Lolita Fashion Guide : Are you up to dressing like a Lolita ?

A guide to the Lolita fashion trend, including its history, key elements, substyles, and how to incorporate it into your wardrobe.

What is Lolita Fashion?

Lolita is a street fashion style that originated in Japan in the 1980’s ; It is meant for young women or older teenage girls with a distinctive style of clothes with strong characteristics of femininity and doll like cuteness. Lolita fashion clothing resembles intricately made historical children’s clothing with European styles of Victorian, Baroque and Rococo and fantasy (Alice in Wonderland type) influences.

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How to be a Lolita ? 

A Lolita is someone who dresses always or occasionally in this style and wants to follow the fashion as a lifestyle. Lolita Fashion style is also a way of life for many – a way to be adorable and sweet in fashion as well as demeanor. 

Many people assume that Lolita is a costuming fashion (Cosplay) following Japanese anime characters. But true Lolita followers are offended by this , as well as any association to the Russian Novel ‘Lolita’ by Vladimir Nabokov, because they follow this fashion as a means of self expression, rather than a fleeting interest in cosplay characterization, or as a caricature. It is also a modest fashion unlike the media projection of it with overt sensuality. 

Elegance and cuteness go hand in hand with Lolita fashion. This and the characteristic femininity is present in all Lolita clothing – even though there are many offshoots of Lolita fashion with some variations, all of them encompass these features with the variations occurring mostly in the patterns and colors used

Important Lolita Styles 

Sweet Lolita – This child like Lolita style features clothes in Pastel colors ( mainly tones of white and pink) with lots of lace and embroidery.

Gothic Lolita – This style features influences from Victorian inspired Goth fashion.  Gothic Lolita also uses many common Gothic motifs such as skulls, Gothic crosses, crowns, items of Gothic architecture such as fences and cathedrals, roses, etc.

Punk Lolita – This style has influences from the Punk Fashion. Classic Lolita and Country Lolita are other variations. Then there are variations of Lolita fashion according to color – Kuro Lolita (all black) Shiro Lolita (all White)

You can learn a lot more about the different styles of Lolita here.

Essential components of Lolita fashion 

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A frilly or flared dress or skirt 

A doll like cute dress or blouse with a puffy skirt is a given for this style. The color of the skirt will depend on the style of Lolita you intend to follow . A Gothic Lolita will choose black colored skirts where as a sweet Lolita will want dresses and skirts in pastel colors.

The hem of the skirt ends typically 2 inches under the knee but can be knee length or 2 inches above knee. The silhouette is usually bell shaped – A-line silhouette of a skater skirts with a circle skirt pattern is also used. They can be decorated with lace, ruffles, ribbons, bows and all those girly stuff.

Jumper skirts ( which is worn over blouses) are also used over blouses.One piece dresses usually have short puffy sleeves. 

Petticoat is a multilayered fluffy skirt worn under a skirt or dress ( also called panniers). This is an unavoidable foundation wear of Lolita style as a petticoat gives the necessary volume and fullness to pouffy Lolita skirts and dresses. It is layered under Lolita skirt in a color that complements the outfit. Bloomers are sometimes worn instead of or under petticoats.


A fitted elegant blouse that is suitable for layering is worn with skirts or under jumper skirts. The blouses usually may high necklines and long sleeves. Formal but feminine shirts with pointed or round collars are also used as tops.

Capes, Boleros or jackets can be worn as outerwear.The shirts and jackets can have puffed sleeves or sleeves that are gathered at the wrist. The tops and outerwear can be trimmed with ruffles or lace for adding on cuteness.

Feminine hair accessories

Hair bows added to barrettes, headbands, or combs, Frilly headbands, bonnets with lace trims, barrettes with beadworks, or a rectangular headdress decorated with lace trims and bows and ribbons are used by most Lolita fashion followers. These are complemented with bangs and cute hairdos or even fake hair /wigs. 

Footwear of a lolita

A  pair of black or white Mary Jane shoes is the usual footwear for this fashion style. Ballerina shoes with bows are also used instead. 

Knee-high or full stockings that will match the blouse or lace trimmed short frilly socks are used with shoes. The stockings can have Lolita patterns or stocking toppers with bows and ribbons as decorations.

Optional  accessories 

Cute earmuffs, parasols, bags and purses with lace and bows, berets, white gloves, Lace wrist-cuffs,  short and wide ties, Jewelry like simple chains with cute lockets, charm necklaces are extra accessories that are optional but add to the charm.

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References and interesting reading on Lolita fashion :

Shopping sites for Lolita fashion –

Misako Aoki – Lolita Fashion Book

Related post : Modern Japanese fashion styles and subcultures; Clothing styles – names


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