Guro and Gothic Lolita Style

Guro and Gothic Lolita Style

Put on your lace gloves and delve into our little lolita style guide, with everything from lolita clothing links to the lesser-known traditional kimono-clad qi-lolita and grotesque gurololita styles. Will there one day be a dress style themed on the man in the Nabokov novel who fancied Lolita? We think not.

The word “lolita” comes from the controversial novel by Vladimir Nabokov (which is about a sexually provocative twelve year-old girl called “Lolita” and the man who falls in love with her). It is also a clothing style – if you want to dress like a sexually provocative twelve year-old, please leave now as I’m talking about the latter meaning here. Although the book is very good…

Lolita style is now mass-marketed in Japan and it has become popular in Western countries too (though buying the clothes outside of E-bay is still difficult).

The lolita look was influenced by Japanese Visual Kei (‘visual art’) bands that performed mainly J rock music and dressed in very elaborate costumes. The term EGL (Elegant Gothic Lolita) was coined by the lead singer of one such band. Mana of “Malice Mizer” used the term to describe his fashion label “Moi-meme-moitie”.

Staple items of lolita clothing

Despite the many looks you can go for, the basic loli silhouette is usually the same:

  • Full bell-shaped skirt – this is the most distinctive part. You will also want petticoats. Lots and lots of petticoats…
  • A blouse – white is good because it goes with most outfits or can be customised until it does.
  • A bodice or other top – to wear over your blouse, creating a layered look
  • Eyelashes – if you aren’t blessed with long lashes that can be mascara-ed to perfection, wear false ones for the wide-eyed innocent look.

Where to start?

What themes do you like? Gothic Lolita is not the only style around and I’ve written about other styles below. You could be a sailor, a princess (Hime-Lolita), a fairytale character – the list goes on. If you have a lot of Gothic or Punk clothes, customising some may be a good starting-point. You can buy or make staple items and find accessories to match. They are made with a lot of care and attention so unless you are good at sewing, you get what you pay for. Have a look in some books/shops for inspiration.

The Lolita Style Directory (OK, part of it!)

The Sweet Lolita

This is most popular in Japan and is the original lolita style. Outfits are heavily trimmed with lace, pleats or other intricate details and are almost always in bright or pastel colours – baby pink, baby blue and white are often seen.

Sweet Lolitas often dress around a theme, for example the colours of cupcakes or fruit. For example: A strawberry-themed outfit might be a white dress with a strawberry pattern and lace around the collar, a straw hat and strawberry shaped accessories.

Hair is usually worn in ringlets or bunches, or a wig matching the outfit and make-up is usually minimal, for a young innocent look. Mary-Jane shoes with very high platforms are popular and Demonia (available in the UK) do a wide selection.

The Gothic Lolita (aka loligoth)

Picture an old Victorian family photograph: the children dressed up in their best, with well-shined shoes and knee socks. (No cheesy smiles here!) This is the best description of the Gothic Lolita look and it is instantly recognisable.

Western Goth style (e.g. crucifixes, cameos, veils, velvet etc) is teamed with Sweet Lolita. Though Gothic Lolitas make a similar silhouette to Sweet Lolitas, (full skirts and tight bodices), the colour schemes are different. Most outfits are black and white, although some wear other dark colours, for example red or purple. Many carry parasols or coffin-shaped bags and the look can range from being very Gothic (like a dead china doll) to a Sweet Lolita in a black outfit.

Make-up is often slightly heavier, with darker eyes and lips.

Gothic Lolita clothing is not as difficult to find in the UK – Camden Town in London has some lolita shops and “Alt” shops often stock items.

The Aristocrat/EGL (Elegant Gothic Lolita)

If you have a round or heart-shaped face then you probably suit any lolita style, however if you have an angular face (pointed nose, high cheekbones) like me, then the best look to go for is the Aristocrat or EGL as you don’t need to look as young.

Floor-length dresses are often worn instead of bell-shaped skirts. Aristocrat/EGL is still “cute” though colours like lilac and green are usually more elegant than baby pink. To wear an EGL style, keep the bows and ruffles, but wear a longer skirt and possibly a slightly lower bodice (but not low enough to show cleavage).

Headpieces, for example veils and fascinators, are good. Hair is worn in a single plait or neat bun.

If you don’t want to wear Mary-Jane shoes, lace-up boots are a good alternative.

The Gurololita

Gurololita (aka Grotesque Lolita) is gaining recognition mainly through art and photography. Medical alternative is popular in Japan and Gurololitas look like broken dolls, wearing slings, bandages, eyepatches, plasters and other medical accessories – often made more realistic with fake blood. Most look like either a nurse or a patient though still keeping an endearing look – as opposed to an extra in a horror film! If you are intending to work this look, frills and long “will you mend me?” eyelashes are very important!

UK model Sohuiii, (pictured) is known for her trademark gurololita-themed photoshoots. She says: “I’d suggest bandages, fake blood, eyepatches and a white outfit (though that’s just a personal preference). Red crosses (especially for accessories) and white and red coordinates are great. I really love how you can add alternative elements to this genre of Lolita such as latex (if it’s done tastefully).”

The Oriental/Qi-Lolita

The style takes traditional Japanese clothing like the kimono and obi-belt (a thick belt around the waist, with a huge bow at the back) or Chinese brocade dresses (Qi-Lolita), and makes them into lolita staple items.

It is not very common in the UK and an option would be to team a brocade top with a full skirt, or add an obi-belt and oriental accessories to a Sweet Lolita outfit. It is rarely done well as most lolita outfits have a different shape to traditional oriental clothing, but the look is very beautiful when it is achieved.

The Punk/Alt Lolita

The difference between Punk/Alt and Punk/Alt Lolita is that the latter is very, very cute. Spikes, chains, fishnet, plaid, tartan, Doc Martens etc. are combined with a full skirt or bloomers and a lot of Sweet Lolita accessories.

An example of a Punk Lolita could be: Pink plaid bloomers, with a pink lacy top, pink and white Doc Martens with spikes attached and white lace accessories e.g. a choker and wristband with pink spikes. Big chunky boots work better than Mary Janes here and make-up can be heavy or totally natural.

This is a good style for people who are already alternative, as you could customise some of the clothes or accessories in your wardrobe.

Will the real Lolita please stand up?

Unless you are actually looking for a lolita costume, stay away from costume shops. Many of their outfits are badly made and skimpy (similar to a French Maid outfit). This goes against the innocent look and good quality of most lolita clothes and would be similar to a policewoman wearing a fancy dress policewoman’s costume to work!

Pretty Things to buy and see:

  • Baby, The Stars Shine Bright (Mainly Sweet Lolita outfits: though parts of the site may need you to read Japanese, I have included it as inspiration)
  • Bla Bla Hospital(Recommended by Sohuiii for gurololita accessories)
  • Sai Sai Unit 006, The Stables, Chalk Farm Road Camden, London, UK, NW1 8AH (Lolita shop in London, UK)
  • Fruits- (Photographic book by Shoichi Aoki, documenting Harajuku street fashion including many lolita types.)
  • The Gothic & Lolita Bible (A magazine for all fans of these styles with how-to’s, fashion and directories)
  • Little Apple Dolls (Cute/creepy dolls with fantastic outfits!)

Have fun being cute and amazing

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Sohuiii models grotesque gurololita, which is themed around the japanese medical alternative. Photo by Catherine Day.

Elegant Gothic lolita with punk lolita details in the use of tartan

Oriental qi lolita harks back to traditional dress with the wide obi-belt

Gothic Lolita Bible

Elegant gothic aristocrat – Mana also coined a term for an even more formal version of attire called the Elegant gothic patrician

Classic gothic lolita

Kristen Elsby photographed this Sweet Lolita being interviewed about her outfit. She explained exactly where it all came from – it cost around US$900!


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