Monday, 29 May 2017

Phantom Gate by Metamorphose

Today I am looking at Phantom Gate by Metamorphose. This series includes 2 dresses (the shirred JSK comes in 2 lengths), 2 hair accessories, a lace clip, socks, a choker, a ring and an ear hook.

First is the A-Line Dress. There isn't really much of a bodice to this sack-like dress. I feel the sleeves need to be shorter in length, as they look a bit frumpy and shapeless here. These sleeves are elasticated. Although I think some will appreciate the extra stretch, I think some lace could have livened up the sleeves. The bodice features a solid coloured square yoke. This yoke is topped with ruffles, which gives the yoke a lovely bit of added texture. It stops the yoke looking flat and boring. The yoke is lined with a thin line of gold lace, which makes the edge look smart. There is also a ribbon bow attached to the bottom of the yoke. This bow looks a suitable size and the shape is pretty. It seems to sit well on the dress as well, although I wonder how this bow will sit on a wearer with a large bust. The ribbon used is a bit shiny, but it has a gorgeous golden pattern on it. The collar features a pearl chain dangling from it, with a further key shaped charm. I love the key charm, but I think it is a shame that the pearls sort of blend in to the white background. It is a lovely detail, but it doesn't stand out much. However, I do like the way the collar had been lined with gold lace. It stops the area looking too plain and also takes advantage of the gold accents in the print. The back offers no shirring, so there is limited size flexibility. I think the zip line has been decently concealed though. It blends in with the print. The stock photos show that the dress skirt has a fair amount of volume and it flares outwards okay. I never quite know what to make of these sack-like dresses, but at least it looks like this dress has enough volume to experiment with petticoats. 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 gold lace. My only criticism here is the colour of the gold lace here doesn't look as yellow as the gold used on the rest of the dress.

Here we have the Shirred Dress, which comes in 2 lengths. The bodice seems well fitted and the overall bodice shape looks really pretty. I am really impressed with the neckline shape. The straps look a suitable width and supportive. There is a waist bow, which has an interesting shape. This shape is emphasised by the gold lace lining it. I think the bow is a bit big, but it still suits the dress. This bow is detachable, which makes the dress more versatile if you are unsure about the waist bow. The bodice has a pleated triangle panel. I like the flattering look of this triangle. The pleats give that nice bit of extra depth and texture. It is worth mentioning that this triangle, the straps and the neckline are all lined with the same thin gold lace. It is very consistent and also looks stunning. There is also a pair of bows at the bases of the straps, which has a double pearl chain and key charm dangling from them. I like the chain (although again, the details are a bit lost on a white background) but I am not a fan of the bows. I guess I find them a bit too sweet looking for the overall feel of the series? The bows and chains are detachable, but I don't believe you can detach just the bows or chain separately. This is a shame, as I wouldn't mind being able to remove the bows, but leaving the chain! The back is fully shirred, which means a lot of size flexibility, but also that the unattractive shirring is very exposed. I really wish this dress was quarter shirred with a ribbon corset topping it instead. I feel the lumpy shirring doesn't quite fit in with the elegant feel the rest of the dress seems to have. The stock photos show that the skirt is very full and it flares outwards plenty. I usually find Meta's mini length is just above knee-length on me (I am about 5'4'') and the medium length is a good option if you are a bit taller than me. It is nice to have different length options. The skirt is kept simple in design again, so the print is displayed wonderfully. The bottom hem is then finished off neatly with a thin line of gold lace and a solid coloured ruffle.

Finally, this is a little bit of the print to show what it looks like. This series only comes in off-white and black. Although both colours look amazing, it really would have been great to have more colour options. A navy blue could have looked great, or perhaps a dusty lavender? As for the print itself, I really love the intricate gates. They are very ornate with loads of details, all in gold. It is very bold and striking. The phantom horse and cart adds a slight touch of gothic horror without looking too OTT. You could probably wear this print in a classic or a gothic outfit with the right styling. The Meta logo and gold swirls match the gates in the print and are a suitable way to separate the border print from the rest of the dress. 

So I feel that this series has a lot of potential, but some parts of the series are stronger than others. It would have been nice to have more than 2 dress cuts and also more than 2 colour options. I also don't feel this print is the right sort of print for the A-Line sack style dress. The JSK design is a lot more fitting. Would I buy this series? It wont be going on my wishlist, but I think it is a pretty decent offering. My choice would be the Shirred JSK in black (probably the mini length). It is not that original looking, but it is a decent design. I am not surprised to see that the black colourway appears to be completely sold out online.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

The Right Kind of Drama- A Brief Trip to the Drama Wardrobe

Last Saturday was a little bit different. It started with an early wake-up call to go somewhere a little bit different. Then afterwards, James and I headed in to Reading for a shopping spree (I got quite a bit, so there will be a separate haul post for that) and some cake. James and I shared both a scone and a slice of Victoria sponge. Both were absolutely lovely, although we were a little gutted to discover another cafe with interesting handmade cakes afterwards! It was nice to have a bit of a 'Last Hurrah' because both James and I have a lot of stressful stuff going on at the moment. James currently has jury duty and I am starting my CBT during the week. So we felt it was important to have a bit of fun and some quality 'couple time' before all the horrible life stuff came up.

But this post will focus on what we did in the morning. After reading a local magazine, I discovered that the Oxfordshire Drama Wardrobe (who I had never heard of before) were having a sale of some of their stock because they are moving to new premises. They are basically a company that rents out costumes from various periods and have lots of different styles. It ranges from funny fancy dress to period costumes. Apparently some of their stock has even be loaned for films and drama productions (hence the name). They also rent out the costumes for photo shoots. Feeling curious, and hoping to pick up some vintage 20's and 40's accessories, we decided to go. It was being held early in the morning, which meant I had to rush out of the house and not bother dressing up. The previous weekend I attended a food festival, which means I am itching to dress up in lolita. It has only been a few weeks, but it feels like forever! But I do have some outfits to share in the near future.

The Drama Wardrobe is currently situated in a metal shed inside a storage facility which I believe used to be used by the army years ago. It was a bit bizarre and I wasn't really sure what to expect. I looked at some pictures online to give me some sort of idea of the clothing which may be on sale. I was hoping to pick up a military jacket and maybe a hat or two. Prices started from as little as £1. Although these items were heavily used in some instances, entry was free and it was worth going. Even though we arrived early, there was already a crowd inside. If we had arrived any later then we would have had to join a queue to get in. So word about this event clearly got around. 

There was a huge arrange of costumes for sale. There were so many vintage dresses. Sadly a lot of them were too long in length for me, otherwise I would have left with a lot more stuff. I was also devastated when the most beautiful military jacket did not fit me. It was only £5 as well! Seeing as similar jackets with less details are on sale for about £25 at Primark, it would have been a bargain if it had fitted. I was enjoying rummaging through all of the piles. I found this questionable looking furry cape with stars all over it, which was a part of their 70's collection. They have full-on Abba style metallic jumpsuits and so much more! The cape made me laugh, but secretly I kind of wanted to buy it... I had this fun delusion that I was going to wear it around the house and pretend I was Liberace (if you don't know who he is, look him up!).

But on to what I actually brought! This velveteen bolero was part of a 'witch' costume and also came with a long, flowing skirt for £5. I ended up ditching the skirt though. It was too big for me anyway, but it didn't look very appealing. The bolero was worth £5 though in my opinion.

I also got this jacket, also for £5. It is fitted, but there is a little room at the bottom for a skirt to flare out from underneath. So I am really looking forward to experimenting with it. The buttons need replacing, but that is an easy fix.

Finally, I picked up this vintage hat for £1. It is a little bit damaged, but still wearable. I just need to sew the bow back in place on one side. There is also a bit of damaging to the netting, but that can also be replaced easily. This is all stuff that I have remnants of in my sewing box anyway. 

This is a side view where you can see the damaged netting. But for only £1, it seemed worth it. I was really happy to support a local company too. My only regret is not getting there a little earlier. This lady got the prettiest Alice in Wonderland printed scarf for £1, which looked amazing. It was in great condition and looked designer. 

I feel this adventure is a good example of why you need to keep your eyes open for local events. This was a bit of a change for me. I have been to vintage fairs before, with little success. The ones that are held locally to me are a bit mediocre and include items from Primark and Topshop (how are they vintage!?). I am getting memories of the terrifying Christmas jumpers we saw at the Oxford Kilo Sale! But a drama wardrobe offered something a little more unusual. There were lots of Victorian, Edwardian, Tudor and 40's outfits, but it was not a 'vintage fair' sort of arrangement. And I actually ended up having more success at this sale, which sadly is a one-off event. All this was because I happened to see one small advert in a free magazine that I usually chuck out. If you keep an open mind, you can find all sorts of interesting ideas for meets or shopping opportunities. And I will be sharing my Reading shopping haul very soon.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Dreamy Perfume by Angelic Pretty

Today I am looking at Dreamy Perfume by Angelic Pretty. This series includes 2 dresses, a head bow and tights.

First is the OP. The bodice seems well fitted, although the overall bodice shape is a bit simple. I do really like the sleeves though. They are a good length with a decent amount of gathering. They are finished off neatly with lace and some ribbon bows. I am not a fan of the ribbon bows to be honest. I feel they look a little bit messy and perhaps the tails could have been trimmed. The bodice features a really interesting design which I don't think I have seen on a dress before. There is a ribbon corset in the middle, which has a layer of fabric on top which meets in the middle. This fabric is then joined together with a ribbon bow. There is also lace going along the edge, which shows off the unusual shape and design. I was initially unsure about the bodice details, but they have grown on me. I think that if I saw it in person I would probably like it even more. The bodice also features several lines of lace. The lace is of a pretty design and it really helps to keep the bodice details looking neat. There is also 2 ribbon bows at the waist and at the neckline. The waist one is small in comparison to normal waist bows and I think that works in its favour. I also think the choice of ribbon for the bows is very pretty. The neckline is finished off with a line of lace. This lace sits well on the dress and I liked the way it has been gathered at the sides. It makes the lace drape in an interesting way. The back is fully shirred, which means a lot of size flexibility, but also that the shirring has nothing covering it. However, with the style of the print, the shirring does sort of blend in a bit, depending on what colour the dress is. The stock photos show that the skirt is plump with volume and nicely rounded. There is a lot of potential to create a fantastic sweet shape. The skirt is kept simple in design, so the print is displayed wonderfully. The bottom hem is then finished off with some adorable bow themed lace. I was a bit surprised that AP didn't go for something a bit floral for the lace choice, but I suppose there are bows in the print.

Here we have the JSK. The bodice looks well fitted and although the bodice shape is simple again, I do quite like it. I do wish the straight neckline had a slightly softer shape though. The straps are on okay width and should offer a fair amount of support. What really makes the straps though, is the attached chiffon 'sleeves'. They are so soft and floaty looking! The use of lace on the edges give it a real frothy appearance as well. They have such a lovely texture and shape. Because they look a bit like sleeves, it would almost be tempting to risk going blouse-less as well. The waistline features 2 lacy bows. I think this is a really lovely idea, but when it is paired with the lace on the bodice, it all looks a bit messy. Some thinner, more subtle lines of lace for the bodice would have maybe fixed this. It is a shame, because I think the waist bows are actually a decent size and shape, with a lovely appearance. The only thing I would change is to move them slightly further apart. As already mentioned, the bodice features a couple of lines of lace. This lace looks really cute, but as I said earlier I think a more subtle lace would make the overall bodice look a whole lot better. The line of lace in the middle has a line of pearl buttons running up it. These buttons are well spaced out. It is also nice to see a subtle bit of gold on the buttons, which goes well with the gold accents in the print. There is a line of lace along the neckline and another lacy bow, which uses the same lace as the waist bows. I think the bow is very cute, but I would have liked this one to be a bit smaller. Perhaps the tails could have been cut shorter. The back offers a panel of shirring, which is topped neatly with a ribbon corset. The stock photos show that the skirt has lots of volume and flares outwards loads. It should hold plenty of petticoat. The skirt is again kept simple, so the print is displayed beautifully. The bottom hem then features the bow lace layered over a tulle ruffle and some ribbon bows. I personally don't think the ribbon bows work here. These ribbon bows were more of a feature on the OP and they look a bit out of place on this JSK, where all other bows are lacy. The lace and chiffon is pretty though.

Finally, we have the print. This series comes in ivory, pink, lavender and black. These colours are very pretty and work well with the print. As for the print itself, it is gorgeous but I am getting a serious case of deja vu here. Despite some parts of the print looking fresh, such as the ribbon veils between the bottles, the rest of the print looks pretty much like every other perfume bottle print that AP have put out. I can see a likeness to Rose Toilette, Glass Bottle of Tears and that Imai Kira collaboration print. The background offers something a little different, but I don't think it is unique looking enough for a lot of people to want to go out and buy this new series. If you look past the lack of originality, the bottles are beautiful with lots of lovely little details to them. I am not a fan of the ribbon veils myself. I think they look a bit strange in appearance and are too big. If you look at the veils and bottles, there are no gaps between them at all. This gives a crowded appearance. 

Initially I was very surprised about how slow this series was selling, but the more I look at it, the more I find to be critical about. I love perfume bottle prints, but I already own a few that look similar to this print. So I feel absolutely no need to get this series as well. The only thing that would maybe persuade me to get it would be the chance to own a perfume print in a slightly different colour way. There are some interesting ideas on both dress designs, but I think there are things I would like to change about both dresses. If I had to pick a dress, I would go for the OP in ivory. Overall though, I am disappointed. Also, I would have liked to see some jewellery released for this series (although maybe that will be coming later). Some jewellery for this series may be pretty enough for me to consider parting with at least some money!

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Lifestyle Longings

I've always been a bit of a daydreamer, to the point where I have actually questioned whether there is actually something medically wrong with me. There have been times when I have been mid-conversation and I have suddenly 'cut off' because something has popped in to my head! Growing up, I had a lot of daydreams about my future. I wanted to be a singer, a postwoman, an author, an artist, a perfumer, a guitarist... and this is only a small number of the things I have wanted to do over the years.

When I initially discovered lolita fashion, I thought of it as just a fashion. As far as I was concerned, it was just clothing that I liked to wear from time to time and it had no impact on the other aspects of my life. But as time went on, my daydreaming started to take a lolita-related turn. I wanted to write a blog about my experiences, so I started one and here we are today. Suddenly, I wanted to design my own clothing. Not just any clothing, but lolita clothing. I filled up notepads with doodles of my designs. Honestly, there are so many designs I made that I have never shared with a single person. That's how many things I came up with! The problem was, I was not big on sewing and I had no idea how to make my dreams a reality. And what exactly was I hoping to get out of this? Did I want to start an indie brand? Would it just focus on clothing or would it incorporate other ideas? After seeing Grimoire release a perfume, the idea of becoming a perfumer entered my thoughts again. But there was also the idea of adding artwork and having a line of stationary. I found myself doodling brand logos and adding items to 'collections'. Up until recently, all I had done was submit a coat design to the Bodyline design contest. I didn't win, but a coat with a suspiciously similar design appeared on their website not long afterwards. A few of my ideas have since been done by brands anyway. I came up with a crescent shaped moon bag years before Angelic Pretty released their Melty Moon bag and the subsequent replicas. Far from being annoyed, I was just really happy that I could buy a piece that I really wanted!

Another flash of inspiration came up when I least expected it to. I was on holiday in Edinburgh, Scotland. After seeing it rated number 1 on TripAdvisor for food in Edinburgh, I found myself in a little place called Mary's Milk Bar. It is a little ice cream parlour in the Grassmarket area of the city. Our hotel happened to be nearby and we ended up in here on a sunny afternoon.

I was instantly enamoured with the place. I loved everything about it, from it's soft pastel furnishings, to the retro style throughout the store. It was a soothing place to be. Although it mainly stocks ice cream, Mary also sells things like chocolates and sauces (I brought a pot of salted caramel sauce from here and it tasted amazing!). Mary herself happened to be in the store when we went. I couldn't help but notice that Mary looked incredibly happy, and why wouldn't she? You could clearly see her influence throughout the store and her appearance seemed to 'fit' with the store's feel. Here was a lovely young woman who was pursuing something she felt passionate about. This was more than an ice cream parlour- this was a woman's dreams being realised.

The ice cream was pretty darn good as well! I had a rose flavoured ice cream and I think the one on top was white chocolate? As I sat in a seat in the window, looking up in Edinburgh Castle, I thought to myself "I would give anything to be able to switch with Mary for the day" and it was around then that I started wishing I could have a cafe all of my own.

Since then I have been coming up with menus, ideas of how I would decorate the place, what music I would play and the staff uniforms. But the lolita influence never strayed too far from my ideas. A lolita uniform would probably not be practical, I thought. I also didn't want a cafe that was too 'gimmicky' like maid cafes. But I wanted my cafe to be a place where a lolita could come and relax, to feel at home and to want to take pictures. So instead of a lolita cafe, it became a lolita 'influenced' cafe, the idea being it could be somewhere that appeals to both the general public and also be a place that a lolita community could host a meet. Have you seen the anime Marmalade Boy? The main character Miki gets a job in an ice cream parlour and she wears this adorable pastel uniform. As this is a shoujo anime from the 90's, there is a lot of dreamy, pastel colours everywhere. That is basically how I wanted my cafe to be, but with a more relaxed vibe so you could come in and sit down for an hour or so. I would hang lolita inspired artwork on the wall and the food itself would be very Instagram-friendly looking. 

But despite all my longing, I do realise that this is just a dream. They are expanding the shopping center in my town, but I would never be able to afford the rent. There is also the issue of getting the necessary hygiene and catering standards, which could mean having to take courses. My sister has done a lot of these for her job, but I don't think I would be able to persuade her to leave her job and come and work for me! Similarly, I don't have the necessary skills to make lolita items to a standard that I would be able to sell them. If I were to be serious about this, I would need to teach myself how to do a lot of sewing techniques. Some of my designs are a bit 'out there' and it would be a matter of figuring out if they are even possible to make. But I have recently come to the realisation that I don't want to start an indie brand. A lot of the reason why I created a lot of my designs is because of my frustration that I could not get these items from the brands. Even after going through pages of Etsy listings, I couldn't find anything close to how I imagined I wanted my ideal product to be. So I suppose it is less to do with wanting to become the next name in lolita fashion, and more to do with wanting the drawings I made to be a reality.

The other day I had Youtube open in the background and I had auto-play on. I was listening to a song by a band I have recently gotten in to called Death, when auto-play went to another of their songs. Death is a proto-punk band, but they have this slower number called Let the World Turn. I had sort of listened to it once and decided I didn't really like it and never went out of my way to listen to it again. But this time I decided to leave it playing. I had my earphones in and it was as if Bobby Hackney was whispering the words right in to my head. The first line of the song is this- "If your dreams have been shattered, pick up the glass".

The song is about carrying on and not being disheartened by what life throws at you, but that first line is what sticks in my head the most. I feel that this line sums up the band Death perfectly. They were creating a punk sound, before punk was punk. It was 1974 and Death were in talks with a record company about getting a deal. The record company loved Death's sound and some vinyls were printed, but there was a problem- the band name. But David, who came up with the band name, refused to change it and Death did not get a record deal. So everybody forgot about Death and their music tapes and demos got stored in an attic, not getting played. A few years ago, somebody stumbled across one of those ultra-rare vinyls and everything took off. There was a sudden buzz around the band and their album 'For the Whole World to See' was finally released decades after the songs were first recorded. The documentary 'A Band Called Death' goes in to a lot more depth than I have and if you have a spare few hours, it is worth watching if you are a music fan. 

But the reason I bring up this little musical story is because I feel it has changed my attitude towards my 'lolita lifestyle'. My designs may never get made, but I refuse to throw out those sketchpads. Then they are there, ready for a future me, who may or may not be able to do something more productive with them. My attitude now is to stop worrying about what others think about me and just do the things I love doing. So I have made some new plans for myself, to help satisfy that lolita lifestyle craving inside of me.

1. I am going to attempt to make some of my designs, with the intention of just doing it as a one-off item just for myself. I am not going to worry about selling my designs to the general public, but if somebody inquires about them, I will say that they are handmade and see where things go from there. That way I am not putting the pressure on myself to create and run an indie brand. I want to enjoy creating again and doing a little bit of sewing 'just for fun' could prove to be very satisfying.

2. If it turns out that I am quite good at making certain things, I may make a small handful and give them out to friends. I am already debating making Maki and Asuka gifts for when they come to the UK for DMC, but I think that may be too much! I haven't even finished my outfit yet!

3. I am going to expand my baking repertoire. At the moment my baking specialities are my infamous rocky road cookies (not to blow my own trumpet here, but these cookies are epic), my lemon loaf and sugar cookies. But I am known to throw in some rogue ingredients from time to time to come up with some new flavours. I like taking classics and putting new spins on them. Somebody I know happens to be friends with a former Great British Bake Off contestant who lives in the same town as me. She is always hosting food fairs and shows. My goal is to get her to sample some of my goods, so I am hoping to enter her competition at an upcoming show before the end of the year. There is a cafe in my town which sells cakes made by local bakers. I would love to eventually one day be able to sell my own cakes there.

4. I am going to buy some perfume bases and come up with my own range of perfumes (for personal use, rather than for going on sale). James was doing the washing up the other day when I got a whiff of the soapy bubbles. I had a sudden flash of inspiration and I came up with an idea for a sweet lolita inspired perfume. I am hoping to do something similar with classic and gothic lolita. Wouldn't it be fun to have lolita inspired perfumes? I know I did a post where I gave examples of perfumes that could suit the main lolita sub-styles, but I want something a bit more personal. These perfumes will be directly inspired by the fashion. And again, if somebody happens to smell it and compliments it, I will be more than happy to hand out the odd sample here and there.

I suppose that going forward I am feeling positive about my new lifestyle goals, but at the same time I am not putting pressure on myself. It is about having fun and enjoying trying new things, lolita-related or not. It just so happens that a lot of what I want to do could have possible lolita lifestyle connections. I don't know where my goals are going to lead me. Part of the fun is putting yourself out there and waiting to see what happens. So I guess my question is- do any of my readers have any goals they are trying to work towards? Is it something for yourself or are you aiming for a wider audience? No matter how big or small, I hope all of us are able to fulfill our dreams.

Apologies if I am rambling... 

Monday, 15 May 2017

Print Double

I am looking at 2 series today. So scroll down further for a recent Baby print.

First today I am looking at Mademoiselle de Paris by Angelic Pretty. This series includes 2 dresses, a mini length skirt, a head bow, socks and a parasol.

First is the OP. The bodice looks very well fitted, given the fabric choice. I also love the bodice shape. It feels very mature and elegant, especially the arm length. The arms also have a suitable amount of puffiness to them and the cuffs are finished off neatly, but simply. There is no waist bow or belt, but the waistline is defined by a line of piping. It goes well with the piping details on the bodice. The bodice features a yoke, which is filled neatly with pleats and lines of good quality lace. The details are well positioned and spaced out, as are the row of pearly buttons running up the middle. I think the choice of pearly buttons fits in really well with the overall feel of the series. As mentioned, there are also lines of piping on the yoke. I think this helps to break up the white of the yoke. The lace lining the yoke is really pretty. It sits well on the dress too. The collar is a suitable size and a lovely shape. I like how it has been lined with a thin line of gold lace. It is also finished off with a ribbon bow. This bow has a cute shape and size. Although the ribbon is a bit shiny, it looks to be of a fair quality and the ends are sealed properly. This bow is detachable, but I would leave it attached. I feel that when this bow is removed, it looks a bit as though the dress is 'missing' something. It pulls the design together. The back unfortunately offers no shirring, so size flexibility is very limited. I also don't like the way the print is misaligned along the zip line in the stock photos. The stock photos show that the skirt is very plump and it flares outwards lots. It will hold more than enough petticoat. The skirt is kept simple in design, so the print is displayed beautifully. It is a shame how the print is cut off at the bottom hem though. The bottom hem is then finished off with a thin line of gold lace and some lace which features the poodle that appears in the print. I like that a lot of effort has gone in to the bottom hem lace!

Next is the JSK. The bodice seems fairly well fitted. I generally like the bodice shape, although I wish the neckline was a bit softer. The straps are very thin and look a bit flimsy. They are lined on the outsides with a thin line of gold lace, which compliments the subtle gold details elsewhere. The waistline is topped with a line of piping and a line of lace, which I think has been well shaped and sits nicely on the dress. It doesn't make the waistline look bulky, in fact it seems to help emphasise the waist. There is a waist bow, which is again a very cute shape. It is well formed and sits well on the dress. The ribbon used is again a little bit shiny though. The bodice features a line of buttons, which are spaced out well. Those pearly buttons have been used again. The sides of this line of buttons is lined with some piping and lace. These details are very neatly set out and the lace sits well on the dress. There are also additional lines of lace going up the bodice, which help to break up the empty space at the sides nicely. The neckline then features a line of piping, some cute polka dot lace and a ribbon bow. I think the bow is a suitable size and shape. It looks well proportioned in comparison to the waist bow. The back offers a panel of shirring, which is topped neatly with a ribbon corset. The stock photos show that the skirt has a good deal of volume and it flares outwards a lot. I really like the shape created in the stock photos, as I feel it compliments the bodice. So I have a lot of hope for the skirt. The skirt is again kept simple, so the print is displayed wonderfully, although the print is again cut off awkwardly along the bottom. The bottom hem is then finished off with gold lace and the poodle themed lace.

Finally, this is the print. As we can see, it comes in white, pink, lavender and black. These are quite standard colours for a print of this style and they all work very nicely. The colours are maybe a little predictable though. As for the print itself, I am usually a fan of these sort of prints, but I am underwhelmed by this one. Individually, the items in the print work well, but I think maybe I would have preferred this as a border print instead of an all-over print. That would have probably solved the problem of the print cutting off awkwardly at the bottom of the dresses as well. I personally am not a fan of the poodles, but they have been drawn well. The ribbons the poodles are wearing offer an interesting little pop of colour, so I suppose that works in their favour a bit. I like the chandeliers, bows and crowns. Individually, the items are well drawn and cute, but I remain unimpressed by this print.

Judging by the website, it seems this series sold fairly well? I have to admit I was a little bit surprised. I would much rather have a print like Cinema Doll or Fantastic Dolly (which are prints which I feel have a similar feel, but are better executed) instead of this one. I think AP have done better Paris themed prints as well. This print doesn't really scream 'France' to me. The dress cuts are pretty enough though. Would I buy this series? No, because despite the okay print and lovely dress designs, this is not a series that I would want to go out of my way to get hold of. It is pretty enough, but I don't think it is wishlist material. I feel that this series is good, but has so much wasted potential.

Today I am also looking at Kuma-chan's Glitter Milky Way by Baby the Stars Shine Bright. This series includes 2 dresses, a skirt, a head bow, a star shaped rosette, a blouse, socks, an outfit for Usakumya and lots of pieces of jewellery.

First is JSK I. The bodice seems well fitted but I think the bodice shape could have been a bit more interesting. A softer neckline shape could have been nice. The straps look a decent width and very supportive. They are topped with a tulle ruffle, which I really like. It gives them a soft and floaty appearance, but also match the bottom hem. The bodice features some lines of gold lace (which also lines a lot of the other details on the dress, so that is consistent) with some very colourful ribbons in the middle. I really love the soft, gentle colours chosen for the bows. It looks as though the ribbon is shimmery too. This is one instance where shiny works in the bows favour! The bows are a cute shape and size, although I wish the top bow was placed slightly lower, as it gets a bit obscured by the chest panel. The chest features a raised panel, which is further topped with a bow made of the print fabric and an additional fabric star on top of that. I do wonder how these details would sit on a larger chested wearer. It doesn't exactly look busty friendly. At first I thought the panel shape was a bit weird, but I realised afterwards that it has been gathered that way to make the star part look like a shooting star, with the panel underneath being the 'tail'. It is a really cute idea, although I think it could have been shaped a bit better to make the shooting star look a bit more obvious. I like the bow and star though, especially how it has been lined so neatly with thin gold lace. These chest details do not appear to be detachable, which may or may not appeal to potential buyers. I do like all of the bodice details, but overall it feels very cutesy and I would worry it would be too much for my personal tastes. The back has a panel of shirring, which is topped neatly with a ribbon corset. The stock photos show that the skirt is very full and flares outwards a lot. It should hold plenty of petticoat. The skirt is kept simple in design so the print is displayed perfectly. The bottom hem then features an over-stitched tulle ruffle. It is a shame this ruffle has been over-stitched, as I feel under-stitched would have looked neater. But as mentioned earlier, this bottom hem is a good match for the strap details.

Here we have JSK II. The bodice looks very well fitted, but the bodice shape is again a bit plain. I do like that the neckline is not completely straight though, with a slight curve. The straps look a fair width. They are lined very neatly with some lace on the outsides, although it is not that obvious, so at first glance the straps look a bit plain. There are also shimmery bows at the bases of the straps, which look really cute. Unfortunately, I am not a fan of the waist bow. It looks so sad and droopy. I don't think it helps having such a wide middle, which almost makes the bow look as though it is split in two. Although a soft, light fabric has been used for this bow, it still could have been shaped better. Some additional stitches would at least hold the bow in place a bit better. The bodice features a line of lace going along the neckline and another line going in a semi circle down the bodice. Even though the lace is of a fair quality, I don't think it was the right choice for this particular dress. The fabric used for the bows is soft and delicate, so a less 'solid' looking and softer lace would have probably fitted better. The lace also has a really dull design to it as well. There is also a chain on the neckline, which is concealed on one side by a fabric star. The chain is a good length and I like the pearl beads used. I think the star looks a bit plain without the lace lining it on this dress though. Again, these details do not appear to be detachable, but they are probably more bust-friendly than the other JSK. The back is fully shirred, so there is loads of size flexibility, but it also means the unattractive looking shirring has nothing covering it. The stock photos show that the skirt has a decent amount of volume and can flare outwards plenty. I was a little unsure about how the material has been joined to the waistline, but I think it indicates a lot of gathering in the material. So hopefully this skirt can hold a load of poof. The skirt is again kept simple, so the print is displayed excellently. The bottom hem is then finished off with a simple neat line of lace. Again, the lace choice is a bit boring, but it does go well with the bodice lace.

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

... and another part. This series comes in pink, lavender, red and navy blue. The red is a bit unusual for a starry themed print, but the other 3 colours are a bit more standard. As for the print itself, I have to admit that it reminds me of the Care Bears wallpaper I had as a kid! Although the Care Bears were sat on clouds instead of moons and stars. This print is very cute, but I can't shake off that 'kid's wallpaper' impression I get from it. It is a shame, because I really love the moons and stars in this print. Usakumya looks adorable as well, and I like the way the bears have been positioned. The clusters of stars are well positioned as well. It is a lovely, dreamy print. I love how some of the stars have smiley faces as well!

So overall, my impression of this series is that it is cute, but maybe a bit too cute. I find this series a bit 'young' for my tastes. But for an Usakumya print, this is a pretty decent offering. The design of JSK I has some very interesting details. I think it makes JSK II look a bit boring in comparison. So my top choice would be JSK I in navy. Alas, I shall be giving this series a miss though. I had high hopes for the jewellery... I thought it was going to be like the jewellery released for Twinkle Constellation, but it all has Usakumya's face stamped all over it! I like Usakumya (I even own a Usakumya pochette that I named Pinky) but I think you can have to much of a good thing.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Customising Shoes

Recently I have been thinking about my outfit for the DMC Tea Party and those little extra details I can add to an outfit. I have narrowed my dress choices down to 2, but for one of the outfits I am having a bit of a shoe dilemma. I am not sure I can wear the pair I want to wear without screwing up the colour balance in the whole outfit. At the start of the year I remember saying about how there isn't always a great deal of footwear choices for sweet lolita. A lot of sweet shoes tend to be AP Tea Parties (or similar variants).

So I got to thinking, how can we mix things up a bit? How can we make that same pair of shoes look a bit different? These are the ideas I brainstormed. You will find they are of varying levels of difficulty, but there should be something here that any of my readers can try for themselves.

Change the laces- If your shoes feature laces then the easiest way to change things up is to swap the laces out. You could go for another colour that appears in your outfit. Another option is to experiment with various trims. Ribbon is a simple option and there are so many different types to choose from. If you were feeling a bit braver, perhaps a more risky trim could work? How about trying lace, for example?

Change the straps or add extra ribbons for straps- Sometimes you will find that you can remove certain straps and then you can replace them, just like you would with laces. Alternatively, if your shoes did not feature any ankle straps, you could glue a length of ribbon to the inner back of the shoe lining and add your own set of criss-crossed straps. If you go for a longer length that goes up your legs, just remember to consider how you will keep the ribbons in place (like maybe using sock glue).

Shoe Clips- Another simple option is to buy some shoe clips. There are loads of different designs to choose from, which can totally change the appearance of your shoes. I made a small collage to show just a few examples.

Use alternating colours- I have noticed that sometimes lolita like to wear different coloured shoes on each foot, which can be quite bold and striking. If you own 2 pairs of shoes in the same style and different colours, see if you are able to pair those colours together in an outfit and use one shoe from each pair. This can be a bit challenging and it is important to balance the colours right. But if you are a confident co-ordinator, it may be worth giving it a go.

Stick on additional decorations- If you wanted something a little more permanent than shoe clips, perhaps you could attempt to glue on some additional decorations. Things like pearls can look cute going along the curves of a shoe, or you could go for an all-over look like with the shoes below.

Add a ruffle or pleat- I added a photo below to demonstrate what I mean. These shoes feature a pleat going along the edge of the insides of the shoe. If you know how to do pleats it should not be too hard to make a pleat for shoes. They don't even have to be positioned in this exact way. Frustratingly, I found the perfect picture on Lolita Updates of these shoes with pleated ruffles on the toes, but I can no longer find it! But hopefully the picture below gives a rough idea of what I am trying to suggest.

Change the colour of your shoes- If you have a pair of shoes that are looking a bit tired or that you don't really wear, perhaps changing the colour can give them a fresh new look. Make sure that you get appropriate paint/dye for the material your shoes are made of. Also be careful to make sure the colour is 'sealed' properly. You don't want the paint rubbing off on to other things.

Those are the ideas I managed to come up with. I am not sure if this has helped with my outfit dilemma, but I am a frequent user of shoe clips anyway, so perhaps I will find a way around my issue if I use another pair of shoes and decorate them. As somebody who usually ends up being one size too big for Taobao shoes (most go up to 40 and I usually take a 41!), or who is the biggest size in some shoes but finds that size sells out super quickly, I understand how frustrating shoes can be in lolita fashion sometimes. It doesn't help that I have wide feet too, so I have to go a size up! So I am always open to new ideas when it comes to shoes. If you can think of any ideas which I haven't mentioned above, feel free to share them. Your advice will be greatly appreciated!

Monday, 8 May 2017

Fancy Hospital by Angelic Pretty

Today I am looking at Fancy Hospital by Angelic Pretty. This series includes 2 dresses, a more casual cutsew OP, 2 hair accessories, tights, socks and a blouse.

First up is the OP. The bodice seems quite well fitted and the bodice shape is very cute. It is a bit too cutesy for my personal tastes, but I can appreciate it suits the overall feel of the series. I do feel the sleeves could do with being a little shorter though. The gathering on the sleeve cuffs is lovely, giving a fantastic frilly appearance. The bodice is mostly kept simple, but there are 2 large ruffles running up the bodice. These have been well positioned and sit nicely on the dress. There is also a row of heart shaped buttons, which are neatly spaced out. The heart design is absolutely adorable. I think the collar shape is cute and a decent size as well. I especially love the lace lining the edge of the collar. There is also a small ribbon bow (which you can detach) which I think is the perfect size for the style of collar. My only complaint is the ribbon used for the bow is a bit too shiny. Despite this though, I would choose to leave it attached if I owned this dress. The back offers no shirring, so size flexibility is very limited. A lot of attention to detail has been put in to the back though, with the ruffles from the front carrying on down the back as well. There are even some medical themed crosses finishing the waist ties. The stock photos show that the skirt is very full and flares outwards well. I think there is a lot of potential to create a cute shape that goes well with the bodice style. The skirt is kept simple, so the all-over print is displayed beautifully. The bottom hem is then finished off with a line of good quality polka dot lace. I was a bit surprised AP didn't go for something a bit more medical themed here, but the choice of lace is still very cute.

Here we have the JSK. The bodice seems pretty well fitted. Although the bodice shape is a bit simple, I do like how it mimics the appearance of an apron, especially with the ruffle details. It feels very appropriate for the medical theme! The ruffles are well gathered and I like how they have been lined with lace as well. The straps look a decent width and quite supportive. Those bodice ruffles continue along the outsides of the straps, making them look a lot more interesting. There is a waist bow, which is a bit on the big side, but at the same time I feel this bigger size kind of suits this particular dress. The shape of this bow is simple, but it works well. It is well formed and sits well on the dress. The bodice features 2 rows of the heart shaped buttons and an additional cross themed patch in the middle. I feel very conflicted about this bodice. On the one hand, the large details look a bit crowded, but at the same time I do think the details go well together as a whole. The back features a panel of shirring which is topped neatly with a ribbon corset. Those crosses feature on the ends of the waist ties again too. The stock photos show that the skirt has plenty of volume and flares outwards lots. It should hold more than enough 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 polka dot lace.

Finally, here is the print. This series comes in white, pink, sax blue and black. The 3 lighter colours are suitably cute. I am not 100% sure of the black version, but I can see it having its fans anyway. As for the print itself, it is a bit too cute for my tastes. However, the items in the print are drawn well. I do appreciate all the little details in the print as well. For example, the first aid kit has a heart shaped handle for extra added sweetness. I like how the teddy has a stethoscope and the bunny has a bandaged ear! I also feel this print works better as an all-over print as opposed to a border print, so that was a good decision in my opinion.

This is quite a different release for Angelic Pretty. It is clear that AP are hopping on the menhera trend. I do wonder though, if this mix of lolita and menhera works though. It sort of feels as though the print is maybe a bit too cute for menhera? I admittedly don't know a great deal about this style... Personally, I imagine the more casual cutsew OP would possibly appeal to menhera fans over the more lolita styled dresses. From what I had seen online, a lot of people were not keen on the dress cuts for this print, but they still both sold out quite fast. I find them a bit too sweet and childlike, so I think I would feel uncomfortable wearing them. So this is not a series that I would go for myself. My top choice would be the JSK in pink. Although this series is really not my style, I am still very curious to see how people decide to co-ordinate these dresses. I imagine this could be a fun print to wear.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Milk Ribbon Review- Positive

I thought today I would take you through a review of an indie accessory maker called Milk Ribbon. If you went to Omnia Vanitas, chances are you probably saw somebody wearing their popular 'Misako' design! Thinking the designs looked really cute and fun, I decided to place an order. You can find Milk Ribbon's big cartel here.

Ordering Process

Their Big Cartel page was very easy to use. The images were big, so it was easy to locate the items that I needed very quickly. Ordering was very fast and I had no issues at all. I was able to use Paypal, which was convenient.


I didn't really need to communicate with the seller but when it came to updating my shipping information, they did so very quickly. They are also quite responsive on their Facebook page. So whilst I can't comment too much on their communication, I do get the impression that they are quite easy to get hold of.


Shipping was flat rate, so it was the same no matter how much I ordered. I ended up buying 3 brooches to make the shipping price more worth it, but the shipping charge was reasonably small anyway. The package was sent via Deutsche Post and although I was given a tracking number, it did not work when the package left Germany. Thankfully, I didn't have to wait too long to get my package. It was posted on a Thursday and it arrived on Saturday. 

The box my order was sent in was very sturdy and a bit of effort had been put in to tape it up properly. My only slight criticism is that there was nothing padding the brooches, so there was a lot of room for my brooches to move about inside the box. However, wood is not that fragile, so my brooches arrived safely anyway.

Inside my brooches were wrapped in plastic with a nice little Thank You sticker. I thought that was sweet.

And here are the brooches I got! I had a really tough time deciding which Misako brooches I wanted. I liked all 3 colours, but in the end I decided the pink was not quite the right shade for my wardrobe and went for ivory and black ones. I had to add the robin brooch to my wardrobe. Even though it doesn't match a single thing I own, I think it is adorable!

The design on the brooches is very crisp and the text is easy to read. I really like the use of colour on the brooches too. I think it really adds something to the design. The brooches are of a generous size too. The edges are neat with no rough patches.

There were a few strands of glue that I spotted, but they were easy to pull off. The backs feature a simple badge pin. I like that the wood is of a generous thickness too. I wasn't quite sure how to photograph that, but they are pretty thick!

These 3 brooches with shipping ended up costing nearly £50. I suppose for an indie brand this is a reasonable price. I can't help but compare them to similar wooden brooches I have gotten off Taobao for a lot cheaper though! But looking at my Taobao ones, I can see that the colour on the Milk Ribbon ones are a lot more vibrant and the designs have much clearer details to them. So I would not say that the price put me off buying from Milk Ribbon, but it might be worth trying to see them at a convention so you at least save the shipping cost (even if it is only a little dearer getting it shipped). You may pay more, but you are getting something of a better quality. Overall I am very pleased with my brooches. They turned out exactly how I expected them to. So I would recommend Milk Ribbon and would consider ordering from them again in the future.

Monday, 1 May 2017

St Mary Holy Card by Baby the Stars Shine Bright

Today I am looking at St. Mary Holy Card by Baby the Stars Shine Bright. This series includes 3 dresses, a skirt, 4 hair accessories, 2 blouses, socks and a wrist bouquet.

First up is the Lily JSK. The bodice seems well fitted and the shape is simple, but looks lovely. The straps look a fair width and quite supportive. I like that they are lined neatly with lace on the outsides too to stop them from looking too bare. There is a waist bow, but I am not 100% convinced I like it. It is hard to pinpoint the exact reason why, but I think it might be that the shape is quite basic. Also, there is a lot of lacy detail on the bodice and I suppose I find the waist bow a bit basic in comparison? Thankfully the waist bow is detachable. The bodice features a lacy chest panel, topped with a gathered ruffle going across the bust, a bow and a line of wider lace. This detail is probably not going to sit well on somebody with a large bust. But from a purely aesthetic point of view, I think these bodice details are beautiful! The choices of lace are wonderful and the ribbon used for the bow looks pretty too. There is also a cross made up of golden lace, which is topped with an actual cross charm. I personally wouldn't have bothered with the cross charm, as I think the lace cross is enough by itself. It still looks pretty decent though. The back offers a panel of shirring, which is topped neatly with a ribbon corset. The stock photos show that the skirt has a fair bit of volume and will flare outwards enough. When looking at the photos of Midori modelling this dress, I thought the skirt shape looked really pretty. The skirt features an open front design, which has a few over-stitched ruffles near the bottom. I think the over-stitching works well in this instance, as it adds a little bit of extra ruffle to the area. However, I was a little disappointed with how shiny the fabric used for this part of the skirt looks. Maybe it looks better in person, but in my opinion it doesn't photograph very well. Despite the open front design, you can still see the print very clearly at the sides. The bottom hem is then finished off with a ruffle and a wide line of gorgeous looking lace.

Here we have the Frill JSK. The bodice looks quite well fitted but the overall bodice shape feels a bit lacking. It is very basic. The straps look to be an okay width. They are topped with a line of golden trim (which also goes along the neckline) and a ruffle. I am not convinced by the ruffles on the straps as I feel they look a bit too sweet for this design. They also didn't look that well shaped in the close ups. There is a waist bow, which is a bit on the large side. I don't like how the bow looks as though it is sagging. Thankfully, this dress also has the option to detach the waist bow. I think the dress looks a lot better with it removed too. The bodice is mostly kept plain. I think it would have been nice to have some thin lines of lace running up the bodice, just to help break it up. The neckline then features a very wide line of lace with a bow and cross charm. I really hate the choice of lace used. It looks cheap, like something you would see used for net curtains. I also dislike how the lace hasn't been tapered at the sides, so the lace looks a bit untidy. Although the ribbon used for the bow is nice, I don't think much care or attention has been put in to shaping the bow. I do think the cross charm is pretty though. The back has a panel of shirring, which is topped neatly with a ribbon corset. The stock photos show that the skirt has a fair amount of volume and flares outwards plenty. It appears to have a decent amount of length to it too, as this skirt is designed to be a bit longer. The skirt is generally kept simple, so the print is displayed okay. However, I absolutely detest the gathering of the printed fabric at the bottom. It looks messy and warps the print at the bottom. I don't feel this sort of detail works as well with printed designs. The bottom hem is features a ruffle of lace fabric and a tulle ruffle layered underneath. I think the width of these details helps to balance out the design, but perhaps they could have layered multiple lines of lace instead of having one massive line of lacy fabric. The lace here looks a bit flat and I also don't think it is the most attractive looking lace either.

This is the OP. The bodice looks reasonably well fitted and I think the bodice shape is lovely. I think the sleeves suit the style of the bodice. Although the neckline shape is a bit simple, I think the details in this area really compensate for that. The waistline features a lacy belt design which is finished with a bow. Usually this kind of detail would really help to define the waistline, but because of the full chiffon over-skirt it makes the waist area look wider than it actually is. This is probably not going to be the most flattering of dresses to wear. I really love the lacy bodice details though. There are many lines of wide lace, a gathered ribbon ruffle with a bow and a sheer panel with cross details (just like the Lily JSK). All the different trimmings sit well on the dress and have been well layered. I also like the choices of lace and ribbon and they seem to be of a fairly good quality. I could take or leave the lacy panel and cross details on this bodice though. I think the dress could have worked just as well if the neckline finished where the line of ribbon is. The back offers no shirring, so size flexibility is very limited. The stock photos show that the printed skirt underneath seems to have a good amount of volume and it flares outwards well. But the thing that really catches the eye is the full chiffon over-skirt. As I mentioned earlier, the over-skirt does sort of make the waistline look wider than it actually is. I also think the over-skirt looks a bit out of place. After doing some lovely details with lace on the bodice, I think it is a shame that something lacy wasn't done with the bottom half. There is quite a harsh contrast between the textured bodice design and the dominant chiffon over-skirt, which is mostly smooth. The chiffon over-skirt also means the print is quite obscured. So it does frustrate me a little that the listing seems to suggest that you cannot remove the over-skirt. This dress could have had a lot of potential, but I think the chiffon spoils it. The main dress underneath is finished off with what looks like a line of lace and then a gathered ruffle along the bottom hem.

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

... and another. I thought I would include this picture too, seeing as it has the lily in it. This series comes in ivory, sax blue, pink and mint. All of the colours are quite pale and there isn't a great deal of difference between them. I think it would have been good to have at least one slightly darker colour for a bit of variety. There is no denying that all 4 colours appear to work very well with the print though. As for the print itself, it is set out fairly neatly and the frames around the pictures have some interesting details to them. I was a bit unsure about how some of the rows of pictures are slanted at first, but it has grown on me. The pictures are drawn well and look pretty intricate. I am really not a fan of religious imagery though, so this print is really not to my tastes. I do really love the flowers though. Those are beautiful.

So overall I think this series is a bit hit and miss. Perhaps I am a little biased, as this is really not my sort of series anyway. To me, the print looks well drawn, but it also looks similar to some other previous Baby prints. There are things that I would love to change about each dress design too. I really think it is a shame that the OP has that chiffon over-skirt. Otherwise it probably would have been my favourite dress cut. I think it is safe to say I wont be getting this series. But if I had to pick, my choice would be the Lily JSK. As for the colour... ivory, I guess? There isn't a whole lot separating the colours in my opinion, so it is hard to pick a favourite. Despite my lack of enthusiasm, I suspect this series will still have a fair fan base and will sell reasonably well.

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