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Beginner's Guide to Lolita Dresses

Introduction to Lolita #02: The Three Basic Styles of Lolita

18 Jun 2024

When you ask someone outside the Lolita community to describe Lolita fashion, you might get responses like "flamboyant," "layers of lace skirts," or even "Is it cosplay?" While it's true that features like lace and multilayered skirts are quite prominent, these early impressions have stuck around and sometimes lead to misconceptions. However, as the Lolita style has evolved and diversified, it has embraced and transformed various elements, creating a vibrant fashion ecosystem.

Today, let's dive into the three basic styles of Lolita fashion!

Lolita fashion is generally categorized into three main styles: Sweet, Gothic, and Classical. These styles are roughly based on their visual elements.

Sweet Lolita

First up is Sweet Lolita. The essence of Sweet Lolita is to create a look that is as cute as a doll and as sweet as a princess. It's all about that "sugary girlish heart," expressing a young girl's innocence and dreamy consciousness.

Sweet Lolita dresses often feature high concentrations of ruffles, ribbons, bows, lace, puff sleeves, and layered skirts. The color palette usually includes soft, non-assertive shades like pink, lavender, light blue, and white, though there are also "bittersweet" variations that use black as the main color. Patterns often depict candies, sweets, cute animals, dolls, or fairy tale scenes, enhancing the whimsical charm.

Materials commonly include cotton, chiffon, and taffeta, with lots of lace and tulle for extra sweetness. The typical Sweet Lolita look includes round-toed shoes, colorful stockings, and bags shaped like stuffed animals, all matching the dress’s color scheme and elements.

(NyaNya × Puella Magi Madoka Magica Original Lolita Dress | Kaname Madoka)

Think of an Alice-themed Sweet Lolita dress—it's all about fantasy, fairy tales, and sweetness, like a little fairy enjoying afternoon tea who might accidentally fall into a dream.

Sweet Lolita is often the go-to style for those new to the Lolita world. The reasons? Younger girls just stepping into Lolita fashion naturally lean towards Sweet Lolita, both psychologically and physically. Plus, the sweet, charming appearance of Sweet Lolita closely aligns with the public's perception of Lolita fashion, making it the poster child of the Lolita community.

Gothic Lolita

Next, we have Gothic Lolita, often humorously called "Gothic Lolita" due to its phonetic similarity. It's important to note that Gothic Lolita is not the same as traditional Gothic fashion; it's a blend of dark, eerie medieval European vibes and elegant, luxurious elements.

Gothic Lolita outfits come in various styles, including dresses, jumpers, and separates, often featuring patterns with religious motifs like crosses and roses, or macabre symbols like skulls, swords, coffins, and bats. These dramatic prints create a striking mix of majesty and gloom.

(Grey Rabbit Plaid Suit Lolita Cute Dress)

The color scheme typically includes black, white, deep blue, and dark red to convey a sense of mystery and darkness. Occasionally, neutral tones like mustard yellow, dark green, and burgundy are used to add detail and soften the stark contrast of black and white. Common materials are cotton and linen, but satin and leather are also increasingly popular. Accessories often include leather items and silver jewelry.

Within Gothic Lolita, there are two notable substyles: Elegant Gothic Lolita and Elegant Gothic Aristocrat. The former leans towards traditional classical designs, emphasizing aristocratic, courtly elegance with a hint of vampiric allure. The latter has a more delicate, fragile look, featuring fewer Gothic elements and more lace and ruffles.

In a nutshell, Gothic Lolita is all about "elegant horror."

Classical Lolita

Finally, we have Classical Lolita, often abbreviated as Cla Lolita. This style is characterized by its simplicity, elegance, and mature sophistication, representing the essence of Rococo fashion.

Classical Lolita outfits use fewer ruffles and lace, focusing instead on details like sleeve and neckline designs, intricate patterns, and tailored pleats. The goal is to enhance the overall silhouette with refined cuts. Fabrics are carefully chosen, often including smooth, delicate satins, detailed cottons, and high-quality lace.

(DH Classic Sweet Dream Ribbon Dress)

The color palette tends to be simple, with shades like beige, white, tea brown, and light pink, but also includes rich colors like burgundy and dark green for a touch of regal sophistication. Medium-toned hues convey a sense of elegance and grace, making the wearer look like a poised, classical noblewoman.

Compared to Sweet and Gothic Lolita, Classical Lolita is easier to wear in everyday settings and is more likely to be accepted by family and friends. There’s a popular saying in the Lolita community: "No matter what style of Lolita you start with, you'll eventually end up with Classical Lolita."

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