Monday, November 8, 2010

Lolita in Secret Challenged Me; Lolita Pet Peeves!

Ahh, I have fallen victim to this lovely new trend. And truth be told, as much as I adore the Lolita fashion... there is a lot that bothers me. Heck, I'll probably go beyond the five pet peeves we are limited to, so I apologize in advance~

OTT Sweet. This is going to get me into a lot of trouble, I can already see it. It's adorable for the people who can pull it off, I will never deny that. However, I should not be getting diabetes just by looking at you. Wasn't the Lolita style supposed to be Neo-Victorian or something? I don't remember the Victorians ever wearing pastel renditions of dancing teddy bears. Really, I have nothing against the people who do OTT Sweet, power to you, but the style is really really not my thing.

Wigs, Fake Nails, Fake Everything. Another thing to get me in trouble. I am a Cosplayer, therefore I am all-too-familiar with wigs, and other things used to change your appearance. For meetups and photoshoots, I can't see why not, but for everyday life? Aren't we getting a little extreme? (Once in awhile is one thing, goodness knows I wear my fluffy white wig when I feel a little bit daring, but every day? Come on.) Since when was natural beauty such a bad thing? I shouldn't have to look at your pictures and wonder: "So... is that her real hair?"

Fakie-stuff can be great for meetups, and goodness knows hair falls are fun things. However, is there any reason we're trying to hide behind a mask of fake?

Lack of Lifestyle. Before someone says: "Well! I'm sure you're no perfect Princess most of the time!" Trust me, I'm not. My "Natural Nobility" post aside, I can be lewd, crude, and sometimes downright disgusting, can't we all? Want to know the difference? I'm not going around being proud of those crude times of mine. If I'm making perverted jokes with my friends, most of the time it doesn't leave my friends, and when I decide to stop being foolish and be a lady again, I do so. Really, I am not saying that we all need to sip tea in the morning and pretend that we're the best princesses the world has ever seen... but could you try not to brag loudly in public about how you and your boyfriend had sex in AP dresses the night before?

Likewise, when you're wearing Lolita (or any other alternative fashion, or Cosplay), you're acting as an ambassador for the entire subculture. I know, you ladies are getting sick of hearing this all the time, but it's true! People are judging all Lolitas by your behaviour (unless said person knows a lot of Lolitas, but that's not very likely.) It would be nice if we could get away from the stigma of age-play and other sexualized stuff. But really, I wouldn't rather trade that for an image of unbelievably crass and rude.

The skirts! How short they can be! ... This is a peeve for myself and myself alone. Most of my dresses and skirts before getting into Lolita were anywhere between mid-calves and the floor. I'm still not used to showing my knees, and goodness knows that I spend too much time fretting if my petticoat is visable or not. Needless to say, this could be one of my mother's peeves as well, seeing as I'm always asking her if my petticoat is visible.

Shoes and socks. My biggest nightmare (In other words, this one applies to only me here. Others can rock 'em out, please~). Due to my foot problems, I can't wear most styles of shoes, I'm usually restricted to flat and short-heeled sandals. As many of you know, that makes it pretty tacky to wear socks or tights, which are nearly mandated in Lolita fashion. Groan.

"Cosplay" as a four-letter-word. As stated above, I am a Cosplayer (or Costumer, seeing as very few of my Cosplays are beyond my personal OCs.) One of the difficult things in Lolita fashion is hearing things described as "Cosplayish" to register as bad quality. It's quite insulting, seeing as many people can pay upwards of $100 on their Cosplays, oftentimes more. While some are really bad quality, most aren't, so the overall stigma is just quite insulting. Can't we just say "Bad quality" to reference bad-quality instead of knocking off another Subculture?

Subculture hate and elitism. ... Out main demographic is 15-30 year old girls. I should not be surprised that there is bitchiness and dramaz... is that still any excuse to rag on something not too far on yourself? I've seen Lolitas insult everything from Cosplayers, to Goths, to... well... name any subculture, shall we? Seeing as we are all stems of fashion and subculture... I really don't see why making fun of the others is going to get anywhere. I'm not a fan of extreme sport-fans, the tinsel wigs and dual-face makeup is just foreign to me (even though I all but live in Ben Nye on many occasions.) Does that mean I'm going to say they're all idiots and stupid for doing what they like? Never. I may personally dislike sports with a burning passion, but it's not fair for me to deprive someone else of their passion. Likewise, it really hurts to see Lolitas insulting Cosplayers, Goths, and just about anything else.

Insecurity. Are these shoes Lolita enough? What if my hair isn't perfect for the meetup? Oh Gnade, what if they post me on getoffegl or something? Admit it. Thoughts like these have gone through your head at least once if you've been in the fashion for awhile. There are so many "Rules" (Well, guidelines, but it's hard to tell which is which, most of them are enforced so militantly,) that most girls, newbie and non, just don't know what to do! One little thing could make an outfit non-Loli, it seems. (For example, my latest worry. I have a beautiful black blouse with rose-buttons. The problem? It looks like a suit-jacket. With mild shoulder-padding, lapels, and the typical suit V-neck. Is it against the rules? Makes you wonder, doesn't it?) It's paired with a delightfully Lolita skirt I got while thrifting, but on it's own, I fear it's too corperate. I mean, would the other Lolis laugh at me or something? Admit it, we've all had those thoughts every now and then, be it in Lolita, or some other fashion.

... Yeah, I could go on, and on, and on, but I don't think you all want to read my rantypants things, am I right? Remember, please write to me and tell me what all you want me to write about. Or heck, feel free to send me an E-mail or Instant Message just to chat. I'd love to get to know all the lovelies reading this thing anyway~

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Lolita Meme!

I got really, really bored. Meme borrowed from Lolita in Secret, lovely meme, I must admit~


What colours can be found in your Lolita closet?
Offwhite, black, white, and a skirt that has beautiful faded orange and sepia tones. Essentially muted colours.
What is your favourite colour with Lolita?
I love all colours, it just takes the right person to pull them off. For myself? White. Hands down.

What is your least favourite colour in Lolita?
You're gonna hate me for this. I do not like pastel pink. Some people can pull it off, but it's just not for me.
Which uncommon colour do you want to try out?
I have an uncommon colour? Well, royal blue would be nice to contrast with all the pastels. Any jewel tone.

Are you more a Onepiece, Jumperskirt or a Skirt person?
Skirts, please. Especially because most OPs and JSKs don't fit my measurements. (Well, shirred ones likely do, but I abhor shirring.)
Which cut do you like the best?
Not sure about what specifically 'cut' means, but I like my dresses/blouses to either have a high neckline, a sweetheart neckline, or sometimes a squared neckline.
Print or no Print?
No. Print. I love my solid colours. (Now, I will make an exceptions for muted florals and other non-invasive prints.)
How does a dress/skirt have to look like that it will be a "must have" item for you?
For me? It has to be something I can either wear in day-to-day life, or as a special occasion outfit. It has to be durable enough to go through day-to-day life. Likewise, it has to be versitile. If I'm paying $30-$100 for a blouse or skirt, it had better go with many things.

What is your favourite style in Lolita?
Classical, there's no getting around that. I also like Aristocratic, and have been attempting Steampunk Lolita with no avail.
Which style do you wear regularly?
Which style you want to try out?
I would love to try out Country. Or Shiro. Well... more like a Gothic Shiro.
Which style you never want to try out/wear again?
OTT Sweet. I look awful in pastel. Sue me.

Brands yes or no and why?
Not really. For others who like them, wonderful. But I prefer to stick with Western "Brands" and independant seamstresses.
Which brand is your favourite?
If I could fit it, I would love anything by Innocent World, Mary Magdalene, or Victorian Maiden. Problem? They're all for tiny Japanese girls. I'm not seeing any way to fit my 39" bust into any of that.
Which is your least favourite brand?
Angelic Pretty, but we all saw that coming, right? Just... too much unicorn vomit, I'm sorry.
Ever had a good/bad experience with brand?
No experiences with brand to speak of, unfortunately.
Will this experience encourage/stop you from buying brand?
Doesn't apply, sorry love. ^^;

Did you ever got surprised by a piece of Lolita?
My first blouse, heck, I'm wearing it right now~ It goes with both my Lolita and non-Lolita things.

Did you ever got disappointed by a piece of Lolita?
Not yet, and here's hoping that I never do~
Things that you like about Lolita?The fact that the clothes tend to make me feel like a princess. Overrated, I'm sure, but it's how I feel. I feel like I want to be a better person each time I wear the frills to give a good name for everyone else, and to be as beautiful inside as the style makes me on the outside. In short, it makes me act like the lady I should be, so I love it.
Things that you dislike on Lolita?
The bitchiness of the community, and how restrictive the style can be. You get down to a whole ton of nitty-gritty details that either make or break a Lolita. "Oh! Lace parasols are so not Rori." "You can't wear that! It's not Lolita!" I could understand things like neon orange Crocs or something, but what's wrong with my white lace parasol? As long as it looks nice and fits the asthetic, isn't that the point?

Do you have a Lolita fashion idol, if 'yes' who is it?
I wish I did. Maybe I need to find myself an idol?

Does Lolita affect your every day life?
You had better bet it does! I'm not saying I'm one of those people who sips tea every morning and thinks she's a princess, but I do try to incorperate a bit of Loliness into day-to-day life. There's no point to just wearing the frills if you're not affected by them.

Do you buy Lolita related things, like cute looking furniture?
I don't know about cute furniture, but once I get my own place, I'm definetely decking it out like a Victorian parlour.

Do you read/buy the Gothic Lolita Bible?
If I could get ahold of an issue, I'd read it.

How to you describe your fashion style to others that don´t know about Lolita?
"Alright, you know those lovely porcelain dolls? Sort of like that."
"Think that dress that Alice wears, that's the silouette."
"I'm supposed to look like a refined young lady from the Victorian era."

Is there something you want to say to your fellow Lolitas?
Don't worry, be happy! No, really. We could all use a little bit of lightening up, and a few of us (including/especially me) need to get that stick out of our arse. We all have the potential to get along. We really do.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Dating Inside and Outside the Subculture

Ahh, love is in the air, can't you smell it? No? Must've been someone else then. Aaall the same, what with Halloween coming up, now is the perfect time to talk about the nuances of love, relationships, and all that come with it. (What? Were you expecting me to save this talk for Valentine's Day? Poppycock! That would make too much sense! Carrying on....)

There are several situations we have going here. You're part of the "Normal" crowd, and your significant other is delved quite deep into one Subculture or another. You're neck-deep in everything, and don't know what to do! On the other end of the spectrum, you, a Subculturist, seem to have found your heart utterly taken with someone who is part of the "Normal" crowd. Or even better yet, what if someone is of a different Subculture than yourself? What do you do then?

Well. I'm here to help you out~ (As always). Let's start simple. I'm going to assume that you're in this sort of thing looking for a life partner (or at least someone to stick around for a few years. Really, whatever you prefer.) As in not someone to have a fling for one night, and then never speak again. If you're into that? Great, I'm happy for you, but this guide will not help you much.

Let's assume you're "normal" and the S.O. is a Subculturist.

First of all, you've got pretty good taste, because most of us are pretty interesting people that never allow for dull moments~ Self-advertisement aside, you've got a unique set of things to worry about on top of normal dating woes. I'm not saying the Subculture should rule your dating life, but there are certain things you need to keep in mind. (Like refraining from giving pastel-pink carnations to your Goth-inclined girlfriend or something. Or telling your Otaku boyfriend that "Anime sucks and should have stayed in Japan". Yanno, common sense sort of things.)

Keep their interests in mind. I'm not a sports fan, so giving me a jersey won't end well. Likewise, dark and macabre things for the cupcake-sweet leaning girls just isn't using common sense. Just because it's something abnormal, or something that you'd like... doesn't mean that it's something that they'd like.

To add to this, do your research. Your average Goth is going to roll his eyes if you get something from Hot Topic, while the average Lolita will cringe at some "Lolita Costume" you picked up at the Halloween store. I'm not saying you have to research everything about the subculture, but know a bit about what you're getting into before you buy gifts. It will save a lot of trouble, and probably a lot of money as well.

Avoid generalizations. Not every Gamer is a thirty year old virgin living in his mother's basement. Not every Lolita is into seducing older men. Not every Goth is into death and destruction. Not every Steampunk thinks that they're in a 1800s Sci-Fi universe. If I tell you that I'm a Lolita, the first thing out of your mouth had better not be: "Wait... so does that mean you're into older men? Or age-play?" When you assume you make an ass out of u and me. Assumptions normally don't end well, and can often end in someone getting slapped.

Share your own interests, I will never encourage someone to keep their own interests quiet. If you're into something, let your S.O. know about it! I mean heck, we're sharing all this stuff with you, it's only fair for you to share it with us!

Let's assume you're a Subculturist, and your S.O. is "normal".

Don't think that I don't have anything to say to you! We have just as much responsibility in the relationship as our "normal" counterparts.

Make things apparant early. I have never been one to advocate secrecy, if you're a Lolita, then wear one of your frilly fineries on the first date. (Don't go over the top, mind, toned-down is best, and then gradually expose them to the fashion.) If your Subculture is part of your lifestyle, then you shouldn't hide it! (Besides that, "Coming out" sort of things don't often end well. Appearing "normal" for several weeks and then outright stating "I'm a Goth" or "I'm a Lolita" or something usually doesn't have positive consequences.) Don't go over the top on the first few dates, but slowly incorperate them into it. For the Gothier side, maybe a little black dress or suit on the first date, and then slowly add the delightfully spooky accessories on further dates. Start simple and keep going as dates progress.

Include them! I can't say this one enough: If people feel ignored, they're going to resent you. I make it a priority to include my Fiancee in things. We Roleplay together, we play Video Games together, heck, he often dresses up in a delightfully aristocratic style when I'm out in my Lolita finest. If your S.O. doesn't want to be included, then good gracious, don't force them! However, it helps to ask their opinion on things, and see if there's subtle ways you can include them into your life.

Likewise, don't exclude them from your friend group, if they want to meet your friends, then go for it! If they don't...? Well, then don't make them. It's simple, really.

Learn their interests. You're not the only one who gets to do all the sharing here! If they're into something, at least try to get into it as well, it makes things a lot less painful when people have shared interests. I understand if there are things that some people just can't stand. I personally detest sports and everything to do with them, which means going out with a sports fanatic is not in my future. It doesn't hurt to try new things, but if something really just doesn't work, then don't force it.

Let's assume you're both Subculturists... but part of different Subcultures!

Can a over-the-top, super-sweet Lolita really work out with a delightfully macabre Gothy type who wants nothing more than a nice catnap in the coffin? Sure they can! Many people can learn to be agreeable, and sometimes "Staying within the Subculture" just doesn't work. Take the Lolitas for example. They're about 98% women before you figure in the few Dandies, Oujis, and Aristocrats that lurk around every now and then. (And most of them are already S.O.s to the Lolitas.) So unless the majority of these girls are lesbian, they'll have to look outside of the Subculture for partners. Same with Gamers, the majority are men (although that number is starting to decrease, little by little.) Truly passionate Gamer-Girls are pretty rare, so the guys need to look elsewhere.

I know, it sounds totally painful to think about something new, strange, nay, even foreign to yourself... but it's really not so bad when you get used to it.

Take my Fiancee. He's a major Otaku, a Cosplayer, and a Steampunk. Myself? A Costumer, Gamer, Lolita, Roleplayer, so on and so forth. You get the picture, right? We're thick as thieves, and never run out of things to talk about.

So what can you do? You two seem so different at first, but the truth is we're not so different after all. Because of my gaming experience, I can keep a relatively intelligent Anime discussion, Cosplay and Costuming aren't really that different (except I prefer OCs to Canon Characters. It works out in the end~) Even the Gothiest of the Goths can find some pretty common ground with the most sugary Sweet Lolitas. Especially if our Subculture carries into our daily lifestyles. You're passionate about your life, and so am I, oh the fun we could have with this!

As always, share your interests. Heck, even try getting the other person into it! My Fiancee and I are nearly always Roleplaying with one-another. Likewise, where I get him into games, he'll get me into Anime, where I got him to partner Aristocrat and Dandy for my Lolita, he has a Steampunk Aristocratic Lady to aid him in his adventures. Not everyone is going to want to mesh as well as we did, but you'll find some common ground. Trust me.

Give and take is important here, give a little and take a little, Anime isn't always my thing, but I'm willing to give a new one a try when JJ comes knocking at my door about it. Likewise, he puts up with my incessant need for Live-Action Roleplaying. Heck, sometimes we even enjoy the Anime and Roleplaying. (Gnade knows I sure enjoyed watching Rozen Maiden with him.)

How to know to cut it off?

Sometimes things are just too much to bear. Sometimes your interests get in the way. I've had it happen before, one of my ex-boyfriends would mock me incessantly for my adoration of Roleplaying. A little gentle teasing was okay, but he was malicious about it.

Sometimes people will tease, JJ and myself joking about how I look "Young enough to be his daughter" when I'm in my Lolita finery comes to mind. We're both laughing, we're both amused, we both know it's probably true. However, were he making fun of me for my frills every day... we'd have a problem. Laughing with you is good, laughing at you is not.

Heck, even sometimes people's interests will get in the way. I mentioned earlier how I am not a fan of sports. At all. This is to the point that I try to avoid all conversation about it. It wouldn't be very fair for either of us if I were dating a man who was passionate about his team, right? Assess how important these things are to you, if it's something that invokes such a strong knee-jerk reaction in you, you might want to rethink the relationship. Conversely, if it's just a minor annoyance when compared to the big picture, then it's something you can probably live with. If it genuinely bothers you so much, then it's probably not worth it.

Overall, communication is necessary. Talk with your S.O. about things, and see if there isn't something that can be done, but if things are getting to the point where you're tearing your hair out and dreading the next time you see the person... things just aren't in good shape.


All the same, hope my little talk of lovey-dovey ness helped a bit~ Until next time~

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Let's Do Steampunk Lolita!

Disclaimer: All images taken from Google Images, I do not own any of them!

Well, due to my recent post on EGL asking about corsets in Lolita, I decided to do a little guide on something that both the Lolita and Steampunk community aren't sure what to do with: Steampunk Lolita!

Now, the Steampunk community complains that it's too Lolita, the Lolita community half of the time complains about the same thing, and the other half complains about it breaking some of the 'rules' of Lolita. So we're going to try and appease both groups and get started~

First things first, it's probably better to stick to the Lolita "Rules", that is modesty (even EroLoli is modest compared to other "Erotic" styles), the bell-shape silouette, and the overall "Cuteness" that seems to exist in all things Lolita. However, when you do this, you need to give heed to the Steampunk asthetic, which is the historical roots with the modern twist. Newtonian laws rule here, so keep that in mind! Overall, you should probably know a good amount about both styles before randomly deciding to mix them. Now let's break this down!

Character: One thing I've noticed in Steampunk: Most people have characters (or as I like to call them: Steamsonas. Yes. I'm serious.) Think about who your character is first (this may cause a rift with some of the Lolitas, who prefer the style as a fashion over costuming. You're free to continue this as a fashion, but think about how you want to portray yourself. Some people prefer the "Cutesy" aspects, while others want to look like youthful royalty. It's probably good to have this character {or portrayal} in mind before you start dressing yourself.) Is your character an airship mechanic? Probably best to leave out the extreme frills, and go for something a little more subdued. Conversely, is your character royalty? Deep, rich colours, and fancy clothing is almost mandatory here!

World: Steampunk has a rich and diverse world, and several people tend to make their own worlds for the genre. Think about where your character comes from. Is it a generally peaceful place? No need for toting ray guns then if things are always so quiet. What about an adventure-filled land with danger around every corner? I doubt you're going to be without a few weapons and shields (or at least some nifty gadgets disguised as ordinary accessories.) Always pay heed to where you are, and where you're going, this will influence the outfit.

Now, I've already probably lost some of the fashion-centric people right here. Don't fall asleep just yet! There is fashion goodness to come, however, if your outfit is mis-matched and doesn't seem to flow (hence where the characterization comes in), then you won't look very good. See? A bit of forethought is necessary for the fashion aspect.

Hair: More historical styles are valued here. Save the pink Himegaryuu wigs for other styles, because there's very little that can be done to make it Steampunk enough for SteamLoli. Sorry, love you all, it's just NOT a good idea overall. If you can do it? Great! Send me pictures, and I'll show the world how wrong I am, in the meantime? Best to avoid it. Historical styles in natural colours are best, Steampunk itself tends to go into the "Punk" asthetic, but for SteamLoli, it's better to focus on the "Steam" aspect. Do some research to historical hairstyles, braids were common, as were decadent curls. Find ways to make them more Lolita, perhaps small bows adorning a French braid. Here are some photos of styles for you:

So on, so forth. Also, check out any hairstyle tutorial done by Torrin Paige. Her styles never fail to amaze me with their beauty, and easy to follow instructions~

Lolita in general requires a lot of thought that go into ensembles, and that includes things like hair, and makeup. Don't just let your hair sit in a regular ponytail, jazz it up a bit!

Makeup: This is where you have to start thinking of your character again. Your noble is going to wear a lot more makeup than your airship mechanic (can we tell I love using those two examples?) Likewise, makeup should go with your outfit, and at least look somewhat natural. Remember, more Steam than Punk here.

If you want to have a little more extreme makeup, using metallic tones on your eyes are a great touch. Brass, copper, gold, even silver can look wonderful. It's usually best to keep a sepia tone in regards to makeup, but you can have a bright contrasting colour in light amounts.

Likewise, for things like meetups, or parties, you could easily go a bit extreme, but this isn't recommended for day-to-day life. (It is justified by it being a special event, however, so it's only natural you would get dolled up~)

With the basics out of the way, let's get to the clothes!

Blouses: Any white, offwhite, or sepia-toned blouse could work here. Offwhite and white are the most common, but that doesn't mean it's all you can do. The blouse should keep the Lolita elements to it, with a Steampunk flair. Both short or long sleeves can be used. Lace is fine, just make sure it's high-quality (I shouldn't have to go over these basics, I'm assuming you're all seasoned Lolitas here.)

Now what do I mean by Steampunk flair? Accessorizing! In this case, pins, brooches, and embroidery are your best friend. Likewise, if your blouse has a regular pointed colour, here are some ways to dress it up. Likewise, there's embroidery, maybe you want to embroider cogs and gears, or other delightfully (and perhaps a little cliche) Steampunk symbols. Get creative here~ The blouse isn't necessarily the main attraction, but that doesn't mean it has to be boring~

Skirts: I'm going to say it right now, Blouse+Skirt combinations are much easier to use in SteamLoli, you get a few more options for a lesser price (most of the time), and they just hold the asthetic better. I'm not saying that you can't wear jumperskirts and OPs with SteamLoli, just that it will be a bit harder.

All the same, skirts! Skirts should have the bell-shape (obviously), and contain the basic Lolita silouette while containing all the delights of Steampunk. Bustles are great here, so are screenprinted designs, or (more) embroidery~ Bonus points if you match the motifs on your blouse to your skirt. Skirts are generally a shade of dark brown, but that doesn't mean you can't do lighter colours! (Protip: If you want a splash of colour, and aren't interested in a contrasting corset, try making the bustle whatever colour you want!)

Jumperskirts: Underbust JSKs are probably your best bet here. While you can still (somewhat) rely on your blouse for some Steamy coverage, the JSK itself should be Steampunk enough to stand on its own. Motifs and colour scheme are great here.

One-Pieces: These are probably the hardest to coordinate, seeing as the OP itself has to be Steamy enough to stand on its own. (Otherwise it's not as much SteamLoli as it is Lolita with Steampunk accessories. If you want to go that route, fine, but it's not really Steampunk Lolita, where the two are mixed rather evenly.) Like with JSKs, you'll want to really hit it home with the motifs and colour schemes. This will be the focal point of your outfit, so make sure it doesn't disappoint!

Hats: Oh man, don't get me started, hats are for those of us who don't want to do extreme things with our hair, short-brimmed, wide-brimmed, it doesn't matter what it is, so long we're putting it on our heads! Hats should coordinate with your outfit, and make sense for the "Character". (Yes, I'm still going on with that, there's more rants on that later.) For Steamloli? Take any of those hats you were about to wear, and shrink it down to about half the size. Trust me when I say it works. Mini tophats, mini tricorns, need I say more? (Likewise, accessorize on both of them! Feathers are amazing things, you know. Or if you don't want to spend a fortune on hats alone, buy a basic one, and then make the accessories detatchable!)

A note on goggles: I know everyone and their aunt loves them, but goggles really do need to make sense. An avaiator would need them, a mad scientist (oh man. I want to see a Lolita mad scientist now) would need them, an airship mechanic (I'm using it again) would need them. Your little princess does not need them. (Unless she's secretly sneaking out to fly airplanes, run experiments, or work the graveyard shift repairing the airship.)

Corsets: You all saw this coming. Corsets, yes, corsets. First things first, get that fetishy dancer out of your head, we're talking good-quality corsets that can make or break an outfit.

Corsets are best in Blouse+Skirt combinations, and underbust tends to look best. (Overbust CAN be used, but please please please please please get all overbust corsets fitted specifically to your body! An ill-fitting overbust can hurt like no tomorrow and possibly even cause health problems. Please don't take that risk!) The corset is where you should hit home the colour if you so desire. Do you have a predominantly sepia ensemble? The corset is where you could add that emerald you were after, or maybe that amethyst purple. Jewel-tones look best, but you really could do this with many colours.

Something to keep in mind: Corsets as outerwear are starting to become cliche in Steampunk. They're too much of a staple to be abandoned forever, but some people might roll their eyes. (Besides that, do remember that corsets were underwear back in history, and no person would ever show it. Fashion corsets in today's society are a bit different in that they're meant to be shown, so don't fret too much.)

Colour: I'm not going to lie, the Victorians loved colour, and often were a little... unfashionable with it at times. However, the Steampunk asthetic tends to use things in sepia. While many Steampunks are trying to get away from this stereotype, it's still well-known as a Steampunk thing. If you're trying to do SteamLoli, I would recommend staying in a sepia-toned outfit. As I've said in many sections above, you can still wear colour, little splashes of it here and there can really make an outfit lovely. However, certain colours are just not going to work very easily.

Pastels come to mind. I can already hear the Sweet Lolitas crying. It's not that you can't do pastels, it's that you'll have to work very hard to incorperate them correctly. Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing a sepia-toned outfit with a pastel pink corset, bustle overskirt, and a pastel pink feather in the hat. That is pastels done right. A "Steampunk Lolita" (I use the term loosely here) outfit that is completely all pastel pinks and blues? ... It's just not going to work here. As I keep saying, jewel-tones and metallic colours are best when you want to add colour. Doesn't mean you can't use your pastel-pink goodness, but you just have to use it in moderation, and know when something just isn't Steampunk anymore.

Prints: As a fan of solid-colours (and the occasional floral), I'm a little biased. Either way, solid colours with a few screenprinted designs are best. Prints are iffy, they either work or they don't. Dancing teddy bears just isn't going to be Steamy enough (now... if they wre mechanical teddy bears... alright, I'm done.) Innocent World came out with a lovely "Antique Book" print awhile back, that could work. Angelic Pretty's "Sugary Carnival"? Not so much. Where prints are concerned, sepia-tones are best, and more archaic, historical motifs are best.

Brands: Alright. (Again) the Sweet Lolitas are going to hate me. AP is pretty much entirely out. If someone wants to do a really well-done SteamLoli ensemble with AP, then please go ahead and prove me wrong, but from what I know of the brand, none of their dresses/skirts/et cetera would cut it for a Steampunk Lolita. Some Innocent World or Mary Magdaline could work. However (and this may just be my inner non-brand lover talking) your best bet is going to be through an indie brand, commission, or making it yourself. I'm sure there are brands with designs that are perfectly good for SteamLoli, I just don't research brand enough to really know for sure.

Fabrics: This may be one of the few times I encourage someone to break a rule. Shiny fabrics can be okay. Now, I'm not saying you can go get the cheap satin, not at all. High quality bridal satins, taffeta, brocades and the like can be used in moderation. You see, have you ever had a metallic in a matte fabric? It doesn't tend to look very metallic, now does it? Mettalic usually implies shiny, so a bridal satin in gold, brass, whatever would actually be perfectly fitting. I can already hear the enture Lolita community facepalming, but this is one of the "Rules" that can be waived when used in moderation and done right. (I swear though, if I catch you making your entire SteamLoli ensemble in cheap satin and blaming it on me, there'll be heck to pay~)

Now, what about the substyles of Lolita? I'm going to focus primarily on the main three. (Seeing as I don't feel like Steaming up Wa-Lolita right now. Someone else who actually wears Wa-Lolita can do that for me~)

Sweet: This is going to be the hardest to Steam up (and even harder if your heart lies with OTT Sweet.) First things first, put the rainbow-vomit AP prints away. It's just not going to work, I'm sorry. Shrink the pastels down to an accent colour, and turn down some of the frills. Instead of oodles of lace, try a few lace ruffles, and an overskirt in your colour of choice. Now about the deco craze? Just replaces those cupcakes with hourglasses, those cookies with cogs, see where we're going with this? Unfortunately, Sweet is the hardest to make Steamy, and I wouldn't recommend it for beginners.

Gothic: Luckily, you can still keep your darker colour scheme, but the accessories will have to have a bit of tweaking. First of all, you know that lovey miniature tophat with the veil on it? Let's add a few motifs to it, and that cross? Shall we try making it mechanical for the fun of it? Gothic also benefits most from a corset, so feel free to use one~ (It also helps if you want to trade in the black one for a jewel-tone, or if you keep the black, make sure it has a few motifs. I've actually seen these lovely black corsets that have a ribcage design on them, they're perfect.)

Classical: You guys have it easy. Classical is the easiest to turn into SteamLoli. (Actually, the main complaint is that most outfits are just Classical with a few Steamy touches.) Trade in the JSK for a blouse and skirt, and maybe add a corset. Likewise, you're also going to have to use the motifs, and I woudln't worry much about your colour scheme, you tend to stick to neutrals most of the time anyway. Oh, jewelry, you'll need a lot more jewelry, maybe a long chain with a nice pendant at the end or something?


All the same, this is an intricate and difficult style to pull off, I wouldn't recommend it for beginners, but if your heart is set on it, I won't stop you. I hope this guide helps out a bit~

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Natural Nobility

So today we're going to talk about "Natural Nobility", or as I like to say: "Being royalty without actually having a title." For those who are interested in this sort of thing, great! Keep on reading. If not? Well, please write to me and tell me what you do want to read about so I can get to it!

I was inspired by a lovely and inspiring post in Lord Nathaniel's blog Mild Relevancy. In this, he spoke of purple being the color of royalty, and then assuring us that he doesn't think so highly of himself to call himself royalty. I, being the ever-argumentative person that I am, decided to contest him on this, telling him that he has a good amount of nobility in him. Maybe not by blood, or by title, but by existing, by living life as he does.

Nathaniel is a great example of someone who is a "Natural Noble", someone who is gentle and kind, full of grace, even when he has plenty of reason not to be. His very life and state of being is an ideal that I think people should strive harder to reach. I'm not saying copy his every action and deed, because that would be creepy. No, I'm saying note what he does, why he does it.

You see, as I mentioned in Soul Calibur Psychology, Nat is fiercely loyal. He's never turned his back on me as a friend (even though I've deserved it once or twice), whenever I talk to him he's kindhearted and loving, no matter what's going on in his life. He's always been willing to help, and is always there as a friend, no matter what. This goes a long way in people's minds, you know.


Alright, my sappy ramblings aside (because goodness knows they WILL only get sappier.) I'm going to tell you this. No amount of etiquette books in the world, no amount of well-meaning tutorials by me... is going to make you a Natural Noble. It's just not going to happen. Not saying you can't learn, but unless you let your inside change with your outside... you will only be seen as a pretentious mask-wearer. And trust me, that isn't what you want. Natural Nobility is exactly that: Natural. If it doesn't feel right for you, don't do it, because you'll only cause yourself and others pain.

All the same, these are some of the traits of a Natural Noble.

Etiquette is always nice. I'm not saying you have to memorize what fork is for salad and which drink holds the champagne. That's fun to do, but it isn't the heart of where I'm getting at. I'm talking about saying "please" and "thank you". I'm talking about giving someone a firm handshake when you meet them, looking them in the eyes and smiling. I'm talking about being polite and treating people like they really ought to be treated. This has taken me far in life, and I've never heard of it not taking someone else far.

(Please note right now that being polite does not mean being a pushover. When someone is taking advantage of your kindness, firmly tell them to stop. You deserve much better than their rudeness.)

Kindness shouldn't even need to be mentioned. The Golden Rule applies here: "Treat thy neighbor as ye yourself wish to be treated." You've likely heard that phrase since you were four. That's because it is an important rule you need to learn young. Now that you're older, don't disregard it. What you learned in kindergarten still applies.

Grace. This is going to sound silly, but watch a Disney movie sometime. Notice how, no matter what happens, the princesses remain graceful? (Well... at least in the few Disney movies I've watched.) I'm not saying you have to live your life exactly like the princesses (goodness, that would be difficult, that and some of them are a little flat... more on that some other time.) But something to keep in mind, they keep their voices soft, their intentions pure (hopefully), and never really lose their "virtue", or the things that make them graceful, elegant, and whatnot. Even Cinderella was beautiful in her rags. The ball gown didn't suddenly make her pretty, she was pretty to begin with. Her kind nature was apparent even though her physical body didn't match it.

These things make up the soul, but what about the body? (For those of you who are interested in matching up, anyway.)

Hygene is important. No. Seriously. Not bathing for three weeks on end is gross. Not brushing your teeth is gross, and frankly, people are going to judge you on it. People have the instinctual reaction to think that if someone can't take care of themselves, then they can't take care of other things, aren't reliable, are gross, et cetera and so forth. Unfortunately, it's the world we live in. Make sure your teeth are brushed, your hair isn't in fifty gajillion knots, and all that good stuff.

Dress the part. I do this a little too often, seeing as my closet is halfway made up of ball gowns. No. I'm not saying that you should wear a ball gown to school. (Unless it's "Dress to Impress" day, but whatever.) For girls, maybe a nice blouse with a pretty skirt? It doesn't have to be fancy, just nice. For the gentlemen, what about a button-down shirt and dark slacks? Always a sharp look. Keep in mind that your clothes should always fit you, and be something you genuinely want to wear. If t-shirts and jeans are your thing, then go for it. I just wear my fancy-pants things because I like them. No sense in being uncomfortable.

Posture, keep your posture straight, not only is it better for your appearance, but also your health. Take it from a seventeen year old who has back and foot problems, you do not want these things in your life. Seriously. You. Do. Not. So save yourself now and fix your posture the best you can. (Besides that, it looks ten-trillion times better when you're not hunched over your soup-bowl.)

Speak softly, try not to use too many profanities (and in cases like school, the workplace, and other 'professional' settings, don't use any at all!) If you don't know how to speak without using expletives, then you simply so not know how to speak.

Learn advanced etiquette. Really, this is more for fun, and something I genuinely enjoy doing (even though I get things mixed up all the time.) If etiquette isn't your thing (and you don't do fine-dining every month like I do), then you don't have to learn it. So long you have basically good manners, I doubt anyone is going to harp at you. However, this cannot be stressed enough, if you are going to a proper high-class function and whatnot, it would do you very very well to learn the nuances of advanced etiquette. It's so easy to break an otherwise good reputation this way.

Laugh it off. If someone is trying to get at you, taking it personally, getting offended, and fighting back do not look good on your behalf. Just laugh it off, and then you can rant and rave to your friends about how offended you are at another time when the offensive party isn't around. (Always thank your friends for listening to you afterwards. We appreciate it.) Don't drag yourself to their level, it's hardly ever worth it.


I could go on and on about things, don't get too drunk, know what topics are appropriate at any given times, but really, Natural Nobility is something that takes a healthy dose of common sense. And if you don't know common sense, well... there's probably another blog that details it. At least I hope there is, because I can't help you here.

All the same, love you all, and hope you enjoyed reading this~

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tutorial Treasury: Lolita

Well, about time I make another fashion post.

As a semi-DIY person (I say 'semi' because I'm usually too lazy to do it, although I'm going to see about stealing my Auntie's sewing machine and getting back to it) I looove tutorials. With a burning passion. I really really love them.

So! I decided to pass this love onto my readership, here are some of the Lolita Tutorials I've found useful.

"Dirndl"-Styled skirt. (Simple Lolita Skirt)
I have to say, this video is very well done, and I have the great desire to try and make this skirt, seeing as I dramatically need to improve my Lolita wardrobe. (And I do mean dramatically.) It's easy to do, and a pretty nice tutorial. The only issue I have is the distinct lack of mathematic equations to figure out things like how large to make each panel, but I can live without it~

The EGL Memories
Alright. Chances are if you're a Lolita reading this, you've already been to EGL, and I'm just posting the same old news. All the same, if there's even one Lolita who has never visited here before, then I've done my job and done it well. (And I've done an even better job if there was a non-Lolita who saw some of these and now wants to get into the fashion. More on that later... maybe. Someone needs to poke me with the hot iron again so I can remember to post half the things I promise to post.)

Dark Elements' Lolita and Steampunk-related Tutorials
So. Much. Love. (I know for a fact I'm going to do an uber-love post about Dark Elements later.) There are tutorials for various Lolita things here, and I would recommend you invest in a few of them.

Things to look for in a tutorial:

Is it informitive? Tutorials should teach and inform, the person making it should know what they're talking about!

Is it helpful? This is just my learning style, but are there pictures included? Does the person show step-by-step instructions?

Is the maker well-informed? Anyone can make a tutorial for a "Lolita Skirt", and give you instructions for a super-short skirt with bad lace all over the place that just looks tacky and awful. How much does the person making the tutorial even know about what they're teaching about?

Does the finished product look professional, or at least good? If not? Probably should want to skip the tutorial. If the seamstress/seamster who made the guide can't do it right, then maybe it's not the best guide.
Personally, my favorite kind of tutorial has step-by-step instructions, mathematical equations to figure out sizing, and 1+ pictures for each step so I can follow along and know what I'm doing. Likewise, my dear Fiancee only needs the general words, and can go from there. People learn in different ways, and there are tutorials for every learning style. All you need to do is look!

Seeing as this was a small list, I will likely add more later, but in the meantime, feel free to write me with any questions/concerns/ideas you might have and whatnot~

In the meantime, look out for:

"The 'Rules' of Fashions"
"How to Survive Your First Convention"
"Review: Dark Elements"

And all that comes with it. Enjoy, my dearies~

Friday, September 3, 2010

Let's Talk About Psychology... and Soul Calibur

Good gracious. Someone needs to poke me with a hot iron or something so I can remember to POST more often than what I have been. You poor poor readership.

Well, while I am still compiling data about "How to Survive Your First (and Subsequent) Convention", here's a little post ranting about one of my favorite things to do: Reading WAY too much into things.

My current epiphany? Soul Calibur (specifically IV, since that's the only game I have), and the psychology that lies in the characters. (Which, of course, reflect the people who play them.)

Soul Calibur is a delightful game series, and the fourth is practically a masterpiece (although I've heard from many that three is better, and I'll admit I'm biased towards two for playing it in an arcade once... and they have a costume for Voldo that actually covers most of his body. I love it~) The graphics are incredible, it's a 3D fighter, don't get me started on the variety of styles and moves and combinations you can implement. Each character is carefully planned out and given amazing movesets. We don't even need to get me started on how well-developed the characters are.

Which is where my fun little theory kicks in. The characters in Soul Calibur IV (and the earlier games, but since I've not played them, I shan't go into them) are highly developed, and I've noticed a startling relationship between the (hardcore) gamers, and the characters they choose. For someone who has played the game several times, and has tried out each of the characters, they usually settle into one or two they like, and this reflects in their personalities.

Examples? My Fiancee favours Maxi and Kilik, sometimes delving into Lizardman. Maxi is who he shows to everyone else, the side that is 'immature', impulsive, and slightly hot-headed, usually not thinking before he acts. Kilik however, is quiet, more thoughtful and keeps things internalized. I shouldn't have to explain where I'm going with this. Lizardman shows quite a bit through his strong instincts, and if I knew more about the character, I could give more of an analysis, but unfortunately, not so much. This also explains my hatred for Chai Xiangua, once, her voice is annoying as all heck, but more importantly, she gets paired with both Kilik and Maxi. Can we see the incited rage in the jealous girlfriend here?

A friend of mine, Nat, plays both Talim and Tira, and I had a field day with this. See, it's not just the character's personality, but also their fighting style carries heavily into this. Personality wise, he has a lot in common with Talim, the kindness, the shyness, and the desire to help people out, likewise, he's also quite determined like she is. Tira, on the other hand, he takes from her fighting style, Her fighting is quite outlandish, much like he is. (I have never known him to do things completely by-the-book. Nat has his own way of doing things.) His loyalty as well, Tira has a fierce loyalty to Nightmare, and I have never known Nat to betray anyone. (No matter how much they deserve it.)


Oh, I'm sure you're all dying to know. What are my characters, you ask? Alright. In this order:

Figure that one out! ... Oh fine, let the ranting begin.

As I write this up, I actually have Blind Loyalty on repeat. Voldo's themesong from SCIII (and in my opinion, a beautiful piece that makes me want to dance. Leeet's get this image out of my head.) I have quite the affinity with Voldo, and the character has a bit of a soft spot in my heart. There's the fact that I can connect with him on the level that he was shut away, kept out of society (I'll not even go into the ongoing torment I suffered at all hours of the schoolday.) Because of this, he started to see himself less and less as a human being, and his actions started to reflect this. He lost his sight, and his other senses took over for it, his movements became strange, and impossible to understand. His very existence made people doubt everything they ever knew. Now, I'm not about to say that I can seriously move like that and have forgotten my humanity, no. But I am strange, on a more understandable level, yes, but I am quite odd. On many occasions I have made people doubt everything they've ever known just by the things that I know. It's quite an interesting little thing.

Yoshimitsu, I love Yoshimitsu and wish there was more information on him, because the character is simply that delightful. His vocal tics aside (Early Modern English? Oh yes please. Bring on the Shakespeare speak~) He is a compelling character both in fighting style and in personality. As you'll see later with Algol, he has a delightful arsenal of "Special" attacks that cause wacky effects. (His "Flea" stance, for one, let's not even get into the teleportation and flying with his sword. My words.) I've always loved characters who can do things like that. Personality and history? He seeks to overthrow evil, but also forgives the sinner, while still seeking to destroy the sin. While I still have a lot to learn about "Forgiving the sinner", I also seek to vindicate people from their pains and torments, to avenge the fallen... alright, I'll stop before I go on a tangent. Yoshimitsu has lost a vital part of himself, his village, even some of his Manjitou clan, and even his arm. Likewise, he is never seen out of a mask. Figure that one out.

Algol? I'm going to dispel your fears right now and assure you that I adore him mainly for his fighting style. (Although I could do without some of his overpowered-ness. He's easy to spam, and hard to do right.) He has several special attacks (much like Yoshimitsu), and therefore is fun to use because he's not quite so conventional. However (as I've stated), his overpowered side makes him hard to use properly. So let's leave it at special attacks for fighting style. There is a bit of personality in here I can dive into. Algol has had a long history, he started as a hero who spread peace through the use of Soul Edge (ironic, isn't it?) However, his son, jealous for power, took Soul Edge, and soon became posessed, having to be slain in the process before he hurt others. Little things people don't realize: Algol has a good side. Remember that he used Soul Edge to spread peace... (through the use of extensive fighting on his own behalf, but whatever.) He has spared people whom he can sympathize with (Sophitia comes to mind. He also shows a good side in Talim's ending.) The interesting thing about Algol is that he is so ancient, that it's hard to comprehend him. Hard to comprehend him being the key words for why he ties into me. I can't tell you how many people have tried to understand how I work, and fail.

Likewise, you'll notice that all my characters of choice are male. You're totally free to have a field day with that one.

Well, that was my latest addition, feel free to write me if there's anything you think I should add.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Con Battle: Small vs. Large

(Don't we love how my pictures only relate half of the time? Meet Basil, my dear friend, and our main photographer~ {Yes, even though he lives in California now, he comes down to visit us~ <3 } )

Oh dear me! How dare I not update every day, you poor poor readership. This isn't acceptable, so because of this... well, here's another post to make up for the non-posting for the last two days. (Heck, if I get enough to write about, I might make another post today, just to make up for lost time.)

Seeing as I write for the Steampunks, the Cosplayers, the Goths, the Lolitas, and the Gamers (heck, there will probably be random bits of other stuff here. Who knows.) I'm going to safely assume a lot of people in these subcultures go to Conventions. Be they Anime, Gamer, or Comic Book (et cetera and so forth), Conventions are fun events where you can get together with life-minded people and essentially have a blast. If you don't know what a Convention is, ask your local Cosplayer, you won't be sorry~

This post, however, is assuming you already know what a Convention (sometimes referred to as Con here) is. Because I'm going to do a fun debate! Smaller Cons verses Larger Cons. Now, everyone has their preferences, but I'm just going to outline the various pros and cons for you.

Smaller conventions have the merit of closeness, a tight-knit seeming group, where people are often a lot friendlier with people and more open to conversation. These are great Conventions for people who don't like tight, cramped spaces as much (bear in mind, there will still be tight, cramped spaces, just not near as much as a larger con.) These are good cons for people who want to make friends easily or are going to their first convention and aren't certain as to whether they can handle the hustle and bustle of a con.

However, small conventions are often lacking in funding, and it can really show. The dealer's room won't be near as large or well-stocked, the guests might not be as well known, there won't be near as many panels, and overall, at a smaller convention, you have to make your own entertainment. Likewise, you're less likely to find Cosplayers in your series, especially if it's not a super popular series. (You're still going to see three or four Narutos. it's expected.)

So let's recap:

Small Pros:
Close-knit among Cosplayers
Good for making friends
More room/space
Good for unsure first-time goers.

Small Cons (haha. There's a pun.) :
Not near as much entertainment
Lacking in funding
Smaller dealer's room.
Less likely to find similar-Cosplayers.

Larger conventions are perfect for people who love to have a lot of action. They want to attend a lot of panels, go to the concerts, all those fun things. You're bound to meet a lot more people, and it's never hard to find people who Cosplay in your series (heck, you're probably going to find two or three people Cosplaying what you're Cosplaying. It happens.) The dealer's room is expansive, and you're bound to find a lot of fun things to buy. There's something for everyone at larger cons.

On the wise, larger cons can also seem highly impersonal. There's just too many people to be personal and super-nice to everyone. Likewise, the hallways tend to be highly crowded, and getting around is a chore. The venues also tend to be larger, which means getting from one half of the Convention to the other can take a good solid hour. (I only wish I was joking.) Some people have no troubles making friends at larger conventions, but I've found it's just hard to find a place to sit and chat, there's simply no room!

Recap time~

Larger Pros:
More Cosplayers in your series
More panels/guests
Larger dealer's room
Meet more people.

Larger Cons (I'm not even gonna say it.) :
Crowded (and I mean really crowded)
Hard to get around
Nowhere to sit and talk.


Personally, I've always preferred smaller conventions. (Less than five hundred people. Such conventions are hard to come by, unfortunately.) My boyfriend, contrary, prefers larger conventions (upwards of ten thousand people. There's no such thing as 'too large' for him.) So I've gotten a nice share of both of them. (SabotenCon 08, KikiCon 08, AniZona 09, and Phoenix Cactus ComiCon 10) Well look at that, split down the middle. Here's some bonus info, a small description of these Cons.

Keep in mind, I usually don't attend panels unless it's completely something I NEED to go to. (Say, a panel talking about the merits of Soul Calibur or something.) So these are completely based on the social scene.

Saboten 08: How can I complain? This was my first Convention, and I was a total newbie. It was a great con, especially since it was in its first year (you'd never guess. It was like they were doing it for years.) There was great paneling (so I heard), a lot of Cosplayers, and overall a great venue. This was a larger Con I genuinely enjoyed. (Then again, it was my first.)

Kiki 08: I am never going to complain about a free convention. Kiki was a one day event in November, free to get in, and overall an event to socialize. Although there were contests like the Iron Cosplay and whatnot, a lot of people were there for the socialization. The staff were friendly, the venue was gorgeous (ASU North Campus, this was held by the ASU Otaku Club, and I wish they'd hold another one sometime soon. I adore free one-day Cons like this.) I happened to spend most of the time talking to a handsome young lad who I had detested back in the Saboten days (he tried to get my satin cloak wet, come on!) We had both matured quite a bit (and I was wearing a more water-friendly cloak.) So I spent a good deal of time talking to my future-boyfriend.

Anizona 09: Just needs to be said. I loved this con so much, and I'm really sad to see it go. Anizona had a huge amount of controversy among the Arizona congoers and whatnot, and I understand that. They had cancelled the year before, there were financial crises, and things just weren't as good as they could be. However, the people that were at the con were amazing. I met more people than I could count, and everyone was very nice to the girl in the giant dress hanging around with the Naruto/Luffie hybrid. The people who put on Anizona said they'd be doing more small-time events, but I haven't heard of any. Fooey. (Maybe I'm just not looking.)

PCC 10: Now this is a large con (All of you people who attend Otakon and AX regularly can start snickering at my thought of ten-thousand or so being huge.) Thankfully, I spent most of it in a dressing room awaiting the Tokyo Girls performance (more on that in another entry, perhaps~) What time I DID spend in the Con was overwhelming. I'm not going to say I didn't have fun, it was just too much for me, and I got very very sick afterwards. (More about post-Con-sickness in my "Convention Survival" entry for later. Look out for it!) However, I did have fun doing something totally uncharacteristic, going to panels. (Well, just one). Cosplay "Who's Line Is It Anyway?" We were run by a lovely Steampunk gentleman, and poor JJ got to go up and participate. He's enough social butterfly for the two of us, I swear~


Whether you like them large or small, conventions overall are just plain fun, and I highly recommend people attend them~

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Cosplaying in Public

Seeing as this week is Spirit Week at my school, this gives me the necessity to rock it and go all out. Today happened to be Superhero/Supervillain Wednesday. So of course, I went as Joker. (No particular incarnation, seeing as this was closet Cosplay… mostly. The outfit itself was, but I have a wig specifically for Joker and one of my original characters, it looks like something a teenage rebel Joker would have, then the makeup is a full coverage whiteface like Jack Nicholson, with eyespots and lipstick like Heath. Confusing, right?)

Which brought me to a sort of thought, I’ve Cosplayed in public before, actually I do it quite a bit. Likewise, I have friends who do it too, our favorite meeting places being at malls and such. Some people absolutely love it, and others hate us for it, so where is the happy medium?

Well, this is why I’m here, I’m going to try and give you a happy medium, here are just some rules to go by when you’re out Cosplaying in public.

Know your venue. Some malls appreciate your patronage, and some just won’t want anything to do with you. Oftentimes, it’s good to find out from other Cosplayers which malls are “Costume-friendly”. This will save your life. Seriously.

Likewise, know the limits, most malls have some form of dress code, so make sure you’re not breaking it! (A personal experience from my na├»ve days is getting kicked out of a mall because I didn’t know dull face makeup wasn’t allowed. Oh the days. Contrary, another mall is totally fine with the Joker makeup, and actually think we’re being VERY cool.)

Manners, manners, manners. People hate when I harp on this, because while yes, you should be able to act how you want, when you don a Cosplay (and to some extent any extreme fashion that people may dub as Cosplay), you are playing ambassador to the rest of us. I don’t care if you are an annoying teenybopper, don’t act like one. Otherwise the rest of us get dubbed as annoying teenyboppers, and then no one takes us seriously, and then we get kicked out of malls. Heck, don’t let it get so bad like it is in Japan, where you’re only allowed to Cosplay in various venues, and the entire subculture has a baaad stigma attached to it. That means don’t be overly loud, don’t try to scare people, and just… be a generally nice person. Is that so much to ask?

That being said, don’t intentionally try to scare little kids. Some kids are going to be scared around us, and some are going to want to run up to you and hug you because you look like you stepped out of their TV. To quote the Lady of the Manners from Gothic Charm School: “Just disengage their sticky little hands”, smile, and try to be polite. Even if you don’t like kids. I happen to really not like kids, and I’ll still smile and say “thank you” if a little girl tells me I look like a princess. (Keep in mind, sometimes getting in character with slightly older children isn’t too bad. When I Cosplay Joker, there’s this one kid who actually said “Why so serious?” to me, and he and I made a game of saying it back and forth, really cute~)

Save the really elabourate costumes for Conventions and Photoshoots and such. Things get damaged quite easily, and you worked hard on that gown, didn’t you?

Likewise, be careful about full face makeup and masks. As I said above, some venues are alright with it, and some aren’t, in general, it’s probably a good idea to avoid unless you really know what you’re doing. (For some reason, people seem to think that because you’re in bright colours and clown makeup, that you’re going to try and shoplift. I think the point of shoplifting is to be inconspicuous, but people will have their opinions either way.)

A general guide: Don’t Cosplay alone. Some people can get away with it, but when you’re flying solo, you open yourself up for a lot more mockery and potential harassment. I’ve found that traveling in a group of two or three tends to keep trouble at bay. (No. Seriously. I’ve had bits of harassment before, which is why I always keep my boyfriend close at hand when we’re out Cosplaying. No one goes solo, especially not me.)

Overall, have fun with it. Cosplay is supposed to be fun, just keep some things in mind so you’re not alienating others, because then they’ll alienate you, and then nobody’s having fun.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How to be a Good Seller

Well, a lot of things involve online shopping nowadays, which with some people, is a near-perfect match, and others have trouble with hit-or-miss. How do you know you’re getting a good deal for the money you paid.

The sad truth is, not all online shops are the most reliable shops in the world. It’s all over the internet, so you can’t see, feel, or try the object (we’re going to assume clothing/costume pieces here) before you buy it. It’s hard to know when you’re getting a good deal, or you’re getting gypped.

Which is why I’m here, unfortunately, the guide for the buyers comes later, but right now, this is for sellers. Whether you’re selling handmade items (which we’re going to focus on here), or resale (may or may not be touched upon later, it’s not my area of expertise), this guide is for you.

(For Seamsters/Seamstresses) Invest in a dress form! People like to know what they’re purchasing is going to look like. I almost exclusively buy from people who have their things on dress forms, because then I know how it’s going to look. If you can’t afford one right now, then have a friend (WHO IS THE SIZE OF THE CLOTHING PIECE. Do not stretch out the fabric in something you’re going to sell! Likewise, if it doesn’t fit right, people will assume it doesn’t fit right on THEM either,) model the piece as you take a picture.

In any piece, multiple photographs are necessary. We want to see most every little detail so we know what we’re getting! (Some people also want to see what the seams/inside looks like. You don’t have to include those pictures immediately, but it helps to be able to take them at a moment’s notice if needed.

Be polite, remember that people aren’t going to want to purchase from a grouch!

Be honest about measurements, because if you aren’t, you’re going to get a lot of negative feedback from angry people about how their clothes don’t fit. (I assure you, negative feedback is NOT something you want.)

Sell at a reasonable price, people aren’t going to spend twenty-five dollars for a plain pink headband. (Ooh boy, there had better be something very special about this headband to sell for that high.) Likewise, if you’re selling handmade ball gowns for twenty dollars, you’re discrediting yourself and not making any profit. I’m not an expert on pricing, but price according to quality, cost of the materials, and the nature of the item. If you don’t want to make a profit, you can sell for lower, but make sure you’re at least covering the price of the materials. There’s no reason for you to be paying to sell your stuff!

Remember your “repeat” customers. If someone frequents your shop, include various things to let them know you appreciate their returning business, and dedication to your shop. I’ve known sellers who write thank you notes, I’ve known sellers who include either small pieces of jewelry or other accessories when someone purchases something as large as a dress, the list goes on, really. If people know they’re appreciated and feel special, they’ll be more likely to frequent your shop.

Research what you’re selling! I’d put it in larger font if it wouldn’t be such an eyesore. HOWEVER. Research is important. If you want to sell Lolita clothing, then look at how the brands do it, read the Handbook, don’t use cheap, shiny satin, and the like. If you’re selling Cosplays, then research what the character actually looks like, and replicate it properly (trust me, I’m not seeing any ninjas in crushed velvet here.) The cheap, slutty Halloween costumes are NOT viable Gothwear, the list goes on. That being said, try to avoid putting fifty-million terms in your item name. If you want to describe how this item would work in various styles, then do so, but putting in: “Cosplay Gothic Lolita Steampunk Skirt in Five Colors” only makes you look like an uninformed idiot.

Originality please. If we see an item that’s pretty much a replica of another, you’ll be discredited as a designer of clothes/jewelry/costume pieces, et cetera. Start out making your own designs, it helps, really, it does. If people commission you for replicas, then you’re free to do them (if you’re so inclined. Some people don’t like to do them, I understand that.)

For resale: Be honest about any defects in the garment. If there are stains, tears, and other damages, we need to know about them. You’re NOT going to have any happy buyers who think they’re getting something in near-perfect condition and instead find it in tatters. Take “damage shots” (pictures showing the damage) of these pieces.

Overall, I hope this helps you in the lovely world of selling, best of luck to you~ (That being said, if you have any shops you’d recommend, comment and tell us about it~)

Also being said, if there’s anything you want me to write about, feel free to E-mail me~

Monday, August 23, 2010

Review: Silversark on Etsy

(Note: Picture taken from Silversark's Etsy page, found under "Off-White Blouse with Detachable Sleeves -Plus Size" I do NOT take credit for this picture, as it belongs to Ms. Stephanie of Silversark, thank you~)

This is a seller that I've bought from twice, and would certainly recommend for just about anyone wanting to get into Lolita.

Silversark is run by Ms. Stephanie, who is a fantastic seamstress with reasonable prices for her high-quality clothing. She has items that would work in any Lolita's wardrobe, be you Gothic, or Sweet (heck, a few of her pieces are very friendly to Classical Lolitas like myself.) I happened to buy my first Lolita pieces from her, and they have served me well over the time I've worn them. Her clothing is reasonably priced (and very cheap where Lolita is concerned), and I would recommend her for beginner Lolitas who aren't necessarily sure if they want to dive headfirst into the fashion.

The two things I bought from her are This beautiful offwhite blouse and This gorgeous Classical skirt. Both pieces are sewn to perfection, without any corners cut. Ms. Stephanie doesn't mess around when it comes to customer satisfaction (noted by the fact that she and I exchange many messages on Etsy so I'm completely informed about the quality and details about all of her items.)

Silversark is recommended for beginner and advanced Lolitas alike, and I give her high reviews. Let's break it down, shall we?

Service: 10/10 Ms. Stephanie is always prompt and polite in her responses, and is always happy to help me with coordination ideas with her creations. She's always been willing to tell me about the little details in her pieces, and never leaves a detail out if I ask for it. She's honest, straightforward, and very nice.

Shipping: 10/10 She usually ships out the same day of payment, or the next day if things come up (which have never happened when I purchase from her.) Seeing as I live a good many states over from her, shipping is usually about three or so days, so I'm never waiting more than five days. Everything is shipped in a Priority Mail box with plastic wrapping protecting the clothes. In my experience, her shipping usually doesn't exceed eight dollars within the USA.

Quality: 9/10 I have never had a problem with the clothing itself, as I've said before, seams are serged, everything is in place. However, the only complaint I could have is that it sometimes seems that the skirts themselves are plain, relying more on the design instead of little details that make things exciting. They're good for beginner Lolitas, but I think some of the skirts could use a little more details (maybe extra ruffling, use of overskirts and underskirts combined, just little extra details.)

Fit: 9/10 The ONLY reason I am giving this a 9/10 is because of the blouse. The offwhite blouse is said to fit a bust to 44in. I expected the waist to be a little larger on me, but the bust surprised me, seeing as it was slightly snug (not tight or anything, but not loose like the waist was), and I have a 39in bust. If a girl with a 44in bust had ordered this blouse, they might have had gaping holes between the buttons (this is an assumption, not a garunteed promise.)

Overall, her shop is rated a 9.5/10, meaning I highly recommend it.

Happy shopping, dears~


Hello everyone, and welcome to my own little corner of the world. Please, pull up a cushion and make yourself comfortable.

Now, you’ve seen them before, there are hundreds of Goth, or Lolita, or Steampunk Blogs, so why am I adding to the amount? Well… because I’m not just a Goth (of the Victorian Aristocrat persuasion, thank-you-very-much.) Nor am I just a Lolita, or just a Steampunk. Heck, I’m not just a Cosplayer either. I’m a lot of things. Just like you are a lot of things. This blog takes on a whole plethora of fashions, subcultures, and whatnot. Now, every entry might not pertain to you, and that’s not a bad thing, you don’t have to read it if it doesn’t interest you. (Goodness knows the people here for the fashion probably won’t be as into my video-game discussions.)

A bit about me? Oh man, I already had trouble keeping this within a two-page poem for English class, but I’ll try. My name-of-choice (read: Stage name, Internet name, name that everyone-and-their-cat-calls-me) is Harra (or Harra Arial, Ms. Arial, Madame Harra, and the like if you’re feeling particularly formal.) I’m female, and born in 1993 (do the math.) Yeah, pretty young, I know. Because of this, I know some people won’t take me seriously, and that’s okay. I don’t have the wisdom of age yet, and I totally understand it. All the same. I have an enjoyment for things that are out-of-the-ordinary (and no, the goal of this is NOT to piss off Mom and Dad. As many people have said before, I do this because it makes me happy.)

Where else to go from here… oh right! My interests are pretty varied (read: They go all over the place), but the specific things I’m going to write about in this blog would be alternative fashion (with heavy emphasis on Lolita, Steampunk, and Victorian Gothic), Cosplay (and, by extension: Conventions), videogames (well… somewhat. I’m not as big a gamer as I should be.) And the like. Interests that I have that probably WON’T come up as much: Acting, writing, singing, role-play, and… all sorts of stuff. Oh! I also have a major thing for etiquette, I can’t get enough of it (even though I probably don’t practice it as much as I should. I’m polite, but all the super-fine-point stuff is usually lost on me at the moment.) Therefore, expect to see a few posts about that.

Without further ado, I officially open this lovely little blog~ Welcome to The Subculturist!