Frilly Fashion 101- What is Lolita Fashion?

If you’re reading this after meeting someone wearing lolita fashion, perhaps me, you’re probably wondering what the heck we may be wearing and what the point of it is.

Lolita fashion, with the frilly skirts, petticoats, and unique silhouette, has a muddled history. I’ve pulled from two printed publications, meaning fact checkers for nonfiction, different timelines that I have seen referenced either way in discussions with other lolitas.

Michelle Nguyen, a contributing editor of the English adaptation of the Gothic & Lolita Bible, claims that despite the influences which stem from as early as the 1730s, the fashion developed in the 1980’s as a direct result. She gives credit to Mana, of the band Malice Mizer, to making the fashion popular (8-9).

The authors of So Pretty/Very Rotten claim the fashion originated in the 1970’s as a street fashion (13). They note that even designers have a hard time pinpointing the fashion’s origins (15).

Despite the imperfect knowledge on the origins of this fashion, the people who wear it wish to enjoy it. We don our frilly outfits and accessories and may spend time together in large groups or by ourselves. And we emphasize that our fashion, while unusual, isn’t a costume by today’s standard. It’s just fashion, clothes that make us feel beautiful.

Join me next time to learn about the different substyles of lolita fashion!

*Lolita fashion is not associated with Nabokov in any way (Mai 14-15). In fact, there is a fashion genre based on the fictional Dolores called Nymphet fashion. Creepy, huh? Now you know why the community has a bit of a mixed perception of the fashion’s name.

Works Cited

  1. Mai, Jane, and An Nguyen. So Pretty / Very Rotten. Koyama Press, 2017.
  2. Nguyen, Michelle. “Gothic and Lolita History.” Gothic & Lolita Bible, Feb. 2008, pp. 8-9.