Crimson Reflections

Because sometimes the world is too complex for black and white
Lolita Fashion History

2016 Lolita Laundry Statistics

In January of 2016 I ran a poll on rufflechat using a google form. I primarily asked questions about if people re-wore dresses or coords more than once. However, I also collected some data on tangentially related things like how often they washed those main pieces and how much used clothing they bought.

People were asked to check a series of boxes that applied to them, in that list were these options:

  • I do not wash my main pieces
  • I sometimes wash my main pieces after I wear them
  • I usually wash my main pieces after I wear them
  • I always wash my main pieces after I wear them

Never Washers

Never washers are people who selected the “I do not wash my main pieces” checkbox. This is probably the most honest group as saying that you don’t ever wash your clothes goes against a social convention. I suspect everyone who answered this is being truthful.

Never washers tended to own 10 or less main pieces (almost half) with about three quarters of them owning 20 or less main pieces.

Never washers also tended to have been lolita for 4 years or less, with less than 20% of them being lolita with 5 or more years of experience. The oldest never washer claimed to have been in the fashion for 10 years.

Sometimes Washers

Sometimes washers are people who answered “I sometimes wash my main pieces after I wear them”. They make up the largest group with 46% (almost half) of respondents choosing this option. Some of the respondents may be never washers who were embarrassed to pick that option.

Sometimes washers tended to own more items than never washers, but the shift is pretty small. 41% own 10 or fewer main pieces (down from 45%), with 66.6% owning under 20 main pieces (compared to 78% of never washers).

That does mean that about a third of sometimes washers own more than 20 main pieces.

Sometimes washers spanned a longer time frame than never washers, with some people claiming to have been in lolita 15 years. Only 66% of sometimes washers had been lolita for 4 years or less, with the other third having been lolita for 5 -15 years.

Usually Washers

Usually washers responded that “I usually wash my main pieces after I wear them”. Some of these may be sometimes washers who are over-estimating how often they wash their clothes. In general, I personally think this is the most realistic answer to the question, especially in this day and age where I know some people only get dressed up to snap pictures indoors and genuinely may not need to wash a piece every time they do so.

35% of usually washers owned 10 main pieces or less (compared to 41% of sometimes washers and 45% of never washers). 62% own 20 main pieces or less (compared to 66% of sometimes washers and 78% of never washers). 37% owned more than 20 pieces, however the growth is mostly in that middle area of 21-50 main pieces.

Usually washers span a wide range of time, but edges towards longer than the sometimes washers with 57.7% having been in lolita for under 4 years.

Always Washers

Always washers responded with “I always wash my main pieces after I wear them”. This is the smallest group and probably includes people who are lying as it’s generally both seen as the most socially acceptable and the most work.

40% of Always washers have under 10 dresses, which is actually more than the usually washers. In fact only about a third of always washers have over 20 main pieces, with a few people having over 200.

Always washers also span a large range of time. Just shy of half indicate that they have been wearing lolita for 4 years or less, which is the lowest portion of newer lolita across all groups.

Analysis

It’s interesting to see that the always washers group contained people with smaller wardrobes who have been in the community longer. But, that also makes sense to me. If you have less than 10 dresses and you wear them frequently, you do need to wash them more to keep them in good condition. This may also include people who flip their wardrobe frequently and they may wash because they intend to sell the pieces on.

Personally I expected usually to higher than it was, but I’m not surprised to learn that some people wash their clothing less often. Especially given how many pieces I’ve bought that had damage that comes from not washing the garment or marks or stains easily removed with normal laundering.

Since this was published, I’ve been posting resources about washing lolita, and there has been more discourse and discussion about laundry in general. I would like to hope that people are less afraid of washing things now than they were in the past. We also have had a pandemic which has made people more conscious of cleaning in general. I’d like to run a follow up asking about current washing habits to compare it.

3 comments on “2016 Lolita Laundry Statistics

  1. There could also be a small discrepancy simply due to the fact that “sometimes” and “usually” are quite open to interpretation. Both in the context of how regularly people wear their clothes (not everyone who has a lot dresses wears lolita daily and not every infrequent wearer will wear their dresses intensively enough to warrant washing every time) and just the definitions of what people consider to be “sometimes” or “usually”. Would “every second time I wear it” be considered “usually” or “sometimes”? That’s a lot of room for interpretation.

    1. Yeah, it’s definitely not the most scientific wording, but unfortunately it’s what I asked back when I wrote the poll and I can’t go back and get more firm data 🙁

      On the follow up, I did ask an every x-wear question as well as the old question so there was a comparison as well as some better data, lol.

  2. This is really interesting! Like you touched on, I’d also be interested in learning about what constitutes a “wear,” and if people are calling *any* instance of donning a main piece a “wear” (including coord tests or just taking photos in their room for social media) or if they mean “meaningful wear;” i.e. wearing it for some significant amount of time during a day, typically wearing it out and about as a functional outfit, etc.

    I walk the line of a “sometimes” and a “usual” washer depending on the piece, but if an instance of “wear” is to be taken at face value then that would tip me closer to a “never” washer. Like you said, there is no need to wash a main piece if you wear it at home to take photos for five minutes, or really even for a short digital meetup.

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