Lolita Fashion & Restraint

I need to parse something out. Right now, I am obsessed with Lolita fashion and I am incredibly suspicious of my own motives.

(Two dresses from my favorite Lolita brand, Innocent World)

Wait, no, back up. Technically I have always been drawn to two competing aesthetics.

One is what I like to call French minimalism. Informed by the philosophy of the so-called French wardrobe (explained here and exemplified here), this aesthetic tends to be attached to the word “curated.” Sometimes it is a dainty goth and other times it is prim and proper, this is a classic and high quality mix of 90s Winona Ryder, Audrey Hepburn, and little Tomoe Hotaru. Clean cut black, white, with a red lip and Kiko Mizuhara’s bob.

The other is what I end up calling Lolita maximalism. This one is informed by the aesthetic of big, big, poofy, loud, frilly, layers and layers of lolita fashion in all its variants ~ especially Classic Lolita on my favorite lolita blogger or the dresses by my favorite brand Innocent World. This fashion subculture is all about girls like dolls, vintage shojo manga by Takahashi Macoto, picnics and tea parties, roses and antiques.

If French minimalism comes from a desire to purge and tidy, Lolita maximalism is a competing urge to lose myself in make-believe costumes. Minimalism is dark chocolate and coffee. Maximalism is a set of fluffy tea cakes. Minimalism is Marie Kondo and Getting Shit Done. Maximalism is spending two hours making cute Snoopy shaped bentos and reading books to my toddler. Minimalism is 100 lbs of lean muscle. Maximalism is who the fuck cares, my dress is sooo cute and poofy!!!!

But it is never just about fashion of course.Lately I’m incredibly stressed out. At the start of the summer, I celebrated the graduations of about 5 people off the top of my head. All of these people were in my cohort or younger. I am now officially the only one who is still here, trying to finish my thesis, years and years late. But lately I am not sticking to my writing schedule, not meditating consistently, and haven’t been able to complete week 8 of C25k (keep failing each time, unable to run more than 25 min straight).

In other words, French minimalism is an aspirational dream. These women live simple, high quality lives, and have their lives in order. Lolita fashion is an escapist dream for me. “Nothing is all that important – here, just have some jam tarts and read fairy tales.” Dreaming is fine but

It doesn’t take any effort to dream. It’s a lot easier than looking at the problems in front of you and figuring out what you’re going to do about them. But all you’re doing is putting your problems up on a shelf for later, right? That doesn’t make them go away.”
Fuyumi Ono, The Twelve Kingdoms: Skies of Dawn

(And now you go, ahhhh that’s why 12 Kingdoms is my banner image for today’s post.) Sigh. Maybe I need to stop looking at clothes and get my shit together.


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