Old School Musings: How Being A Lolita Has Changed Since 2001

I've been thinking a lot about old school Lolita lately (not that that is anything out of the usual for me!) and in particular how much Lolita, and being a Lolita has changed in years since I first discovered the fashion. Lolita has changed so much since I first learned of the fashion sometime in the early 2000's! It's been so long that I honestly don't even know exactly when it was I heard about it. I am almost positive it was sometime in 2001 or 2002, because I remember asking a friend who had a non-dialup internet connection to download some music from the very shortly broken up Malice Mizer for me, and I know that I learned about Malice Mizer and Lolita at the same time (how could you not back then!). Back then Lolita, outside of Japan, was so heavily wrapped up in Goth and Jrock and Japan that it was pretty impossible to like just one of them it seemed. To be a good Goth I should be interested in Lolita and to be a good Lolita I had to like Jrock and to like Jrock I had better be interested in Japan! Or at least, these were the things I told my teenaged self.

This was all shortly before Hot Topic released their first wave of “Loli Goth” products that were so iconic of  doing it wrong. I remember how completely appalled everyone was to find out that Hot Topic was dipping in on our totally secret trend and I feel like a lot of people from back then lost interest in Lolita for fear that it was going to “go mainstream”, but that was pretty indicative of a lot of the people (but certainly not all of them!) who seemed to be into Lolita at the time in the English-speaking online communities, for many people it was just another way of expressing how different and alternative they were. You can actually read a post from this era about the horrors of Hot Topic that is so charmingly angry here in an ancient Livejournal post.

I also remember the complete rarity it was to own brand, and how if you had a brand dress, that's pretty much all it took for you to be the best Lolita you could be! But on the other hand, due to brand rarity, there was a huge interest in thrifting loliable clothes and learning to sew for yourself. I can't tell you how many people had Lolita wardrobes made up of simple handmade gathered skirts, modified grandma blouses, and the least extreme square dancing dress they could dig up on eBay! I think this is all very embarrassing to us now, to think that we used to share sissy sites as sources for cutesy shoes in non-child sizes and tips on which sorts of square dance related keywords you can search for on Ebay to get some almost Lolita clothes, but it was sort of endearing. As difficult as it was to wear Lolita back then, we were determined and willing to work with what little we had to be Lolitas.

Lolitas now have it so much easier, it's still sort of surprising to me to see people's first Lolita outfits be perfectly put together and so accurately Lolita! I'm actually very envious of these girls who are just now learning about the fashion and who can with so little ease assemble a very cute outfit for themselves if they so choose, when I had to wait literally years before I could get my first real Lolita outfit! As nostalgic as I am for old school Lolita, I definitely do not miss the hassle and near-imposibility of being a Lolita back then!

17 comments:

  1. Reading this made me quite nostalgic. :)

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  2. I always feel like a crotchety old grandma when I see people freaking out over missing the newest brand release and I'm all "Back in MY DAY, brands didn't even ship to the States!" Seriously, sometimes I miss my old handmade wardrobe of modified thrifted blouses and simple handmade skirts. Simpler times, mate. Simpler times.

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  3. This was before I got into Lolita, but I certainly remember the Hot Topic failures. They were, unfortunately, my first exposure to the style and the reason it took me so long to get into Lolita for real.

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  4. oooh man, this just reminded me of this one time, ages ago, I was in HotTopic ... fully dressed in my velveteen brand lolita best! .. and someone came up to me and said "oh wow, HT clothes head and toe" and I guess they meant it as compliment but I almost cried at the insult

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  5. Nice post, I learned about lolita in about 2005 and it was also about handmade, thrifted and ancient grandma´s clothes, Bodyline and Anna House were a rarity brands and we could only dream about BSSB or AP. On the other hand - I learned how to sew and sew my clothes on a daily basis now, so this shortage of lolita clothes actually gave me something :)

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  6. I just remember first time I found Lolita in 2008 and Lolita has changes sooo much just from then to when I started to wear lolita in 2011

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  7. Actually, a lot of those things would be consider "ita" xDDD I think that styles change and everyone have to dress what they like!

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  8. I've always really loved Old School because I'm not that much of a busy print person. But I always laugh when an old school coord comes up and someone, somewhere, is crying ita. Because I actually find them very cute, and I don't understand how others don't sometimes!
    I do love to sew skirts and make them personal pieces you can't really buy anywhere, but some days it's just like, "I don't have time for that!" or "THAT DRESS. I NEED IT." lol (In which EGL Sales and Lace Market come in handy) But most times I prefer being crafty, because there will always be that one little thing on a dress or skirt that i just can't stand, y'know?

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  9. I didn't get into Lolita until sweet was getting popular, so that's probably why I have such a love of old school sweet. Even though I wasn't around for the Lolita dark ages, just as a commenter above has said, WOW has it changed even in that short of a time. I miss the fashions from the days I discovered it too, and get really nostalgic about seeing old sweet outfits. I found this to be a very sweet and interesting article even though it was just a few musings about the past. :]

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  10. I heard of it back in 2011, but I recently really got into it last summer, so I'm certainly not very familiar with the old-school styles. :(

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  11. Lolita is so affordable now, too, when you are shopping off-brand! I got interested in lolita in 2006, and at that time there was really only brand and scam sites. Bodyline was VERY frowned upon at the time, I remember. That's the whole reason I picked up decora in the first place. I was a "lifestyle decora" for two years, wearing it every single day, with more casual decora outfits on the weekend. Nowadays I am trying to form more of a lolita wardrobe. I still prefer to make my own clothes right now since I am a proud fatty-chan. I make clothes that look good on me, and I have pretty much mastered the square pleated skirt. Lolita is the whole reason I learned to properly sew in the first place, and when I find a lolita who doesn't know how to sew, even by hand, I question how they can even get by.

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  12. I wish there was more posts like this! I would love to learn more about Lolita, how it was created and how it changed in time.
    I would also like to know which things haven't changed at all from the begining, which would lead to the controversial topic in Lolita: "rules". I would love to know if there are elements of Lolita fashion which stayed, as a kind of canons of Lolita fashion... :)

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