A Differentiation of Bows: Types of Lolita

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We have already assembled the key elements that go into creating a Lolita outfit in a previous article, however what style is your Lolita costume? Let’s look into the different genre of Lolita, this can be formed by movements in the world, television and even sexuality, as well as your own preferred taste. The four main categories are:

• Classic/Sweet Lolita
• Gothic Lolita
• Harajuku Lolita
• Punk/Metal Lolita

It’s amusing to realise that the Japanese are so enthralled with America and American fashion that they try to mimic their fashion sense, however through that interest they have made their own unique style that Americans are trying to mimic. The Japanese signature style of random choices of multiple layers and eccentric accessories have caught the attention of even the V&A soon to show an exhibit of a retired Lolita’s wardrobe (Kitty & the Bulldog).

Classic/sweet Lolita

Classic/sweet Lolita follows the Rococo, Regency and Victorian styles. Colours and patterns used in classic Lolita can be seen as somewhere between the Gothic-looking and sweet styles. Plain light colours and distracting patterns are used in this style. Designs containing a-lines, as well as Empire waists are also used to add to the more mature look of this classic style, with a bell shaped Lolita silhouette. Shoes and accessories are less whimsical and more functional. Jewellery with intricate designs are also common. The makeup used in classic Lolita is often a more natural whereas the sweet Lolita makeup is more colourful.

Gothic Lolita

Gothic Lolita is journeying towards the darker side of the rainbow. The girls wear mostly black attire, whether it’s lacy, frilly, bonnets, black tights, stockings, accessories or shoes. This look has been many times mentioned as inspired by pop-rock star in Japan, Mana. Mana even has his own gothic clothing line, which many of the gothic Lolita clothing stores have emulated. His boutique is called Moi-même-Moitié. Ways to make your outfit fit the Gothic Lolita bill are, ripped up and layered fishnet stockings, black lace-up boots, lots of skull embellishments and smoky makeup.

Harajuku

The Harajuku style is originally a district in Japan and the name stuck to its own style as many of the native teenagers of the area tend to gallivant around dressed up in Japanese Street Fashion. Gwen Stefani famously used some “Harajuku Girls” in one of her albums and had them dressed in their Lolita-imitated attire dancing on stage with her and made the term worldwide. Harajuku, is used to refer to Decora fashion style. Decora is when girls have layered pieces and a plethora of crazy accessories worn together. This is easily achieved and the US do it with their own imitations like Paul Frank brand accessories.

Punk & Metal

Two styles merged together and copied from the music American movements. The Japanese youth that wear punk or heavy metal are covered head to toe with leather, corseting, flame and leopard-print patterns, chains, and spiky hair. Of course the Japanese manage to make it all their own! Another important key is that ‘Lolita’ in the fashion sense does not relate to just the female sex.

These categories can be further broken down into more specific trends:

• Hime/Princess Lolita
Hime Japanese for “Princess”, which follows the classic Lolita style using the Rocco period for inspiration but with the addition of tiaras.

• Shiro & Kuro Lolita
Shiro meaning ‘white’ and kuro meaning ‘black’ dictates just that, the outfit is made up entirely of that one colour. Shiro & Kuro’s normally pair up and walk around together to show off the outfit contrasts.

• Ōji/Kodona Lolita (Boystyle)
Often referred to as “boy style” since it revolves around masculine clothing. In Japanese the term is Ōji (meaning prince) and Kodona is the Western term.
This style entails wearing ‘prince pants’ which are short capri-style pants (to the knee) with some sort of embellishment ie. Lace, or borders. Accessories used would suspenders, ties bowties, bowler caps and long socks (to cover the legs). Some of the more extravagant styles can include things like spats, canes, top hats, rings, medallions, capes, with some dark makeup. But they keep the boyish part in tact so that they are not mistaken for Aristocrat. Often the hair is kept short to pull off a convincing Ōji.

• Guro Lolita
Guro close to the English word ‘gore’, which revolves around the image of ‘broken doll’ or “Innocent Gore” by using items such as fake blood, make-up, and bandages to give the appearance of injury. It is suggested that Guro Lolitas wear white to “emphasize the contrast between purity and their wounds”. Junko Mizuno’s characters are a good example, buxom women sporting eye patches and carrying around needles.

• Sailor/Pirate Lolita
Fashion incorporating sailor collars, ties, sailor hats, and stripes. This is separate and different to Japanese “seifuku” or sailor-style school uniform. Also a popular sub-style “Pirate Lolita” with a similar nautical theme – this usually incorporates a more elaborate dress, bandannas, and captain hats, styled with coin bags, swords, gloves, eye patches and lots of gold jewellery.

• Mori/Country Lolita
Mori/Country Lolita is derived from the Sweet Lolita style, and keeps the sweet patterns and motifs that Sweet Lolita’s use. However the Mori/Country Lolita style is distinguished by the accessories of straw baskets, hats, fruit, and gingham patterns. The more modern Mori/Country cosplayers have added a vintage Granny chic to it by adding glasses and animal inspired barrets and round colours.

• Wa Lolita
Wa meaning Japanese and Rori meaning Lolita both the word describe this fashion movement. Wa rori or Wa Lolita merges traditional Japanese clothing with Lolita fashion. Wa Lolita is usually a base of a kimono or hakama but is DIY’ed with Lolita attachments. The Kimono is shortened so a petticoat can be placed under or a corset on top to reveal a puffy skirt. Outerwear can include haori or adult-sized hifu-vests. The shoes and accessories can be a mix of traditional Japanese garb including kanzashi flowers.

• Ero Lolita
This is a very controversial style of Lolita due to the fact that a lot of people who are un-familiar with the overall Lolita style meaning tend to confuse the styles. Lolita fashion is about keeping your modesty, Ero thought referring to ‘Erotic’ does not automatically mean less clothing is involved.
This style contains more fetish accessories such as leather, collars, and corsets that one may not be able to pull-off in any other Lolita style while still maintaining a fair amount of modesty. Skirts for this style may be a little shorter than usual, but nothing overly seductive. Strappy dresses are popular in this range and use of fishnets and stilettos if co ordinate appropriately.

Whatever your style, make sure you are comfortable wearing it and don’t bite off more than you can chew as the style you wear gives a message to the world about who you are. Enjoy and embrace the noble world of the Lolita!

4 Comment

  1. Heya i am for the first time here. I found this board and I find It really useful & it helped me out much. I hope to offer one thing back and help others like you aided me.

  2. Aisha says: Reply

    Thanks for the feedback Anni, I guess there is so much info on the net it's hard to differentiate whats right and what's not, thanks for the heads up! PS. there will a separate article on Harijuku style coming soon.

  3. Anni says: Reply

    A few small corrections … Mori is not the same as Country Lolita, in fact Mori girl style is not a Lolita style, it has its own aesthetic and does not conform to the same rules as Lolita. Mori means "forest", so it is basically how you would imagine a girl from the forest to dress. You have also in that paragraph stated "Mori/Country cosplayers". Mori girl and Country Lolita are NOT COSPLAY. It is a style of dressing, not a costume, please don't call it cosplay because it is not the same thing.

    And why you even bothered to mention "Harajuku" which is not a specific style, but a place, and can be used to refer to all Japanese street fashion in a very general way, I don't know.

    Apart from those issues this is a good article that shows the basics about some of the Lolita styles. I'm sorry if I seem nitpick-y, I'm just trying to give constructive criticism, I don't mean to offend. As someone who wears Lolita almost every day, it is important to me that the information in articles is correct to inform people who are new to the style and want to learn more.

  4. […] to remember the different types of Lolita? Aisha provides a very thorough […]

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