How to Be a Gothic Lolita

Two Methods:FashionLifestyle

Lolita is one of Japan's many popular street fashions that is growing in popularity in the Western world, meant to make the wearer look youthful and innocent. Gothic Lolita is a subset of the Lolita culture, and is (unsurprisingly) a cross between goth and Lolita styles. Now it's time for you to emulate the Gothic Lolita fashion, as well as to embrace the lifestyle. Although cosplaying can be incredibly time-consuming and expensive, it is also a fun hobby with a very inclusive, lively community.


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    Throw away your prejudices. Lolita style has nothing to do with pedophilia. The fashion and the lifestyle do not contain sexual connotations. Instead, most adherents present themselves as young Victorian, Edwardian, or Rococo children and strive to look modest and reserved. Gothic Lolita, or GothLoli, style in particular values a sober and elegant presentation.
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    Explore Lolita types. There are many different styles of Lolita. There's Sweet Lolita, which uses bright pastels, lace, and overall sweet and "kawaii" themes; Gothic Lolita, which uses more blacks and whites and tends to be a darker, more elegant style of Lolita; and other less common subsets such as Classic Lolita, which favors a more refined and subtle fashion, or Punk Lolita, which might include accessories such as spikes and chains. Some Lolitas like to blend more than one style in their looks; however, this article will focus primarily on achieving straightforward Gothic Lolita dress and attitude.

Method 1

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    Know how to build a Lolita outfit. A Gothic Lolita look has many parts you can vary or alter as you like, but there are a few basic rules. One of them is that Gothic Lolitas favor dark colors, with the exception of white or cream accents - you probably won't find one wearing pink or other bright colors prominently. Here's what else you need to know, arranged in the order in which you'd get dressed.
    • Start with undergarments. The most identifiable part of a Lolita look is the bell-shaped skirt that falls two inches above the kneecap or lower. Buying a petticoat, or pannier, built specifically to fill out Lolita skirts is essential. In order to maintain modesty in case the petticoat blows up in the breeze, Lolitas wear bloomers underneath the petticoat and over their regular underwear. Gothic Lolitas can also wear a corset, provided it's laced or buttoned properly. (Wearing a corset or bustier alone as a top falls into the Ero Lolita category.) Bloomers and petticoats should never be readily visible in the finished look.
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    • Wear a refined, well-made blouse. Gothic Lolita blouses often feature fine tailoring, such as pintucks, embroidered details, and embellished cuffs or necklines. A slim, close fit is ideal; the blouse should never be baggy or saggy.
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    • Put on an embellished skirt, JSK, or one-piece dress. Gothic Lolita skirts commonly include ruffles, elegant patterns or bustles. They should sit at the natural waist and no lower, as well as almost covering your knees when standing. A JSK, or jumper skirt, is one you "jump" into, applied from the feet up. It usually includes some part that will cover part of the blouse. A black JSK over a white blouse is a typical Gothic Lolita look. For fancy events, Gothic Lolitas will sometimes wear one-piece dresses without a blouse. These garments are designed to fit closely through the torso and flare appropriately to accommodate the petticoat.
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    • Wear modest stockings or tights. Some Lolitas wear socks or tights that hit below the kneecap, but Gothic Lolitas tend to prefer those that go over the knee. Wear garters under your bloomers to hold them up, if necessary. In general, Gothic Lolitas eschew sheer nylon or tights, favoring an opaque look instead.
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    • Choose dark shoes. Lolita style overall usually demands Mary Jane shoes, with perhaps a "Lolita heel" at the back. For Gothic Lolita, your shoes should be black or otherwise dark. If you choose to wear boots or another embellishment on Mary Janes, make sure they keep to a slim, natural leg silhouette - chunky combat boots would be out of place on a Gothic Lolita.
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    • Use hair accessories. An iconic Gothic Lolita accessory is a dark, large Alice bow, modeled after that of the heroine of Alice in Wonderland. You can also wear embellished headbands, combs or clips, as well as fascinators, period-appropriate hats or tiny top hats.
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    • Find a jacket. During colder months, Gothic Lolitas bundle up in well-tailored jackets. Choose black or another dark color, such as burgundy, navy, dark purple or hunter green.
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    • Finish up with other accessories. Some Gothic Lolitas carry parasols to shield themselves from the sun; others wear jewelry focused on elaborate crosses or carry purses in the shape of a coffin. Be creative with your accessories to make the Gothic Lolita look uniquely yours.
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    Build your wardrobe. A well-made Gothic Lolita piece can last you a long time, but it will probably also be more expensive than your casual clothing. Invest in your wardrobe carefully, purchasing items you adore and that are constructed from quality materials. Start with bloomers and a petticoat, and build from there.
    • Pay attention to fabrics. Gothic Lolita culture favors cotton, wool, organdy, lace and other generally high-quality textiles. Satin and crushed velvet are regarded as costume-like, and frowned on for everyday use. Additionally, cheap lace that features heavy netting is also disdained, as it can look gray and ratty from a distance.
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    Wear naturally appealing makeup. One point at which Gothic Lolita culture diverges from American Gothic culture is makeup - Gothic Lolitas don't use whiteface or particularly dark eye and lip colors. A slightly smoky eye or red lip is acceptable, but generally Gothic Lolitas strive to wear natural-looking makeup.
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    Dress to impress. Wearing a Gothic Lolita look should be an event. Make sure everything is cleaned and ironed appropriately, and put effort into your hair and makeup - looking half-done while wearing such beautiful clothing would be tragic. Plan ahead.
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    Incorporate Lolita into your everyday clothing and environment. If you can't wear full Lolita outfits everyday incorporate details that you like and go with your usual clothing: maybe that lace choker will go well with your business suit, or that cute purse is nice for a trip to the mall. Things like that that make you unique and identify you as a Lolita, even if you can't wear your outfits everyday.

Method 2

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    Practice good posture. Gothic Lolita clothing is shown off to the best advantage when your posture is erect, with straight shoulders and a high head. Try walking in light, measured steps instead of shuffling or dragging your feet.
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    Mind your manners. Because Lolita style harkens back to the 19th century, try emulating the socially acceptable manners of the time period. Speak politely and crisply, without relying on contractions or slang. Do not use swear words as well. Be courteous to everyone, and acknowledge strangers or new acquaintances with a slight tip of your head or a small smile. Be confident without being rude, and courteous without being a doormat.
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    Indulge in antiquated hobbies. Bring some old-fashioned beauty into your life by learning Victorian arts or skills, such as sewing and/or embroidering (it will help you with your clothing if you are on a budget or don't want to buy off Japan), cooking, calligraphy, painting or sketching, and collecting things like antiques or stamps.
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    Look for sources of beauty or inspiration in everyday life. A Lolita lifestyle is, to a certain extent, about maintaining a childlike sense of innocence and wonder. Try seeing your life through fresh, less-jaded eyes and watch your attitude improve!


  • Start slowly. If you are having trouble being confident in full Gothic Lolita dress, try building up the confidence one garment at a time or by wearing Casual Lolita.
  • A Lolita lifestyle is not required to wear Lolita fashion.
  • You don't have to buy from Japanese retailers to wear Gothic Lolita fashion.
  • Remember - this movement is about being creative and unique. You can (and should) always maintain your individuality, even when following any style.
  • Thrift stores are a good source for clothing, but you might want to alter it a bit.
  • The Gothic & Lolita Bible is a quarterly magazine published in English and Japanese, and can be a great source of information and inspiration for décor and clothing. Look for back issues on eBay.
  • If you plan on wearing this style on a daily basis, it might be a good idea to tone it down a bit (i.e. wearing simpler accessories).


  • If you buy Lolita clothing from Japan, be aware that sizing runs small compared to American clothing. Order in a size larger than you think you need and alter down if necessary. Alternatively, take precise measurements (preferably in centimeters) and compare it to the product's measurements.
  • Strong Lolita adherents refer to poseur or exaggerated Lolita styles as "Ita Lolita," or just "Ita," which comes from the Japanese word for painful--basically saying that a certain person's outfit is so ugly it is painful to look at.

Things You'll Need

  • Bloomers and petticoat
  • Skirts, blouses and dresses with a gothic style. Skirts can´t be too long
  • Over-knee stockings, tights or short frilly stockings
  • Black Mary Jane shoes
  • Gothic Lolita accessories- such as charms, lace, ribbons, corsets with lace, fingerless lace gloves, lace collars, and striped tights.

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