Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Paging Lolita 333 - Curating a Wardrobe

IW Marionette Theater
One of the biggest challenges when jumping feet-first into lolita fashion is foresight. It's easy to look at the list of brand releases which gets longer by the day, and fall in love with 80% of them. Falling in love with a dress is easy; it's the holding back and reflecting that is difficult. Buying staple pieces has never been easier in lolita from the English-friendly brand websites to the thriving secondhand market. At this point in lolita fashion, curating a coherent wardrobe is the much larger challenge. I feel a bit like Tim Gunn admitting that, but there is certainly something to be said of the challenge of creating looks which go together rather than a hodge podge of things that you like. That being said, with my Lolita 333 Capsule Wardrobe Project I have embarked on, I've become even more conscientious of picking pieces which I'll not only love to wear, but ones which also fit into my current wardrobe aesthetic. I've broken down my own wardrobe into three distinct categories that I look for in a new piece: color, cut, & theme. While these might seem obvious, they are all important to curating a collection which will seamlessly assemble into any number of interesting and new coords.

This is perhaps the easiest category to root out. For simplicity's sake, at the beginning of your foray into lolita fashion try to pick two main colors, 1 neutral, and an accent color to base your collection off of. For instance, when I first started out I chose wine and chocolate as my main colors, ivory as my neutral, and navy as my accent color. Since then, I have branched out to incorporate pink and white with a few outliers of grey, black, gold, and lavender, but almost all of the pieces I have feature one of my four original color choices. There will always be those pieces which don't seem to fit, but if you focus on a few particular colors you will soon see your horizons expand to a few outliers with careful coordinates.

Sticking to similar color families can also be your friend when you first start out. If you love wine, head more towards darker, saturated colors like chocolate and navy over light pink and mint. On the other end of the spectrum, if cavity-inducing sweet is your thing, embrace those pastels to start and only incorporate higher saturation colors once you have a collection of blouses, tights, and accessories to support them. Once you begin cutting down your purchases based on color, you will find that your impulse buys will most likely dwindle to a more reasonable number. As a classic lolita, many of the prints out there are not released in colors which appeal to me - no matter how adorable the designs. That being said, I find myself saving money just because of the number of new releases I am able to cut out of my shopping lists. 

This one may seem a little bit less intuitive, but curating a wardrobe based on cut is not simply differentiating between the A-line skirts of classic and the bell-shaped skirts of sweet. Perhaps you have a fondness for high-waisted skirts and therefore seek to collect fairly plain blouses with very few detailing in the lower half. Or maybe you love square neck JSKs and fill your wardrobe with all sorts of fun boleros to complement your preferred neckline. Creating cohesion off of cut also allows you to mix and match styles to better suit the season or occasion. While velveteen skirts and dresses might be well-suited for winter, the wearer is sure to have trouble keeping cool in summer. By purchasing different fabric weights in similar styles, you can maintain your prefered aesthetic through all seasons without having to purchase a whole new wardrobe. 

Curating a wardrobe based on theme is perhaps one of the most challenging and rewarding methodologies. To maintain the same or similar motifs throughout all of your coordinates takes a good deal more searching, but if you keep color and cut in mind you can limit your potential spending. Let's say that you love rabbits and want to have an entire wardrobe to match. You would do well to remember that when one brand comes out with a motif, it is very common for other brands to do the same and therefore your purchases might be clustered. That being said, the secondhand market is certainly your friend when looking to follow a particular theme in your prints. Secondhand sales give you older pieces, generally for cheaper, with which to pad your wardrobe as you save up for the next slew of Easter rabbit releases. If you're in the market for Anglomania-themed pieces then the fall/winter 2014 into spring 2015 releases have been playing to your interests. Cats have also been on the rise and I'm sure that we will never see an end to fairytale prints. Each motif has its own flavor and can correspond well to a carefully selected assortment of accessories. The best way to accentuate a particularly thematic wardrobe is to focus on smaller accessories like necklaces, rings, and brooches to do a good bit of the legwork with tying your coordinates together. 

Overall, your wardrobe is a reflection of your personal style - whether that is strictly monochromatic or a bit more varied. A cohesive wardrobe does far more of the styling legwork for you and allows you to moderate your spending in favor of well-chosen pieces to round out your collection. My own wardrobe is fairly eclectic in taste, but follows a similar scheme of colors and cuts to allow me to best mix and match pieces into my prefered coordinate style. My own lolita aesthetic is constantly evolving and I might one day find myself making more purchases of kimono and yukata to create a classic wa-lolita closet. Only the future knows what is in store, but until then I'll hold off on my impulse spending in favor of a few more well-thought-out purchases. 

Until next time - much love,

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