In my previous post I noted that one of the things I wish I had known as a beginner lolita was the importance of filling out your wardrobe with offbrand items. While brand blouses are wonderful and luxurious, they are not necessarily the only option available, nor are they necessarily the best option for lolitas who are just starting out. When I first started in lolita I definitely did not have the means to buy myself an entire wardrobe full of brand, but I also struggled with finding items which would still qualify as "loliable" outside of the brand selections. As such, I thought I would share a few tips that I often use when hunting for items offbrand.
1. Shop with Purpose
Perhaps the best way to make smarter purchases is to always have a purpose when window shopping. In the back of my mind I like to keep a running tally of my own personal wishlist. Currently I'm on the lookout for a few pairs of nice bright tights, a very classic hat, and a pair of tea gloves. Whenever I'm out and about around town, shopping with a friend, or perusing the internet, I try to keep my list in mind should I come across anything that I have been looking for. Not only does this little wishlist prevent me from falling into the common pitfall of impulse buys, but it also ensures that my purchases will always fit into my wardrobe.
2. Remember the Aesthetic
This idea is perhaps the most important one of all as it is often quite easy to fall in love with a particular blouse or a cute pair of shoes enough to buy them only to realize a bit later that they are really unfit for coording. While it is easy to stick a hem of lace onto just about anything, a touch of trimming does not necessarily make a piece loliable. Keep your own lolita aesthetic in the back of your mind especially while on the hunt of larger pieces like blouses. Gothic ladies should look for higher collars and ornate cuffs, while sweet lolitas should take care to find more rounded forms like peter pan collars and puffed sleeves. Trimmings can always be added and small details embroidered, but it is far more arduous to change the form. If you know your way around a needle and thread, even more items become available to you as a new DIY project.
One of the best reasons to purchase offbrand items is to save money which you can later spend on meets and main pieces. As such, you always want to make sure that you're actually getting a good deal on the items you will be purchasing. Sometimes a blouse or a bag will catch your eye and you'll be tempted to buy it only to find that the price tag indicates that you might as well go for a brand piece. Naturally, it isn't necessarily a complete turnoff and a good offbrand piece can add a lot to your wardrobe and your personal style, but it is always good to keep the price of brand items in mind. Why spend the money on one blouse when you can get a whole box of items from Closet Child?
By following these basic guidelines you can turn the potentially overwhelming process of hunting for excellent offbrand items into a far more manageable and hopefully enjoyable one! If you're a list-maker like myself, I highly suggest taking advantage of the magic of things like Google Docs for your wishlists which you can easily share with friends and loved ones should they ever be looking for birthday / holiday gifts! Good luck with your offbrand purchases and never forget that your style is utterly your own so wear what you love and make it work~
Until next time, stay strong and beautiful, my lovelies,
P.S. Sincerest apologies for the late post! I ended up getting a bit of writer's block yesterday~
Despite coming into the fashion when there was a relatively large community and therefore a relatively large quantity of resources for beginners, I have learned a thing or two since I first discovered lolita in 2007. Today, there are even more resources out there for beginning lolitas, but oftentimes I see girls making the same mistakes that I did when I first started out in the fashion. Perhaps it's simply youthful exuberance or a lack of experience in a wearing high end clothing, whatever the reason, lolita is expensive enough that buyer's remorse is quite common. In the hopes of saving some of you from the same troubles that plagued me, here are three things I wish I was told when I was a new lolita:
1. Wardrobe Cohesion
I've made posts about this before, and I'm sure that I'll be making more of them in the future. In my mind, wardrobe cohesion is simultaneously your greatest ally and your worst enemy. Wardrobe cohesion is the glue that keeps your coordinates together and allows you to enjoy the fashion to a much broader extent as you are able to mix and match pieces to make a much larger quantity of suitable outfits. At the same time, wardrobe cohesion is your enemy because it will inevitably crush your dream dresses into the ground unless you search for a compromise. It is quite rare that you'll find a dream dress that perfectly matches everything else you have (if only because dream dresses are often unique enough to draw your eye and spark your interest). With a little patience and a good amount of creativity, a relatively one-dimensional wardrobe scheme can easily shift gears into a wonderfully complex array of possibilities.
2. Timing Your Purchases
This tip is obvious in some cases and a bit more abstract in others, but none-the-less helpful in the long run. It is important to keep season, climate, and retail cycles in mind when looking to buy new lolita pieces. I always keep a running tally in my head of pieces I think I will be needing and begin scoping out the best possible times to buy them. Are you new to the fashion and just looking to add some volume to your wardrobe? Lucky pack season is the time for you! Pay extra attention to the secondhand sales communities at this time as many lucky pack buyers will be looking to sell of pieces they are uninterested in - often for bargain prices! More veteran lolitas will be sure to keep tabs on their favorite brands' websites to take advantage of holiday or weekend sales that might crop up at the end of each season as the designers attempt to make room for their new collections and stock. For all you secondhand bargain hunters, keep in mind that the equator changes up those seasons for you! I had the good fortune of buying a winter coat from a girl in Australia who found she hadn't worn it enough and needed to make room in her wardrobe for the upcoming summer. Countries with opposite climates are your chance to score an excellent bargain when people begin to shift their wardrobe to match the season.
3. Offbrand As Fillers
While there is plenty of discussion in the lolita community surrounding elitism and wearing brand, the best way to save money and fill out your wardrobe with unique and interesting pieces comes from the plethora of offbrand options. There is no better way to add a sprinkling of individuality to an coordinate than my showing off an interesting blouse or an amazing pair of shoes. Use offbrand pieces as your opportunity to reflect your own personal lolita style. Sites like ModCloth and Irregular Choice are prime places to find something amazing and oftentimes for less than the brands would charge!
Our baby steps in fashion are oftentimes painful and a bit pitiful, but with a little bit of time and a touch of help it's easy to find a way to flourish!
Until next time, stay strong and beautiful, my lovelies,