Today I wanted to talk about the difference between “cosplay lolita” and “themed lolita”, and how to make an outfit based on something other than the traditionally lolita-related while still maintaining the style.
First off, I’m not thrilled with the term “cosplay lolita” as a cosplayer who spends a lot of time, money, and energy making costumes well, the derogatory connotation is awkward for me. But, it’s the best term I can think of for lolita based on something non-traditional that just doesn’t come out well. So bear with me, fellow cosplayers.
A lot of the time the reason that themed lolita becomes cosplay lolita is that people just haven’t done their research and aren’t familiar with the fashion. I would suggest enough research to kill a person, coupled with some normal lolita outfits. Honestly, a year of research and participation is what I’d recommend. I think it takes that long to get settled into the community, learn the boundaries, and get used to coordinating.
There are a couple of things I think should be avoided as well, just in general they make a themed lolita outfit look a little too much like a costume. Ears or tails are probably a bad idea. They signal immediately that this person doesn’t know what they’re doing to a seasoned lolita and they’re extremely hard to pull off even for girls who’ve been in the fashion for years. Anything too revealing this means a blouse and tights or socks and knee length skirt are a good idea. The less you wear, the more it looks like a costume. Crazy colors is another something to be taken into consideration. A lot of anime characters wear some pretty ridiculous color combos, and a lot of times if someone tries to do an anime-related outfit they’ll just stick with that color scheme. If possible, go with a more traditional color scheme or at least tone it down. If your character wears purple and green, go with lavender or a sage green.
I think the easiest way to make a themed outfit look less like a costume is to not base it directly on one character and just try and make their outfit look lolita. It’s by taking elements from that thing you like (whatever it may be) and make a print or some appliqués. Granted, I have seen some amazing designs and outfits based directly on characters in the past, but I think it’s a lot easier to pull off a dress with a Pikachu on it than a full bright yellow lolita dress.
I hope this is somewhat helpful. These certainly aren’t strict guidelines or anything, just some thoughts to keep in mind if you’re interested in making something themed, especially if you haven’t been in the fashion long.