Why I Hope to Add More OPs to My Wardrobe This Spring & Summer

Ah, the long break from blogging is over! Not that it was anything at all like a break for me, as I have mentioned it was spent in a tizzy of sewing, crafting, and all sorts of slaving around the clock to create stuff at the last minute for my table at Anime Boston. I am happy to say that I had a blast and it was all worth it! I met a ton of new people and got to catch up with some familiar faces.

Well, this isn't an OP, but this is how the nice spring weather is making me feel!

As the days are getting warmer (or really, I'm just anticipating warmer days, there have still been some chilly ones sneaking in) I have been dreaming a bit of OPs, or, for those of you who don't know the abbreviations too well, one-pieces, or the Lolita name for dresses with sleeves. It might seem counter productive to think of looking forward to wearing sleeves in the heat of summer, but these don't have to be long, fussy, hot-and-sweaty sleeves, I'm in love with the little puffy elastic almost-cap sleeves that many Lolita dresses have. I am beginning to think they are the perfect summer wear! No need for extra layers like a blouse or a cardigan or a bolero to cover up bare shoulders, just slip it on over your head and add a petticoat and, tada! instant Lolitafication.

But, not all Lolita OPs are the perfect slip-it-over-your-head-and-be-on-with-your-day wear, many OPs out there are probably going to be just as hot, if not hotter, than wearing a JSK with a blouse, or a skirt and a cutsew. Consider these tips before buying the perfect warm weather OP.
  • Keep the sleeves short and easy to move in. Fully elastic sleeves are a godsend if they fit you right. They're comfortable to wear and don't feel as stuffy and hot as sleeves with cuffs can. Angelic Pretty is the brand that probably has the biggest selection of dresses with this style of sleeve.
  • Look for a lower neckline. When keeping the sleeves short and easy, you might as well keep the neckline that way too! Avoid a high and often stuffy collar and stick for a lower neckline. A lot of dresses that have the fully elastic sleeves also feature an elastic neckline, making a dress really easy to slip into and move around in.
  • Try lightweight, natural fabrics. A light and breathable cotton is the perfect fabric for summer! If you are looking for something super casual and comfy to wear in the heat, Baby the Stars Shine Bright often makes dresses out of their cutsew material, which is just a fancy word for a nicer weight t-shirt jersey knit.
  • Avoid a ton of heavy weight ruffles, scallops, tiers, shirring, or other heavy decoration. These kind of things will just weigh the dress down and add unnecessary layers, which is what we are trying to avoid in the first place! You can still have a lot of details in a dress without adding on yards and yards of extra fabric; lace, prints, and even just textured fabric can be a good way to keep a dress interesting without the extra weight and layers.
Keeping a few of these tips in mind, I created a few, rather simple coordinates with OPs that I think are suited for summer wear. Again, these are very simple coordinates, no accessory over load or lots of extra stuff to carry around, the point being that it's going to get hot out and on warm days I think you shouldn't have to bother with all the bells and whistles that sometimes go along with Lolita. I feel that now that the weather is nicer, I want to just be able to slip of a pretty dress, put something cute in my hair, and grab a purse and go out and enjoy the nice weather.

This Classic coordinate is so simple and sort of borders a bit on the Country Lolita side of things. A Metamorphose dress with an ornate print and a very simple cut combined with a big straw hat and some lacy gloves and tights and brown accessories give this a little bit of a Victorian appeal.

While this Moi-même-Moitié dress might not be as light and breathable as other dresses, as it's made out of polyester, a low neckline and short elastic sleeves make it bearable, accessories are kept to a minimal few pieces of jewelry. A parasol might be advised if the weather gets too hot!

I love this chiffon dress from Metamorphose! It's so light and fluffy looking! I love the fact that it's also such an intense blue, as you usually see these chiffon pieces in pale colors or blacks. I've coordinated it very simply, with white accessories, to keep the focus of the outfit the gorgeous blue of the dress.

Some tips on coordinating with an OP
For years I was sort of uninterested in the OP, I thought there wasn't much coordinating possibility to it, but what I didn't know that it's charm was in it's ease and simplicity. I've learned to experiment and coordinate with accessories and styling, rather than adding more clothes to a coordinate. Try to make the dress the focus of the coordinate, not a color combo or a style fusion. Add some interesting jewelery in matching or complimentary colors. Style your hair and makeup to either match your OP or to try to sway it a little bit in another style's direction. Or, just enjoy being able to slip on a pretty dress and let the dress do it's thing.

What are your favorite ways to wear OPs? Do you love to dress them up with accessories, or do you only really wear already extravagant OPs? Or perhaps you're one of those who finds them too limiting and would rather stick to the JSK or a skirt combo?

Hello Hiatus!

Well, I've gone on a little bit on an unannounced hiatus this month! So i figure I might as well announce it. I honestly didn't even notice how many days have gone by without an update because I have pretty much been sewing and crafting non-stop in preparation for my artist alley table at Anime Boston. I am hoping to get at least a few bonnets done for my table and they take an ungodly amount of time! My days, at the moment, are pretty much a blur of buckram, lace, pricked fingers, and episodes of Avatar and The X-Files playing in the background to keep me from going crazy. I will probably have a somewhat sporadic update schedule until the first week of May, after Anime Boston, and after NYC's Sakura Matsuri.

Until then, I'm sure I'll see some of you around! If you happen to be going to Anime Boston this upcoming weekend, stop by the artist alley, row T, to find me! I'll be selling under my shop name, Ophanim, and on Saturday Miss Lumpy will be there at my table with me selling Amaranth Opulent jewelry!

Sweet-Classic Lolita

"Sweet-Classic" is a phrase that I've noticed popping up in the last couple years that describes, exactly as it sounds, a style that's not quite Sweet and not quite Classic. I like to think of it as the modern Lolita's answer to Country Lolita.

Sweet-Classic is one of those "sort of" styles, it's by no means considered "official" so some people disagree that it's even a style in the first place, and will either consider it to be regular Classic Lolita, just in lighter colors and with cuter prints, or regular Sweet Lolita, with a more sophisticated design. But I feel that it's slowly becoming it's own sub-style, and while it may never be an "official" style, I think it definitely does have an aesthetic of it's own.

If you're interested in some coordinates that blur the line between Classic and Sweet Lolita, check out these scans from some various G&LBs! Click for a bigger picture.

Prints seem to be the big defining factor of this style, both custom brand prints and more generic off-the-fabric-bolt prints. Although brand, many of the following dresses are made with relatively generic all-over floral fabric, and can easily be replicated with easy-to-find commercial fabric and offbrand dresses with similar fabrics can be found at places like Bodyline and Taobao. Keep an eye out for pale pastel colors, not necessarily the muted colors of Classic or the bold and multiple colors of Sweet, but simple pale and pretty pastels. While floral prints still abound, often in vertical or horizontal stripes, there are also prints much more reminiscent of Sweet Lolita, such as cute animals and toys. But the difference is that while most Sweet Lolita prints featuring animals and toys are very cartoony, the Sweet-Classic print features much more realistic illustrations, giving the print more of a Victorian story book look.

Innocent World's Sweet-Classic

Innocent World is probably the brand that first popularized this look, back when they started jumping on the cute border print trend that Angelic Pretty started. While AP was out making prints with toys and cuddly bunnies frolicking and having fun, IW followed shortly behind with more sophisticated versions of cute prints. They often came in more muted pastels and featured much more Victorian styled toys and cute animals, if not just florals.

Baby, the Stars Shine Bright's Sweet-Classic
While Baby didn't really help popularize the Sweet-Classic look, they have been making dresses with a similar aesthetic for a long time, and are always a nice choice if you're looking for a piece featuring pretty Classic florals with a Sweet color scheme and a sophisticated, yet cute cut.

Angelic Pretty's Sweet-Classic
While Angelic Pretty has made the occasional classical floral piece ever since the beginning, they have sort of come full circle with a couple recent custom print additions such as Vanilla Chan or Sugar Pansy, both of which are a huge step away from some of their recent prints, as they are much neater and more sophisticated looking. Even though Vanilla Chan features big headed kittens and bows, the fact that the print is much more orderly looking gives it a completely different aesthetic than some of their other recent prints.

Okay, so I think I know what kind of dresses make for a Sweet-Classic dress, but how do I coordinate it?
Well, since it's not really an "official" style, more of a descriptive phrase, it's sometimes a bit hard to pinpoint what makes something Sweet-Classic, but there are a few key points to the outfits that help define the style.
  • Limited color pallet. Many Sweet-Classic prints already have all the colors an outfit can need in them already! The Lolita interested in this tends to choose not to pick out multiple colors from the print to incorporate throughout the outfit and instead lets the dress and the style be the focus of the outfit, not the color scheme.
  • Minimal and "grown-up" accessories. The Sweet-Classic look isn't about wearing as many matching accessories as possible. In fact, many Sweet-Classic looks seem to exclude wearing any jewelry at all, at the most, possibly a ring or a simple necklace.
  • Simply styled hair. Gone from this style are the huge teased pigtails and wigs that are usually seen in Sweet Lolita, instead the Sweet-Classic enthusiast would wear her hair in a very simple, yet elegant, hairstyle. Such as a pair of braids, buns, or loose in a very gentle curl.
  • Heels. Flat and cute shoes, while an option in Sweet-Classic, aren't seen nearly as much as a pair of cute heels, either heeled mary janes, or a pair of Victorian boots. Matching the color of your shoe to the color of your dress is not necessary, a white or cream pair of heels does just fine.
  • Small hair accessories. Since the Sweet-Classic Lolita's hair is styled simply, without massive amounts of volume, hair accessories are kept simple as well. A small Alice bow, a round headdress, or even simply a cute clip or small hair bow is all that is needed for this style.
Of course, I don't believe that Lolitas should worry too much about fitting the perfect label onto themselves or their outfits, and they certainly shouldn't limit themselves or even individual outfits to fitting perfectly within one style. But I do think it is nice to have a tangible name to go with a particular style, especially if you really enjoy it! What do you think of the style? Do you simply consider it to be merely Classic in softer colors, or perhaps just Sweet with flowers? Or, like me, are you enjoying watching what could possibly be a new Lolita sub-style emerge and make it's own place in the world of Lolita?

Before I end this post, I would also like to point out that in the last post of mine, some people seemed to misunderstand what I was saying. I was not necessarily predicting the rise of the Classic Lolita, so much as I was the decline of the Over-the-Top Sweet Lolita. There is more to Lolita than just OTT Sweet & Classic, and Sweet Lolita certainly isn't going anywhere! There were just as many Lolitas in cute, light pastels in this volume as there are in many of the other recent spring volumes of the G&LB, they just seemed to have ditched the clustery unicorn-and-bunnies-baking-glittery-cupcake prints for elegant florals and decided to leave gigantic pastel wigs at home. That is why I made this post, to remind some that Sweet Lolita isn't ever going to go anywhere, and that OTT Sweet Lolita isn't the only kind of Sweet Lolita out there, even though it may have seemed that way for the past few years! I did not mean to imply that Sweet Lolita is, or ever will be, dead and gone, just that it seems to be growing up a bit, at least for a little while!
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