Before we get started, we’d like to draw your attention to the organization Red Canary Song which provides advocacy and mutual aid for the intersection of Asian migrant and sex worker communities. If you have the ability to donate them, or to individuals who were affected by the mass shooting in Atlanta this week, we encourage you to do so.
Content note: this post mentions shopping, addiction, alcoholism, cigarette smoking, and elitism.
Hey folks! Happy Friday. Nif here once again with some Validating Content for Newcomers that I hope will resonate with seasoned and novice fashionistas alike.
I think there's a lot to unpack about the importance of shopping in the Lolita fashion hobby. On its face, the role of shopping seems pretty obvious: we have to buy clothes to participate. The clothes, for the most part, are more expensive than everyday fast fashion, but they're higher-quality and don't wear out quickly. You can generally expect a main piece to last you as long as it suits your tastes. And better yet, we have a secondhand market that allows us to take advantage of the quality of these pieces. So that's great, right?
In a vacuum, this seems alright. Building a wardrobe is a bit of an investment, sure, but you have options even if your budget is constrained. Unfortunately, shopping is complicated, to say the least.
On secondhand sites that allow you to buy directly from another individual, you might encounter sellers who seem to buy dresses just for the sake of reselling them. I am not an economist, but shrinking the pool of dresses available from a retail store for a release only to sell those dresses at a profit seems... bad.
And not only is it unkind to manipulate supply and demand in our niche fashion for your personal gain (where our fashion is so niche that a significantly powerful individual's action will send waves through the community for weeks or months), but it sets a crappy precedent - that sellers should demand prices higher than retail.
Between this, the relative scarcity of extended sizes - especially with older pieces - and the culture of conspicuous consumption that encourages us to share our "hauls" (leaving aside that shopping may be one of the few joyful things you have in your life right now, in the year of our COVID 2021), shopping is complicated. Furthermore, folks like Cora Maria, Avina-Kei, Manon Marguerite, and Tsumikko with Kawaii Riot have talked about the connections between kawaii fashion and climate justice at length - I strongly encourage you to listen to what they have to say to learn more about sustainability and our consumption!
For myself, I have struggled with shopping (and other) addiction off and on throughout my life, even before getting into the fashion. Learning how to buy just one thing at a time is frankly something I'm still working on! Occasionally I get swept up into the frenzy of sales and new releases and buy something I didn't actually want, or spent beyond what I'd planned.
...and that's okay!
There are certain models of addiction treatment, think AA, that assume that an addict is completely incapable of engaging with the subject of their addiction in a responsible way. Sometimes, on an individual level, in specific circumstances, this line of thought makes sense: smoking cigarettes, for example, is an all-or-nothing prospect for me, given just how addictive and readily available they are. (Damn I can't believe I quit! Please clap!) Alcohol, on the other hand, is something I've learned to engage with in moderation. I can have just 1 or 2 drinks once a week. I can actually keep alcohol in my house! I can choose to party once or twice a year and not make a habit of it. And that's really cool!
Shopping is still something I struggle with. It turns out that I have to buy things to survive, like, you know, groceries. And as it also turns out, it's fun to grow my wardrobe and buy new things. I love to follow trends and be influenced by others' styles. And sometimes I know I want something, but I'm not sure what specifically.
Such was the case with this particular impulse buy - the medium-length Rejeana JSK by Meta. It came up on Lacemarket one day, and I took notice - I happened to know the seller, and apparently that convinced me that Rejeana was the dress for me. I had been looking for the "perfect" bordeaux dress for a minute. I knew I wanted more Meta in my wardrobe. And a non-print dress. And, could it be velvet too? So when my comm buddy Lexi popped this listing up - at a very reasonable price, I might add - I went for it.
Almost immediately afterwards, I was consumed with regret. Did I need this dress? When was I going to wear it? I spent a non-trivial amount of time beating myself up over it. What had I done, when I was trying to be so responsible and get my finances together?
Here's where the story gets good. Buying this dress and arranging for local pickup got me an invite to seller Lexi's KISS-mas party. Yes - the band, KISS, and also Christmas. I'll admit - I'm actually not much of a KISS fan? But I'm always down for an aesthetic challenge! I dressed up in Lolita fashion and went for a low-maintenance look - sort of a "groupie" vibe. I was terribly impressed by just how many attendees went for the full face paint.
So that was great. Buying this dress was an excuse to hang out with some very cool people, and I enjoyed some frank chats with my new-ish bud Lexi. I got the dress, took it home, and planned when I'd wear it.
I ended up wearing it only a couple weeks later on a trip to Vegas with my "cool dude friends" (we went to play pinball and take in the sights and just spend some chill time together before the holidays! Highly recommend). I leaned in to the versatility a non-print dress affords and pulled in some black for an "Alice in Wonderland" vibe.
My wardrobe is just extensive enough that I make an effort to try and wear each dress at least once a year. Usually that means waiting a bit of time before wearing a dress again. But just a couple of months later, I found myself reaching for Rejeana again for a Valentine's Day date with my partner, Ryan.
The weather got warmer, I found myself seeking out pastels and summery vibes, and ultimately any efforts to dress up with friends were stymied by the pandemic. Once it was clear that Royal Vegas Retreat was not happening in 2020, I stopped dressing up for a few months.
With the help of the incredible people at JFashion on Demand and Bay Area Kei, we put on Royal Vegas Online, and Rejeana burst forth from my closet once again. I went for sort of an angelic or nun-like look, I guess - not my usual but fun anyway. She goes on easy and wears comfy, so she was an obvious choice for Sunday of RVO.
Barely a month later, Ryan and I masked up for a little jaunt around town to see some holiday lights and deliver Christmas presents to his family. Red velvet Rejeana somehow was the obvious choice. By now I had plenty of bordeaux to go with her - a coat, a beret, shoes - and it was the easiest thing to just throw together a festive coord that's comfy enough to wear in the car.
Somehow I wore this dress that I owned for just over a year 4 times already. In retrospect, the pangs of regret I felt after hitting "Buy It Now" were totally unfounded - Rejeana is my wardrobe's secret MVP. Even though she's an outlier among the prints, she fits right in by filling a specific niche, and I keep finding reasons to wear this dress over and over again.
All of the conventional wisdom about wardrobes - to start small, don't compete with others, think carefully about which substyle you like best, build a capsule wardrobe, etc. - is still legit. But I'm here to say that if you can't or won't follow that advice for any reason? Allow yourself to be surprised.
It's okay to not know what you want. It's okay to buy something without thinking very hard about it. It's okay to feel like you screwed up by buying something! But it's not the end of the world. In fact, you may have just made your best wardrobe decision yet.
As before, please hold tight until May 2021 for updates on Royal Vegas Retreat 2021. With the latest bulletins from the federal government about widespread vaccine availability starting in May, we’re feeling cautiously optimistic - with “cautious” being the operative word, as vaccine supply is only one part of this complex scenario. If you recently signed up to volunteer with us - THANK YOU! And thank you especially for your patience as we get organized.
Stay safe, keep wearing a mask, and stay home when possible. As always, you can check https://prettyprincess.club for information on Royal Vegas Retreat 2021.