Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Out to Tea - Central Park Hanami

Last weekend I had the pleasure of going to a hanami picnic in Central Park. It was a decently sized gathering of wonderful company paired with a myriad of excellent potluck foods. We spent the afternoon lazing beneath the gorgeous cherry blossoms gorging ourselves, basking in the sun, and chattering away like squirrels. The weather was absolutely phenomenal and even though we had experienced a cold snap only a few days before, we had just the perfect temperature for an all-day meet - breezy but sunny.

Just a fraction of our delicious spread!
What I loved about this meet was the relaxed atmosphere. Normally meets are a bit more of a to-do - especially in and around New York where so often you have to make reservations ages in advance. Even then, oftentimes parties are held in private parlors, but with a two or three hour maximum which leaves many of us feeling rushed at the end of our otherwise lovely get-together. Though by attending a picnic we opened ourselves up to the constant clicking of cameras and the occasional nosy passerby, at the end of the day we could still spend as much time as we liked admiring the beautiful sakura and soaking up the excellent weather.

Everyone brought their own place settings to accompany their potluck food which was not only eco-friendly, but made for a very cute set of mismatched dishware. We had a patchwork quilt of everyone's different blankets and our little picnic party grew with each passing hour as more guests arrived. It was quite a lovely change of pace from the formality that I so often associate with meets. Instead it was far more like an intimate gathering of kindred spirits. I hope to be able to attend more meets like this in the future which allow for longer periods of conversation and companionship.

Photo (c) Xin Lolita Photography
In the spirit of hanami I opted to go for a wa lolita coord by pairing one of my Innocent World JSKs with one of my yukata I bought in Japan when I lived there in 2013. Though it took a bit of finagling to keep the coord together all the way from my apartment in Connecticut to Central Park, I got a decent number of shots which I was really happy with. Though the tightly cinched style of the JSK was not particularly happy to be paired with the yukata, and the detachable overbust portion had a tendency to get a bit floppy, I was overall very happy with the result. This was a coord I had been planning out in my head for a long time and I really liked how well the colors worked together. I got to have some really fabulous conversations with some of the other picnickers about my time living in Japan and subsequently about my interest in wa lolita. It was nice to get down to the details of lolita and building an outfit while using other people with incredible taste as brainstorming machines.  

Photo (c) Xin Lolita Photography
Overall I went for relative simplicity with this particular coord. I used my real hair instead of a wig due to my relatively long commute and did it up in a simple twist with my favorite light purple kanzashi. I attached an amazingly intricate floral pin I bought when I was in Okinawa last year that utilizes special local textile techniques; the piece is very detailed and has a nice pop of different contrast colors and patterns for that extra bit of flair. To my waist I added my burgundy Chantilly bow that I got from RuffleCon last year. My tights and shoes were both offbrand, but I kept them relatively unadorned and simplistic. 

Photo (c) Xin Lolita Photography
I had a fabulous time at hanami this year and felt very blessed that I had the opportunity to spend an amazing day outside under the most spectacular cherry blossom trees in excellent company. My second wa lolita experiment went quite well and I felt quite cool and comfortable all day with my light fabrics and roomy sleeves. I'm excited to try out this style again and find new ways to incorporate my yukata and kimono into my classic lolita style. Here's to another year and another hanami come and gone!

Until next time, stay strong and beautiful, my lovelies,

Monday, April 27, 2015

Lolita 52 Challenge Week 14 - Lolitas I Would Love To Meet

I've had the opportunity to meet some pretty amazing people through lolita fashion including a number of fairly well-known figures in the community as I described in last week's post. This week's topic focuses on which lolitas I would love to get the chance to meet. After thinking long and hard I came up with a bit of a shortlist of girls who I would love to get the chance to sit down and chat with. Many of them are some of my lolita style icons whose taste and coordinates I constantly find myself admiring while others have gotten into the lolita fashion industry in Japan and would be fascinating to talk shop with.

In no particular order:
Photo (c) Cathy Cat
Cathy Cat - I've been following Cat for a while now and I have to say that she is one of my favorite content producers on Youtube. Not only is she always on the pulse of what is going on in Harajuku, but she is obviously a well-loved member of the Tokyo lolita community. For anyone looking for more amazing lolita fashion videos, I highly suggest checking out her channel and being on the lookout for her updates every Monday. Even though she is constantly busy with her job and her work as a fashion photographer for Kawaii Pateen, Cat never fails to put out some really lovely videos which appeal to all levels of lolitas.

Photo (c) Fannie Rosie
Fannie Rosie - I love Fannie's classic style. She never fails to be elegant in her coordinate shots and she has some of the most amazing hairstyles out there. I love that she uses her natural hair and always tries to pull her whole outfit together from the dress to the accessories to her hairstyle. She looks incredibly put together and I aspire to have the same effortless elegance that she constantly portrays.

Photo (c) Iona
Iona - Another girl whose style I adore, Iona always looks impeccable to me. She rocks her coordinates, and has a lot of variety in her wardrobe, but still manages to maintain a very signature look. I love her taste and how well she puts together pieces without overbalancing her outfits - minimalistic, but incredibly chic.

Photo (c) Marlessa
Marlessa - This girl is incredible at putting together truly stunning coordinates. I've been constantly floored by the photos that come out of so many big European events featuring Marlessa. She has an amazing knack for putting together a delightfully whimsical and visually appetizing coordinate which is simultaneously over-the-top and yet the picture of elegance. Her headpieces and accessories are to die for and I wish I had even a percentage of her affinity for artistry.

Photo (c) Sapphira
Sapphira - This girl is definitely living the dream - going from a run-of-the-mill lolita in the UK to being a model in Japan, Sapphira is the success story for so many foreigners. She has had amazing opportunities to work with so many different brands and designers that I'm sure she would have a number of awesome stories to tell. I love how toned down her personal style is as well and though simplistic it is always cute and well put together.

One day I hope that lolita fashion will give me the chance to meet some of these amazing young women - even if only for a short chat! Do we share any lolita role models? Share in the comments below!

Until next time, stay strong and beautiful, my lovelies,

Friday, April 24, 2015

Lolita Blog Carnival - Your Favorite Lolita Garment Find

Let's Get Some Shoes~

One of the things I adore most about lolita fashion is the hunt for offbrand pieces which perfectly compliment my wardrobe - especially ones that I can find here in the US. One of my pinnacle offbrand find moments came to me when I was searching through the virtual haystack of shoes known as Modcloth. I needed a pair of versatile heels which would go with a number of different coordinates, but I was having a lot of trouble finding the right shade of brown. To end my frustration I ended up switching over to good, old, trusty black and hoping for something truly spectacular. I stumbled upon the Powerful Protagonist Booties and never looked back.

While I had loved these shoes on their own, I was stunned at RuffleCon to find so many of the other models owned them! We had a few of us shoe twins stomping our stuff on the runway and I've met plenty more girls over the past few months who own these staple heels. They're adorable, very comfortable, and well-equipped to traverse even the most uneven cobblestones. An all around win for this lolita! Though it certainly wasn't anything as extravagant or exciting as a big brand piece in the bargain bin at the local secondhand shop, these heels are definitely a gem and I've gotten far more wear out of them than I could have ever imagined. They're a bit beat up from the winter, but I can't wait to bring them on even more adventures~

Until next time, stay strong and beautiful, my lovelies,

Be sure to check out the other participating blogs this week!

Other Participating Blogs:
The Bloody Tea Party

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

5 Ways To Brighten Up That Rainy Day

April is certainly in full swing here in Connecticut as we seem to ping-pong back and forth between beautiful, sunny days without a cloud in the sky, and depressingly, dark days of rain and wind. The worst bit has been that the weather is still quite warm, but the thunderstorms put a bit of a damper on any ideas of a rainy walk. As such, I've come up with 5 ways to spend your rainy day trapped inside whether it's a lazy afternoon, or because your picnic meetup was cancelled.

1. Crafting
Sometimes the most dour of situations can turn into an excellent opportunity. I know I am guilty of being a bit more excited than I should be when plans fall through if only because I suddenly have an entire afternoon to myself! Though after days of poor weather and no opportunity to wear some of your more delicate frills might leave you reeling with cabin fever, crafting is a surefire way to get those creative juices flowing. Try and come up with new accessories to add to your latest fantasy coord and spend a quiet few hours with only a cup of tea and your projects for company.

2. Coordinate Building
Though it may be a total downer that you don't get the chance to wear your frills out on the town, take the time to think up some of your best coords at home. Dig through your closet and lay out your pieces to take photos of, or maybe put them on and experiment with different wigs and shoes. You never know, you might strike gold and find yourself with the perfect outfit for next week's meetup!

3. Watch A Period Drama
There's no better remedy to a wet, grey day than a nice warm cup of tea, a blanket, and a movie full of breathtaking costumes and beautiful imagery. A personal favorite of mine has always been the 2005 version of Pride & Prejudice with it's phenomenal soundtrack, amazing costumes, and absolutely incredible sets. Regardless of whether or not you enjoy the story, the eye-candy alone is enough to keep you occupied for a few hours.

4. Baking
Despite the fact that you might not have a particular event to go to, flitting around in the kitchen has always been a very therapeutic activity for me. Take the time to look up some delicious scone recipes or maybe try out your great-grandmother's famous strawberry tart. Whatever the outcome, you're sure to have something sweet to enjoy at the end and the activity is sure to relieve a bit of that restlessness.

5. Make It A Princess Spa Day
Grab a book, put on some soothing music, and draw yourself a nice hot bath. A rainy day is the perfect excuse to pamper yourself a bit. Have a bit of a lazy morning and spend the rest of the day being your own salon while treating yourself to nice healthy foods and your skin to some quality TLC. In the end you'll feel vastly better for it and you'll thank yourself when your comm remarks on how bright and wonderful your skin looks at the next meet!

Until next time, stay strong and beautiful, my lovelies,

Monday, April 20, 2015

Lolita 52 Challenge Week 13 - Lolitas I Have Met In Real Life

Chantilly Feature from GLB vol. 54
Well it's certainly safe to say that I never expected to have lolita become such a big part of my life when I moved to Stamford. And I definitely didn't expect to live in the same building as one, but a few months shy of a year later and here we are! I've had the absolute pleasure in getting to know so many wonderful lolitas from all over, and I simply cannot wait to expand my lolita horizons even more in the future. Currently, I'm an active member of both the Connecticut and New York communities and regularly attend events in both states. Because so many of us Connecticut girls live so close to the city, we end up going in for meetups and events there anyway so it makes sense to connect with a bunch of the local girls as well.

I have also been very fortunate in being constantly surrounded by excellent lolita role models - many of whom have become quite famous in the lolita community for their wonderful characters and impeccable style. Just a sampling of some of the lolitas I have met through my fashion journey this past year are:

Aly of Her Lumpiness 

Victoria of Parfait Doll

Martha the designer behind Moss Märchen

Kelsey the designer behind I Do Declare

Petrina of Lolita and the City

Amy of milkbox.

Stephanie aka the amazing sweetcherrytomato

Emily aka the adorable emilysu

Alison aka the awesome imaginaryalice

Remi aka my epic downstairs neighbor remilade

Grace aka the lovely Fro-chan

Xiaoyu aka the gorgeous victorianme

Yanise aka the sweet starrylightbox

Fumiko the designer behind Enchantlic Enchantilly

KAIE & BABI the duo responsible for Triple Fortune

Just to name a few!

I am exceptionally lucky to have so many amazing lolitas right in my immediate area. Some of my quite close friends I've had the pleasure of meeting through lolita and they constantly inspire me to push my own style to greater heights. RuffleCon was a great way to meet people last fall and I had amazing time getting to know so many lolitas from all over the world. It was especially wonderful to get to meet the designers and as a model for the fashion show they were all fabulous to be around. I can't wait to see what this year's RuffleCon will bring and I am beyond excited to meet more and more lolitas and form even more amazing friendships!

Until next time, stay strong and beautiful, my lovelies,

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Reader Request - Black x White Coords And Ita Branding

Innocent World - Gothic Lolita Punk & Brand Book 2005
This week I'm introducing a new weekly segment, Reader Request, which will focus on questions, topics, or ideas submitted by this blog's lovely readers. Today's topic comes in from a good friend and ex-cosplay teammate who asked why black and white lolita coords, or more specifically the typical black dress with white lace coords are so often characterized as ita? Back when lolita was first starting out, many of the various brands released pieces which fit into this black x white aesthetic, and yet many girls shy away from their own fashion heritage due to the stigma that has been so often attached to these coords. 

When lolita began gaining traction abroad and the community was spreading like wildfire aided by social websites like Livejournal and later platforms such as Facebook, various companies sought to cash in on the hit new trend. Many stores that already started carrying manga or even cosplay costumes shifted their gaze to lolita fashion, and unfortunately the black x white particular color palette was iconic. Lolita fashion was reduced to a single shade of black with white trim and an entire style boiled down to the same dress which was picked apart and remade with cheap lace and shiny costume satin. Suddenly "gothic lolita" was being marketed to the teenage masses in the form of a shiny, short-skirted bastardization of the original fashion and was readily available for less than $50 a set. Gothic lolita characters cropped up in various forms of media as well, and shows like Pokemon were quick to add in their own characters wearing the iconic style.

Marley / Mai from Pokemon Diamond & Pearl - her outfits clearly draw from what quickly became known as the iconic lolita style
Unfortunately for the community, many newer (and oftentimes younger) lolitas had the opportunity to buy these dresses that were being marketed as "lolita" without having to do any kind of research. Lolita had made it to our home soil, but not in the way that so many lolitas had dreamed of. As the community continued to grow, many local communities were inundated with newer lolitas who had bought cheap dresses off of sites like Milanoo or had stumbled across them at costume stores without really knowing the difference between a high quality dress and a low quality costume. For many of the older lolitas in the community, this was also the point wherein many of these newer lolitas were labeled as itas and the constant association of black x white lacemonsters with ita-ism turned many girls away from some of their favorite dresses. The biggest loss was surely felt by those who had fallen in love with the old school aesthetic of black x white dresses, but who no longer felt comfortable wearing them for fear of being labeled an ita. 

A secret from January 2012 reiterating the stigma attached to this aesthetic
What had at first been iconic and charming quickly morphed into a mark of inexperience and poor taste. Even worse was the fact that so many newer lolitas learned this disdain for old school black x white coords from their older, jaded predecessors. Soon even newer lolitas were quick to label any dress similar to that iconic image of the simplistic black dress full of gorgeous white lace details as cheap, ugly, and completely ita in design. These newer lolitas had been conditioned to associate an entire design aesthetic with the lowest form of the fashion despite the fact that this same style was so pivotal to the fashion's success. Over the years more and more lolitas have joined and left the fashion and yet the prejudice against black x white coordinates still remains as a relic of the dark ages of mass-media-produced costumes. 

With the current climate in lolita and the celebratory approach to old school designs that we are seeing from brands like Baby the Stars Shine Bright, I see the potential for a revival of the iconic coordinate. We can only erase this stigma through education and by emphasizing that above all else it is the silhouette, quality, and details which make a lolita dress of worth. Black x white old school dresses are not the antithesis of modern lolita, rather they are its heritage and should be appropriately appreciated and celebrated for spreading this amazing fashion well beyond the borders of Japan. 

If you find yourself relishing the old school aesthetic, I suggest checking out Marionette Cemetery - she has some really great information for all you old school lovers and has tons of photos from the older publications as well.

Until next time, stay strong and beautiful, my lovelies,

Friday, April 17, 2015

Lolita Blog Carnival - Make A Spring-Inspired Coordinate

This week's Lolita Blog Carnival is a celebration of the warmer weather we've been experiencing here in Connecticut! Though the day I shot this coordinate was overcast and the lighting in my apartment was rather poor, the weather outside this past week has been phenomenal. Last weekend was the first time I could really sit and enjoy my little balcony - it was definitely an exciting feeling. Though I am a huge fan of cooler weather and autumn, I've had just about enough of this dreary winter and am more than ready to partake in some outdoor activities like picnics or scenic walks soon!

As a classic lolita, my wardrobe does not lend itself to the bright hues that so many sweet lolitas enjoy, but I tried to go for a softer look to channel those first spring buds. I would love to take this coordinate on a picnic, or to a fabulous flower garden to meander the quiet paths. Though the heels aren't necessarily made for off-road terrain, they're certainly sturdy enough to handle just about anything aside from slippery ground or lots of mud.

Blush, chocolate, and burgundy are one of my favorite combinations

I love the matching hairbow that Innocent World put out - the watch is just too adorable!

Coordinate Rundown
Beret - Alice and the Pirates
Hairbow - Innocent World
JSK - Innocent World's Rose Fob Watch
Capelet - Fan + Friend
OTK Socks - Innocent World
Shoes - Offbrand
Bag - Angelic Pretty

Makeup & Hair to go with the coord
As for makeup and hair I would pair with this coordinate, I would go for twin braids for a youthful look. Fairly plain and simple to keep with the minimalism of this particular coordinate, but cute nonetheless. For makeup I would go with something fairly standard with a light blush and brown tones for the eye shadow and eyeliner. For the lips I would go for a kind of berry-stained look with a red or raspberry hue lipstick lining the inner part of the lips and a more neutral toned lip gloss over it. Nothing too flashy to detract from the coordinate, but just enough of a pop to be interesting.

Like this piece? Be sure to check out the other participating bloggers and their coordinates!

Until next time, stay strong and beautiful, my lovelies,

Other Participating Blogs:

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Lolita Treatise On Garments As Communal Property

Jake and Dinos Chapman, This is Worse, (2003)
There is an interesting phenomenon in the lolita community which creates quite a bit of controversy over issues which, in many other fashions, simply do not exist. Everything from outrage over altering brand to the common 'this fatty-chan is stretching my dream dress' secrets on Behind the Bows stems from the overarching idea that brand items are somehow also communal property as much as they are in the possession of a particular individual. I think that the major factors contributing to this widespread phenomenon are: the association of the culture with the material objects, prints as art, and lolita as a collective experience. Although these are certainly not the only factors which contribute, they are the largest or what I believe to be the most general and ingrained. As such, these factors are habits which are difficult to break which causes many of the pitchfork mobs to grow in number with otherwise neutral lolitas in response to occurrences of 'rule-breaking' or 'sacrilegious acts'.

Perhaps the strongest factor in creating the communal property culture within the lolita fashion community is the idea that the style has its own culture which is linked directly to the material items which power the fashion. Unlike many general styles of dress, lolita has its own language and culture associated with it. As such, the history, and continuance of the culture rests upon the preservation of the objects which are seen as having some sort of cultural value. Not unlike museums, the wardrobes of older lolitas often hold pieces which are held in very high regard whether due to their rarity, iconic style, or price. Because lolita dresses are made in such small numbers, these items have an attached value of being relatively difficult to obtain. Later brand releases have come with a reservation process of made-to-order such that the quantity is no longer quite so limited, but this does not keep lolitas from sniping at one another over alterations. Lolita dresses are seen as the foundation for the community and therefore have a sort of sacred aura around them. You don't have to be a gothic lolita to appreciate a beautiful Iron Gate, and more than a few rather neutral lolitas would be aghast to hear that an Iron Gate owner fashioned the OP into a salopette or a pair of boyshorts.

In order to justify the prices charged, many brands have trumpeted the idea that prints are unique pieces of art and on which you are spending most of your money. We live in a society that values art and no one finds it to be strange that someone would be willing to pay millions of dollars for a Van Gogh. Similarly, many lolitas do not bat an eyelash at $200, $300, and upwards price tags on new releases with a particularly lovely print. They see their purchase as a sort of investment and should that new print become the next Iron Gate, well they'll be sure to make some money should they ever opt to sell. I have met many lolitas who adore Mary Magdalene's Perfume Bottle series and for many classic lolitas it is a dream print. Perhaps its the amazing art by Sakizo, or the fact that it was Mary Magdalene's first non-floral print, but whatever the reason, this series is held in very high regard.

The final factor in establishing lolita dresses as communal property comes from the very idea that lolita fashion is essentially a collective experience. It is often touted that the most fulfilling lolita lives are those which are lived in the company of other lolitas hence the very existence of local communities. Lolita has become more of a community fashion in recent years with the steady rise in tea parties, conventions, and events around the world. More and more lolitas are encouraged to get involved, to model, to host, to teach panels, and create a culture of group experience and growth. As such, the fashion becomes about more than just the individual and more than a few lolita resources have urged budding lolitas to become knowledgeable about the fashion not only for themselves, but so that they may properly educate the masses. Lolita is shared and it has grown out of its humble backyard tea party beginnings into something much larger and unified than ever before.

Though I am a staunch supporter of the altering brand movement, I would be quite sad to see a Perfume Bottle piece go under the knife. Why is that? I believe that because the fashion encourages the idea of "dream dresses" or "dream prints" we perpetuate this idea that certain lolitas love and even deserve these pieces perhaps more than the people that currently own them. As such, for someone to alter a garment we see it as an admission that said individual doesn't love the piece enough to own it when another lolita would be perfectly happy with the garment as-is.

This idea is ridiculous when you really think about it, but it is fairly common in the art world as well. In 2003 the art world was stirred into a frenzy when Jake and Dinos Chapman presented their collection Insult to Injury. The pair had acquired one of the few complete sets of Goya's prints from the original plates in existence and had drawn over and altered them with grotesque clown and animal heads. People were outraged and that was essentially the point. Insult to Injury brought into question the rights of art owners and the idea of cultural preservation, heritage, and art stewardship. The debate never truly reached a conclusion and I don't believe that lolita fashion will either. While I think it is important to acknowledge the rights of the owner who bought and paid for the items, I believe that there is a kind of cultural value in many of the prints and pieces. That being said, unless we establish a museum of lolita fashion, the stewardship of the subculture's history falls into the hands of individuals. Don't like the idea of anyone altering brand? Then you'd best collect as many pieces as you can! The race is on ladies and gentlemen. Who will win will be determined entirely by financial means and a dash of luck. To buy or not to buy? That is the question.

What do you think? Share in the comments below!

Until next time, stay strong and beautiful, my lovelies,

Monday, April 13, 2015

Lolita 52 Challenge Week 12 - Combining Other Fashions With Lolita

If there is one thing I love about lolita, it is that the fashion itself is so adaptable and flexible that it is entirely possible to have your cake and eat it too. There are of course a few exceptions to the rule, but many fashion styles can be combined with the lolita aesthetic to create something which is inherently lolita while channeling something very different. I love seeing lolitas that have a particular eye for fashion combine lolita with a completely separate aesthetic to create a very interesting look.
While I think it is rather easy to combine lolita with say, vintage 1950s fashion, it is much harder to take an aesthetic which does not value the feminine or elegant and turn it into a true lolita look. That being said, a yukata and a lolita dress don't seem to go together, but there are a number of very successful wa lolita coordinates out there.

Innovation is the bread and butter of fashion and should be rightly celebrated. Never be afraid to try something new, different, and overall "out there" because there is no telling what you might discover. If there is one mantra you should chant in your head when taking a risk in lolita fashion it is that the aesthetic is all about the silhouette. While I think that many people in the community get far too up in arms over more deflated or subtler A-line petticoats, at the end of the day you should have some volume on your lower half. The playfulness of a petticoat makes all the difference in lolita and by remembering the basic silhouette, you're sure to steer clear of various skirts which would be either too long, or two short to truly fit the lolita look. Take a look at the beginner's diagram that I used in my tips post and notice how the volume of the skirt is balanced by the hair and accessories on the upper half of the body. With such a big statement piece as a poofy skirt, it's important not to forget about loading the upper half up with enough pieces, layers, and details to keep the coordinate from looking bottom-heavy. We want our petticoats to appear weightless, not like they're dragging us to the depths of the Stodgy Sea.

I am always excited to see lolita combined with other fashions, styles, and aesthetics. I think that the mix of different ideas is really what makes lolita an interesting and constantly evolving fashion. At its beginnings, substyles like wa or qi lolita certainly weren't in existence. Instead it took a number of young fashionistas who were willing to combine traditional garments with the avant garde adventurousness of lolita. If anything, combining other fashions with lolita is mostly about remembering what defines lolita and sticking to your guns. Lolita is about the silhouette, the detailing, and the quality of the materials. As long as you combine those three ideas into your lolita coord, it becomes all the more feasible to combine the fashion you love with another stylish inspiration or interest.

That being said, as I mentioned in my article about iconic styles, there are some periods of fashion history which are so profound in their cultural influence that you would be hard-pressed to turn them into a new lolita substyle. Roaring 20s flapper dresses are the antithesis of lolita, and though it would be difficult to work into a truly successful coordinate, an Art Deco coordinate is far more manageable. Sometimes fashion is about compromises and the ingenuity is in knowing when to push and when to give. I would love to see some mod 60s colorblocking in a lolita coordinate, or a flapper-style headdress paired with a dress which makes use of some exquisite beadwork. The possibilities are endless, and all it takes is a little flexibility to make it work.

Until next time, stay strong and beautiful, my lovelies,

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Anime Boston 2015

This year Anime Boston was a rather last minute decision for me. Back when I was a cosplayer I knew months in advance exactly which cons I was attending, where I would be staying, and how I would be arriving. Anime Boston was far more slapdash and didn't even turn up on my radar until a friend asked if I had any interest in going; she had extra space in her hotel room that she was trying to fill. I thought about it for a couple of weeks and after realizing how many of my friends would be attending, I decided to head back to my home convention after a two year absence. Back before I retired from cosplay, I was in Japan during the 2013 convention and had already retired from my competitive team by the time 2014 rolled around. I was excited to see so many people I had been out of touch with this time around. Of course in true convention fashion, our room filled up quickly in the latter stages of planning and we ended up having quite a crew in the Sheraton!

Day 0
On Thursday afternoon I carpooled with my downstairs neighbor / frilly friend up to Boston. Our trip was riddled with misfortune from bad traffic at every turn to a number of slight detours to pick up additionally passengers. Eventually we made it into Boston in one piece. After extricating myself from what had essentially become a clown car full of people, food, and luggage, I trooped off to the Sheraton to meet up with all my roommates while my fellow carpoolers checked into the Marriott. This was my first year staying in the Sheraton and luckily my room was in the South Tower. Although the horror stories of elevators were vaguely true, the South Tower had far less foot traffic to deal with.
After getting all of my luggage squared away, my roommates and I trooped out to the grocery store to pick up some things for the weekend mostly consisting of drinks and snacks. When we got back to the room we got ourselves settled and decided to head down to registration to pick up our badges before they closed for the evening. There was virtually no line and the process was as seamless as I had remembered it from previous years. To my delight, I got a text a bit later that evening that some of my old cosplay teammates had just got in and were headed back to their hotel room. I went to greet them and caught up with them for a bit for which I was rewarded with a delicious Earl Grey bubble tea that they had picked up for me in Chinatown. Deciding to turn in rather early on account of Friday's excitement, I headed back to the Sheraton and tried to sleep but ended up staying awake until around 4am.

Day 1
I woke up Friday morning at the disgustingly early hour of 6:15am after just over two hours of sleep and after attempting to lounge in bed for a while longer, I decided to get a head start on getting ready for the morning. With so many roommates, it was nice to be the first one to shower and have the bathroom all to myself to do my hair. I opted to go with a really classic look on this first day of the convention and put together an all-wine coordinate featuring Mary Magdalene's Meryl OP paired with my new Putumayo tights. For a really clean line I wore a Victorian overbust corset underneath that I had made while still in college. To top it all off I kept it fairly simple with a beret from The Black Ribbon and a couple of flower clips. I had only brought one pair of shoes for the weekend to save space and tried to keep my coordinates within the wine, & chocolate end of the spectrum.
With most of my roommates still asleep by the time I finished, I headed off to Copley to meet up with my cosplay teammates who were getting ready for an early morning photoshoot. I ended up spending my morning with them and even got caught in a bit of a downpour when I went to grab us all some coffees from the nearby Starbucks. Luckily my coord survived in tact with the only real casualty being the curls in my hair. I sat in on a panel hosted by one of my former teammates regarding budgeting for conventions before heading off to check out the dealer's room.
By the Sweet Mildred booth, I met up with my hostess, Stephanie, who was up and about doing some coordinate snaps as a weekend correspondent for Lolita and the City. She got a really great range of coordinates which have been featured in both the blog write up and the new video most of which was taken on Saturday! I feel very lucky to have my Friday coord featured! I ended up traipsing around a bit with Stephanie and her husband before we headed over to Wagamama to grab ourselves some lunch. 

That day Stephanie was twinning with another one of our roommates, Emily, and the two of them looked absolutely fabulous! Understandably in the excellent lighting of the third floor we managed to get a good number of coord shots and got stopped for our fair share of pictures. I'm always interested in how often lolitas still seem to get stopped at conventions despite the fact that most of the photographers are there for the cosplayers.

Emily's Grumpy Cat Bag
After getting some great photos and doing a lap around the artist's alley, we parted ways as I went off to eat my second meal at Wagamama for the day. I headed back to the Marriott to hang out with my former teammates before we presented a panel on competitive cosplay. The panel was unfortunately during the middle of the LiSSA concert, but we made due and had a good time flipping through the slides and reminiscing about the ridiculous adventures we had. 

To dress up for the panel a bit I slipped on a goofy pair of pink shutter shades which were unsurprisingly difficult to see through. Navigating through the convention was made ten times more difficult, but it was worth it for the random girl who told me my coord was "flawless" late that evening. Overall a hilarious look. I stayed up quite late getting into goofy shenanigans before I headed back to my hotel room. I should have gotten in quite a bit earlier considering that the Lolita 101 panel was early the next morning, but alas foresight is not necessarily my strong suit. 

Day 2
Saturday I woke up much later than I intended and had to get in line for the shower. Despite having to rush a bit through my makeup, the hair stage was quite a bit easier for this 50s Ice Cream Parlor inspired coord. I tried to look like I could head off to a sockhop at any minute and was actually fairly pleased with how it turned out. I kept the monochrome to my top half with black and white ribbons tied off to the side of my neck like those classic 50s neck scarves and my off-the-shoulder top from Modcloth. The pinks and chocolates were on my bottom half spearheaded by my Mary Magdalene Perfume Bottle skirt in pink. I had gotten my pink and sax ice cream float purse from Modcloth a few weeks before and tried to use it to bring out the blues in the Sakizo print. I had a fabulous time posing with my purse and had some awesome conversations with various Perfume Bottle fanatics like me. It was inspiring to meet so many lovely ladies who shared the same dream print!
Photo (c) Yiran Zhang
Stephanie and I made it quite late to the Lolita 101 panel, but we had time to take photos and get some street snaps of all the fabulous coords present! There was a really great variety in styles that wasn't limited to what the fashion show models had brought. I managed to get some quick snaps of some friends and closeups of some awesome accessories I saw! I didn't have time to get a lot of the coords because most of the group was heading out to Max Brenner's for brunch directly following the meet, but it was really lovely to chat with even a few of these beauties!

Mori Lolita worn beautifully by my amazing neighbor / driver Remi~
Layers on point!
Loved the pigtails with this sugary sweet coord!
The mini hat made for the perfect whimsical touch
Alison was the envy of all with her amazing Dream Marine JSK!
She made these glittery seashell charms out of resin to match!
Ashley was rocking OTT Classic and just seemed to conjure spring with all those florals!
Her bonnet coordinating skills were solid~
After much deliberation, a few of us ended up going over to Max Brenner's to grab a bite to eat as well. The food was fabulous, but the seating was a bit tight for petticoats. My anxiety level was high as well because Perfume Bottle and chocolate simply don't mix. I opted more towards the savory side of the menu, but it was still a period of extra vigilance with a healthy dose of please-don't-let-anything-spill-on-me syndrome.
Going our separate ways after lunch, I ended up meeting up with my little sister who had come to visit the convention for the first time. After getting her situated with a badge I spent most of my afternoon wandering the convention halls with her and seeing the sights. We grabbed ourselves a couple of Masquerade tickets and waited in the massive line before getting in to watch the show. Saturday evening was actually relatively relaxed. Since my sister had come to visit, we ended up moving my stuff out of the Sheraton and moving into the spare bed my former teammates had in the Marriott following the departure of one of their roommates. We spent the evening reminiscing about our own competition days and swapping silly convention stories with a few friends who came to visit.

Day 3
Sunday is always the chillest convention day as most of the blockbuster panels are over and rarely are there any events which I plan to attend. My coordinate consisted of all the things I couldn't really fit into my suitcase and I was pleased at how it all turned out. I paired my Innocent World JSK with a large shawl from UNIQLO and my floral tights from Triple Fortune. To keep the shawl in place I pinned it up with a Peppermint Fox brooch and topped off the whole look with an exquisite ship headdress I had bought from Sweet Mildred on Friday. Before spending too much time at the con I gathered up all of my luggage and headed back to the car with my carpool to store it away until we were ready to leave later in the day. 
Afterwards I headed back to the Sheraton to grab any items I had forgotten to bring with me the night before and said goodbye to my lovely roommates - most of whom had early departures and would not be wandering the convention floor. My sister and I then set out to make a detailed loop through the dealer's room and the artist's alley to look for any last day deals. Nothing really caught my eye, but it was nice to have a relaxing walk through the convention. I grabbed a quick lunch in the food court and bid goodbye to my cosplay teammates as they headed out of the con early as well. 
I had agreed to meet my carpool at the lolita swap meet on the third floor and I perused the options with them for a while. Unfortunately I wasn't in  the market to buy any of the pieces anyone had brought. I had a lovely conversation with one of the other lolitas there about Peppermint Fox and our mutual love for their products.I finally said goodbye to my little sister before heading off to meet my carpool and make the long trek home. 

Anime Boston was certainly an exhausting weekend, but I had an absolute blast. It was nice to see so many people I knew and it was lovely to bounce around between three different groups of people. As per usual with conventions, there was never a dull moment and although I caught my customary con plague, it got me excited to go back to conventions again. I have no idea what the future will hold as far as conventions go, but I'm excited to try my hand at them again - in cosplay or not. 

Until next time, stay strong and beautiful, my lovelies,

Friday, April 10, 2015

Lolita Blog Carnival - Make One Expensive Outfit And One Inexpensive Outfit From Your Wardrobe

Though I'm still recovering from the con plague I caught at Anime Boston, I really enjoyed digging back through my purchasing history to see the value of my various wardrobe pieces. The most expensive lolita I have ever purchased has yet to arrive at my house as it was a pre-order item, but I made due with what I had. These coords are shown sans bags and sans petticoats which would no doubt add more value. Without further ado - onto the coordinates~

The Expensive Coordinate - Total: ~$495
Lost in the Portrait Forest
Coord Rundown
OP - Alice and the Pirates
Tights - Putumayo
Shoes - Modcloth
Necklace - Moss Märchen
Wig - Lockshop
Hairbow - Alice and the Pirates

Naturally the most expensive parts of this outfit are the OP and the shoes with the rest of the items fairly similar in price. Though these are not necessarily my most expensive pieces all together, these are the most expensive items that I own which still fit together into a halfway decent coordinate. The cream color of the Innocent Rosier OP makes it a bit harder to coordinate with some of my more expensive accessories. I tried to keep the color palette fairly toned down and stuck to only chocolates and wines as my colors with hints of true white as an accent. I have not yet worn this coordinate out, but after laying it out and photographing it, I would certainly love to take it out for a spin. I absolutely adore how comfortable this OP is and need more chances to wear it out and about. I finally got a chance to take the tights for a test drive at Anime Boston and loved how they added a quirky little twist to my otherwise rather simple coord.

The Inexpensive Coordinate - Total: ~$180
A Crown for the Sunflower Prince
Coord Rundown
OP - Innocent World
Blouse - UNIQLO
Shoes - Modcloth
Headband - Forever 21
Tights & Accessory - Offbrand

The tights in this coord simply did not want to stay flat for photographs, but aside from the anorexic leg look we have going on, I can comfortably say that I wear something like this quite often. I got the OP for a steal because the front button ties were missing despite the rest of it being in perfect condition. The blouse is one of my favorite offbrand finds and goes for between $15 and $30 depending on UNIQLO's weekly promotions. The boots are actually quite costly, but they go best with this particular OP than basic flats in my opinion. The little flower pin clip was a gift from a previous buyer and I love to add them to my lapels for an extra bit of color. Keeping it simple and bright with this 'romp-around-town' kind of look.

Be sure to check out the rest of this week's Lolita Blog Carnival participants as they have some absolutely stellar coords going!

Until next time, stay strong and beautiful, my lovelies,

Other Participating Blogs:

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Tea Therapy - Bingley's Teas' Longbourn Wedding Tea

Rather unsurprisingly, after Anime Boston I realized that I had caught the stereotypical con plague. A decent amount of coughing, sneezing, and sore throats later I'm still in the clutches of my yearly illness which seems to follow an overdose of fun. Instead of simply submitting to the illness, I decided to challenge it a bit with a healthy dose of my new tea from Bingley's Teas. I heard about this fabulous company a few months back via a historical costuming blog and felt that I just had to try them out for myself. 

Searching through their selection of tea I loved that they have an entire Jane Austen themed selection with teas such as: Lydia Had More Fun, The Captain, and Compassion for Mrs. Bennet's Nerves. Delighted I looked through and fell in love with the sound of Longbourn Wedding Tea. It's a delicate white tea with hints of champagne, raspberry, and rose buds. Naturally, as a champagne enthusiast I simply had to get it and take it for a test run. Needless to say, I've not been disappointed. I was especially excited to see that they included a recipe for mixing the tea with champagne and simple syrup for a delicious cocktail which I cannot wait to try! 

The tea itself comes packaged in an adorable box shaped like a book. It was delicately nestled into the box it was shipped in with plenty of padding to avoid any wear and tear on the box. They also included a darling letter set after Pride & Prejudice which gives us a glimpse into the life of Mrs. Jane Bennet as she settles into her new station. The letter ended on a bit of a cliffhanger and I wonder if there is any continuation with teas from the same book! I'll just have to buy a few more to find out.

Opening up the book box the first thing I noticed was that the tea was packaged in a very easy to reseal bag which will help it to stay fresh for quite some time. With loose leaf teas, I don't always have spare tea tins lying around so it's a relief to know that the manufacturers assumed that you might not have a good storage system in place. The tea itself is vibrant and gorgeous with whole buds and plenty of colors present in the mix. 

Since Longbourn Wedding Tea is a white tea base, it's best when steeped for 1-3 minutes. I went for a solid two-minutes myself and have been pleasantly surprised with the result. The tea turns a gorgeous golden shade after being strained and has a surprisingly balanced and mild flavor. I'm not normally a big fan of white teas, but ended up falling in love with the clean flavors. There is a strong presence of rose buds with the champagne serving as a nice crisp flavor throughout and the raspberry as a sweet undertone. The aftertaste is something like a beautiful day in the middle of summer where you can almost taste the perfumed blooms on the wind. I found this particular blend to be perfect to drink while sick because it is so light and mild that it doesn't irritate the throat at all and can be had straight without honey or cream. 

If I ever get the con plague again (and I'm sure that I will), I'll be happy to know that I have the perfect remedy waiting for me at home to enjoy! 10/10 would buy again~

Until next time, stay strong and beautiful, my lovelies,