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What is Classic Lolita Fashion?

If you are not familiar with what lolita fashion is, be sure to review and check out our Encyclopedia entry on the topic. We previously looked at gothic lolita and sweet lolita fashion.

Classic lolita is the most elegant substyle of lolita, but what makes it so unique?


A gorgeous Victorian-inspired one-piece from Innocent World.

Classic lolita is dainty and elegant, often referencing Victorian, Rococo and mid-1900s fashion. The colors are usually toned down – Popular shades include muted pink, green, beige, blue, burgundy and off-white. Prints can be vintage or sweet inspired, reworked in a subtle way to avoid any overly-cutesy designs. Classic lolitas often wear lower heels than gothic lolitas, favoring lace-up boots and dainty strapped shoes over wedges and platforms.
Classic lolitas usually opt for a low-volume petticoat for a more mature look, and natural makeup is key.
Something to note is that coordinates aren’t always strictly classic – They can sometimes lean sweet or gothic in terms of motifs while still being classic in nature.

 

Etymology

The exact history of the name “classic lolita” is unknown, but it was most likely named in the early 2000s to differentiate the look from sweet and gothic lolita.

 

A Brief History


A 1998 Angelic Pretty coordinate with vintage influences.

In 1985, a MILk designer left to open their own brand called Jane Marple. While this brand was originally a combination of punk and lolita, the classic-punk influenced look had a significant impact on the current style, with classic lolitas wearing Jane Marple to this day.
Classic brand Victorian Maiden opened in 1999 and produced items inspired by Victorian fashion. While many iconic brands didn’t open until the 2000s, the naming of the style may have been encouraged by the amount of sweet and gothic lolitas who would base their looks on old Victorian dolls and Rococo ladies. For a while, lolitas wearing aprons, Mary Janes, and “sausage” ringlet wigs were common sights in Harajuku fashion magazines.
Floral and Gobelin prints are still iconic within the classic lolita look to this.

 

Classic Lolita Fashion in Modern Times


A dramatic look featuring Victorian Maiden. Note the longer length of the dress, which has been emphasized using underskirts.

Over time, public interest in lolita fashion has gone down. In the early 2010s, many classic brands had their designs stolen and replicated, causing some brands to struggle from lack of financial support. Some brands have changed their look to keep up with ever-changing trends.

With the rising age of lolitas around the world, many older fans have converted their wardrobe from sweet to classic. Many older lolitas love the modesty of the longer tea-length cuts provided by classic brands, while a combination of cute and elegant is popular with those who feel they have outgrown the sugary motif of sweet lolita. Tea-length skirts are more popular than ever, and length-extending underskirts are easy to find.
Illustrated prints have become more common in classic lolita, and as with sweet lolita, there has been a notable increase in OTT (over-the-top) coordinates for a more princess-like look.

Existing classic lolita brands include:
Atelier-Pierrot: @atelier_pierrot
BABY THE STARS SHINE BRIGHT: @babythessbofficial
Emily Temple Cute: @emilytemplecute_fromharajuku
Innocent World: @innocentworldofficial
Juliette et Justine: @juliette_et_justine
Lieblich and Elegant: @lieblich__elegant
Metamorphose temps de fille: @metamorphosetempsdefille
millefleurs: @millefleurs_noir
Triple Fortune: @triplefortune

References:
青木 美沙子(日本ロリータ協会会長). “ロリータファッションBOOK”, 2014, Retrieved 12 August 2020.

 

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