What is Lolita fashion? It’s ruffles galore, over the knee socks, parasols, cuteness incarnate. My intro to Lolis was seeing a flock of them at MomoCon last spring. There were 10 or 12 of them on the sidewalk, giggling and holding up darling but inadequate parasols as the rain began to fall.

According to Wikipedia Lolita fashion started in the late 90s in Japan, though it’s roots are in the 1970’s with labels like Pink House, Milk and Angelic Pretty. It is generally accepted by fans that Lolita does not refer to Vladimir Nabokov’s famous novel.

Adherents present themselves more as Victorian children or porcelain dolls and prefer to look “cute” or “beautiful” rather than “sexy”. Many Lolis are inspired by visual kei, “the visual rock genre” from Japan.

If you dig into the culture a bit you’ll find arguments, trying to determine what is and is not Lolita. It can get quite esoteric. There are many types of Lolitas.

For example:
Horror girls or Guro Lolita – bloody bandages, broken doll look, can cross over into zombie
EGLs – elegant gothic lolita, male version is called Dandy Gothic or aristocrat
DecoRoman – Deconstructed Romantics – torn, aged, delicate old lace stuff
Others include: sailor, country (think flower basket), sweet (infantile with pastels), princess (tiaras), Wa (traditional japanese garments mixed in), and a bunch more .

There are magazines just for Lolitas. Anime and manga like Black Butler, Le Portrait de Petit Cossette, Beautiful People, Pandora Hearts, and Vampire Knight. Even a bible.

The basic anatomy of a loli outfit is:
blouse (front button with peter pan collar), bell shaped skirt with petticoats, over the knee socks, bloomers, maryjane shoes, hair bow
accessories often include parasol, frilly bag, apron, short jacket (bolero)

make a parasol
alter one
buy a cheap one to decorate
paint or dye one


Sewing Loli costumes:
Avant Gauche has a long list of patterns but 90% are dead links. Here is a selection from that with new links:

Victorian skirts
Victorian blouse with leg o’ mutton sleeves
Another fru fru blouse
Cape and bolero jacket
Another jacket
Frilly vintage aprons Simplicity 2592
Victorian collars and cuffs
Historical nightclothes including a bedjacket and bonnet

Here’s a cute handmade dress posted on craftster by lauralyn.

How to alter an existing blouse:
From Mooky Chick
One from Noodlegumi
Tutorial for a simple one piece dress with gathered sleeves

Doing Loli on a budget
Forums for finding/selling items
To buy direct from Japanese stores you often need a shopping service, info here.

Good sewing tips, questions about “Is this Lolita?” sources etc. on cosplay.com