Why Does Lolita Have So Many Rules?

One thing that seems to really rub some people the wrong way is the number of “rules” that you have to follow when you are just starting out as a lolita. I’ve seen a lot of people, particularly outsiders or new lolita comment that lolita is too strict, or that there are too many rules and thus it isn’t fun. People also often make comments about how there aren’t rules in fashion in general, and so all the rules in lolita are weird. I agree that the number of rules in lolita is weird, but not in the way that most people mean it.

To explain properly what I mean, I first need you to do a thought exercise with me. I want you to imagine that you have never seen a movie or sitcom where people worked in an office. I want you to imagine that your parents, nor your parents friends, nor your friends, nor yourself had ever worked in an office. So, you have never seen the inside of an office, you have never seen someone who works in an office. You had a phone interview and you start an office job tomorrow. What do you wear? How do you figure it out?

Personally, I’d start by googling it. So here is a google image search for “What do you wear in an office?”

office

As you can see, it seems like, as a woman, I should be wearing a pencil skirt or dress, no bangs, a jacket, yellow, grey, blue, pink and white, with an occasional evening gown or santa hat. In fact, a good 1/3 of the things shown here don’t fit into the dress code at my work place, and/or are simply not office wear. If you based an office work wardrobe off of these results, you would likely be the office version of “Ita”, especially if these clothing cuts don’t flatter your body type!And while work clothing is easy to use as an example because many places have dress codes which explain in detail what is or isn’t acceptable, there are rules for pretty much everything, here are just a few that many of you probably follow without even thinking about them!

  • Women’s and Men’s coat buttons have specific sides
  • Socks don’t go with sandals
  • Light socks with light shoes/pants, dark socks with dark shoes/pants
  • Shopping is done in casual clothing, sometimes work wear, but never a ball gown
  • Flipflops are not worn with slacks or evening wear
  • Club wear is not worn to the dentist
  • Jeans can be paired with teeshirts or blouses
  • Teeshirts can not be paired with slacks
  • Button up shirts are tucked into high waist pencil skirts
  • Hose is typically not worn with open toe shoes
  • Clashing colors are avoided
  • Your left shoe should be from the same pair as your right shoe
  • Skimpy clothing is not worn to church/offices/school
  • Men typically do not wear dresses, but both genders can wear pants
  • Men’s clothing typically doesn’t have lace on it, or decorative bows
  • Women typically shave their legs, but not their arms
  • Makeup is typically applied to the face, and rarely applied to the feet
  • False eyelashes might be worn with a serious makeup look, but false mustaches are silly/costumes
  • Socks can still be worn in the summer, but mittens can not
  • Certain areas of the body are almost always covered for modesty
  • Only the bride / wedding party can wear white to a wedding

Some of these are very silly, and some of them are things which some people intentionally don’t follow, and some are more likely to be ignored than others, but they are just a small handful of everyday fashion rules that most people think almost nothing about. The reason we rarely think about these things is because we know they are normal from observing other people or from being taught at a young age. I’m sure there are a lot of “rules” that are even more ubiquitous, but I’m actually having trouble thinking of examples that I can put into words because many of the “rules” are so internalized that it’s hard to express them.

So what does that have to do with lolita? Well, most people who start wearing lolita don’t spend a long time around other lolita before they put together their first outfit. They don’t have a whole childhood of seeing people in lolita, wearing it properly. They don’t observe and/or wear hundreds or thousands of coordinates put together by other people prior to dressing themselves on their own for the first time. So all those things that are intrinsic about the proper way to match a way that a specific group wears clothing has to be taught to new lolita. Things have to be spelled out explicitly so that they know what type of fabric and what skirt length and if you put on your tights or your bloomers first.
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So when someone writes up the “rules for lolita” for a newbie, what they are doing is taking the essence of lolita and saying “ok, if you do all of these things like this, you should reach a point where what you are wearing is lolita”. However, the opposite isn’t always true. If you break a single rule (let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you don’t wear a blouse), you aren’t necessarily not in lolita. Likewise there are cases where a santa hat might be appropriate office wear. It’s not always, it’s not even most of the time. But on December 24th? Sure.

If you start out following the rules, as closely as you can, and you interact with other lolita, and you look at pictures of other lolita, as time goes on, slowly you will build up a sense of what lolita is, and how it should look. The longer you wear the fashion, and the more involvement you have with it, the better your sense of what is and isn’t lolita gets. After wearing it “by the rules” for a while, eventually, you start to get a feel for what rules can be broken and when. You start to understand what lolita actually is, and how to get that look by combining elements that may or may not strictly follow the rules.

Time also tends to give someone a more realistic idea of what is and isn’t possible when it comes to lolita. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people point out tiny color miss-matches on Closet of Frills as if it was a show stopper. People who are still young to lolita often critique lolita coordinates as if they are illustrations where it’s possible to exactly match every color in a dress exactly in other pieces like blouses or shoes. In reality, this is usually not the case. Heck, half of the time with brand releases the socks aren’t even exactly the same color as the dress and they go together in a set!

Special Set

The socks, coat and dress in this set are all totally miss-matched shades of pink!

I think in part, because new lolita come into the fashion and adopt the “follow the rules until you make it” mind-set, many people who are semi-new to lolita, where they are just getting to the point where they can follow the rules pretty regularly, are overly concerned with making sure everyone around them follows the rules to the T. Combine that with over-enthusiasm for the rules, with unrealistic expectations and a sprinkling of newbies who do not want to be told what to do and you get a situation where some people are just very, very critical and the fashion appears to be very rule-based and strict.

20130501234206_originalAt the end of the day, when giving (or receiving) concrit on coordinates, I think it’s important to consider the coordinate as a whole and what the motivation is for the concrit. If the point is to show off that you “know the rules” more than the person posting, or because you are offended that the coordinate doesn’t “follow the the rules” in your opinion, and the person isn’t new to lolita and doesn’t actually look bad, sometimes it’s best to simply accept that they may not have been trying to follow the rules in the first place, and that it’s ok; not every coordinate has to be textbook lolita. After all, fashion is personal and about self expression. If everyone wore the same textbook coordinates all the time the fashion would stagnate and not grow or change. Granted, there is a point where something divulges so much from what is typically thought of as lolita that it stops being lolita, but there are so many examples of textbook lolita out there now that policing every coordinate that is borderline does nothing but stifle innovation and reduce the wearability of the clothing. I’d rather see a creative person pull off a stunning inovative coordinate that skirts the edges of the rules, than another neutral blouse / neutral shoes / neutral socks + colored main piece and bow coordinate any day. Have fun with it! Be cute! Wear what makes you happy!

Buying and Selling Lolita Second Hand – Common Listing Mistakes and Questions

Most people understand the basics; you make a post to egl-comm-sales, or lace market or lolita sales groups on facebook as a seller, and as a buyer you simply comment or press a button to buy the items you want.

However, western lolita secondhand sales sites have their own vocabulary which even some established lolita might be tripped up by.

Proof Photo

A proof photo is a photo of the item that shows it’s current condition and proves that you have it in your personal possession. Once you have taken your proof photos, you should not wear or use the item. If you do, you should take a new set of proof photos. If you are the seller, you should take a close-up photo of any stains, rips or other damages. You should also show any detachable parts in your photos. Proof photos sometimes contain a unique item or a slip of paper with the user’s name. It’s typically acceptable to politely request a seller take a new proof photo containing a slip of paper with their name if you have reason to doubt the authenticity of the listing (new seller with no feedback, item over $500 USD from someone with little feedback, suspected stolen photos, etc).

When looking at proof photos, if the seller has the same set up for multiple listings, it can be a fairly good indication that the photos are genuine. If a seller has little feedback, suddenly is selling lots of items at prices that are too good to be true, and/or is only selling rare and valuable items, OR all of their photos are drastically different (different lighting, quality, background) or only stock photos it can be an indication that something isn’t quite right.

If you suspect a photo might not be genuine, try using google image search or tineye.

Google Reverse Image Search:

  1. Go to http://images.google.com
  2. Click the camera icon
    googleimage
  3. Select “Paste image URL” for images online on public sites. OR, select the “Upload an Image” option for images you have saved.
    googleimage2
  4. Click “Search by Image”
  5. If google knows about the photo being elsewhere, you should see results like this:
    googleimage3
    In this case, I can see that the photo is in use on multiple egl-comm-sales posts… but they are all by the same person, and that’s the person who’s photo I took to look at, so I can determine that it’s probably not stolen. It’s important to note that many people have different usernames on EGL-Comm-Sales and Lace Market, so finding a duplicate isn’t a 100% a sure-fire way of proving the person stole the photo.In a case like this, if I was still concerned, I might ask for a proof photo with their name on it just to be sure. (In this case, I know the seller and trust her so it’s really a non-issue. I just happened to be looking for pictures of this dress today! XD)

Stock Photo

A photo provided by the manufacturer. This is useful for advertising a sales listing because it tends to be a very clear photo and people tend to recognize it, but should never be the only photo in the listing. If you see a listing with only a stock photo, you should ask for a proof photo to be safe.

EGL Sales Tags

egl2All EGL sales tags start with a !. This was done so that they would alphabetize together in the tag list. So !WTB, !DS, !DT all have the ! first simply because it was convenient on live journal. If you are not on livejournal, omit the ! all together, unless you are using it as normal punctuation in a sentence. If your post/listing contains multiple types of sales (perhaps you want to trade something and sell something else and buy something else) you can list all the potential tags with a slash between them in the topic title. For example: !WTB/!DT/!DS

!DS

!DS stands for “Direct Sale”, and can be written as “DS” as well. This is something you want to sell. You can make a DS post on pretty much any platform.

!DT

!DT stands for “Direct Trade”, and can be written as “DT” as well. This is something you want to trade, often for a specific match. You have item A, you want item B (often the same item in another color or cut). You can make a DT listing on egl-comm-sales or most FB groups. You can not make a DT listing on lace market.

!WTB

!WTB stands for “Want to Buy”, and can be written as “WTB” as well. This is something you want someone else to sell to you. You can make a WTB listing on egl-comm-sales or most FB groups. You can not make a WTB listing on lace market.

!DA

!DA stands for “Direct Auction”, and can be written as “DA” as well. This is something you want to sell via auction. You can make a DA post on pretty much any platform, however, the terminology is not really used outside of LJ. A LJ auction is totally low tech. People comment on the listing with their bids and the seller sets some deadline for when it’s over and then calls it based on the time stamps of the posts.

!EA

!EA stands for “Ebay Auction”, and can be written as “EA” as well. This is pretty much exclusively an egl-comm-sales thing, and it’s the tag you use to indicate you are advertising an auction you are running on Ebay.

Sales Tags Not Used on EGL

WTT

WTT stands for “Want to Trade”. This is an alternate to DT.

WTS

WTS stands for “Want to Sell”. This is an alternate to DS.

Item Condition

NWT

NWT stands for “New With Tags”. This is a piece of clothing that still has the paper sales tags attached. If the tags are removed at any point other than by shop staff, it’s not “NWT”. The price portion of the tag may be torn or cut off (this is done by some shops when items are on sale to mark them as non-returnable, and by some shopping services to avoid customs).

This headbow is "NWT". Note the dot sticker. It indicates that I bought it on sale.

This headbow is “NWT”. Note the dot sticker. It indicates that I bought it on sale.

If you wear an item beyond trying it on (like you would in a store dressing room) and leave the tags attached, it can NOT be listed as new with tags. Doing so is fraudulent.

If you try on an item that is new with tags, inspect it before listing it for sale for things like makeup, runs, or other small flaws. Many people will mention that they tried something on if they did, but some don’t.

Also, including the tags you removed in the package with a used dress does not make it “with tags”. Tags are only valuable as “proof” that the item hasn’t been worn.

NWOT

NWOT stands for “New WithOut Tags”. This is usually a piece of clothing that was purchased on sale or received in a lucky pack. Or something someone has had for a while, removed the tags from, and didn’t wear. It’s very common to see innocent world items that are NWOT for sale. They almost always come from lucky packs. It’s important to look at the proof photos though as some people might forget that an item came from an outlet pack, or might lie about something being NWOT when it’s really used and just in good shape.

Mint

Mint condition is typically something that is new and still packaged from the store. Never worn, never tried on, never even opened. Don’t use this if you can avoid it though. It’s confusing because mint is actually a color, and some people really miss-use it in place of “good”.

New

New means the item has never been worn. If it’s been worn, it’s not new. If you bought it on auction, and it didn’t say if it was used, and it doesn’t have tags, it’s best to list it as “like new”, not new.

Like New

Like new means the item has been worn OR you don’t know if it has been worn, but it looks new. There should be absolutely no damage, and it should be pretty much impossible to tell if the item is new or used.

Used

Anything that isn’t 100% new. Any damage should be listed. Some people break this down further, but usually just Used + the damage is enough.

Trying things on

Trying something on is typically defined as putting it on to see if it fits. If you have it on for more than 10-15 minutes, are sweating, go outside and/or get makeup, lotion, or food on the item, it’s not trying on anymore, it’s “wearing” it.

If something is too small and trying it on pulls at the seams, you MUST mention the damage when selling it.

Most items it’s up to you if you want to mention you tried it on or not (mentioning you did not try it on is a selling point, and I always mention it when I get something very small in a lucky pack to make sure people know I didn’t “stretch it out”.)

Some items, however, you should ALWAYS mention if you tried them on

  • Socks & Tights (foot germs + they stretch out)
  • Cutsews & Sweaters (they stretch to fit the wearer)
  • Shoes (if they were too small for you, or you didn’t wear socks)
  • Wigs (for hygienic reasons)
  • Bathing suits / undergarments (for hygienic reasons)
  • Bloomers (it bothers some people)
  • Lashes or Other Makeup (for hygienic reasons)
  • Contacts (for hygienic reasons)
  • Earrings (for hygienic reasons)

What about things that are NWT, but damaged?

So, you try something on and it tears, or gets make up on it. Or it’s new, and comes to you messed up, or you buy a B-grade item. When listing these items, it’s best to list them as “NWT – Damaged” or “NWT – Defective”.

For example, if you buy a bodyline dress and it’s printed backwards, you can list it as NWT – Defective, and then explain the damage. These items should be marked down a little from the market price.

Things you should never buy used, and why

  • Contacts / Circle lenses
    If they are actually opened and have been used, don’t do it. Ever. Seriously. This is like just a hair safer than sharing needles or having unsafe sex with strangers. Eye fluids are body fluids and no one wants that.If they are sealed and unused, I still wouldn’t do it. Mostly because you don’t know 100% for sure where someone got them, how they stored them and when they expire. Even if they are a “brand” name, they could still be fakes from a shady taobao shop, or could have been stored wrong. It’s just not worth risking your eyes.
    Circle Lenses
  • Eyelashes
    If they are open and used, it’s just not worth it. You run the risk of an eye infection, plus there is the whole used glue thing. Buy some cheap ones at the drug store instead.
    used eyelashes
  • Makeup
    Yes, you can pour/spray rubbing alcohol into pressed make up and yes, people do says that will sterilize it. But after paying the cost of it + shipping, how much are you really saving? And is a couple bucks worth the shorter shelf life and the possibility of a skin infection or breakout? You also don’t know how old it is. On a side note, the same thing goes for clearance makeup and makeup in those stores that advertise designer overstock; you just don’t know how long it’s been on the shelf.

    20160221_130924

  • Earrings
    You are probably thinking “oh I’ll just wash them with (boiling water / alcohol / bleach / soap)”. Sadly, this is not enough to kill everything out there, including things like Hep C. Sadly, you have no way of knowing if the person wearing the earrings before you had any infections or if their piercing holes were fully healed or bled at all due to cuts or allergic reactions. If you absolutely have your heart set on a pair of used earrings, contact a local tattoo and piercing shop and ask if they can autoclave them for you (it should apparently be a relatively inexpensive thing if they will do it according to people online). The only thing to keep in mind is that you can’t really autoclave most plastics, so this is more of something you might have done with vintage metal stuff than, say, angelic pretty plastic things. That said, if you have dangle earrings that are plastic that you bought second hand and absolutely must have, you could have the hooks changed out by a jewelry maker (or do it yourself), but again, be careful and keep in mind that they could have some really nasty stuff on them.
    Sweet lolita earrings

Additional things I usually don’t buy used, and why

  • Shoes
    Shoes shape themselves to your feet. Used shoes are going to be shaped to someone else’s feet, and not be as comfortable. The only exception to this in my book are shoes someone wore once. I see a lot of VW x Melissa heels people bought to wear to prom or their wedding on ebay, and that’s usually a short enough time that it’s not a big deal.
  • Socks/Tights
    The possibility of foot fungus just skeeves me out.
  • Wigs that have been worn
    I am one of those people that turns their head too much. I wear out wigs. I need every moment I can get. It’s not cost effective for me to buy a wig that is half way to the grave already.
  • Petticoats
    Petticoats deflate, and used petticoats are usually partially deflated. Not worth it to me.
  • Bloomers
    Yeah, yeah, they are shorts you wear over underwear, I know, I know, but… I don’t know man, I just don’t trust them.

Environmental things you should disclose if you are the seller

Always mention it if:

  • You smoke or live in a house where a smoker lives (It smells + allergies)
  • You have a warm-blooded pet (Allergies: pet dander gets into your house dust, which gets on everything, even when pets don’t come in contact with items.)
  • You have bed bugs, flees, lice or another bug infestation that can be transferred (Your buyer can isolate the item in a plastic container or put in the dryer on high heat if they know. If they don’t know, you can potentially infest their whole house. Don’t be that person.)
  • You have house mold (Allergies: spores get into the air and onto everything)
  • A stain is blood or any other body fluid (it’s a safety issue.)

Shipping & Payment

When paying / collecting payment, use paypal, it’s the most common, and it provides protection to both buyer and seller.

Ship everything with insurance by default. You can ask a seller not to insure a package for cheaper shipping, or offer a buyer the choice of not having insurance, however, if a package is shipped uninsured and is damaged in the mail, it is the buyer’s responsibility, not the sellers.

If you buy something and the package arrives with undisclosed damage, first contact the seller. Always open packages as soon as you can (within a day of delivery) and inspect the item right away. That way the seller really can’t claim that you wore the item and caused the damage yourself.

What to do:

Insured item comes with postal damage 

  1.  Take a photo of the packaging before you open it if the packaging is open or otherwise very beat up
  2. Open the item and inspect it. Take photos of any damage or missing parts (show everything in the package in a clean, clear area in one photo to document a missing item)
  3. Contact the seller.
  4. The seller then should file a claim with the post office.
  5. The claim will take time to process, be sure to provide the seller with any information the post office asks them for. If an item is damaged, they may ask how much it will cost to clean / fix it instead of completely refunding it.
  6. If the post office approves the claim, the seller will then get reimbursed.
  7. The seller then reimburses the buyer.

Insured item never arrives

  1. If the item has tracking, check the tracking. If too long has passed (2+ weeks on a 2 day package for example), it may be lost.
  2. Contact the seller.
  3. The seller then should contact the post office to do an inquiry.
  4. The post office will investigate. After the investigation, if the package is not found, the seller will then get reimbursed.
  5. The seller then reimburses the buyer.

Uninsured item never arrives 

  1. If the item has tracking, check the tracking. If too long has passed (2+ weeks on a 2 day package for example), it may be lost.
  2. Contact the seller.
  3. The seller then should contact the post office to do an inquiry.
  4. The post office will investigate, and try to find the package.
  5. If the package is not found, no one is reimbursed. The buyer simply takes the loss.

Item arrives with undisclosed damage

  1. Take photos of the damage.
  2. Decide if you are willing to have the item repaired / cleaned, or if you want to return it.
  3. If you plan on having the item cleaned / repaired, get a quote for how much it would cost.
  4. Contact the seller. If you would like to repair it / clean it, politely request the amount it would cost to do so as a refund.

    Hello!
    I just got the [item]. Unfortunately, when I was looking at it, it looks like there is a mark on the skirt. I took it in to my local dry cleaner and they said they could probably get it out, and it would cost $15. Would you be willing to cover the cost of the cleaning, as the item was not as described in the listing?

  5.  The seller may come back with a counter offer. If it’s close enough for you, then you can accept. If the seller refuses, you can then escalate to a paypal claim. If the seller won’t do a partial refund and asks you to return the item for a refund, this may be the only resolution.

When mailing, always keep the postal receipt and insurance / tracking info until after the package has safely gotten to the buyer. If you are shipping a lot of things, make a folder for them and just file them as you get them so they are all in one place.

Is there anything that ever tripped you up as a buyer or seller? Let me know in the comments!

Asking for Lolita for the Holidays

Vintage09First of all, if you are a lolita, and the person buying for you isn’t a lolita, and hasn’t specifically expressed a wish to want to buy you lolita, and you can afford to buy lolita for yourself, I would caution you to perhaps ask for something else as a gift. It’s always easier to buy your own clothing when you have the option, in my opinion, because you already know what you like.

But, let’s assume that you don’t have the means; maybe you are in school still and this is a holiday gift from your parents. Maybe you are older and your significant other wants to buy you something you will really like and has asked. No matter what the reason, here are some tips for making sure you get something close to what you want this season.

First of all, if there is any way that you can ask for a gift card or money (if its not awkward to do so), that may be the better option. Gift cards for Etsy shops, Angelic Pretty USA, Harajuku Hearts, Tokyo Rebel are all safe bets, as are geVintage10neric Visa gift cards.

Beyond that, it’s best to focus on things that are easy to buy. That means online shops which take credit cards, are in your native language (my examples are based on English, so you may need to adjust if the people buying for you do not speak English), and ship to your location. Again, indie brands on Etsy (I suggest brands like SweetMildred, PopPrincess) or Storenvy (I suggest Belladonna) are good options, as well as the lolita collective, bodyline, Metamorphose and US shops like AP USA, Baby NYC or SF, Tokyo Rebel and Harajuku Hearts.

I suggest making an Amazon.com wishlist. They have a great add-on for firefox, as well as a bookmarklet (basically you add it to the “bookmark” bar of your web browser and you can click it on a page to add the item on the page to your wishlist. Using either of these tools, you can build a wishlist of items from any website. Be sure to be very specific about size and color for items which have size and color options. Stick to things that will not sell out very quickly, and add a variety of price points. It may be tempting to add your $250 dream dress and nothing else, but if the person shopping for you feels that is not an appropriate price for a dress, or it’s outside of their budget, you are likely to not get it.  You might include notes about which thing is your favorite, or second favorite to help someone pick as well.

I would also recommend adding loliable things from local shops, and general “cute” things you might also want. Makeup, stationary, cute shoes that are loliable (be sure to include size and color!) , etc are all great ideas.The person buying for you may just not want to buy you lolita, and in that case, providing some alternative options helps to ensure that you still get something you will enjoy.

Share the link to your wishlist with your friend, family member or significant other as early as possible, to ensure that they have time to plan, and for things to ship to you. If you know approximate shipping times for things, it’s always good to make a note of that on your wishlist in the comments.

And remember, in the end, gifts are about showing you care about someone. If someone buys you something that isn’t lolita, or isn’t what you want, you should always accept it with grace and thanks. After all, it’s really the thought that counts.

Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays to you all!

Vintage25