Lolita Goth style guide
Harajuku style isn’t the only Japanese subculture fashion out there. Some girls are honing down their style to become Classic Lolitas or Lolita Goths, who carry gothic teddies and look like stylish victorian dolls…
Lolita fashion is a style of dress that originated in Japan and has deep links with Harajuku fashion, which came out of performers and fashionable teenagers collecting to meet in Tokyo’s Harajuku district.
Lolita fashion is inspired by the clothing of Victorian women and children. It often aims to imitate the look of Victorian porcelain dolls. Other influences include goth style, horror movies, the punk subculture and anime characters.
Skirts are typically knee length and are worn with a pannier or petticoat to add volume.
As in mainstream Japanese fashion, over-knee socks, knee socks or stockings are extremely popular.
Frills and other charms are often added to the top of the sock.
White and black tights are also common.
Footwear is typically shoes or boots with high heels, though not usually stiletto heels.
Platforms with little-girl straps are also worn.
Frilly, ruffled, or lace-trimmed Victorian blouses are popular.
These blouses often have Peter-Pan collars or sailor collars.
Although westerners might view ‘Lolita’ fashion as something that tries to be sexual in a weird underage way (“Lolita” is, after all, a reference to Vladimir Nabokov’s famous novel), most Lolita Goths and followers of Lolita fashion don’t consider it sexual or at least overtly sexual, even if a lot of the girls into Lolita fashion are teens. Lolita followers present themselves as Victorian children or baby dolls and prefer to look cute, beautiful or elegant rather than sexy.
Gothic Lolita style guide
Gothic Lolita, also known as Lolita Goth, GothLoli, Gosurori and Loli-Goth, is a street fashion among Japanese teenagers and young women, although boys and western girls are also getting involved.
Lolita Goth is a subcategory of Lolita fashion that emphasizes Victorian-style and Edwardian clothing and often aims to imitate the look of Victorian porcelain dolls, but is sometimes more into the idea of elegance than looking cute and girly, and always has a Goth twist.
The typical Lolita Goth or “Gothloli” style originated sometime around 1998 and became more widely available in various boutiques and some major department stores by around 2001.
The popularity of Lolita Goth style peaked around 2004/5 in the Harajuki district of Tokyo, but now it has settled down as one of many ‘alternative’ youth fashions, although its popularity is still slowly growing.
Gothic Lolita was influenced and popularised by the imagery of more feminine Visual Kei (or “visual rock”) bands. Visual Kei is a Japanese form of rock music defined by bands featuring performers in elaborate costumes but whose musical style varies.
Mana, the crossdressing former leader and guitarist of the Visual Kei band Malice Mizer is widely credited for having helped popularise Gothic Lolita. He coined the terms “Elegant Gothic Lolita” (EGL) and “Elegant Gothic Aristocrat” (EGA) to describe the style of his own fashion label Moi-même-Moitié, which was founded in 1999 and quickly established itself as one of the most coveted brands of the Gothic Lolita scene. Another popular figure was the singer Kana; who often modelled for Gothloli-related fashion magazines. He is our final picture on the right. Isn’t he beautiful?
Gothic Lolitas may favour long skirts and jackets to emulate Victorian women rather than overtly child-like designs. They still aim for elegance, but Lolita Goths aren’t trying to like children or little victorian dolls.
Lolita Goth accessories:
- Lace-trimmed headdresses
- Mini-tophats worn to the side
- Intricate old-fashioned jewellery
- Pale complexion, make-up optional but dark eyeliner and lips preferred
- Black, blue or red hair
- Ribbon and lace
- Crinolines and petticoats
- Fishnet tights
Gothic Lolita style is usually a combination of black and white, often black with white lace and typically decorated with ribbons and lace trims. Skirts are knee length and may have a crinoline or petticoat to add volume. As in mainstream Japanese fashion, over-knee socks or stockings are extremely popular. Black fishnet stockings and white or black tights are also common. Shoes or boots with high heels – think platforms rather than stilettos – complete the look. Frilly, ruffled or lace-trimmed Victorian blouses are also popular especially with Elegant Goth Lolitas, who may also favour long skirts and jackets rather than the overtly ‘childish’ designs of the typical Gothloli. Apart from occasionally short skirts, Lolita Goth designs are usually modest, sometimes with long lace-capped sleeves and/or high-necked blouses.
And there’s more! Gothic Lolita is ALL about the accessories and the details!
Yes, to move on, some additions to your LoliGoth outfit may include an Alice in Wonderland-style apron, tiny top hats, parasols, lace gloves, and lace headpieces. Mostly black or white, headgear might consist of a headband with ruffles, ribbons, lace or bows. Sometimes even bonnets are worn. Hair may be curled to complete the porcelain doll look. The naturally dark Japanese hair color may be lightened to blonde or kept black. Some may choose to wear wigs as well.
Makeup is used sparingly and used more often by Elegant Lolita Goths than with other Gothloli styles. Black eyeliner is typical. A pale complexion is preferred, so white foundation might be used. Red or black lipstick is seen but lighter makeup is the rule.
Gothic Lolita outfits may be accessorized with other props like conspicuous pocketbooks, hatboxes, handbags and other bags, sometimes in the shape of bats, coffins, and crucifixes. Teddy bears and other stuffed animals are also common, and some brands make special gothic teddy bears out of black leather or PVC. Also, many Gothic Lolita own Super Dollfies and carry them around. A Super Dollfie is a ball-jointed doll first manufactured by Volks, a Japanese doll company, and is popular with many subcultural trendsters, not just lolita Goths, for its expressive eyes and distinct personality.
Lolita Fashion’s crossover with Goth
Gothloli as a fashion is not as strongly associated with a particular style of music or outside interests as Goth, and individual followers of Gothloli fashion may listen to a wide variety of music including regular Japanese pop and Visual Kei.
In Japan, Goth is a minor subculture with few followers, partly because the emphasis upon visual identity in Japanese youth culture makes other factors such as music and literature less important signifiers and perhaps partly because Christianity and Germanic culture are not integral parts of society.
In Japan, people who have heard the term Goth usually assume that it is simply a contraction of Gothic Lolita, except for the Goths themselves, who strongly emphasize the differences. Likewise, some western observers assume that Gothloli is the Japanese version of Goth, purely on the similarities in fashion.
Previously in Tokyo, the largest goth club events, such as Tokyo Dark Castle, would also attract a noticeable proportion of Lolita Goths. However, since 2005 their numbers have dwindled and such events now primarily attract more typical goth, industrial and metal music fans. Visual kei concerts are often attended by many Gothloli, but conversely, few goths.