A Beginner’s Guide to Harajuku’s Lolita Fashion

By Joanna Pearce
July 3, 2015
Fashion

The world of a Japanese Lolita girl is an alluring and yet mysterious one. For those of us with an interest in finding out more about them, it can be very difficult to enter their world. Curious tourists are often ushered away, and photographs are discouraged in the stores where they shop. Dressing as a Lolita is more than just a fashion statement. It is a way of life.

The Lolita fashion movement began in the 1980s. The term “Lolita” is often perceived negatively outside Japan, but here it is used in a more romantic or whimsical sense. There are different types of Lolitas, including the classic Lolita and the gothic Lolita.

Lolita fashion can broadly be described as Victorian, and there are key elements to creating a Lolita outfit. Even if you don’t want to wear the full Lolita look, it is possible to find some unusual and eye-catching accessories to add to your outfit that are inspired by the Lolita trend.

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Get the Look

Starting at the top, a Lolita usually accessorizes her hair with a bow or a decorative headband. You can find some fun and playful pieces in Harajuku—don’t be afraid to add these into your existing wardrobe!

A Lolita will then team a blouse with a bell-shaped dress. Often there will be a necktie or additional bow at the neckline. Depending on the type of Lolita you want to be, there are many different designs to choose from. The gothic Lolita will opt for black or purple, whilst the classic Lolita will choose pink or pastel colors.

Moving down, the socks and shoes are where you can really start to have some fun! The knee-high socks come in a wide range of colors and often have fun patterns on them. Platform shoes finish off the look.

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But m favorite part of the Lolita fashion movement has to be the handbags! I have purchased many bags from the Lolita brands, simply because they are so unusual and creative. You can find moon shapes, love hearts, biscuits and shells. If you want to maximise the cute factor, it is very popular to add a handbag in the shape of a cuddly toy.

As the warm summer days approach, a parasol will complete your Lolita wardrobe.

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Where to Shop

On Meiji Dori, a good place to start is Baby, the Stars Shine Bright or Milk. These two stores are located in the same building, one below the other. On the second floor, Baby, the Stars Shine Bright is one of the key Lolita brands, and it is enormous fun to browse around the store, as it a feast for the eyes! Be warned, however, that tourists are discouraged, and strictly no photographs are allowed. At street level you will find Milk, where the clothes are toned down to a more girly style. This is a great place to come for a subtle touch of Lolita.

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A short walk away in LaForet Harajuku, head down to B1.5F and you will find Angelic Pretty, Alice and the Pirates, and other major brands. Angelic Pretty is targeted at the sweet Lolitas and is a vision in pink! Alice and the Pirates is where you will find your gothic Lolita outfits.

Jane Marple, on the second floor of La Foret, is where you can shop for Lolita inspired dresses that are in keeping with the vintage style. This is an elegant store where the dresses would not look out of place on the set of Mad Men. I would recommend this to anyone with an interest in retro fashion.

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If you are looking to purchase Lolita fashion on a budget, head to Body Line on Takeshita Dori. Here you can rummage through a variety of Lolita clothes and accessories at knock-down prices. Be sure to know your measurements in advance, as you cannot try the clothes on here.

The Final Touch

A Lolita girl embodies the fine lifestyle of a Victorian lady, and this includes good manners. She is elegant at all times, has good posture, and keeps an air of grace about her. Once you step into her world, you’ll never look back!

Joanna first came to Japan in 1998 to spend a year as an exchange student at Kitakyushu University and was delighted to move to Tokyo in 2012 with her husband. A serial expatriate, she is a freelance writer and a meditation teacher who has been living in Asia since 2007. She recently had her first baby in Tokyo and loves exploring with her daughter!

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