If you’ve decided you’d like to dress in Lolita style, the first thing you must realize is that Lolita clothing is extremely expensive. High quality Lolita is near impossible to purchase cheaply, since Japanese brand clothing costs just as much as high-end designer American clothing lines like Betsey Johnson or Diane von FÃ¼rstenberg. Someone who aspires to dress in those designers knows not to expect to find such items at Wal-Mart, and it is the same with Lolita. Although it may be possible to find a handful of Lolita-suitable blouses, socks and so forth at stores like H&M, you will still pay high prices for complete outfits.
Baby, The Stars Shine Bright and Metamorphose Temps de Fille are two brands with online shopping sites which offer international shipping and accept PayPal. Closet Child deals in used Lolita clothing, and is a bit cheaper than purchasing new items, but is still pricey. Their website also accepts PayPal and ships internationally. (Unlike the other two sites, Closet Child does not feature a shopping cart option. Customers email a list of their desired items and receive a PayPal invoice afterwards.) For other brands which do not ship outside of Japan, there are many overseas shopping services available. eBay and other auction sites offer Lolita clothing on occasion, yet these items are usually created by independent seamstresses and are not Japanese brands.
Why is Lolita brand clothing so expensive? There are a number of reasons. For starters, Lolita companies are not major manufacturers. These brands produce a small quantity of specialty items, usually in a single size, and once their inventory is depleted they have a tendency to invent new designs instead of resurrecting old ones.
Apart from accessories, most of the clothing is produced in-house by Japanese clothiers instead of being outsourced to third world countries. They are composed of first-rate materials (although there are exceptions, of course). The Moi Meme Moitie line has a renowned reputation for its exceptional fabric and lace, and is perhaps the most costly of brands.
Lower priced Lolita clothing, typically produced outside of Japan, has a tendency towards cheap, thin fabric and rough lace. It’s the old maxim – You Get What You Pay For. Would you rather spend $100 now on a poorly made dress which will only last you a couple of months, or save your money and spend $300 on a gorgeous dress which will be beautiful for years to come?
$100 dresses from places like Bodyline (and Hot Topic, although not Japanese) are mainly purchased by those who are uncertain about whether they will enjoy dressing in Lolita clothing. Granted, $300 (excluding accessories, shoes and the like) is a large commitment. But one would not purchase a budget dress in order to decide if they would like wearing a Vera Wang gown. Actually, wearing an ill-fitting, scratchy dress may sour a person on the idea of Lolita altogether.
Lolita brand clothing is most often created in a single size (although Metamorphose has started to sporadically offer “tall size” in some blouses and jackets). The majority of Japanese girls have a similar body type, which lessens the need for brands to produce S, M and L sizes in anything but shoes. If your figure matches precisely to this standard, you will not have a problem, but this is rarely the case. Most Lolitas tend to have fitting issues involving shoulders, arm circumference, bust, waist, and height. Check diligently with the measurements on the websites before purchasing.
If you receive your item and fitting issues arise, you have two choices: constrain yourself with support garments, or take your clothing in to be altered. If your brand dress cuts off circulation at the waist yet fits perfectly otherwise, you should consider having it let out by a reputable tailor. If your dress requires three friends to shoehorn you into it, you should consider sending it back for a refund, or selling it and purchasing a new one. Ill-fitting Lolita has the same horrid look as any other ill-fitting clothing and should not bulge, pucker, slack or constrict.
If there is no possible way that you could fit into a Japanese brand dress, you can opt to have your clothing commissioned, which I will cover in a later installment.
About Curiosity: Curiosity Valentine is a contributing Lolita fashion writer with extensive knowledge of Lolita fashion. She’s spent time in Japan studying the subject matter and learning the language. She’s also the lead singer in the Gothic Lolita Industrial Jazz band, Curiosity. If you have any questions please feel free to comment below!