What is Lolita?
Credit to Lolita Handbook: http://lolita-handbook.livejournal.com/3431.html#cutid1
♥What is Lolita?♥
Lolita is a very hard style to define, but in my opinion what really defines it is it’s childlike innocence and old-fashioned elegance. It’s distinctive style is most obviously from the Victorian and Rococo eras, but you will see a lot of influence from the Edwardian period and even some 40s and 50s American clothing styles – any time period in which fashion was elegant and beautiful. The bell-shaped skirt provides the typical silhouette, but it is neither what makes something lolita nor is it required of all lolitas. There is no one item of clothing or a color or trim that embodies all that is lolita – it is a unique aesthetic that’s hard to perfect. To some there’s a lifestyle attached – not only wearing the clothes as often as possible but also taking part in lolita activities and following a certain code of etiquette – but to others it is merely a clothing style. Lolita can be an escape from the mundane, or an attempt to return to a more innocent time in life. It’s something a little bit different to everyone, but what lolitas have in common is a shared desire to wear really awesome clothes.
♥What about Nabokov’s “Lolita”? Isn’t that where the term “lolita” comes from”?♥
Yes and no. There is no simple answer to this and you can probably argue it for hours all to no avail. Yes Nabokov popularized the term as a name for a young girl, but there is no indication that the Japanese borrowed the sexual connotation of the word as well. Most lolitas will protest a Nabokov reference, but others see a sexual side side to the fashion. Like all other facets of lolita fashion, each person has a unique perspective on the word itself, so rarely is it beneficial to argue it at length. If anyone has some articles on the subject I’d love to add them.
What is Lolita?
Lolita is a Japanese street fashion inspired primarily by the clothing and general aesthetics of the Rococo and Victorian periods. This fashion movement started in Japan in the 1980’s and has evolved greatly since. Nowadays Lolita Fashion has grown to be relatively popular all over the world. Relatively popular for an obscure Japanese street fashion, that is.
While it is true that most fashions are open to various interpretations, the term Lolita is used exclusively to describe a very specific (one could say narrow) look that is created by abiding by a number of strict guidelines and principles (seeAnatomy of A Lolita Outfit). The “rules” of Lolita fashion don’t exist to limit the wearer but are rather qualifiers of what makes an outfit Lolita. Within these rules however there are a variety of styles.
Gothic Lolita is probably the style associated most with Lolita Fashion outside of Japan. Lolita Fashion is often referred to as GothLoli or EGL. While GothLoli can be a correct term it only applies to the specific Gothic subset and not Lolita fashion as a whole (see Lolita Styles for more information on the different subsets). However EGL is an abbreviation of the term Elegant Gothic Lolita, which was coined by the Japanese musician Mana to describe his specific Lolita clothing line.
The term “Lolita” may be off-putting to those who first hear about the fashion because of the connotation it holds from Vladimir Nabokov’s novel, “Lolita”, which changed the meaning of the name for most people in the Western world. It is generally assumed though that the name of the fashion comes from a distortion of the meaning while word-borrowing from English. In the case of the fashion the term “Lolita” only refers to the child-like nature of some of the clothes and is also used because of the beauty or cuteness of the name. Lolita Fashion is emphatically not about looking sexy and is instead about looking cute or elegant.
In addition to being a fashion, some people enjoy living a “Lolita Lifestyle” in which one sees Lolita as more of a philosophy of living beautifully rather than just dressing it. Someone living a Lolita Lifestyle may try and live like a princess, surrounding themselves with things of beauty, and taking part in a number of ‘proper’ feminine activities such as baking, embroidery, sewing and other old-fashioned “women’s” activities