Crimson Reflections

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

A Bucket of Substyles: Meta’s Coordinate Samples

When we talk about “what is a substyle” in lolita fashion, specifically in English-speaking communities, there are two main schools of thought. The first main school of thought says there are 3 substyles (Sweet, Classic, and Gothic) and everything else is just a cross over with another fashion or a theme that could span over those 3. The other school of thought incorporates many substyles and what substyles do or don’t count vary from person to person and source to source. That said, one of the sources that deeply influenced the English Speaking community was the early Metamorphose English website.

On the site, they had sample coordinates, and they gave them stylistic names, some of which are commonly recognized substyles… and some aren’t. So let’s take a walk through the coords and how Meta labeled them from 2004-2007. While nearly daily posting was mostly a thing of 2004, they continued to periodically post new coordinates past 2007, generally cycling in a new set of two each season.

Sweet Lolita

Nothing particularly out of the ordinary, we start off with one of the most common substyles. Because these are coordinates from 2004-2007, the styling may look more toned down or even more classic than we typically see with modern sweet lolita.

Gothic Lolita

Again, one of the three biggest substyles and arguably, more popular in 2004 than it even is now. It’s interesting to see Meta’s take on gothic as they typically are thought of as a sweet brand.

Classical Lolita

We generally use “Classic” and not “Classical” in English speaking communities, but this is pretty spot on for one of the main three recognized substyles in the English speaking community. The nun OP might be considered more gothic by some, but overall, pretty much classic, maybe a tiny sweet influence… but nothing about this is particularly shocking.

Casual Lolita

All of these were labeled specifically as casual lolita, though the black and white punkuma camo was also labled as punky. Meta’s take on casual seems to span both the “put a hoodie on it” and “dress it down / for work” side of things. Casual lolita is defined differently by different people, and the definition has shifted over time as daily wear lolita has become increasingly more elaborate.

Chic Lolita

I’m not sure where they were going with this one. I’m getting french and romantic vibes from this? There is a lifestyle concept of the lycéenne, or female french student which was the ideal lifestyle that Olive magazine focused on, and this almost feels like a fancy lolita version of that aesthetic? Like, it’s French, but pretend French.

Elegant Lolita

This is also an odd one that wasn’t ever really picked up by western lolita. I’d call the first two coords here classic and the last one is almost Goth or EGA, but in white… save for how sweet the fur trim is?

Punky Lolita

Generally, “punk lolita” is used by native English speakers, not Punky when describing this look, but it’s pretty close to what we would call it today. There is a distinctly low level of poof in this particular dress that dates it a little.

Bridal Lolita

This is really interesting to me because there is a concept of bridal / wedding lolita (花嫁) in the Chinese speaking lolita community, but there isn’t in the western lolita community aside from people specifically saying ‘oh yeah, those really expensive OTT wedding gowns that baby made’ or talking about wearing lolita for their own wedding. There isn’t just like… bridal “style”. However, I’m not sure if that’s what Meta was going for here or not, because this print is their bridal print (though many items in the series do not bear the print name). So…

Country Lolita

This is commonly included on extended lists of substyles. Meta only posted this one coordinate, and that’s pretty reflective of how popular this look is IMHO.

School Lolita

Both of these coordinates use the same dress. I think Meta was just a bit hung up on the plaid print feeling school-uniform like. This is one of those things that really isn’t considered a “real” substyle, but pops up on lists made by “fans” of lolita.

Retro Style

This and the 60’s lolita coord both play with retro elements, which is something that Kato-san seems to really like.

60’s Lolita

I would argue that these two are basically the same base concept, but expressed in different ways.

Valentine Lolita

This is probably just meant to be a holiday coordinate. It’s cute, but not something we generally would consider a substyle today.

Casual Goth

This is super interesting to me because I would not expect that from Meta, but, it works. If I had to categorize this, I might call it EGA?

Hard Goth

Again, weird to think about this coming from Meta, but it’s well put together, and they did make more punk and goth influenced stuff when they were a younger brand than they do now.


This I love because they translated prince to English and added a Y, but the western community tends to use Ouji instead (though the term ‘kodana’ was popular in the English speaking community in the early 2000s. For more on that, and why we don’t use that term today, see: The New Ouji Overview by Buttcape).

That said? It’s got pants and a shirt and generally seems pretty on target for what I would think of as a basic Ouji coord. It’s pretty normal.

Marine Lolita

Marine… Sailor… Potato, potato… it’s close enough. Meta is pretty well known for doing sailor lolita almost every summer, so seeing at least one sailor coord here is pretty expected. There were others in their other coord gallery before they started adding style names to the coords (some of which you can still see the pictures for in the Japanese version), but I didn’t include those.

Princess Coordinate

Again, interesting, because the English speaking community has latched on to Hime instead of Princesses for “princess” lolita style. This also isn’t what I would think of today, but the coat is pretty OTT for this time frame.

Jolly Ol’ British Lolita

I… I mean, that’s what they wrote. British lolita is not considered a substyle in English speaking lolita communities, however, the British Traditional look is one of the style looks that was popular in like the early 1980s in Japan (British Traditional Style in Olive 1993).

All in all, this was a fun little dive back into past styling done by Meta, and what terms were being used by a Japanese brand when they were conveying style concepts to their English-speaking audience in the early 2000s. I wouldn’t consider this a guide on substyles, but it is fun to see some of this older content.


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