Image courtesy of Penny and Aggie
'[My clothes] don't talk...but they do tell me things. Like, sometimes when I go to Baby's boutique and see a dress I really want, it'll whisper, "You aren't ready for me yet. Come back when you've got some more strength of character, and I'll be waiting for you."'
-Momoko (Shimotsuma Monogatari)
You know the feeling. You see a piece you absolutely adore. It's everything you've ever dreamed of in a piece of lolita clothing. It's perfect in every way. But the moment you receive it your dreams are shattered - it doesn't fit, or it doesn't suit your style, or you have nothing to wear it with.
This scenario has probably happened to the majority of lolitas, and to the majority of fashion shoppers in general. I know I've seen plenty of pieces I've fallen in love with but been sorely disappointed by. The feeling is definitely doubled when you add in the cost of something you'll never wear, the time spent getting it to you, or not being able to wear it when you had planned. It's a step away from being a real heartbreak.
There are a lot of reasons why a purchase can go wrong like this. The first is fit. It's difficult to get a piece of ready-made clothing to fit when you don't have a chance to try it on first. When you click the checkout button on a brand website you're basically praying to the powers that be that it will fit you. When it fits, it's amazing. When it doesn't, your heart sinks. There are a few ways around this problem. First, make sure the measurements are entirely accurate. Brands tend to list their measurements in centimeters, so make sure you have your own measurements down correctly. It's also a good idea to make sure that the brand your ordering from lists their measurements accurately. I had my own experience with Innocent World when ordering a size L blouse I thought would fit, only to find that the measurements listed on their site are several inches smaller than the actual garment. Searching through EGL can usually help a little with this, but if worse comes to worst it's perfectly all right to ask the community's advice. Another way around this problem is to forgo ready made clothing altogether and order custom made clothing from independent seamstresses. This is my personal favorite method, as there are some very talented seamstresses in the lolita community with an excellent eye for detail. It's also a good way to get a one-of-a-kind design that suits you perfectly. Of course, it's a good idea to be familiar with their practices first.
Another problem lolitas run into when it comes to buying dream items is that sometimes they really are too good to be true. I know I've seen my fair share of sweet items I thought were darling, but I knew that they would have no place in my wardrobe. I just don't suit sweet. But I'd be lying if I hadn't imagined myself in a full Cherry Berry Bunny coordinate. A good way to deal with this is to think a purchase out logically; what does your wardrobe look like? Is it full of mainly just a few colors? Is it all one style, such as just gothic or just sweet? What items do you wear the least? If an item you're thinking about buying is completely irrelevant to your entire wardrobe, whether it be in color or style, or simply an item you'd never think to put on, it's best to leave it be. Try to think up several different ways you could use a piece, and with which pieces you already own that it could go with. The more ways you can use it the better the investment. I use this tactic to help whittle away at my wishlist. It will keep those pieces that just sit in the back of your closet out of your wardrobe entirely.
Sometimes there will be pieces that suit you perfectly, that look amazing, and that you can most certainly afford. But you simply can't think of how to wear it. This is where Momoko's quote comes in. Sometimes you're just not ready. Maybe your wardrobe isn't complete enough to help support the piece. Maybe your hair doesn't look right with it. Maybe you just feel silly going around in it. That's where experience comes into play. If you build yourself up, little by little your confidence will allow you to get away with anything. Over time you'll inevitably start thinking up new ways in which to use an item, and you'll start wearing it more often. If you don't have all the faith in the world about a piece, don't sweat it. Maybe over time you'll think of it as a necessity.
Hopefully this post will help with some decisions! Happy shopping!