Thursday, 27 April 2017

Being a Good Lolita Mentor?

As a blogger who loves to talk about lolita fashion, I have sort of become an unofficial mentor over the years. Away from my blog I receive a lot of emails and messages from new lolitas who are looking for help or advice. Despite not actively promoting myself as a mentor, it is a role I am happy to do when people ask me questions. It feels reassuring knowing that people find me approachable! And I will always try my best to respond.

I feel that being a lolita mentor comes with a bit of responsibility. I admit that I sometimes wonder if I really did give the best possible answer. With this is mind, I decided to make a post about how us more veteran lolitas can help newcomers. I guess in some ways a lot of this list could apply outside of the context of lolita fashion as well. So here are a few things I feel you should consider before becoming a mentor, official or otherwise.

Be approachable- As I already sort of mentioned, being approachable is important. We were all new once, so try and bear this in mind. Be patient and never be rude. I also feel that if you are a mentor in a more official role, such as the Big Sisters in the Lolita Fashion Mentoring group on Facebook, then you at least need to show some enthusiasm for your role. You signed up for this, so prove you do want to be there. Also, don't be sarcastic. Emotions and intent can be super difficult to read online, so you risk somebody taking sarcasm seriously.

Keep up to date with news and trends- In the time I have been a lolita, quite a lot has changed. I have seen OTT sweet get overtaken by OTT classic, prints evolve and general attitudes change. There are things which you may find were acceptable a few years ago which are not as commonplace now and vice versa. An example I can think of is that when I first started wearing lolita it was not as acceptable for your skirt to be any shorter than knee-length but as time has gone on- and since some brands have shortened the lengths of their skirts- I have found attitudes to be a bit more lenient. People don't seem to mind as much if a skirt is one or two inches above the knee now, as long as it isn't too much. Having an active role in a local community or online will give you insight in to how your fellow lolitas think.

If you are unsure about something just admit it- It is better to admit that you don't know the answer than to give bad advice. Maybe see if you can direct them to somebody who is more likely to be able to help.

Be a good role model- Lead by example. If you have well put-together outfits and good taste then your advice will have a bit more weight behind it. People are usually less likely to take advice from somebody who doesn't dress well, even if the advice is good.

Use positive reinforcement- If you think somebody is doing something good, then say so. A compliment can really boost somebody's confidence and they will be more likely to continue what they are doing.

Back up your suggestions with examples- If you have a good idea, see if you can find an outfit that demonstrates the point you are trying to make. Whenever I find a picture inspiring I try to save it, and when people ask me about stuff I can usually find a picture relevant to what I am saying. Having a visual example is really useful, especially if you are not good about putting your thoughts in to words. You could also link to other sources, such as blog posts or websites.

Leave personal tastes out of it- As individual lolitas, we all have our own personal likes and dislikes. I personally really dislike some things which are quite popular in lolita, but just because I don't like it, it doesn't necessarily mean it is a bad idea. It's just my personal opinion. Try to be impartial. To give an example, if you don't like like chiffon, it doesn't mean that chiffon is a bad choice. In fact, chiffon is used quite a lot in lolita and lots of lolitas love it. So you shouldn't tell somebody to avoid chiffon, just because you don't like it.

Be mindful of people's feelings- Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to convince them otherwise, people have their hearts set on a certain idea. Tread very carefully with any criticism. Is there any way to compromise? Perhaps an idea may seem salvageable with a few suggestions for adjustments.

As a final point, I think it is worth mentioning that no matter how good a mentor you are, you may find that some people simply can't handle taking criticism or advice (even when they have specifically asked for it). I think the only thing I can suggest here is to rise above any immature behaviour and try to avoid the temptation to respond equally immaturely. As a mentor, you are probably going to come across some negativity eventually. Make sure you are prepared to handle it. I hope this post was helpful. If you are in need of some advice, do look up the Lolita Fashion Mentoring group on Facebook or ask a lolita who you feel you can trust. There are people out there who are more than happy to help!

Monday, 24 April 2017

Print Double

I am looking at 2 prints today, so scroll down further for AP's Romantic Cat.

First today though, I am looking at Alice and the Labyrinth of the Clockwork World by Alice and the Pirates. This series includes 2 dresses, a skirt, 3 hair accessories and socks.

First up is JSK I. The bodice seems well fitted and the shape is simple, but cute. I think the straps look a very supportive width. These straps have ribbon threaded through them and are also lined neatly with lace. I really like these details, but less shiny ribbon would have been nice. The waistline is topped with a line of lace. I am not usually a fan of this kind of detail, as it can make the waistline look lumpy and bulky, but in this instance I think this lace being here works. I think it may be because the bodice has been set out to look like a corset, and the waistline lace 'completes' the look. The bodice features 2 ribbon corsets. The ribbon has been well spaced out and the lace holding the ribbon in place at least looks quite strong, so hopefully this detail wont get damaged easily. However, once again I feel the ribbon used is too shiny. The 'corset' ends at the chest area. Hopefully it will sit comfortably on most wearers, but I do worry it wont sit right on somebody with a larger bust. The chest area is loosely gathered, which I think works well with the more fitted 'corset' bottom half. I do feel the material could have been gathered a bit neater though. It looks a little lazy. There are 2 ribbon bows on the bodice, which are a good size and shape. The top one features an AatP logo charm. I did question whether these bows were perhaps a bit cutesy in design for AatP, but this seems to be the direction they are heading in nowadays. There is a wide line of lace finishing off the neckline. I like the lace, but I wish it tapered off gently before reaching the armpits instead of having all that lace just hanging there. The back offers a panel of shirring, which has been topped neatly with a ribbon corset. The stock photos show that the skirt has a generous amount of volume and it can flare outwards a great deal. It should hold plenty 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 lace which has ribbon threaded through it. I think this is a really good choice for the bottom hem, as it matches the details elsewhere on the dress.

This is JSK II. Considering the shirring on the back and the gathering on the front, the bodice is surprisingly quite shapely. At least we also know that there will be a decent amount of stretch, as the neckline and sleeves (I refuse to call them straps, even if this is supposed to be a JSK) are elasticated too. There is a pair of neck straps as well, which hopefully will help to keep everything in place. As mentioned, the main straps are more like sleeves and I would be tempted to go blouseless if I had this dress. I think if you wore a blouse with this dress it would look a bit bulky. Whilst I admire the size flexibility, I don't like the overall shape of the sleeves. I think they look bulky. The lace lining the sleeves looks odd to me as well. I can't put my finger on why exactly, but that lace looks really strange. The front of the bodice features a gathered panel with floral lace going up the sides and some lines of wide lace on top. The way it has been gathered almost makes it look like a shirring panel. I am not really a fan of the look of this look, so these details do not really appeal to me. However, I will be generous and say that at least the lace choices look pretty decent and I like how ribbon has been threaded through the lace. Although the ribbon has been tied in to bows, I sort of feel as though the neckline could have done with a small bow or something. It feels as though the bodice is lacking something and a neckline bow wouldn't have been too difficult to add. The back of the dress is fully shirred, so there is lots of size flexibility, but it also means the unattractive looking shirring has nothing concealing it. The stock photos show that the skirt is very full and it flares outwards a lot. It is a shame I don't like the bodice on this dress as much, as I think I prefer the skirt on this dress! I think it has lots of potential. The skirt is again kept simple in design, so the print is displayed brilliantly. The bottom hem is then finished off with a line of good quality lace. I was a little surprised they didn't thread some ribbon through this lace, but the lace looks fine on its own.

Here is one part of the print...

... and another. This series comes in lavender, green, navy and black. I suspect you all think the navy is going to be my favourite, but actually I really love the lavender! There is something about the colour combinations on the lavender version which I find quite appealing. But all 4 colours work quite well with the print. I am not so fond of the black version compared to the others, but it still works. As for the print itself, I am not 100% sure what is supposed to be going on in this print (Alice in Wonderland meets Steampunk?) but what is in the print has been drawn well. All of the clockwork mechanisms have interesting details to them which makes the print more fun to look at. I especially love the moon carrying Alice and the prince. In fact, I wish I had a moon shaped carriage like that! On a slightly more negative note though, I do feel as though there are a lot of conflicting themes going on in this print. Among the clockwork pieces we can see clouds, musical notes, flowers, butterflies and a series of dots making buildings in the background. It is very overwhelming and the print has a lot going on in it. I feel that at least some of these elements need to be removed from the print. If I were to choose, I would get rid of the flowers and butterflies (although it was mainly the flowers that attracted me to the lavender version of this print...). Out of all of the items in the print, I think it is the flowers which stick out the most and look the most out of place.

So unfortunately I don't feel a great deal of enthusiasm towards this series. I like certain aspects of the print, but not all together. There are things that I would want to change about both dress designs too. So I think it is safe to say I would not get this series. My top choice would be JSK I in lavender. If the flowers have to be in the print, then I think I may as well pick the flowers which I think are the prettiest colour! It is a shame, as I think there are parts of the print which are really lovely and would have looked amazing if they were not in this cluttered print.

Today I am also looking at Romantic Cat by Angelic Pretty. This series includes 2 dresses, a head bow, socks, wrist cuffs, a bag, a necklace and a ring.

First up is the OP. The bodice looks well fitted. I generally like the bodice shape, with the exception of the sleeves. I feel they could have done with being a little bit shorter and a bit puffier. The use of pretty lace on the sleeves matches the OTT lacy bodice well though. There is a lacy belt and waist bow, which I think is a reasonable size for the dress. The bow is a cute shape and it sits well on the dress. What I really love though, is how the bow has a layer of lace layered over the ribbon. Not only does it distract from how shiny the ribbon is, but the lace has a beautiful design to it as well. The bodice can pretty much be summed up in one word- lace. There is a lace panel, several lines of lace running up the bodice, a lace jabot and many lines of lace on the neckline. It sounds like an OTT disaster, but for the most part I think it kind of works. The only part I don't like is the lace jabot. I just don't feel it works here and the rest of the bodice details would still look good if it wasn't there. I would also lose the 2 gold rose buttons, as I think it looks a bit strange just having 2 random gold buttons here. Thankfully, the lace jabot and neckline bow are detachable, which I think looks a lot better. I think it could do with a bow being there though, so I would be tempted to add on a matching bow of my own. Removing the lace jabot also reveals another gold rose button, so they look a bit less random. The back offers no shirring, so size flexibility is sadly limited. The stock photos show that the skirt is very full and nicely rounded. It will hold plenty of petticoat. The skirt is kept simple in design, so the print is displayed wonderfully. The bottom hem is then finished off with a double layer of lace. I think the top layer of lace is pretty and of a good quality, but the layer underneath looks a bit cheap. So it is lucky that the layer of lace on top helps to disguise it a little bit.

Here we have the JSK. The bodice looks quite well fitted and the shape is simple, but lovely. I think the straps are a bit on the thin side, but I also feel they suit the style of the bodice. The strap design is really pretty though. It features lace with ribbon threaded through it. I could take or leave the shoulder bows though. Unlike similar strap designs, it looks as though the bows have been angled slightly forward, so you can actually see the bows properly. I just dislike how shiny the ribbon used for the bows is. There is a waist bow, which is a bit big, but again I feel it suits the dress. The shape is really sweet and well formed. This bow is dotted with fake pearls as well. I have to be honest though, I do prefer the waist bow on the OP! The bodice features several lines of lace, leading up to a lacy panel on the chest area. These lines are neatly set out and I really love the lace choices here. There is a line of gold rose shaped buttons and this time they look better positioned and spaced out. Where the lines of lace meets the lace panel, there is a line of lace with ribbon threaded through. This matches up perfectly with the straps. The bodice is finished off with 2 large bows on the chest area. The bows are a cute shape, but I am not fond of the size of them. It would have been nice if AP had made them detachable, but the dress listing seems to suggest you can't detach them. I feel this is unfortunate, as the size makes them look very bulky. It would have been good to have the option, as perhaps the bows would look better if there was only one attached. The back offers a panel of shirring, which is neatly topped with a ribbon corset. The stock photos show that the skirt has plenty of volume and flares out well. I think there is a lot of potential to create that super sweet AP skirt shape. The skirt is again kept simple, so the print is displayed beautifully. The bottom hem is then finished off neatly with a line of the better quality lace. Thankfully, the scratchy cheap looking lace does not make an appearance this time!

Finally, here is the print. This series comes in pink, mint, lavender and grey. I know there has been a bit of confusion online about how similar the lavender and grey versions look. I personally think both these colours look fantastic and they are my favourites from this series! The other 2 colours look good as well, but I think the grey is my absolute favourite. As for the print, it is not exactly original, but I think there are enough differences here to keep the cat print fans happy. Unlike other AP cat prints, the cats in this print feel a bit more 'animated'. They look playful, rather than just sitting still in the print and not looking natural. They look super cute too! The lines of ribbons and drapes fit in well and help to break up the border and non-border parts nicely. I do feel some parts of the border print, such as the frames, look as though they have been drawn in for the sake of it. However, they do at least help to break up the empty space. The non-border part of the print with the roses is lovely. I would have loved to have seen this used with a floral border print! But the cats are still pretty good.

So overall I think this is a lovely series. I don't really go for cat prints myself, but I can definitely understand why this series has been so popular. The colour options are lovely and there are just a few small things I would want to tweak with the dress designs. Would I buy this series? No, but only for the simple reason that it doesn't really fit my usual style. Otherwise I would be all over this! My top choice would be the JSK in grey. I love that the grey offers a slightly more mature and non-pastel option. I think there needs to be more grey dresses. It is such a fresh alternative to black and still works with the print. This print offers a lot of different co-ordinating options, so I am looking forward to seeing how people wear it.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Recent Outfits- Late Winter/Early Spring Comeback Edition

I have been thinking more recently about how I share my outfits online. Even though I am still on Tumblr, I have been wary about sharing my outfits on there recently. There is this fear of them getting reblogged on NSFW blogs, which incidentally happened to me less than a week after I first joined. I have no issue with kinks, but it is really disheartening to see my pictures taken out of context in that way. I still post my outfits on Facebook, but then only people who are friends with me can see them. A lot of the Closet of Frills outfits end up getting posted on cgl. As for Lookbook, I fell out of love with that site a while ago. So I thought I would share some of my recent outfits on here, seeing as this may be the most relevant audience for them.

First up is my 'Comeback Outfit' after taking a few months out of the fashion to recover and do a bit of soul searching. I must admit that even getting together this super basic outfit was quite a challenge. After so long out of the fashion, I had forgotten how much effort goes in to wearing lolita! So I didn't bother to curl my hair and I wore a bit less make up than usual. I suppose more than anything I wanted to be able to focus on the bits of lolita I enjoy so that I was more enthusiastic about dressing up again. I didn't want to immediately plunge in to the deep end. So I ended up wearing a casual outfit with Angelic Pretty's Rose Toilette. The weather was still a little chilly at this point, so I could get away with wearing my Wintery boots and a beret. I have always thought this dress was quite a Spring/Summer kind of dress, so it felt a bit odd wearing this dress in this way. I think for a casual outfit though, it turned out okay. 

Next up is a bit more of a sad story. I am selling Wonder Cookie! Apologies for the washed out photo. It started to rain as we took these pictures, so I quickly had to dash inside and use the photos I had! The truth is, I have been wanting to sell this dress for a while but I always felt as though I had unfinished business with it. I have always wanted to team this dress with purple, but I never had the courage to do it. So I made it my mission to give it a try before I sold the dress. On reflection I wish I had worn purple shoes as well, but I think this lavender bolero is a good match for the lavender cookies on the dress and the socks. It was also a good excuse to finally use the biscuit bag I have owned for a few years but have never used! Maybe I should eventually sell the bag as well, but it is so cute that I want to hold on to it for the moment. 

The other thing I wanted to do before selling Wonder Cookie is use the detachable lace from the head bow to make this strawberry maid themed outfit. After I brought this strawberry hairband from Ciciworks, I came up with the idea of using the head bow lace and wearing my hair in buns. I felt this had quite a 'maid' look to it, so I teamed it with an apron and Bodyline wrist cuffs. Out of all my recent outfits this is the one I put the most effort in to. I already had the idea and had been mulling it over for a few months beforehand. I am happy with how it eventually turned out. It is always fun to see your ideas turn in to reality. Here is hoping that this will see me returning to being a bit more adventurous with my outfits. I am definitely back in the lolita frame of mind and picking up my old routine again now. 

I wanted to get a picture of the accessories but annoyingly, a bobby pin was in shot! My hair started to collapse as this picture was being taken, so I decided to give up and wear my hair down for the rest of the day. I am glad I managed to get pictures of the hair buns beforehand though.

So aside from the outfits I have shared in other recent blog posts, these are all the outfits I have worn so far this year. I think I can see an obvious progression as the post goes on. Whenever I am going through a stressful time, my outfits suffer as a result. I guess I am an emotional dresser. But I am feeling really positive going forward, despite having a couple of setbacks in my private life recently. I hope I will continue in a similar vein as my confidence continues to grow. So hopefully I will have more outfits to share with you all soon!

Monday, 17 April 2017

Marching Toy Soldier by Metamorphose

Today I am looking at Marching Toy Soldier by Metamorphose. This series includes 3 dresses, 2 skirts, 2 hair accessories, tights, a bear shaped clip and a necklace.

First is the Band Dress. The bodice looks fairly well fitted. I think the bodice shape is a bit basic, but it fits the overall design of the dress. The straps are a suitable width. Usually I am not a fan of these shoulder details, but on this particular design, you can clearly see the epaulettes. I think the epaulettes are really pretty and well designed, although they are detachable if you are not keen on them. The bodice features a solid-coloured raised panel, which is topped with star shaped buttons. I like how the solid colour breaks up the print and I also love the pointed waistline shape it creates. This panel is lined very neatly with ribbon around the edge too. I personally am not keen on how the buttons have been spaced out though, and I think some emblem themed buttons would have worked better than the cutesy star ones. This bodice panel is removable, and the dress looks fine with it removed, but I would leave it attached if it was me. If you are after a more toned-down look though, at least you have the option. There are little folded down flaps on the neckline, which is a good shape and I like how it is a different solid colour for this part. These flaps are a colour which features heavily in the print. The flaps have some medals pinned to them. I really like the medal design, but I hope they have a simple backing to them so that you can pin them elsewhere. I don't like how the medals have been placed in the stock photos. There is also a detachable collar style choker. It looks a bit too much like a bog-standard shirt collar to me, even with the trimmings on it. So I probably would not wear it myself. The back is fully shirred, which means lots of stretch, but also that the unattractive shirring is exposed. The stock photos show that the skirt is quite full with enough volume. Despite being a bit obscured by the skirt flaps, I think I can see that there is a lot of potential to create a cute shape. These skirt flaps I mentioned sit on either side of the dress and end long before the border part of the print, so you can still see the print really well. The skirt flaps are well shaped and sit nicely on the dress. The bottom hem is then finished off neatly with a line of lace and a solid coloured ruffle.

Here we have the Button Down Dress. The bodice looks well fitted. I generally like the bodice shape, but I am a little unsure about the sleeves. I can't put my finger on it, but something about the sleeves look really unflattering. The folded sleeves are finished off neatly with gold though, which I think is a nice touch. As the name suggests, this dress has a buttoned front. I am pleased to see that despite this line of buttons, the print fits around the button line quite well. I think that on the darker colours especially, you can't immediately tell the front opens up. It is pleasantly discrete. The buttons however, are a bit boring in design. The bodice is generally kept simple, which I think works in its favour. There is a collar, which is a suitable size and a pretty shape. This collar is then finished off with a detachable bow, which is a decent size. I think this bow is really adorable with a fantastic design. I would certainly leave it on! The back offers a panel of shirring, which is topped with a ribbon corset. The back also shows that the collar has a square sailor-style. This really seems to suit the dress design and as an added bonus, it further helps to cover up the shirring. The stock photos show that the skirt has a great amount of volume and it flares outwards well. It should hold lots of petticoat. The skirt is kept simple in style, so the print is displayed beautifully. The bottom hem is then finished off neatly with a line of gold lace. This compliments the use of gold lace elsewhere on the dress.

This is the A-line Ribbon Dress. The bodice looks reasonably well fitted, although I really dislike the dropped-waist design. I think it makes the overall silhouette look awkward and lumpy. The straps are a fair width. These are lined neatly on the insides with gold lace, which continues down in to a scoop on the bodice. This same gold lace is used for lines going down the longer bodice. I feel these lines and the bows on the dropped waist emphasizes everything I dislike about the shape! These bows, and the 2 bows on the bodice, are slightly shiny too. I think the ribbon looks a though it may be of a low quality. Every bow is cutely shaped though. The lines of lace on the chest area are set out much nicer. This chest area is finished off with some star shaped buttons, which seem to fade in to the background. Maybe it is because there are stars featured in the print, so the buttons don't stand out that much. The back is fully shirred, which means plenty of size flexibility but also that the shirring is exposed. With the short back design though, there wouldn't be much room for a ribbon corset anyway. Despite the dropped waist, it looks as though there may be a bit of room to hold some petticoat. Maybe I am being too critical and the dress shape could look better in person. It is just not to my personal tastes. Even with the dropped waistline, which features a gathered ruffle and the bows mentioned earlier, you can still see the print clearly. The bottom hem is then finished off with a line of gold lace.

Finally, here we have a part of the print. I will get a better print picture if one becomes available. This series comes in Antique White, Napoleon Blue and Billiard Green. These colour choices are very mature and even though the print is sweet, these mature colours suit it well. I really like all 3 colours. Perhaps a red colour could have been interesting as an additional colour? As for the print itself, it is well set out with bold vertical lines. The toys are well drawn and look adorable. I think the distribution of toys and the positioning is really good as well. 

So overall, I feel there is a bit of a conflict between sweet and more mature elements of the designs, but weirdly it seems to work. The print is very sweet, but the dress designs stop it from looking overly cutesy. I also like that the dress designs are quite varied, so hopefully there will be something to suit everybody's interests. Would I buy this series? Probably not, but it is not really my style anyway. My top choice would be the Button Down Dress in blue. I normally hate Meta's Button Down designs, but this time I really love it. I am still not a fan of those sleeves though! 

Thursday, 13 April 2017

A Sad Farewell to Kera and the GLB

So if you have not heard by now, Kera and the Gothic Lolita Bible are ceasing publication. There has been a great outpouring online from people within the J-fashion community, so I originally wasn't going to make a post on this. But after having a bit more time to think, I feel it is going to have a deeper impact on me than I initially realised.

Firstly, I just want to firmly state my opinion on something- this is not going to be the death of Japanese fashion as long as we continue to wear the clothing we love. Yes, it is sad to see such a prominent J-Fashion magazine cease publishing, but it is not the first time we have seen a big name close and it wont be the last either. Fashion is always evolving and changing. I don't wear lolita because it is some 'flavour of the month', I wear it because it is a style I adore. I hope that a lot of you reading this feel the same way. It would be really sad to see people leaving the fashion because of Kera. When I think about Kera, I don't actually know that many people who buy it religiously (I don't count anybody who buys the odd issue here and there in this statement). The same goes for the Gothic Lolita Bible, although I know more people who do collect those, mostly for the sewing patterns.

Kera will be continuing online and their shop will be staying open. I suppose this is a sign of the times. Here in the UK we have seen a lot of content aimed at my age group moved from television to online only content. Research done suggests that younger audiences are more likely to watch Youtube videos or go on services such as Netflix. I have this friend who works in a library archive who used to be a fierce supporter of physical books. Imagine my surprise the other day when I saw said friend has been converted to e-books! She is the last person I would have expected to purchase an e-reader.

However, I don't think we should rule out the 'nostalgia' factor. There is an increasing demand for music on vinyl and lots more people are discovering the pleasure of collecting records. Some will argue the music sounds better on vinyl anyway, but there are other factors as well. Artwork, collecting rarities and simply being a fan of all things retro are also at play. Even with the rise of selfies, I don't think we will be seeing memorabilia such as autographs, set lists etc completely going away. Magazines are another item that could fit in to this 'nostalgia' category.

I mainly want to focus on Kera in this post because I think I have seen more posts relating to the GLB and I want to say why Kera had such an influence on me. Although I will continue to wear J-fashion whenever I please, that doesn't mean I am not devastated at the loss of both magazines.

I still remember the first time I read the English GLB and becoming enamored with a specific picture of a model wearing the Fruits Parlor Apron skirt. That one photo had such an influence on me and it was one of the major factors in me starting this blog. Without the original Japanese GLB I would have never encountered that picture which lead me on this long journey. But it wasn't until I attended the first Hyper Japan convention that I really paid attention to Kera. They were a guest at that first HJ event and were a massive part of the fashion show. Feeling curious, I picked up my first ever issue of Kera that day.

My first impression of Kera was 'wow, this is colourful'. Having only really read the GLB up until this point, I think I had a very narrow view on what Japanese fashion was. I felt that everything had to neatly fit in to their intended categories and follow the guidelines of that specific fashion. But in Kera, I saw a completely different approach to fashions such as lolita. Dare I say, they almost looked a bit... ita. However, in the context of the fashion shoots they somehow looked beautiful. Despite trying to stick to lolita's guidelines, the impact of reading my first ever Kera never really left me. It reminded me that fashion can be fun and you can play around and experiment. Yes, it may not strictly fit the rules of one specific fashion, but at the end of the day these were my clothes. I paid for them, so it was up to me how I chose to wear them. I suppose my attitude was that if something broke the rules a bit, wear it anyway and simply don't label it as being certain fashions.

But even if there was the odd questionable outfit choice, it is important to remember that Kera featured pages upon pages of street snaps. These pages serve as a guide of what J-fashion fans were actually wearing whilst going about their daily business. I appreciate that you get specific groups to share outfits, such as Closet of Frills for lolita, but a lot of the outfits that tend to get the most 'likes' on there are the OTT outfits which are worn for the more high-profile events. I have nothing against OTT, but in my opinion, a lot of the time Closet of Frills is not an accurate interpretation of how lolitas are actually wearing the fashion. I know some people feel that they cannot share their more casual outfits on there, for example. Sure, you do get some people who post casual outfits, but the majority of the time it seems to me that these largely get ignored unless there is something about it that particularly stands out (immaculate photo taking, well thought out accessories, etc...). This is somewhere where I feel Kera really shone. Even though Kera held special events for some of their snaps, the beauty of Kera was when they captured people on the street who had not had time to prepare beforehand. Sometimes the outfits did not amaze me, but sometimes I saw some real hidden gems among the snaps. I got a lot of inspiration from the close-ups. Also, it sometimes really helps to see how clothing looks on an actual person rather than on a shop dummy. It can completely change your opinion about certain pieces. I am a bit concerned about how the transition to online-only content will work for Kera. Will it have that same charm? The same impact? When I appeared in the Gothic Lolita Bible my first thought was I had to go and get myself the physical copy right away. I wonder how I would feel if I got pictured now? Obviously my initial reaction would be very different. Would I go an post a link on my Facebook? Would I grab a screenshot from the website?

But it is the fashion shoots that I think I will miss the most. They were fun and experimental. If Kera was a friend, they would be the friend who would encourage you to have that slice of cake, they would dare you to go and do something that seems scary and would tell you to laugh it off when somebody makes fun of you. I am going to miss the sense of freedom and quirkiness of Kera.

When I was sick recently and other times where I have been ill in the past, I would cuddle up with my duvet and my pile of Kera magazines. Every time I did, it felt as though I was reconnecting with Japanese fashion and it would be like I was falling in love with it all over again. Even after reading some of those issues many times, I am still finding new things which interest me. Sometimes I find my tastes have changed and I will fall in love with something I previously hated and vice versa! So I suppose for me, the end of Kera is a bit like losing an old friend. I guess now I will just have to cherish the issues I have kept and maybe if I see some pop up for sale I might consider buying them to add to my collection. I guess my advice for everyone would be to continue to support the other magazines which you love. This same situation could easily happen to other publications such as Larme or Otome No Sewing. Perhaps we need to cherish what we have while it is still around.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Daydream Bed by Angelic Pretty

Today I am looking at Daydream Bed by Angelic Pretty. This series includes 2 dresses, a sleeping mask headdress and tights.

First up is the OP. The bodice looks well fitted and the overall bodice shape is pretty cute. I like how the arms have a slight puffiness to them, which looks adorable. They also look a decent length as well. The cuffs are kept modest, with just a line of lace, which I think is just the right amount of detail needed here. The bodice features a solid coloured triangle, which is neatly pleated. These pleats give the area a bit of extra depth and texture. There is also a line of star shaped buttons running up the middle of this triangle, which are well spaced out and are a suitable choice to go with the print. The bodice triangle is lined very neatly with some cute star themed lace. There are also some additional thin lines of lace going up the sides of the bodice which helps to break up the empty space really well. There is a collar, which has a lovely shape. It almost looks like a sailor collar, but not quite. I do think the collar is a little bit too big though. The lace lining the collar emphasises its large size, although it has been done neatly and it does match up with the bodice details. There is a ribbon bow, which is detachable. I think this bow is a good shape and size, but I don't like how shiny the ribbon chosen is. I would still leave the bow attached though, as I think it is a nice finishing touch. The back offers no shirring so size flexibility is severely limited. The stock photos show that the skirt is very full and flares outwards a lot. There is a lot of potential to create a lovely full shape. The skirt is kept simple in design, so the print is displayed beautifully. The bottom hem is then finished off neatly with a line of crown themed lace. This lace is really pretty and of a good quality, but I think using the star lace here would have been more appropriate.

Here we have the JSK. The bodice looks like it may be a little baggy, but that may just be the type of material AP have used for this dress. I think the overall bodice shape is a bit plain, but the bodice details compensate for this quite a lot. The neckline shape is pretty though. The straps are very thin, but they suit the style of the bodice. Bulky straps would have looked strange here. These straps are neatly lined with lace on the outsides. I really love how this lace has been shaped. It really compliments the neckline lace too. There is a ribbon belt, which helps to define the waist line well. However, once again I feel the ribbon used is a bit too shiny. The bow finishing the belt is a good size and a really cute shape. It is simple, but it works well. There is also an additional ribbon bow on the neckline. This also has a lovely shape to it, but I really wish it was either a bit smaller or made detachable. I personally think that both bows together look a bit unbalanced. The neckline bow could definitely do with being smaller. The bodice is kept very plain, but it is quite a short bodice anyway. I think the neckline lace helps to keep things looking interesting. I really love the choice of lace for the straps and the neckline. It looks beautiful. It may not be star themed or anything, but I still think it goes well with the print and looks elegant. The back is fully shirred, which means plenty of size flexibility, but also that the unattractive shirring has nothing covering it. However, with such a short back it really wouldn't be worth putting a ribbon corset over the shirring anyway. The stock photos show that the skirt is plump with volume and it flares outwards generously. It will hold plenty of petticoat. The skirt is again kept simple, so the print is displayed wonderfully. The bottom hem is then finished off neatly with a line of star themed lace. 

Finally, this is what the print looks like. This series when it went up on the site came in ivory, pink and black. You may have seen additional colours at special AP events but they may not be made widely available. The 3 official release colours are very pretty and fit in well with the print. Some of the details are a little lost and washed out on the ivory version though. I would have loved a navy blue version, but I am obsessed with navy blue! As for the print itself, I think the individual elements in the print are really sweet, but the print feels a bit flat to me. Perhaps a subtle background pattern could have stopped the non-border items from looking as though they are randomly floating in thin air. The beds are well drawn though. It looks as though a lot of effort has been put in to add little details, such as the way the fabric drapes and folds. The cushions and toys look adorable too! This is a lovely way to add AP's famous mascots in to the print without over-doing it. I love the star themed bunting as well! I am not too fussed by the gold text at the bottom of the print because I don't like the way that parts of the print overlap the text. I suppose at least it stops the bottom from looking too empty though.

So overall this is a pretty decent series with a cute print and lovely dress cuts. I can't help but feel as though it could have been better though. I think it is the print itself which is making me feel this way. It looks pretty, but as I mentioned above, it feels a bit flat. So I guess this is not a series that I would be likely to buy (it also reminds me a lot of Baby's Twinkle Dreaming Princess, which I prefer to this series if I am being honest). If I did get this series, I think my top choice would be the JSK in pink. However, I really loved the blue/grey colour that was part of a special event, so I am not that impressed with the wide release colour options! 

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Recent Haul- Baby's First Larme Edition

As I briefly mentioned in a recent post, I have been really drawn to Larme Kei recently. My primary interest is still lolita, but seeing how easy it is to find workable Larme pieces on the high street, I decided to see if I could start dipping my toe in to the fashion with some low priced items. Fortunately, pom poms are apparently 'in' at the moment, so there are lots of Larme friendly accessories out there right now. Chokers, like the ones worn a lot in the 90s, also had a bit of a moment. Reading Larme focused blogs has helped me to pick up some ideas of the sort of style direction I want to go in. So I am sharing my recent purchases here. Apologies for this haul not being very lolita related, but I have been very busy recently, which means I have been going out a lot an subsequently spending more money on non-fashion things. These cheap purchases have been keeping me cheerful until my next big shopping spree!

I found these pom pom hair twists in New Look. They were actually in the sale, so I got them for £2 instead of the price shown on the sticker above. I thought the black and white ones looked pretty, but I was instantly drawn to the pastel ones. The colours are so soft and dreamy. The shades remind me of ice cream! These pom poms are suitably fluffy and I think they could make a good hair accessory if you bunch a few together. Who knows, if I am feeling a bit more daring, maybe I will try using them with lolita as well...

This is the backing of the pom poms. As you can see, you sort of twist them in to your hair.

I tried just the one pom pom at first to see how it looked. They surprisingly gripped my hair quite well. I am tempted to use a bobby pin or two with them though, just to make sure they are extra secure. I doubt I would have paid full price for these, but I feel I paid a good price for what I got.

Also from New Look is this 'Scuba' (I have no idea why they named it this) dress. I saw that somebody else had brought it, saying it would be good for Pheremone Fetish Larme style. I can see their point. From the pictures below you will be able to see the ruffle details a bit better.

This photo shows the bodice ruffles a bit better. I have been having a lot of camera and lighting issues recently (sorry!). I think the ruffles really help to transform what would otherwise be a very basic black dress.

Here is an attempt at a worn photo. The material is very stretchy. Even though I managed to get this dress in my desired size, I was still grateful for the stretch. The material clings quite a bit, so it is probably not the ideal dress to wear if you are conscious of your figure. I really like the overall shape and the length. The zip got a little bit stuck going up, because of the way the fabric around it has been sewn. Eventually I managed to get the zip to go up though, and the dress was comfortable.

I intend to wear this dress with a top layered underneath anyway, but for the worn photos I wanted to show how it looked on its own. However, I did have to wear a camisole because as this picture demonstrates, this dress sits very low on me. My strapless bra was really visible when I initially tried it on without the camisole. So my options are I can either go bra-less or wear a top underneath. The listing suggests that you should be able to wear this dress by itself, which suggests the fit is slightly not right for me. But this is easily fixed because of how I intend to wear it anyway. But it is still something to consider if you have seen this dress and were considering buying it.

Here we have another New Look purchase! I am not intending to use this with Larme kei, I just happened to like how it looked when I saw it featured in a magazine. Sheer layers are another popular trend right now and I liked the idea of styling it in a punk sort of way, over a band top and maybe jeans. I spent months trawling through multiple branches of New Look to find this dress, but nowhere had it. In the end, I had to order it online with the other dress. They sold out of my size earlier in the day (I went to order this in the afternoon and my size had literally only just run out a few hours before!) so I had to go a size up. Because of the style of dress, it doesn't hurt that I got a bigger size anyway. 

The tulle it is made from is a bit cheap but thankfully it is not too scratchy when worn. I think the dress tiers are well spaced out.

The top style is quite basic in design and I think it looks a bit like lingerie! I do like the ruffle going along the neckline though. 

The dress does not have a zip or button up design. You literally pull it over your head. Luckily it is really stretchy. Sizing up actually went in my favour! I like the overall length, but I wish the neckline sat a little bit higher. Overall though, I am happy with the dress. It was priced quite cheaply, so I didn't feel too ripped off by the cheap materials and it suits the look I am going for which is quite 'distressed' (the ''outfit'' above was just a 'trying on' thing and not supposed to be a final outfit). It could have been better, but I got what I paid for.

I also decided to pick up issue 13 of Larme magazine. It is one of the few that is still available on Amazon UK and from the reviews I guessed that this would be the best volume to get. I wont publish scans because in light of Kera/GLB ceasing publication I feel it is more important than ever to protect our J-fashion magazines (although there are obviously going to be scans elsewhere, I didn't want to contribute here with more). My general reaction to this news is that Japanese fashion wont die if we continue to wear it and share our content online. I am still a bit upset about GLB though. There is something to be said about sitting down with a magazine you can physically hold and take your time to turn the pages and get yourself nice and comfy. Also (a bit of a weird confession...) I have this odd fondness for that magazine 'smell'. Please tell me I am not the only one who loves smelling their magazines! Swiftly moving on... I have only had a quick flick through so far, but I am already falling in love with the magazine aesthetic and the look captured in the photo shoots. So if nothing else, I have a new pretty art book and I can pick up and admire! The magazine looks pretty inspiring and gives a much clearer idea of what Larme is about. I think that even if you have read Larme blog posts online, the magazine is definitely still worth getting. 

Finally, I went a bit mad in Claire's Accessories yesterday. I saw they had these cheap pom pom chokers. These were available in the Oxford store as well but that branch had a different offer. Then my local branch decided to go and change their offer to buy 3 get 3 free. So I ended up having to find 6 items instead of the intended 3. Luckily their choker range seems pretty promising at the moment. I got all of these items for £16. That is less then £3 an item. I couldn't resist the moon choker and necklace. Moons are definitely my style! You can't really tell from the photo, but the pom pom ones are on a leather strap and the other 2 are on velvet. 

I thought that rather than review each item individually I would just show how the pom pom chokers look. If you want any further information on the items above then please comment and tell me what details you would like to know. I tried on the black pom pom choker and found it was an okay length. I am wearing this on the smallest setting. As you can see, it is not completely skin tight, but I prefer my chokers like that anyway. The leather straps were also slightly bent in to the shape that they were packaged in. With time I am confident this will improve. It is just a matter of storing them well. I am not really sure why there is a thin string line on the choker as well. I am tempted to cut it off. 

So once again, I am sorry this haul is not more lolita relevant. I just really wanted to get a few Larme-ish bits which didn't break the bank. I am not sure it is a style I want to properly get in to yet, and lolita will always be my main love, but I suppose I see no harm in giving new things a go. If I happen to pick up any lolita purchases soon, I will certainly share them here! In fact, at the time of updating this post I had just put in a pre-order for some cute lolita friendly jewelry, so keep an eye out for that post soon (should be in about a month or so).

Monday, 3 April 2017

A Print Double

Today I am looking at 2 different prints. Scroll down further for AP's Creamy Cherry.

First up today though, is Psyche ~ The Doctor and the Eternal Sun Shine by Alice and the Pirates. This series includes 3 dresses, a skirt, 2 hair accessories, a travel pouch, socks and a few items of jewelry. 

First up is JSK I. The bodice looks well fitted (in hindsight, I chose a bad picture) but the shape is a bit boring. The straps are an okay width and look reasonably well supportive. I think the width if the straps suits the style of the bodice. The straps are lined very neatly with a line of modest lace on the outsides, which stops them from looking too plain. I do feel this dress design is lacking the 'wow' factor though. There is a ribbon waist bow, which looks a suitable size. I really like the way this bow has been shaped. However, the ribbon used is very shiny which makes it look a bit cheap. This waist bow is detachable and even though the dress looks too plain with it removed, I would unfortunately remove the bow if it was me. The bodice features a chest panel, which is lined with the same lace as the straps. I don't think this panel does anything to make the bodice look more interesting. Overall I think the bodice is really boring. The back has a panel of shirring, which is topped neatly with a ribbon corset. The stock photos show that the skirt flares out well and has a decent amount of volume. It is a shame the bodice is so dull, a the skirt shape looks like it could be really nice! The skirt is kept simple in design, so the print is displayed beautifully. The bottom hem is then finished off neatly with a line of pretty looking rose lace. This goes really well with the roses in the print.

Here we have JSK II. The bodice looks quite well fitted. Despite the bodice shape still being very simple, I think it is an improvement on the last JSK. This dress features 2 sets of very thin straps, which look quite flimsy. I think the neck straps look quite restrictive and uncomfortable. These neckline straps seem to be detachable, but that just leaves one set of very thin straps. They have been lined with ribbon though, so that at least makes them a bit more interesting. There is a ribbon belt, which helps to define the waistline nicely. However, once again very shiny ribbon has been used. I am also not fond of the way the bow has been tied in the stock photos. The bodice is kept super plain, with just a thin line of lace going along the neckline. It is like AatP have put no effort whatsoever in to these dress designs. The back is fully shirred, which means the shirring is exposed. The back is very short though and the belt helps to cover it a bit. So the shirring doesn't look super obvious in my opinion. The stock photos show that the skirt has a fair amount of volume. It looks like there is the potential to create a very pleasant shape. The stock is once again kept simple, so the print is displayed excellently. The bottom hem is then finished off with the same dull thin lace. I wonder why they didn't use the rose lace on this dress?

This is the OP. The bodice looks a bit baggy, although that could just be the way the material has been gathered. The shape of the bodice is simple still. It seems that 'simple' is the overall feeling I seem to be getting from this series. The sleeves are elasticated, so they should be very comfortable to wear and they have a suitably puffy appearance. However, I still feel the sleeves could have been a better shape. The sleeves and neckline are finished off neatly with lines of thin lace. I think this lace works quite nicely on the sleeves, but maybe something a bit more eye-catching could have been added to the neckline. There is a 'belt' on the waistline, which doesn't seem to contribute much to the design. It doesn't define the waistline that well. The bow on this belt is kept a reasonable size, but the shape of this bow is so basic. The bodice is pleated, which gives the area a bit of added depth and texture. There is then a row of buttons going up the middle which is neatly lined with lace on either side. This lace sits really nicely on the dress. I do think the buttons chosen are very plain in design though. I think more could have been done here. The back does not have a shirring panel, but with the elasticated parts and gathered material there is a small bit of size flexibility. It wont be that much, but it is better than nothing. The stock photos show that the skirt is very full with plenty of volume. It should hold plenty of petticoat. Once again, the skirt is kept simple in design, so the print is displayed wonderfully. The pretty rose lace then makes a reappearance on the bottom hem. 

Finally, here we can see what the print looks like. This series comes in off-white, beige, navy and black. The colours are quite subdued, but I think they are excellent choices for this sort of print. All 4 colours work really well. As for the print itself, I think it is really neatly set out and I like the individual elements, but when I look at it as a whole I find it underwhelming. I can't even find the words to explain why. I just don't think it is anything spectacular. The books are well drawn and I like the way the roses and other objects are positioned around them. One part of the print I really do like though, is the butterfly background. I am a fan of butterflies in prints though, so I may be a bit biased there. 

I think I would describe this series as "pretty, but nothing to write home about" because the designs are nice enough, but they lack any real oomph. If you are a fan of understated dresses though, then this series probably has a lot of appeal. I personally think that more effort could have been put in to the dress designs without them looking too OTT. The dress designs are almost verging on being lazy. So I think it is safe to say I would not buy this series. My top choice would be the OP in navy. I have to say though, that I was so uninspired by each dress design that there wasn't much separating my favourite dress design when I opted for the OP. I feel so underwhelmed by the whole series.

Today I am also looking at Creamy Cherry by Angelic Pretty. This series includes 2 dresses, a blouse, a cutsew, socks, 3 hair accessories and a few items of jewelry.

First we have the OP. The bodice material looks a bit baggy, but that is a given when you use chiffon anyway. I think the shape of the bodice is really cute. I like the arm length and the use of chiffon gives them a soft, floaty appearance. The cuffs have been finished off modestly with a thin line of pretty lace. I think this is just the right amount of detail needed here. There is a ribbon belt, which defines the waist nicely but also helps to break up the all-over print. I am really impressed that AP have gone for a matte ribbon. The bow on the belt is small and simple, but looks really cute. This belt is removable, but I would definitely leave it on. The bodice is broken up by some thin lines of lace, which helps to break up the empty space. There is then a lacy yoke. The polka dot lace used here is really pretty and of a good quality, but I don't think it sits well on the dress. In some of the photos the lace is sitting awkwardly. It may just be the way it has been gathered. This lacy yoke has a line in the middle which is topped with 3 ribbon bows. These bows are a cute size and shape but I was really disappointed that very shiny ribbon was used, especially seeing as a lovely matte ribbon was used for the belt. There is a collar, which is a cute shape, but I think it is too big. It reaches the shoulders, which I think emphasises how wide the area is. I am a fan of the use of sheer material for the collar though. It makes it look a bit less formal. The back offers no shirring, so size flexibility is very limited. The stock photos show that the skirt has loads of volume and it flares outwards plenty. It should hold plenty of petticoat. The skirt is kept simple in design, so the print is displayed beautifully. The bottom hem is then finished off with the most adorable cherry themed lace. I like that the cherries are heart shaped! This is such a perfect lace choice for this series.

Here we have the JSK. The bodice looks well fitted. The bodice shape is quite simple, but I think it looks lovely. I think the neckline could do with being a bit less straight though. The straps are a suitable width and I think they really suit the style of the dress. They are lined neatly with a thin line of lace, which stops the straps from looking too plain but also still fits in with the rest of the design. I like how the strap lace sort of lines up with the lines of lace going down the bodice. There is a ribbon belt, which really helps to define the waistline. Again, the material used looks quite matte, which I approve of. Judging by the size of the bow in the pictures, it looks like the belt has a fair amount of length too, so there should be enough to tie a decent bow. The bodice has a row of alternating button and bows. These are well spaced out. Once again though, a shiny ribbon has been used for these bodice bows! The buttons are also very basic in design, although I think in this instance that actually works in the design's favour. The sides of this line of bows and the neckline are both lined with wide polka dot lace. I like how it has been gathered on the neckline, which makes it look frothy and creates a lot of movement. I think a more understated lace would have sat better for the lines going down the bodice though. There is then a slightly larger ribbon bow on the neckline, which despite being shiny, I think it finishes off the design nicely. The back has a panel of shirring which is topped neatly with a ribbon corset. The stock photos show that the skirt has loads of volume and it flares outwards widely. I don't like the petticoat AP have used for the stock photos, but it does demonstrate that it is possible to create a very full shape. I think it has lots of potential. The skirt is again kept simple in design, so the print is displayed really well. The bottom hem is then finished off with the cute cherry lace again.

And this is what the print looks like. This series comes in white, pink, navy and black. All 4 colours work amazingly with the print. I am especially fond of the white and the navy. I think the navy really makes the cherries in the print 'pop'. As for the print itself, it is pretty basic but well thought out. It allows the cherries to stand out and grab all of the attention. The cherries themselves are well drawn. I like the use of shine and shading on the cherries to make them look more 3-Dimensional. They certainly look very inviting! The cherries are well spaced out and positioned. The line of whipped cream is a cute finishing touch which helps to fill out the space at the bottom. I think this goes well with the lacy parts of the dress designs too.

So whilst this is nothing particularly new or original, I am not surprised that this print sold out so quickly. AP know what works with cherry prints and pushing the retro vibe was definitely the right way to go. This print doesn't look too dissimilar to Drained Cherry, but the print is bold enough to keep people interested. Would I buy this series? Yes, I would. I would have really liked to have seen this released as a skirt as well though. My top choice would be the JSK in navy. 
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