LBC: Most Challenging Sub-style.

I am incredibly sorry for how inactive my blog has been as of late. Law school has pretty much eaten my life, and I haven't even been able to properly announce a hiatus!

But these past couple months I've been able to figure out how to portion my time wisely and even went back to allowing myself to browse clothes online! My wardrobe has really changed drastically these past couple months as I let go of pieces that I thought were dream items that I just simply didn't love as much anymore.

In the spirit of figuring out how to balance my hobbies with graduate school, I thought I'd join in on a Lolita Blog Carnival theme once again! This week's theme is "The Most Challenging Sub-style, and How to Pull them Off."

In my opinion, wa-lolita and pirate lolita are two of the hardest to pull off. Sadly, I don't think pirate suits me very well so I don't think I can offer any tips, but as a die-hard fan of traditional clothing and wearing kimono, I thought I'd focus my attention on tips to really nail the wa-lolita aesthetic.

For some background, wa-lolita is the mix of Japanese kimono elements (whether it is fabric or style), combined with the lolita silhouette. Although it is very common to see kimono sleeves ("sode") and collar ("eri") with a puffy lolita skirt, it is also not unusual to find dresses made with patterned kimono chirimen fabrics in the traditional lolita silhouette.

I first decided I really needed to get into kimono, and potentially wa-lolita after discovering Mokona (of CLAMP's) short artbook, Okimono Kimono, during one of my previous trips to New York. In my haste to see more examples of modern kimono in action, I came across this lovely Tumblr blog: Kimono Nagoya. The moderator is extremely friendly and knowledgable about kimono and always details the thought process behind different choices and why certain patterns work, as well as discussing new trends arising in Japan. These two sources really helped me learn more about kimono and imagine new colour combinations I may have never thought about before.

Generally, it is really easy to cross the line from "lolita" into "costume," and it's incredibly easy to cross when you're throwing in a country's cultural clothing into the mix. The easiest way to pull off wa-lolita in my opinion is to find a dress that uses traditional kimono prints, but in a lolita silhouette. Metamorphose releases a new line every year that I find absolutely gorgeous. Here are some examples!

Metamorphose is not your only resort though! I've seen the occasional beautiful wa-lolita piece come out of Taobao brands and even Fan+Friend for that matter--although I think from the latter store you really need to be able to put in some work or only use pieces of their outfits.

I find a lot of the same tips shared with beginners to the fashion can apply to finding the perfect wa-lolita dress as well.
  • As a rule of thumb, avoid Bodyline wa-lolita. 
    • I have yet to see something somewhat decent come out of Bodyline's "kimono" section on their website. Their obi tend to be very floppy and their prints garish and tacky. Everything out of that section just looks like a horrible costume.
  • Something that comes branded as "wa-lolita" usually doesn't look good. 
    • Very rarely have I seen a design online that advertises itself as being wa-lolita that looks decent. I think the better course of action for trying to pull off the style is using real kimono pieces. 
  • Look for high quality fabrics. 
    • Kimono are generally made out of vibrant and clear prints on linen or thick silk. Searching for vintage kimono and summer kimono online usually turns up some gorgeous pieces to work into your wardrobe.
  • Learn how to wear kimono properly. 
    • Kimono has a very particular aesthetic in mind. To wear one properly, you need to mimic the shape of a tube, which either means wrapping a towel around your midsection so that your hips do not flare out when wearing an obi, or by binding your chest slightly so that there is no cleavage or issues with your chest falling over the obi. 
    • You want to keep your obi as straight and clean as possible. This can be taken into the lolita context--do not allow cleavage to spill out over your eri collar and make sure that the obi you are using does not wrinkle because it is trying to follow the natural curves of your body. It just leads to it looking very sloppy.
  • Understand that kimono and lolita use very different colour combinations. 
    • The biggest problem I see with attempts at wa-lolita is trying to coordinate a brown kimono with a mint skirt, or a pink kimono with even more pink. 
    • Generally, kimono has a totally different method to selecting colours that go well together, and I think to really bring out that element in wa-lolita, you need to be able to really think outside of the box and be unafraid of combining two colours that you think would normally be horrible. 
    • Rather than explaining the multitude of colour combinations available to you, I think the best thing to do is just look at modern kimono and see what kinds of colours are trendy at the moment and try to mimic that with your coordination.
  • Less is more when it comes to accessories. 
    • Although it proves to be quite tempting to go full out with intricate hair pieces like kanzashi, if you are wearing a kimono pattern, you do not want to overload the senses and wear bulky accessories on top of everything else you are wearing. 
    • Vintage hats and simple floral hair pieces (and extremely simple kanzashi designs) look best with wa-lolita. Even wearing a small bow made out of kimono-printed fabric would look great. 
    • Typical lolita accessories like head-eating bows and maxi-pad headdresses just look too costumey.
I also strongly believe in showing good examples first to have an idea of what to do and what to avoid, and I believe Aino (who also participates in the Lolita Blog Carnival) understands perfectly. She combines authentic kimono and obi with lolita skirts and just owns the style. She is single-handedly responsible for me realising that there is a graceful way to use actual kimono pieces with lolita clothing and for ushering in my love for wa-lolita.

The last coordinate is probably my all-time favourite wa-lolita coordinate. The skirt was hand-made by her. The blouse sleeves peeking out from under the kimono sleeves just seems so charming to me. You can tell she puts a lot of thought into wearing kimono properly, and I just adore her colour combinations because it is very unique to kimono styling. I can't wait to see what she does next!

Wa-lolita is definitely not for everyone. It requires a lot of patience and, in my opinion, to really pull it off you need to know a lot about kimono too. I still have loads more I can learn, and I am slowly building up a small collection of vintage kimono, but until then I am happy with tracking down used pieces from Metamorphose in the meantime because it's a really easy way to give off that wa-lolita flair without needing to start a wardrobe for an entirely different fashion.

Thanks for reading, and I'm so excited to finally break my silence on the blog! I hope you all have been having a fantastic year so far, and I can't wait to slowly get back in the groove of things with con season starting up!

Check out the other lovely blogs this week!


  1. I personally love kimonos and I love that you have done a post on wearing wa lolita correctly.

    1. Thank you very much! I hope to really start wearing it often myself.

  2. This was really interesting to read ^^

    1. I'm glad you found it interesting--I was worried I had rambled for a bit.

  3. Waaah I keep coming back to this entry and I've tried to come up with a non-creepy non-weird comment and it's a big surprise I haven't accidentally sent any yet and -

    Right, that didn't begin very well, anyway, I love this entry and I've been totally sjadhgkfjhaskfsdjak*roll*asmdjalsjhd*roll**roll* about it ever since. Thank you! :3

    1. <3 <3 <3 No problem!! I am so glad I worked up the courage to talk to you. ;A; I've more or less been like that myself every time you post on Daily_Lolita!! Hahaha~

  4. Great post! I agree, it's so easy to cross over into "costume" with this particular sub-style. When I lived in Japan, I took kimono lessons for about 3 years, so I have all of my garments and accessories, and I was recently wondering if I would be able to use some of them in a walolita style. I'll have to try it out sometime!

    1. Definitely! I think the hardest thing to reconcile are the silhouettes. Once you get that down, walolita can look beautiful with authentic kimono accessories.


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