Lolita Blog Carnival: What Makes A Good Wardrobe Post

This year I didn’t make a wardrobe post. I’ve only bought a few things this year, and I’d much rather do a video and show off my new dressing room once it’s set up. That said, it might be a couple months before we finally finish decorating and furnishing it; still need some more shelves and lighting in there!

But, I have made wardrobe posts in the past, and I have looked at a lot of posts as well. One thing that immediately comes to mind when I hear people mention that they want to do a wardrobe post is the sheer weight of a lolita wardrobe. I mean, look at your closet. Is the closet poll starting to bend? How much weight do you think it takes for that to happen? So, that said, if you want to do a wardrobe post, be prepared to get a work out! It also takes a lot of time. I personally recommend starting in November or December instead of trying to do the whole thing in January.

Consistency between photos is a really big thing, IMHO. You want all your photos to match. So, before you start taking pictures, decide on your set up. You want a relatively clear background, like a blank wall, closet door, corner of your room that is cutely decorated, etc. You also want it to be someplace well lit (or that you can make well lit), and you want it to be a place where you can ideally leave everything set up for a few days, minimum, so you can stop and come back to it.

If you are using a camera (and I recommend a real camera over your phone if possible) make sure to white balance it, and, if possible, put it on a tripod. If there is any chance of the tripod moving, put a couple masking tape marks on the floor for your positions. Then you don’t have to worry about half of your photos having the dresses in a different location.

If you can’t put it on a tripod, or are stuck using your phone, you can make what I call a stupid tripod. What is a stupid tripod you ask? A stupid tripod is a pile of boxes, or books or really anything relatively stable on top of a chair, table, book case, whatever you have around you house. The only rules are that it should be relatively stable and you want it in a good place that you can use it without knocking it over. Place a sheet of white paper on top, and tape it or rubberband it to the top most thing (use your imagination, rig some thing up, I believe in you) and then set your camera on it. Move your camera around until you have what you want in the frame. Then trace around your camera with a pencil. Now, theoretically, as long as you put the camera back in that same spot, you won’t mess up drawing your ridiculous still life of books and camera your photos will all look alike with the same background so people can focus on the clothes. If you are using your phone, put it in a short cup or bowl on top of this tower. Be careful. Use common sense. (I am not responsible for any damage resulting from a stupid tripod falling over. Please, please, heavy large things on bottom, lighter smaller things on top, stable stack of stuff, ok? Imagine you are building a nest for a rare bird egg, not playing jenga).

If you have a decent camera, zoom out a little. Now, if your camera moves at any time during the shoot, you have more room to crop your images all the same later.

If you have a dress form, things are a lot easier, because you can just dress it. If you don’t, you can try laying things out on a sheet. Pick a plain sheet and try to get it as wrinkle free as possible (You can try taping it to the floor with masking or painters tape). Stand on a chair, and lean down over the sheet. Make sure you aren’t blocking your own light or casting a weird shadow. Look through the camera, and then where ever the corners of what you can see through the camera are on the sheet, put a piece of tape or a small item. This way, every time you look through the camera, you just have to line up each corner of your view with the tape marks / items. Crop these out later, but as long as you line up with them each time, they will make it so that all your photos are at the same angle / zoom level.

Don’t be afraid to bring in a few extra lamps from another room and use them to give your setup more light if you are using indoor lighting. I’ve totally had lamps on chairs, or tables, or even kitchen counters. Note: Mixing sunlight and lamps will give you a weird light color on one side if it’s not even, so I recommend sticking with one or the other. 

When setting up, always start with your longest dress (or longest skirt + blouse combo, or coat). It’s really easy to set everything up for a normal length dress, then you get to that one piece that is long and it doesn’t fit in the frame and then it throws everything off.

see how the angle changes above? I wasn't prepared for longer pieces and I didn't use marks to keep things consistent

see how the angle changes above? I wasn’t prepared for longer pieces and I didn’t use marks to keep things consistent.

If you are making coordinates, or at least pairing blouses or cardigans with skirts or JSKs, take inventory first and figure out if you have an even number. If you are using a dress form, I personally prefer the look of a blouse + skirt pair over a bare top / bottom and separate blouse / skirt photos.

This just looks weird. It looks even weirder when it's a skirt and the top is bare!

This just looks weird to me. It looks even weirder when it’s a skirt and the top is bare!

If your dress form is smaller than you are and it’s causing things to look frumpy, grab some clothespins, or any kind of pin or clip that won’t damage your fabric, and pin back the fabric to give items more of a shape. You can see a somewhat extreme version of this above at the waist of the blouses. I probably pulled these in too much, but you get the idea. Tightening corset lacing and tying waist ties can help as well. However, if you aren’t taking photos of the backs of things, you don’t have to tie them pretty, just tie them any which way so you can’t see the waist ties / corset lacing. Your closet isn’t going to judge you, conserve your energy.

Speaking of looking frumpy, there is nothing worse than doing your whole wardrobe in a beautiful set up and then realizing everything is looks like it’s been balled up on the floor for 6 months. Iron or steam things as you go; wrinkles make things look cheap and like you don’t take care of your clothes. It doesn’t matter if it’s wrinkled because it’s just been washed; people are going to assume it lives in a pile under your bed. I own a cheap travel steamer, and it’s wonderful to work with (plus you can travel with them, what’s not to love?).

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Lint rolling things is also a good idea, especially if you have a lot of dark colored clothing and/or if you own a pet. Spending time editing out hair in photoshop after you take photos is pretty much the last thing I want to do by the time I’m done taking photos.

This is just a cheap photo storage box from the craft store turned on it's side!

This is just a cheap photo storage box from the craft store turned on it’s side!

For small accessories, and shoes, I recommend taking photos of multiple things at once to save time and sanity. Decide how you want to group them (by color? by style? by type?) and sort them into groups. When displaying them, if you have cute storage containers, you can use those containers to display the items. If you don’t, placing boxes or books under a solid colored sheet can give you a multi-level display area. If you put a cardboard shipping box under a sheet, you can even poke sewing pins into it to hold things up.

If you have an item you can’t display without propping it up with something un-cute, consider taking a picture of the setup without any items in it, and then, without moving the camera, take a photo with the item. You can then layer these photos in photoshop and cut out what you used to prop up the stubborn item.

Don’t be afraid to use cute props like stuffed animals, tea cups, jewelry boxes, etc to help you display your items. As long as the prop doesn’t steal center stage, it can be a great way to help show off things that don’t look their best flat on the ground.

When posting things, edit all your photos to be roughly the same size, and consider editing multiple photos into a single thumbnail image if your wardrobe is too big to post on your platform of choice (LJ has a text limit, sadly). For mine, I do each row of items in the post as a single image.

One final tip: this is the best time to cull your closet. You are dragging out every single thing you own and photographing it. If there are things you are iffy on, or don’t want, this is a great time to inspect them, take a couple extra photos, and then list them on lacemarket. It’s also a great time to take inventory of what you have; if you have 20 pairs or purple shoes, and 1 purple dress, for example, it might be time for some of those shoes to make their way to new owners (or for you to buy 19 more purple dresses, hey, I won’t judge). Or, on the flip side, you might notice you own a lot of things that would go great with a pink blouse, but you don’t own one. Make a list of things you want to add / remove from your closet and address it later. It’s also a great time to check for items that may need to be cleaned (for example accessories that may have tarnished) or need repairs. Make a list and tackle those things after the wardrobe post too.

Above all, have fun with it, and if you don’t finish by the “deadline”, don’t stress it. Post a partial post, or post late; it’s all good. And don’t get too hung up on comparing your closet to other people’s either!


545430_945698161629_573562109_nOther blogs participating in this theme:
Roli’s RamblingsCupcake Kamisama’s Lolita WorldThe Bloody Tea Party ♥
Spirit of the Teacup ♥ Poppy Noir ♥

Lolita Blog Carnival: What Made Certain Prints Like Iron Gate & Cat’s Tea Party, Etc, So Popular?

This weeks Lolita Blog Carnival topic is “What Made Certain Prints Like Iron Gate & Cat’s Tea Party, Etc, So Popular?”. For those who aren’t aware, “Iron Gate” and “Cat’s Tea Party” are two different lolita print series, from two different brands. These two series have one thing in common though: They were so sought after that they have sold second hand for over $1,000 USD, despite the initial prices being much lower.

This is something that really fascinates me personally, because at first glance, it seems almost arbitrary which pieces are and aren’t very valuable on the secondhand market. Personally, I think it varies from piece to piece, so I’d like to break it down by series, and I’d like to talk about a few other high price lolita items as well.

Moi meme moitie iron gateMana Iron Gate

First of all, Iron Gate. Iron Gate was released by Moi-même-Moitié in 2006. It was featured in Gothic Lolita Bible, Volume 20, where it was modeled by Mana, himself. One thing that is very interesting to note, in my opinion, is the opposite page. That left hand column talks about the latest album from Moi dix Mois; Beyond the gate. This issue of the GLB hit news stands a little less than a month after the album release. And in the side column, Mana talks about his latest Moi-même-Moitié collection and his latest musical work, which are tied together by this theme of gates. It didn’t all immediately sell out, though, in 2006, very few things did. In fact, In april, the JSK was still available in black x white, and black x navy, and the skirt was still listed in most colors in may. At least one cut/color of the skirt was still availableyear after release. So, while we can infer that the white colorway, the bag, and the OP cut, at least, were immediately popular, it appears that the series as a whole wasn’t immediately gone from stores. In fact, someone even posted in 2009 that they had an easy time buying it from CD Japan, who used to sell MMM overseas, because of how long it had been available.

It was, however, one of very few border prints available at the time, and it was relatively popular. It’s likely that there was a significant number of pieces made, since it lined up with the CD release. 2 years later, in 2008, a skirt auctioned off on EGL sold for 280 Euros. In 2012, a bag appears to have sold for $700 USD. In 2014, a faded dress was auctioned off with a starting bid of 400 Euros. It got no bids. In 2015, a JSK was listed for $850 USD. In fact, the first time I saw Iron Gate listed for over $1000 USD, it was a western second hand shop selling it, and it sat for a while because the price seemed too high to people at the time.

Royal GateIron gate now regularly sells for over $1,000, and while MMM has released a very similar print called Royal Gate, it doesn’t sell for anywhere near as much, though it does still fetch retail prices. (It is worth noting that Royal Gate is flocked and generally much less attractive). Overall, Iron Gate has an attractive motif, it was a border print in a time when border prints were just starting, and, I think most importantly, it’s still in fashion in a way that many of the other popular prints from that time period aren’t. For example, Angelic pretty’s 2006 print pastel a la mode looks dated when you compare it to other sweet prints, and there are so, so many cake prints to pick from. I think with Iron Gate, part of it is just that it was established as a status symbol, and once it became a status symbol, once Iron Gate became Iron Gate, I think it accelerated it’s value. Add a few people who were willing to pay way more for it, and the fact that it’s now well over 10 years old, and you have a piece who’s reputation as a rare, expensive status piece precedes it to the point where it easily fetches a 4-figure price.

puppet circusThere is another piece that is conspicuously missing from the lolita blog carnival topic’s title though, and that piece is Angelic Pretty’s Puppet Circus. By around 2010, if my memory serves, Puppet Circus and Iron Gate were pretty firmly established as the iconic lolita prints. Puppet circus has a lot in common with iron gate; it’s a monotone border print on a solid base, with lots of delicate detailing, it was one of a very small number of border prints available in 2006 when it came out, and it has a very solid design. Unfortunately, the wayback machine didn’t capture much of the Angelic Pretty webshop in the fall of 2006, but Puppet Circus was soundly and thoroughly sold out by February of 2007. It’s very interesting to compare it to some of their other pieces though; many other pieces that were popular at the time like Carnival mention that they sold out on reservation (pre-order), but Puppet Circus doesn’t say anything about that on the JSK listing. In fact, according to the sendai blog, only the OP sold out on reserve at all, and even then it was just red and white. The skirt, at the very least, was still available a month after release, even in red, one of the more popular colors per the same blog. So, while puppet circus certainly started out at least moderately popular (it did sell out in some cuts/colors relatively fast for the time), it wasn’t the most popular piece from AP that year.

Cats Tea Party

Cat’s Tea Party is the first of the prints in this post that was released after I became a lolita. At 41,790 yen, it was significantly more expensive than the average Angelic Pretty dress at the time. It was released as set consisting of a choker, headbow and JSK. There were two colors, but that was it. Gray or Pink, one cut. It has quarter shirring, and while I can’t find anyone who actually lists the minimum and maximum measurements, it’s relatively safe to say it’s probably around 90cm +/- 8cm in the bust and 70cm +/- 8cm in the waist. So, it’s about on par with Innocent World’s standard sizing. When it came out, the dollar to yen exchange was horrendous, like 78 yen to the dollar, kind of horrendous, making this set something like $535 USD (and that’s before international shipping and shopping service fees).

It’s a cute print, sure. Some people really liked the snooty little cats in it. But it’s a pastel print with cats. There are a bunch of other ones. So, at the time, a few people were really excited about the way the cats looked in this print, and some of them could afford it and bought it. But, some people were also just really indifferent to it, and some people couldn’t afford it, and some people just missed the fact that it even existed, and some people it wouldn’t fit so they didn’t bother. And that matters, a lot. Because it was make-to-order only, and it was only available for a short period of time. My theory is just that not many people bought this dress and/or the people who did had to really, really love it if they were spending twice the cost of a new dress for a dress in an unpopular theme (cat prints did not sell well in 2012; it was hard to get rid of them second hand, even when they were new). When the dress is sold in the western community, it’s often a piece that has already changed hands before, and it doesn’t come up for sale often. A few people who really love this set have been willing to pay a very high price for it over the last 5 years, and because of that, in particular, the price has gone quite high. It’s sort of become a status symbol because of this, but it’s a very bizarre one, in my opinion, because it’s really only so rare because people didn’t want it.

By the way, if you are interested in the value, there is an analysis of sales prices by Nadinao.

4c38abdb8acef17a750d23a81d305a60--gothic-lolita-fashion-lolita-styleBut, while these three dresses are currently quite expensive on the secondhand market, that status isn’t guaranteed. Alice and the Pirates Elizabeth Bride of Death series released in 2012 shot up to over $3K USD at it’s highest point on one particular Japanese auction. In early 2017, the cut without the slit in the front was selling for a cool $1k on lace market. Then, Baby announced that they were going to re-release the cut shown to the right on make-to-order. Overnight, the value of both cuts plummeted, and now the pieces from the series are go unsold at half that price. If you are in love with one of the dresses above, but not their current price tag, my advice would be to check out other pieces from those brands. Search lolibrary for things like cats, or gates. You may find that one of the many other pieces with those motifs speaks to you, and your wallet too. Or, just wait it out. Values of most lolita pieces have been falling in general. Time will only tell if it will hit these iconic pieces as well.


545430_945698161629_573562109_nOther blogs participating in this theme:
Cupcake Kamisama’s Lolita WorldThe Bloody Tea Party ♥