A Japanese street fashion primarily influenced by the Victorian era. It focuses on
modesty, elegance and quality of construction. Although there are many sub-styles, the best-known are gothic, sweet and classic Lolita.
Lolita emerged in the 1970s as an evolution from the natural-kei style of the time and it was popularized in the 1990s by various visual-kei bands. The late '90s boom in popularity lead to the publication of the Gothic & Lolita Bible in January of 2001. It is popular enough around the world that in 2008, TokyoPop began publishing the G&LB in English.
Lolita is a fashion with a very specific aesthetic with various guidelines to help you achieve it. The most important of which is modesty. The legs, chest and shoulders should be covered. Skirts and jumperskirts are to be worn with blouses that cover up to the neck. Legs are covered with socks or stockings and skirts that fall approximately to the knees.
Next is the silhouette. A knee length, poofy, bell shaped skirt worn at the natural waist is essential for this. Petticoats provide the poof but one must be careful to select one with the correct bell shape.
Last but not least is quality of materials and construction. A Lolita outfit should never appear to be cheap or "costumey" because it's meant to be regular clothing and not a costume. Thin, easily wrinkled materials, costume satin and synthetic lace are to be avoided as they can make an outfit appear cheap. Cotton material and cotton lace are excellent choices as well as being comfortable to wear. Cat ears, exaggerated or multiple rows of corset lacing, armwarmers and legwarmers are costume elements to be avoided.
Please remember that these are guidelines to help you get the right look. If you're a beginner it's best to follow them till you know you have a very good grasp on what is and isn't Lolita.
The most widely known of Lolita styles. Often mislabeled EGL (Elegant Gothic Lolita) which is a term created for JRocker Mana's clothing brand. The predominant colour seen is black. Crosses and roses are common motifs.
The most popular style among Lolita, sweet is the cutest and frilliest. Pastels are usually used but red and black are sometimes seen as well. Sweets are a very common theme.
The most elegant and mature style of Lolita. Dresses are often A line instead of bell shaped and trimmed in net lace or ruffles. Jewel tones and soft colours are the norm.
Kuro Lolita & Shiro Lolita
An outfit of any style that is completely black or completely white. Kuro is the Japanese word for black while shiro is the Japanese word for white.
The combination of Lolita and Japanese punk styles. It still adheres to the Lolita aesthetic. Black, red, tartan and deconstructed fabrics are often used.
Lolita style with a princess theme. Often showing Rococo influence. Hime Lolita often wear tiaras and other princess accessories like sceptres.
This style can be considered an offshoot of sweet though it often resembles classic as well. Dresses feature florals, gingham or fruit prints. Mini straw hats and straw purses help achieve the country look.
This style takes its inspiration from sailor uniforms. Sailor collars and stripes are staples. Common colours are navy and white.
Wa Lolita & Qi Lolita
Wa Lolita draws inspiration from traditional Japanese clothing. Most commonly seen as kimono with knee length bell skirts. Dresses made from kimono fabric may also be considered Wa Lolita.
Qi Lolita features outfits inspired by traditional Chinese qipao. This style is very rarely done so there's not many pictures of it.
A rare and very controversial style that combines Lolita with elements like corsets, fishnet stockings or cage skirts. It resembles Victorian underclothes but is still modest by today's standards and suitable to be worn outside.
Casual, Guro, Retro, Pirate, Deco, Military, School Uniform, Steampunk
Boystyle is a catch all term for styles like ouji, dandy and prince. It's often considered the male equivalent of Lolita though it may be worn by both men and women.
Resembling Victorian Goth, Aristocrat is more refined and mature than Lolita. Floor length skirts or wide leg pants may be worn. This style is for both men and women.