What is Lolita Fashion?

Lolita Fashion is a street fashion / subculture that originated in Japan in the 1990s. The style draws inspiration from 19th century European fashion and remixes it with modern elements from other Japanese street fashions, Gothic fashion, punk and Japan’s kawaii (cute) movement.

The basic lolita fashion look is an approximately knee length skirt or dress flared out with a petticoat. Large bows are worn on headbands, with elaborate hair styles. Garments are constructed with strict attention to detail and material quality. It’s common to see heirloom sewing techniques, elaborate textile prints, lace, ruffles and ribbons.

The fashion is highly modest with high necklines, blouses worn under sleeveless dresses, and legs often being covered with tights or long socks. Puffy shorts called bloomers are worn under dresses and skirts for modesty.

But isn’t it “Gothic Lolita?”

While the style is sometimes referred to generically as Gothic Lolita, Gothloli, or Gosuloli, particularly in older publications or in the west, it’s generally agreed that there are three basic substyles inside of the style. Sweet Lolita, Classic Lolita, and Gothic Lolita. It’s preferred that the style is referred to as “Lolita Fashion” or “Japanese Lolita Fashion” over “Gothic Lolita” when a differentiation needs to be made between lolita-the-book and lolita-the-style.