Taking a Cue from the Victorians

Many people cite the Rococo era as their inspiration for Lolita, but personally, for me it's all about the Victorians. The rest of you can have your powdered wigs and pinks and blues because I love the deep jewel tones, the bustles, the pointy shoes, and the big feather covered hats of the Victorian era and these are what most often inspire me and my wardrobe. There is really so much about this whole era that I love, and that I find incredibly inspiring when it comes to the Lolita fashion, that I couldn't possibly cover it all in one post, so instead, think of this post as a crash course in adding some Victoriana to your frills, and maybe expect a few more posts about specific things in the future.


So you want to add some Victoriana to your Lolita outfits?
  • Wear a corset, or an outfit with corset lacing. True, Vicotorian ladies did not wear their corsets on the outside any more than girls nowadays wear their underwear over their jeans, but the corset is iconic of the Victorian era. In Lolita, you can either wear a fully steel boned corset in an historically accurate shape, or you can simply wear something with cute criss-crossed ribbons on it, reminiscent of an actual corset. For a happy middle ground, try a non-boned faux-corset or cincher, like the ones Antique Beast and Black Peace Now sell.
  • Wear gloves. A proper Victorian lady would never be seen without her gloves! A pair of opera length gloves with a short sleeved top is an incredibly elegant way to wear gloves, but even a pair of cute lacy gloves work to add a touch of Victoriana to your outfit.
  • Wear granny boots. Nix your cutesy flats and rounded mary janes and switch them for a dainty pair of pointy toed granny boots. What are granny boots? They're a common name (or at least what I've always seen them referred to as!) for Victorian styled boots. They often are mid-calf length, but can be ankle or knee high, lace-up boots with a Victorian style to them. They usually have a fancy cut to the top of them, instead of just being flat, and embroidered details.
  • Find a dress or skirt with a bustle. Bustles are another icon of the Victorian age, and they are certainly no stranger to Lolita. Within the Lolita fashion you can find a variety of different bustle styles, but personally I find the most Victorian style, in Lolita, to be the swag bustle (I have no idea if this is a historical term, I just often see it used online). An example would be this skirt, with relative ease you can turn any Lolita skirt with proper poof into a swag bustle over-skirt, just gather it up in 2 places and carefully pin, or even stitch, it into place.
  • Wear decadent fabrics. Taffeta, silk, velvet, chiffon, and pretty much any fabric other than plain cotton is a great way to add some Victorian elegance to your outfit. If you're looking to wear a print, look for something with large clusters of florals, and maybe even floral vertical stripes.
  • Wear antique styled jewelry. The Victorian era is known for it's elegant and opulent jewelry, and luckily, this jewelry style has been replicated by costume jewelry makers ever since, so you're not going to bust the bank to wear something Victorian styled. Goth shops, trendy shops, and ebay are filled with incredibly reasonably priced Victorian costume jewelry. The chokers are my favorite! If you are looking for something much more simple than an elaborate choker, look for a pretty cameo brooch.
Some historical inspiration
One of my favorite things about Victorian fashion is the fashion plates that were used to show ladies what the popular styles were at the time. Luckily the internet has several sites dedicated to the Victorian age. If you're interested in more fashion plates and photographs, check out the Victorian Flickr pool. These are a few of my favorite fashion plates.

I really am a fan of the bustles! But I also love the shorter girls skirts and the couple of deep red dresses. The Victorian era spanned from 1837-1901, so there was a really wide range of different styles but my favorites are the later Victorian styles.

Keeping the Victorian aesthetics in mine I've created a couple of Polyvore coordinates. Of course, these are not meant to be historically accurate in any sense, nor are they meant to simply be knee-length Victorian outfits, just Lolita outfits with some Victorian elements.

First up is a Gothic Lolita coordinate inspired by Victorian mourning fashions. It features a big black bonnet, a dress with detailing that is reminiscent of a bustle, opera length gloves, a lacy shawl, and black jewelry.


I've also made a coordinate on the opposite side of the loli-spectrum, a sweeter Classic Lolita coordinate. A dainty pair of lace gloves and a simple hair corsage make this a much less severe outfit but the fancy jewelry keeps it looking, well, fancy.

What brands release Victorian inspired Lolita pieces?
Well, most brands are bound to release something that can be worked into a Victorian inspired coordinate. Even Angelic Pretty releases delicate lace gloves and plain colored dresses with corset lacing, but your best bet is to look towards the Classic or even Gothic Lolita brands. A few that are known for having Victorian inspired pieces are:

Mary Magdalene


Victorian Maiden


Juliette et Justine


Milky Ange


Excentrique


Millefleurs


While some of the brands listed above are either very tricky to buy from, or are known for making one very small size, the pieces they sell are great for inspiration!

What is your favorite time period that Lolita takes inspiration from? Do you love the pastels and powders of the Rococo era? The fancy finery of the Victorian era? The kitschy cuteness of the mid-20th century? Or are you one of the 1980's obsessed Fairy Kei x Lolita mash-up enthusiasts?


As an unrelated side note, at the end of next week, on Friday and Saturday, I'm going to be vending at U-con. U-con is a free local convention held at the Uconn campus. I went last year, which was their first year,and it ended up being much bigger than expected, hopefully this year is even better! On the Friday of the convention, local loli Rebecca will be hosting a panel about being a university student and a Lolita. A few other local lolis will be there too, so if you're in the area you should definitely stop for a visit, it's freeeeeee.

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