The Lolita Guidebook REVIEW: What’s Wrong, What’s Right, and What I Don’t Like


Hey everyone! On March 19th, 2015, the Lolita Guide Book became live! The Guide Book was not created by one person, but multiple people sharing information (and opinions) through 4Chan. The Guidebook itself is well organized and was a good idea, but due to some of the biased, opinion-based guidelines, it is far from the be-all and end-all for lolita information.  I will be highlighting what I believe are “problematic”, or at the very least, “debatable” topics.
DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece and in no way do I expect this to become a concrete guide.
EDIT: The guidebook is constantly being revised, I will date the information I quote. New information is always being discovered, after all.


Volume 1: The Basics


Pretty basic, but there were still things that I think could have been improved on.


“Modesty is an important concept in lolita fashion. Its wearers dress in a relatively conservative manner, reminiscent of high-class fashions of the past.”
– What is Lolita Fashion (3/19/15)

I find this incredibly debatable. I don’t believe modesty is just about “how much skin til’ it’s a sin”. Modesty can also do with attention. The not wanting to draw attention to oneself.
Modesty antonyms include: Confidence, Pride, Self-Confidence, Braveness, Ego and Boldness.
And Synonyms include: Quietness, Bashfulness, Propriety, and Simplicity
Lolita fashion is a loud and proud fashion. It takes bravery to wear (I wish it didn’t since it suggests that there’s a negative stigma, which it sometimes does, so that sucks too). It is not a fashion you can just ignore. It forces you to look at it, even without really asking for it. Remember, lolita fashion was a rebellion (as are most street born fashions). Rebellion is (arguably) meant to be provocative, it is an act against a norm. Lolita does not perfectly equal modesty.
Again, it is very debatable.


“Regardless of shape, the general rule for skirt volume is that the circumference of the hem has to be at least 2.5 times the waist measurement, or it will not flare out enough.”
– The Lolita Silhouette, The Flared Skirt (3/20/15)

This is ridiculous. I have NEVER heard of a minimum circumference for a skirt. I’m not saying it is wrong, but I do think that it is such unnecessary information, especially for someone who is starting lolita. Can you imagine someone pulling out a tape measure just to check if her circumference is acceptable? This is just silly. Unless you  happen to have experience with sewing and creating lolita dresses, this really isn’t necessary. Avina, from Kira Kira Shoujo, mentioned, “I have no idea why they thought this was relevant to mention to a demographic who will more than likely never touch a sewing machine!”


– The Lolita Silhouette, Necklines (3/20/15)

– The Lolita Silhouette, Sleeves (3/20/15)

I don’t believe that necklines and sleeves are limited to these pictures. Many brands release dresses with varying types of necklines and sleeves, though are not the traditional style, can still count as lolita dresses. Here are a few examples that have been brought to my attention:

Necklines

Here are a few examples of different types of necklines and sleeves that were not listed in the Lolita Guidebook.

Left: Promenade de Paris Round JSK (Off-shoulder)
Right: Cogwheel of Time and Eternal El Dorado JSK II (With the chest ruffle detached, it is a true  Sweetheart, the one from the guidebook is more semi-sweetheart. A true sweetheart has a deeper dip).

From Left to Right: Midnight Doll JSK, Lady Of The Camellias JSK II, Radiant Candlelight Halter JSK, Circus Girl JSK (All are a type of halter neck, whole Radiant Candlelight is a halter and an illusion neckline)

Left to Right: Sildue De-chine Petal JSK, Elegant Lacy Ribbon JSK
And here are two examples of the most unique halternecks I’ve seen that I really felt needed to be mentioned. the neckline possibilities are almost endless.

Sleeves

From Left to Right: Planetary Dreamer OP, Royal Kitten OP, Velveteen Peplum Pinafore JSK
I believe this type of sleeve is called a butterfly sleeve. Mostly seen in Metamorphose and Haenuli.


From Left to Right: Lace-up Puff Sleeve Doll OP, La Robe Vert Clair, Dim Light OP
These are example of more 1/2 and 3/4 sleeves, which are incredibly popular types of sleeves, especially in blouses. The sleeve that Vert Clair contains has become a popular sleeve type for OTT hime/classic releases.

Left to Right: Royal Frill Doll OP, Fairy Frill Mini OP, Coord by Rosa Nitida
Long sleeve variations. Long sleeves can have the most creative possibilities. First dress features a Juliet sleeve with a princess cuff, while the middle and right dress feature variations of a Virago sleeve. It’s not usually seen in lolita, but but they’re definitely some of my favourite sleeves.


Verdict:

No major complaints about this volume. Considering this guidebook is more for the newer lolitas, my suggestions might even be too much for a basic guidebook. But I’ve always preferred as much information as possible.

Rating:



Volume 2: Styles, Sub-styles, and Themes


Straightforward and pretty much the least problematic. Just some minor suggestions here and there. There’s a lot of information in this section, which I personally love, but may be hard to digest for newer people.


“Easy to mess up (poor quality lace, inappropriate hair/wig etc) so discouraged amongst newcomers”
– Other Sub-styles, Old-School (3/21/15)

I agree that old school is easy to mess up, but I would never discourage newcomers. Old school is the most traditional. It is what made our current styles today. Some newcomers might have found out about lolita fashion through Kamikaze Girls, where old-school (or at the time, just plain sweet lolita) was the primary style. I don’t think old school should ever be discouraged, but if someone asks for help, new or not, you should totally help out, ok? Avina of Kira Kira Shoujo mentioned that most beginner lucky packs put out by brands, such as Baby, contains items that very easily fall into “old-school lolita.” And I wholeheartedly agree! Old school should never be discouraged.


Verdict:

I actually only have tiny nitpicks about this section (just me being me haha). They combined both Sailor and Pirate, creating just a general “‘Nautical” style. I would have preferred to see them separate, considering how different they really are. In simple terms, Sailor is sweeter, while Pirate is more dark. Also, they seem to have skipped some other  “themed” sub-styles, such as Qi and Wa, and Military (this can essentially become a category for “nautical”, but it’s totally your call).

Rating:



Volume 3: The Anatomy of an Outfit


Some things really rubbed me wrong here. Very few, but they were huge pet peeves for me.


“Corsets, binders, minimizers and shapewear can all be used to mold your body to better fit your clothes”
– Innerwear (3/19/15)

I don’t like this. I know that it is definitely an option and I respect your decision if you do decide to wear any of those things listed, but there’s an underlying hint of body shaming. I hate the mentality of forcing yourself to fit into something (I totally support getting fit, don’t get me wrong). YOU wear the clothes, YOU decide how it should look on you.  If you need it to get altered, ya’ll go do that. If you buy it, IT IS YOURS TO DO WHAT YOU WANT. Just remember that it will reduce the resale quality hugely immensely.
Again, if you do feel like wearing the dresses listed, feel free to. But please stay safe, stay comfy, stay healthy, and don’t do anything drastic, ok?


– Shoes (2/19/15)

This one is a major pet peeve for me. A true rocking horse shoe must have both a curve front AND a back cut out, like the original release by Vivienne Westwood. Without both (or usually, if just a curved front like the shoe pictured), it’s just a type of platform.

Here is an example of a Vivienne Westwood RHS. Again, the cut out is essential.


“As a rule of thumb: the fewer body modifications, the better. One will not exactly fit into the cute, girly aesthetic of lolita with huge gauges in their ears or with full tattoo sleeves. Nose rings and tongue piercings are also not received well. When it comes to piercings, most lolitas either take them out when wearing lolita, or will coordinate their piercings to match the coord. Most tattoos will be covered by your layers of clothing, especially torso and leg ones. If you are going to show your tattoos, keep in mind whether or not it will be a distraction to your coord, or if it plays off it well. If it will distract and lower the quality of the coord, cover it up.*”
– Jewelry, A Note On Piercings and Body Modifications (3/19/15)

* Replaced:  “Everyone is of course free to do as they please with their body, and there are no doubt lolitas out there that rock their mods, these however are some pointers you may wish to consider.”
(3/20/15)

This is an outrage and one of the most problematic sections of this guidebook. Lolita fashion is a fashion. It is clothes. How dare you tell people that their tattoos and piercings don’t fit a fashion. Fashion and body mods are a form of self expression. You shouldn’t let anyone feel like they can’t express themselves through body ART, because it doesn’t fit a stupid “aesthetic rule” that the fashion never necessarily asked for. If they want to cover their tattoos or take out their piercings, that is of course their decision. Don’t you ever tell someone to cover their art so they fit your “rules”.
“Lower the quality of the coord” my ass.
A well thought out body mod is as beautiful as an outfit.
Clothes should never dictate how you can express yourself.

EDIT: With the replaced line, it does make the section a little less negative. But still, I believe this section should be removed altogether.  There’s still the implication that your body mods can “distract” from your coord, this section is better off gone.


Verdict:

Aside from those complaints, the information is solid. I’m a big fan of detail, so I don’t mind it being so lengthy. But again, those certain complaints really hit close to home, so this section is not what you can call my favourite.

Rating:

Volume 4: Construction, Quality, Detail, and Care


Detailed and well researched. Offers great information about quality and construction
WARNING: Replicas are mentioned.


The entire replica section is negative territory. But here is one quote that particularly caught my attention.

“Many itas (aka “bad lolitas”; see Volume 5: Getting Dressed) flock to replicas because they are “more affordable”, or because the replicas can be custom-made to fit their measurements, which may not fit into real brand pieces.”
– Replicas (3/19/15)

I am fully against all replicas, but you really shouldn’t have thrown in “ita” in there. It gives the implication that a replica will automatically make a person an ita, which is highly biased for a guidebook. Avina of Kira Kira Shoujo suggest to only focus on the legal aspects of why replicas are bad to avoid sounding biased. I agree, the replica debate has been an ongoing topic in lolita and has almost become a taboo subject. It would be best if the guidebook is as neutral as possible in order to not sway anyone’s decision.


Verdict:

This volume was very well written, up until the replica section. All you need to know is that I don’t support replicas, but I won’t shun you or automatically dislike you and label you as an ita if you do buy them.

Rating:



Volume 5: Getting Dressed


Probably the most nitpicky section, I  found it very off putting. Some of the sections are completely unnecessary, I personally believe that a lot of what is mentioned in this section can (and possibly should) be ignored.
WARNING: Lengthy


“Whether you are showing your natural hair or wearing a wig, keep the color in mind when coordinating. Bright orange hair won’t exactly go well with a coordinate that features grey and pink.”
– Natural Colors, General Grooming (3/21/15)

I understand where this is coming from, but don’t let this discourage you from wearing your bright orange hair with your all pink outfit. In any other fashion, your hair is just another statement piece. I believe that it shouldn’t be any different in lolita fashion. Don’t let your individuality get lost in a cookie cutter community.


“Many lolitas tend to go for the “no makeup” makeup looks so they look more natural, but please don’t take that to mean that you don’t need to wear any makeup at all.”
– Makeup, General Grooming (3/21/15)

Once again, it is just clothes. Want to wear makeup? Sure. You don’t want to? That’s cool too. As a daily lolita, I don’t wear makeup whenever I go out just to get my morning coffee or buy groceries. Makeup shouldn’t be so essential. Clothes shouldn’t dictate how, when, and why you should wear makeup. You decide if you want to wear makeup with your outfit. Just don’t feel like you’re any less of a lolita if you choose to not wear any makeup.


“Purpose and venue is also equally important. If you’re in a dark convention area and you’re going to get some hallway shots, you may just want to layer on your makeup heavily than normal, as some lighting may give you the effect of being “washed out”.
– Makeup, General Grooming (3/21/15)

Oh, now this is just overkill. I understand the good intentions behind it, but it really was just unnecessary, especially for the newer lolitas that are going to read the guidebook.


“Remember that you don’t need to blow hundreds of dollars on makeup to look good, although it is recommended perhaps buying at least some makeup that’s available outside your local drug store, just because quality tends to be better.”
– Makeup, General Grooming (3/21/15)

Similar to before, I understand the good intentions, but nitpicking all the way down to the brand of makeup is just ridiculous.


“When picking a nail color, you should choose one that goes well with your coord (this is a given). Be sure to keep your skin color and tone in mind as well (as an example, very pale skin and white nails won’t usually work well together, since your hands will just end up looking very “washed out”). Matte or gloss polish is fine, as well as glitter. Avoid chrome and neon polishes in most situations. Keep your hand/finger accessories in mind when picking a polish color as well.”
– Nails, General Grooming (3/21/15)

Similar to my opinions about hair color, you don’t have to always match your nails to your outfit. Lolita has become too “matchy matchy”. Feel free to let your nails stand on their own. And if you really like a specific color, but it happens to match your skin tone, that’s absolutely ok. I find that) nitpicking something as small as nail polish color is really unnecessary.


Sections Dressing For Your Body and Dressing For your Body Type
(3/1915)

I have issues with those two sections as a whole. As a fashion student, I’m exposed to the dressing for a specific model’s skin tone and body type. But fashion isn’t just for photos, it’s for real life self expression. I understand what those sections were meant to do, but always keep in mind that you have every right to wear what you want, whether someone says it looks good on you or not. Unless you want to dress for your body type and skin tone (do what you want, I’ll be happy for you either way), PLEASE don’t feel like you can’t wear something based on your skin color or body. Fashion is meant to be fun, happy, and a form of one of the bravest types of self expression. Don’t you ever let someone tell you that you can’t wear pastels because you are too dark, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t wear knee socks because of the curves of your legs, and don’t let anyone tell you that you shouldn’t wear high waist dresses because of your size and bust. Don’t let that guide make your feel like your body is a restraint.

Men, how dare they suggest you to a different style because you are not “feminine enough”.  I will fully support you if you decide to venture in the territory of makeup, and I will also support you if you decide to grow a full fledged beard.  Don’t let your sex determine what clothes you can wear and whether or not you should wear makeup. I hate the fact the women can wear a masculine style and even express their androgyny, but men cannot wear a dress while still keeping their masculine features or even plainly wear a dress. And do you know why that is? Femininity isn’t as valued as masculinity. Be someone who can change that.

Like women, you can wear lolita all you want. I hope I’ve inspired my female readers to start helping their local “brolitas”. Don’t be “frightened”. Something as libeerating as fashion shouldn’t be exclusive to one sex.


“Wearing brand does not guarantee a perfect outfit, and wearing handmade or offbrand does not automatically make you ita.”
– What To Avoid and About “Ita”, About being Ita (3/21/15)

I completely agree with this. But since this is mentioned, it suggests that there’s a stigma to brand, handmade, and offbrand.
Brand = Quality Outfit
Handmade and Offbrand = “Ita”
It saddens me to admit that the stigma does exist. But remember “It’s not wrong to be ita. Most lolitas have been ita at some point. If you ever find yourself being called ita, try using the criticism to improve your style and avoid your previous missteps.” (About Being Ita 2)


  • unkempt hair or face/bad hygiene. (no makeup, bad acne, greasy hair etc.)
  • cutting corners (plain blouses, cheap accessories, dresses from Forever 21, etc.)
– ✘ Things to Avoid ✘ (3/19/15)

I mostly disagree. I do support hygiene, don’t get me wrong, but as soon as it mentions no makeup and acne, I feel like it became a opinion based “rule”  rather than an unbiased suggestion. As I mentioned earlier, makeup is a gray area, feel free to wear it or not, since it shouldn’t determine if you are any less of a lolita. Depending on your age group and your own body make up, acne is something that is mostly out of your control.  I’m sure those with acne already understand their problem, please don’t make them feel worse about something that’s out of their hands.

Plain blouses are absolutely ok, and some outfits call for one. Depending on what “cheap” accessories are, offbrand accessories are acceptable. Every lolita I know has at least one offbrand accessory. The only thing I really agree with is the “dresses from Forever 21”. Most F21 dresses cannot hold a full petticoat. I suggest looking at Volume 6: Buying Lolita, it’s pretty informative.


Verdict:

The most problematic and biased section.

Rating:



Volume 6: Buying Lolita


I actually have no complaints about this section. It’s very detailed and well researched


Verdict:

Very handy! I’ll happily suggest this particular volume to my followers.

Rating:



Volume 7: Community and Culture


My only complaint is the obviously biased and rude commentary about EGL communities.


Nowadays, it is used as an archive of years past, official announcements and promotions for lolita events, mods that update the monthly theme every few months, and newbies that ask unnecessary questions whose answers are easily found through google search (aka why this blog was made in the first place).
– Lolita Online, EGL Live Journal (3/19/15)

Oh how dare those newbies ask such questions!! I am all about researching first, but you really didn’t have to be so rude in what was supposed to be an unbiased guide. Can you be more pretentious?

EDIT: That comment has now been deleted. I will still keep it in my review as a reminder.


Verdict:

Without that unnecessary comment, this section is pretty spot on

Rating:



Volume 8: Dictionary

Verdict:

Very basic and straightforward. The only issue I had, which has now been edited out, was the word “vendetta” being included. Other than that, this section is a basic lolita dictionary.

Rating:



Overall Verdict:

It still has many issues and has much too many biased guides that newer lolitas should not be exposed to. My personal go to lolita guide will be FYeahLolita. Please do not use this guide as the be-all and end-all for lolita fashion.

Overall Rating:
Thank you very much for reading! Feel free to comment with your thoughts and opinions, I’d love to hear other point of views.
~Lapin Chocolat
And a special thank you to these people for helping me proofread this post! Without their corrections and inputs, this would be a mess! I am not the most grammatically correct person…

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