has plenty of flare. I think the rounded shape in the stock photos looks very cute. The skirt is kept simple in design, so the print is displayed beautifully. The bottom hem is then finished off with a thin line of lace and a neat ruffle of the main dress fabric.

Here we have the Bustle Dress. The bodice looks quite well fitted but the overall bodice shape is a bit plain and uninspiring. I especially don't like that really boxy looking neckline. The straps look a good width though, and very supportive. The straps and neckline are lined with a thin line of lace. Again, it feels like this area is lacking something. Perhaps a small bow could have adorned the neckline at least? There is a waist bow, which is made out of ribbon. Unfortunately the super shiny ribbon has been used again for this bow. I also think the shape of the bow is very basic. There is a small clock charm dangling from this bow, but it doesn't really add much to the bow and is barely noticeable. The bodice features several lines of lace and a row of card suit shaped buttons running up the middle. This is all really neatly set out, but also looks a bit boring. I do like the use of the shaped buttons though. The back offers a panel of shirring, which is topped neatly with a ribbon corset. The stock photos show that the skirt is very full and flares outwards well. There is the potential to create a great shape. The skirt is again kept simple in design at the front, so the print is displayed perfectly. As the name suggests, there is a bustle on the back of the skirt. Sadly, it is not the most attractive of shapes and I personally think the bustle looks really awkward. It is such a shame. The dress would have looked a lot better if there was no bustle at all, albeit a bit simple. The bottom hem is then finished off neatly with a line of thin lace.

This is the A-Line Dress. The bodice is quite short, and I do worry how that waistline is going to sit on anybody who is even slightly busty. I also feel the sleeve length is a bit odd and looks a bit frumpy. I think shorter sleeves would have looked much cuter. The sleeves are finished off with just a thin line of lace, which I think is appropriate. Any more detail here would have probably looked too OTT. There is a waist bow which is made of the main dress fabric and then topped with a line of ribbon. I don't think the ribbon looks particularly attractive or really adds anything to this bow. The bow is a good shape and size though. I think the collar has a really interesting shape to it. It is a good size and is neatly lined with lace too. Underneath the collar there is a tiny yoke. I don't think the yoke adds anything to the design and it is mostly obscured by the collar anyway. I wouldn't have bothered putting a yoke there, just so that all the attention was on the collar. The yoke just makes it look a bit fussy. The back offers no shirring, so size flexibility is very limited. I think the back is set out quite neatly. The stock photos show that the skirt has a good amount of volume to it. I don't think this is the most flattering of skirt shapes, but at least it looks as though there is enough room to experiment with petticoats until you get a shape you are happy with. The skirt is again kept simple in design, so the print is displayed beautifully. The bottom hem is then finished off neatly with a line of lace.

Finally, here we have the print. If I manage to find a better picture of the print I will edit the post. This series comes in black, off-white and Alice blue. I feel that a lot of the details are lost on the off-white (both the print details and some of the details in the dress designs). The Alice blue (basically sax blue) is very typical for an Alice series and I like how the print details show up well on the black version. As for the print itself, I think it is an interesting take on what is a very overdone theme. I really like the idea of having puzzle pieces in the background. It helps to fill in the empty spaces in the background without looking too OTT. The heart shaped rose bush is beautiful too. All the elements of the print have been well drawn. It is generally a nice looking print.

So I guess your feelings towards this series will depend on how much you like the Alice in Wonderland theme in lolita. I personally think the dress designs let the print down a bit. There is so much more that could have been done with the dresses and I think Meta could have chosen better materials, especially for the ribbon. I also feel that off-white was a really bad idea for a colour way and that the print details wont show up that well. Who knows, maybe it looks better in person. Would I buy this series? No, I would not. My top choice would be the Ribbon JSK in Alice Blue, but that is only because I dislike that dress design the least, rather than me actually liking the dress. I would have quite liked to see a skirt released for this series, especially when I feel so uninspired by the dress designs.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Hey, It's Okay...

From time to time I see myself buying Glamour magazine. Admittedly this is usually because they are offering a really good freebie, and it was when they were giving out free Clinique make up that I got in the habit of checking every month to see if they had anything good on offer. But freebies aside, I found myself enjoying reading the magazine. I feel that Glamour offers a bit more than your standard glossy celebrity magazine. They bring up important issues in their articles, offer some really sound advice and go a bit more in depth than your standard weekly magazine. Plus I got a Clinique mascara for really cheap! Even though it wasn't full-sized, it lasts a really long time. It was really worth it.

Hooray for freebies!

One of the recurring pages that piqued my interest was a page they do called "Hey, It's Okay..." where people suggest things that are okay, but with the pressures of everyday life we put all these silly little 'rules' in place or don't feel certain things are acceptable because we don't feel it fits in with the 'norm'. Even though looking at this page you would think it was perfectly obvious that these things listed are acceptable, sometimes you really do need to hear it from another person. I guess it makes you feel a bit more validated that there are others out there who think along the same lines as you do. It is very easy to get weighed down by this idea that we are supposed to be a certain way and if you don't fit that sometimes unrealistic mold, it means that you are somehow abnormal. Maybe we need to accept our unique quirks a bit more.

But spending a bit of time away from lolita fashion made me realise that us lolitas are just as vulnerable to this idea that we have to act and behave in a certain way. How many times have we heard that all lolitas are "meant to be lovely" or read a piece of gossip online, which then formed an idea in our minds that you shouldn't do certain things? I accept that most lolitas maybe have this idea of what the 'ideal' lolita should be, but what if you don't live up to that so-called ideal? Maybe lolitas need their own version of "Hey, It's Okay..." and with this in mind I decided to start my own list. It could be that when you are reading this list, you completely agree or disagree with my opinions. But I want to put this idea out there that we don't need to put pressure on ourselves and just generally be a bit more kind to ourselves. So here is the list that I have started. These are just a few suggestions to get the ball rolling.

Hey, it's okay...

- To have a wardrobe dominated with non-brand pieces
- To take time building up your wardrobe
- To not be sure which sub-style you want to wear, or to change or mind
- To have other hobbies and interests outside of lolita, even if they appear to contradict your idea of the perfect 'lolita lifestyle'
- To act silly, pull funny faces and generally have a bit of a laugh, even if it doesn't seem that lady-like
- To wear lolita, even if you don't identify as female
- To take a bit of a break from lolita fashion. It will still be there when you are ready to come back
- To wear a wig if you are feeling too lazy to style your hair
- To leave a lolita meet early, especially if you are feeling unwell or uncomfortable
- To use your lolita clothing with your everyday style or other J-fashions
- To wear the same outfit twice
-  To wear a full brand set
- To experiment a little and explore your individual style, even if it means you end up getting posted on 4chan
- If your outfit doesn't get that many 'likes' or 'notes'
- If you don't want to share your outfits with the online community
- To be a lone lolita
- To only wear lolita a few times a year, or wear it pretty much all of the time
- To start taking off your accessories and stuff on the journey home, because sometimes lolita is not the most comfortable of fashions to wear (Is there anything better than that feeling of getting home, taking everything off and putting on some comfy nightwear?)
- To not have a fringe/bangs, especially if they don't suit your face shape anyway
- To use buying lolita as a treat, so you have an incentive to do something, such as a task
- To only buy second-hand lolita
- To dislike that popular print that everybody else seems to be going crazy over
- To mainly stick to casual looks, or OTT
- To ask a photographer to take another picture of you if you are unhappy (don't push your luck though)
- To say no if people ask you for photos on the street
- To speak up if you are not happy with the quality of your clothing and give honest reviews

This is only just a small list of suggestions that I have come up with. Do feel free to leave your own ideas in the comments. I really do hope my list has made somebody out there feel a little bit better about themselves. You are definitely not alone. Lolita is something which is meant to be enjoyed. Don't be afraid to have a bit of fun with it.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Brilliant Princess Story by Angelic Pretty

Today I am looking at Brilliant Princess Story by Angelic Pretty. This series includes 2 dresses, a head bow, socks, a ring and a necklace.

First up is the OP. The bodice material looked a bit baggy in some of the close-ups and I am not overly fussed by the overall bodice shape. I think the shape of the arms is cute, although that length may not suit everybody. The bell shape of the sleeves is really pretty though and flares outwards nicely. I especially love the way the material drapes where the bell part of the sleeves opens up, and how pretty the lace used for the bell part of the sleeves is. The ribbon bow topping the sleeves could have been smaller though, and I think the choice of ribbon is a bit too shiny. The bodice is broken up by several lines of gold braid, giving the bodice the appearance of a bustier. The gold braid has been nicely set out, although the lace running alongside the braid is a bit too 'frilly' for my liking. This lace does wonders to soften the straight lines of the neckline though. The 'bustier' part of the bodice is topped with several large bows. In my opinion this looks far too OTT and crowded. I find the bows a bit too overwhelming. The bows could do with being a bit smaller, especially the larger chest bow. There are also random pearls on the top bow and a line of pearls just above it, which don't really add anything to the design at all. There is a matching choker, which I feel is quite cheap looking. Its appearance reminds me of a hen party novelty garter, rather than an elegant lolita choker. The back offers no shirring, so size flexibility is very limited. The back does at least have a neat appearance, although the braid and lace on the front continues in 2 lines down the back. There is no escaping those frilly ruffles! The stock photos show that the skirt is very generous in volume and flares outwards plenty. It is a very full skirt, which should satisfy the needs of the most OTT lolita. There is an over-skirt, which I think is brilliantly shaped and goes really well with the rest of the dress design. It is very 'princessy' looking, if you are in to that sort of thing. It is well shaped and sits well above the border print, so you can still see the print really clearly. However, I think the bows finishing off the over-skirt are too much and are not needed at all. At the very least, they need to be a lot smaller. There is also this tulle panel emerging from underneath the over-skirt in the front middle, which I think looks a bit odd and random. The bottom hem is finished off with a line of gold braid, which is keeping in theme with the bodice. There is then a line of colourful lace on top of a tulle ruffle, which has been layered perfectly. I really love the end result of this bottom hem. There is also more of the gigantic ribbon bows on the bottom hem, which I feel don't need to go completely, but should have been a great deal smaller.

This is the JSK. I am not really sure what to make of the bodice fit and shape. There is an awkward split in the bodice, where a line of gold braid and lace cuts across. The lace used is pretty, but it creates a slightly awkward silhouette. Also, I am praying that line sits low enough that it wont cut across the bust area, otherwise it is not going to be very large chest friendly. The straps are a bit thin, but I don't think wider straps would have suited the bodice shape. These straps are topped with multiple ruffles of lace, creating a cute shape and a really frothy texture. At the very least, I suppose that frilly texture created with the layered lace is at least consistent throughout the bodice. There is a waist bow, which is maybe slightly too big. I think what is putting me off is that the bow tails look a bit too long. If I was being especially picky, I would say it makes the waist bow look just slightly bottom heavy. The bow sits nicely on the dress though, and looks very firm and perky. There is another bow on the neckline, which I think is a far more suitable size. The bodice also features a pearl chain. For some reason. I don't think the chain works with these particular bodice details. It is hard to explain exactly why though. The back offers a panel of shirring, which is topped neatly with a ribbon corset. The stock photos show that the skirt is once again super full. It has the potential to hold a lot of petticoat. The skirt is kept simple in design, so the print is displayed excellently. The bottom hem is then finished off with a line of gold braid and a double ruffle of polka dot tulle. I would maybe understand the use of tulle a bit more of it was more of a feature on the rest of the dress, but I feel that the tulle looks a bit out of place with the dress design as it is.

Finally, here we can see a bit of the print. This series comes in pink, sax blue and navy blue. All 3 colours work very well, but it is strange that we have only been given 3 colours. If I was a betting person, I would put money on there being a special set (probably in lavender) in the near future. As for the print itself, I think it looks quite 'Disney Princess'. It has the look of a children's fairytale book. I suppose at least it matches the look of the dresses! The horses and carriages are very pretty and well drawn. Overall though, I find the print very underwhelming. It seems to be missing that special AP touch. 

So I feel that this series will have a certain amount of appeal, but in my opinion it looks far too princessy. The OP in particular reminds me of those OTT princess outfits you can buy for children. Both dress designs are quite fussy and busy, which means it would be difficult to wear this series in any way other than going all-out with an OTT outfit. I don't doubt for one second though, that we are probably going to see some very memorable outfits with the OP at a big lolita event in the future. Would I buy this series? Absolutely not, because this is really not my style. My top choice would be the JSK in navy blue, but given how much I dislike both dress designs that is not really saying much.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

The Ethical Lolita

At the moment, the UK is experiencing a bit of a vegetable crisis (wow... I never thought I would be starting a blog post with a sentence like that... Don't worry, it is relevant! This experience lead to the inspiration for this post). Due to poor weather in Spain, we are experiencing a shortage of vegetables such as spinach, courgettes and other things that we import. This has been concerning me a little. For one thing, my budgies are very fussy eaters, and spinach is one of the only green things we manage to get in them! But also, I think it says a lot about how the UK goes about supplying food. James and I were walking home from the supermarket (thankfully, with some expensive spinach in hand) and we had a bit of a talk about how this 'crisis' has come about. It is incredible how much of our fruit and vegetables we import when some of them are very easy to grow. Even things such as apples, which we usually have plentiful supplies of here in the UK, get imported a great deal. Not only does it raise concerns about food prices when the UK leaves the EU, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth knowing that our food has traveled so many miles. That is in airplanes or boats, that require fuel. Sometimes food gets placed in special packaging to make sure that they stay fresher for longer. And all of this is so that demand for vegetables all year around, even out of season, can be met.

I admit that I do sometimes feel a bit guilty. But after a couple of conversations with various people, I realised that to 'truly' live ethically is actually very difficult. Be it harming the environment, people not being paid a fair wage or getting mistreated, or just generally being a bit ignorant to the problems in the world- it is easy to turn a blind eye. Even thinking you are doing something ethically good can bring up other issues elsewhere. I suppose it depends what 'issues' you feel are the most important. So it is very difficult to say how it is best to go about leading your life. However, there are things that I feel that we as lolitas can do. These are only small changes, but even small changes can add up and make a difference.

Firstly, I would like to praise brands such as Metamorphose and Innocent World. Metamorphose are known to use non-border parts of prints to make skirts and bloomers, instead of throwing this excess material away. Innocent World sometimes offer B-grade lucky packs, where the quality is not up to their usual standard. They could have simply thrown these rejects away, but instead they offer them to their customers at a cheaper price. So not only does this reduce waste, it means that some lucky people can get their hands on brand for a good price. Sometimes these B-grade items only have tiny faults, so it is worth considering these packs if you wish to give your wardrobe a good padding out.

So how can we as individuals in the lolita community help out and show the world a little love? Here are some ideas that I came up with.

- Group auction and second hand buys together in to fewer parcels. Some shopping services will hold on to items for a certain amount of time or alternatively, learn how to use Tenso.

- If you have an issue with the way a brand is going about something, be it poor working conditions or the materials they use or something else, don't be afraid to speak up and tell them. With this rise in social media, it is a lot easier now to contact companies and get your opinion out there. And the more visible your concerns are, the more likely it is that a brand will want to respond and hopefully listen.

- Don't keep demanding Made to Orders. Yes, it is frustrating when you can't get hold of a dream dress, but endless Made to Orders are not necessarily the answer. Just look at Holy Lantern- it has been re-released so many times now that it has decreased in value and it has almost become a bit of a joke. Remember- lolita is a luxury, not a necessity. Demanding more stock can actually be harmful.

- Support your local indie brands instead of importing. This is not always a feasible option, but there are some incredible indie brands out there who make really good quality pieces.

- When you are going to meets, either take public transport or car share. It reduces emissions, but also, it kind of makes sense if somebody is driving to a meet anyway. If you are going to ask for a lift though, always ask politely and perhaps offer to contribute a bit of money towards petrol.

- Check the make-up companies you buy from don't test on animals. Also look at the ingredients because some can be harmful to the environment as well. As an example, I looked in to the plastic beads that you find in some face washes last year and I found out about the impact they have when organisms living in our waters ingest them. I changed my face wash and since then, here in the UK these plastic beads are now going to be phased out.

- Hold local bring and buy events. This is also a good way to get rid of stuff that you are maybe having trouble selling and you can also get some good deals as well.

- Make do and mend stuff that has been damaged. It doesn't take much effort to search how to fix things instead of chucking them out. If you are unable to get a definitive answer, try asking in lolita sewing groups on Facebook, as they may be able to offer more relevant suggestions.

- Always keep hold of your leftover craft supplies. You never know when inspiration is going to hit, and that scrap you initially thought was useless has the potential to be made in to something cute.

- Use eco-friendly washing detergents. They have fewer chemicals in them. Admittedly, sometimes lolita clothing can require something a bit more heavy duty or need to go to the dry cleaners. But using eco-friendly products where you can could still make a small difference.

- Always keep any packaging from your purchases so that you can re-use it whenever you decide to sell something. A lot of stuff such as bubble wrap can get re-used if you are careful when you open your packages. Addresses on boxes can be crossed out and have new labels stuck over them. As long as the packaging is clean, I don't think re-using packaging should be an issue. If the packaging is not re-usable, then recycle where possible.

As always, be aware that this list is only suggestions. If you think you can add any additional points to this list or disagree with my ideas, then do feel free to comment. It can be very difficult to change 'bad' habits, but it is not impossible. As a final word, I really hope this post doesn't sound too preachy!
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