Friday, 22 November 2013

Lolita Blog Carnival: What My Family Think About Lolita Fashion

* Listening to: Die Milch - Dynamite *

Hello everyone! It's time for a Lolita Blog Carnival topic! This week's winner was 'What My Family Thinks About Lolita Fashion' so read on for my personal view!

I became aware of Lolita fashion when I was around 14-15 through finding Nana Kitade after watching Fullmetal Alchemist. I began learning about all the different styles, rules/guidelines, where to buy the clothes and what made a good Lolita. I showed my mum and mama (grandmother) the style and clothes I liked, Gothic Lolita, and asked if I could have some for Christmas. I have been into Goth fashion since I was about 11 so in terms of adjusting, showing my family Gothic Lolita was much easier to accept than if I were to do a 180 and declare I want to be a Sweet Lolita.

My mum was still believing that my Goth fashion was a phase so she thought this 'Gothic Lolita' fashion, or as she called it, 'Andy Pandy frilly froo-froo nonsense' was just another phase. Because she thought it was a phase, she just let me know that she thought it was a bit creepy and childish, like I wanted to dress up like a little Victorian girl or porcelain doll, which was the exact thing I wanted to do. XD Like my Goth fashion, she refused to buy me the clothes for Christmas and birthdays.

My mama was a little more forgiving and although she thought it was a little weird and 'little girl-ish', we met up with a seamstress friend of ours who owned a market stall, I showed her a dress, petticoat and skirt I liked and my mama agreed to let me have them as Christmas gifts. I wore the dress to my first Lolita meet in Nottingham and thus began my love of Lolita!


Fast forward a few years and my family gradually learned that both Gothic and Gothic Lolita fashions were not a phase in my life. I wanted everything to be pretty, cute and dark in my life! As I got better at the fashion, they realised my individual style and that Gothic Lolita is a lot more mature than I first suggested at the tender age of 14.

Now my family view Lolita as a part of me - they know I love weird and wonderful fashion styles like Goth, Lolita, Steampunk, Cyber and more recently, Dolly Kei and Gyaru. Whenever someone compliments me on my fashion style or outfit, either my mum or mama proudly exclaim 'Ooh, she's a Lolita, she buys all her clothes from Japan and China or makes them herself' whether or not I'm actually in Lolita or whether my clothes are from Japan, China or handmade. XD I think it's really sweet as they must see me as being a Lolita even when I'm not dressed to the nines and that it is something to be proud of, being an individual. People usually stare at me no matter what I'm wearing and since I was about 16, my mama has always said 'Yeah, what are you staring at? Go on, take a photo! You're just jealous!', much to my chagrin haha. I always tell her it doesn't bother me and that I'm used to it but it's sweet she feels like she has to protect me.

Since the beginnings of my alternative fashion loves, my mum and mama have slowly learned the sub-style names, names of Lolita brands, even Nana Kitade, the friends I regularly meet at meet ups and now they're even remembering the names of other Japanese fashion styles I'm starting to dress in, such as Dolly Kei. Again, it's super sweet that it has sort of stuck in their head through the years - either that or so annoying that I must mention it so often! Now they ask me when my next meet or social occasion is, what I'll wear and who I'll see there. They remember who is who, sort of, and know who my best friends in the fashion are. I'm really glad they have accepted it as a part of me and I hope it will continue for many more years to come!

Want to be a part of Lolita Blog Carnival? It's for Lolita bloggers who vote on a topic each week, then write about the winning one. You can enter as often as you like and share links of your fellow bloggers to read their posts! This is who participated this week!

Lace a la Mode
Suns in Our Hands

Friday, 15 November 2013

My Personal Take On Japanese Fashions: Dolly Kei

Okay, so this time I will actually write the post I intended to write about fashion instead of diverting to Transformers (Iloveitsomuchokay)! After Doki Doki I wanted to do a Taobao order with a few friends so I've been browsing Taobao for the past few evenings, for hours at a time. XD I have wanted pretty much everything but had to limit it down by reminding myself this isn't the last Taobao order I will ever do - I will, in fact, place other Taobao orders so I don't have to empty my life savings into this group order!

When I buy more than one or two fashion items, I usually choose what I want by choosing which fashion style I want to buy for, or what items I really need at the moment. I really want to dress in lots of Japanese fashion styles but sometimes I end up buying things that, even though they are quintessentially Mori Girl, Dolly Kei, etc, they might not suit me and my personal style. Therefore I thought it'd be fun to take a fashion style I want to dress in and give my personal take on it, saying what I like and don't like in the fashion, what I'd tweak to suit me and even add in things that might not be considered 100% Mori Girl, Dolly Kei, etc. Today I'll pick Dolly Kei as I bought a dress on the other week, I've just bought a grey waistcoat to match and have been feeling in a 'Dolly Kei' mood ever since! E5P doesn't have amazing stuff all the time but it has some great hidden gems and their shoes are amazing for £5. I got these beauties the other week for, yep, £5!


If you don't know what Dolly Kei fashion is, please see my post about it here!

When most people think of Dolly Kei, they immediately think of Grimoire, a vintage thrift store in Tokyo created by Nomura Hitomi (pictured above in the yellow). She sources all kinds of items suitable for Dolly Kei fashion from all over the world and I'm extremely pleased to be able to say I met her at Frock On earlier this year. She is so lovely and the success of Grimoire means she has been able to design her own items suitable for Dolly Kei (and other) fashion styles such as tights, iPhone cases and perfume.

Interior of Grimoire, fashion shop in Shibuya, Japan.
This photo pretty much sums up Dolly Kei fashion for me. Dusty, creepy, warm antique bronze tones, browns, golds, black, taxidermy, magic, alchemy, the occult, pinned butterflies, heads in jars, apothecaries, etc. Other motifs I love in Dolly Kei are fur, embroidery and general texture stuff like knits, studs, etc. and insects and witch and occult themes.

layered skirts!

Things that I love, or would love to wear in Dolly Kei include pretty prairie style dresses from brands like Gunne Sax, intricately designed tights, velvet, fur, lace, crochet, cute hats, weird jewellery with things like taxidermy and doll parts on, brooches, antique style rings and a satchel or book bag.

Harajuku girl in Grimoire, Tarock with Ricco & Qosmos vs guy in top hat, round glasses & lots of silver jewelry. The guy is one of the fanged models in our recent Fangophila video!

Things I've found that don't suit me in Dolly Kei are long skirts, tons of layering (really need to strike a balance between cute layering and frumpy layering >_<), long cardigans/layerables that make my waist disappear and make me look frumpy and flat shoes. Basically it's all stuff that is very hard to get right unless you have the right cut of item and body shape. I don't consider myself fat but I'm not skinny either so it's easy for me to look frumpier/fatter than I am in fashions like Dolly Kei and Mori Girl.

dolly kei

Things I want to do to make my personal Dolly Kei style more 'me' is that I want to make my version more glamorous. I want to wear shorter skirts like below in order to make me not look so frumpy XD Lots of wide belts too, to cinch in my waist and add to the 'I'm not frumpy, honest' thing I'm trying to go for. I think it's still possible to layer items like cardigans and peignoirs and still look unfrumpy - I'd really like to try wearing the wide belt over the outerwear for an interesting look! Also waistcoats have to be a bit cropped in order to not make my waist disappear - either that or wear it with a belt underneath! The military inspired jackets with braid and fringe are really cute!

dolly kei

I also wanna wear big high heels and amazing shoes with my amazing tights! I don't mean stilettos, I mean chunkier shoes like above. Basically that girl is my whole inspiration. XD I want to have a sort of glamorous witch or gypsy look with really pretty hair and make-up too! I know Dolly Kei make-up is more natural but I would wear circle lenses and false eyelashes with it (not saying girls don't already wear them with Dolly Kei) and have the whole doll thing going on with my make-up.

Dolly Kei. Japanese fashion. bohemian
I bought these tights at Frock On, oh hohohohoho

I really love the amazingly patterned tights that Grimoire popularised and expensive tights adds to the glamous haha. I'm going to add a few pairs of tights to my Taobao order including some black and gold cat ones (maybe the black, red and gold version too if I can afford it - total Dolly Kei colours!) and the vein style tights that I adore. I would only ever buy original Grimoire tights and I try so hard to not buy replicas but I don't think those mentioned above are replicas? I haven't seen them around. Lace ankle socks with heels would have a really cute doll vibe too.

Dolly kei

Other things I wanna wear with Dolly Kei are cute hats and hair pieces! I really need a 'Hat 101' course to try on all the styles of hat and see what suits me...I feel really silly in hats for some reason and like none of them suit me. XD Cute motifs like berries, needle felted animals, small taxidermy skulls, creepy insect items, etc. will adorn both my hats and hair pieces as well as lots of lace, fur and perhaps feathers. I told you it was glamourous!

Dolly Kei

 I would also like lots of shrugs and boleros to wear as they really help pull an outfit together and can change up the look of an outfit easily. I have a black velvet shrug with a fox fur collar at home and I love it to pieces for a real UCG (upperclass Goth, courtesy of Adora Batbrat/Iva Insane) vibe and I feel it'll work really well with Dolly Kei too. Accessories I'd like to buy/make to wear with Dolly Kei include lots of antique bronze, cameos and book page cameos but I'd also like to try and make some lace collar necklaces, tassel necklaces and belts (maybe even bracelets!) and buy some taxidermy items, especially a necklace reminiscent of the one worn by Ginger and Brigitte in Ginger Snaps. Wooden items such as brooches would be nice and I'd love to try some of Rekami Stworzone's real insect jewellery!

I think if I'm able to put all this together, it could turn out really cutely and interesting! I'm really looking forward to browsing Taobao yet again and finding items suitable for my new 'glamorous gypsy witch' look! I also want to make new items and possibly upload them to my store if other people like them! Thanks for reading, if you have any tips or questions, please feel free to ask!

What Started Out as a Fashion Post Turned Into a Rant About Transformers

Hello everyone! I'm so sorry I haven't blogged in a little while, I just went to Doki Doki, a convention in Manchester over the weekend and I was selling my items there so I've been very busy making new stock and getting things ready. Now I've gone and done Doki Doki, I'm busy re-ordering supplies and new business cards, banners and displays for my shop haha!

However, I wanted to take time out to blog a little - so, what's been going on other than Doki Doki? Well, me and my boyfriend have been watching the original 80s The Transformers cartoon, which includes two seasons, a movie and then another season and a bit. I have to admit, I wasn't really interested at first but I succumbed as I made my boyfriend watch all of Fullmetal Alchemist so he sat me in front of Transformers. I have to admit, I'm in love. *0* Not just a little but a lot! I love it so much! It's sooooo cute and twee and amazing...up until the 2/3rd of the movie and the rest of the TV 'series'.

I have never been so traumatised in my life. They show you all these cute little robots (well, not 'little'...well, some of them are.) with individual personalities, accents and they all transform into cool things like tanks and fire engines and guns and shit, then they (SPOILER ALERT) kill them all off in the movie to make way for new, shit Transformers just to sell new toys. They literally get rid of almost everyone from Season 1 and 2 including the MAIN FUCKING CHARACTERS, Optimus Prime and Megatron by killing off Prime, turning Megatron into 'Galvatron' and replacing Prime with the shittest leader in existence, 'Rodimus Prime', formally known as Hot Rod. Even his new leader name is awful.

Not only do they get rid of Megatron but they also kill off Starscream which, as everyone who likes Transformers knows, Megatron and Starscream are the best part of Transformers. They kill off Iron Hide, the straight talking Texan, Wheeljack, the mad scientist from New Jersey, Red Alert, who everyone hates (not really), the cutest grumpy characters in existence, Huffer and Gears, and then just either never show other characters again (like Mirage, Hoist, Grapple, Inferno, etc.) or phase them out halfway through Season 3 (Seaspray, Rumble, Laserbeak, etc.).

I've been in mourning by watching the Abridged episode mash-ups by Dr. Smoov and contemplating watching Season 1 and 2 again whilst crafting just so I can pretend that everyone isn't dead. I've been quoting Transformers left, right and centre, especially the Abridged versions ('You look like the face on a Quintesson's ass.') and crying about how awesome the third season would've been if they'd have kept the original characters in. The Quintessons are creepy as shit and the Junkyions are awesome and cute (especially Wreck-Gar, who is really the only one you get to meet, except his adorable girlfriend in one episode) so the 3rd season would've rocked if they hadn't killed everyone off to make and sell new toys. It sucked so much they managed to get Transformers cancelled in just one season after the movie. I cannot imagine the horror of hundreds of 5 year olds crying at the incredibly drawn out death of Optimus Prime ('Until that day...'till one are all...) in the cinema. That has to be the saddest thing in the history of all sad things.

Everyone complained about the death of Optimus Prime (complained or expressed their utmost despair and horror?) so Hasbro/the cartoon company brought back Prime ONLY TO KILL HIM OFF AGAIN. They were then told that they wouldn't have the funds to continue The Transformers after season 3 so they pleaded for another 3 episodes which made up season 4, in which they brought back Optimus Prime for good and tied up loose ends. It still sucked. My favourite characters are Megatron, Starscream, Soundwave, Rumble, Huffer and Gears but mostly the Decepticons because who doesn't love the bad guys?

What did start out as a well-intentioned post about Dolly Kei fashion turned into a rant and rave about Transformers. Sorry, not sorry! I will now write the Dolly Kei post and leave you with the knowledge that I love Transformers G1. End of story.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Rasputina @ Purple Turtle Camden + A Review of Travel Joy Hostels Chelsea

Hello all! How are you today? I slept for a long time today as I went to London on Wednesday and returned yesterday. I went to see one of my favourite bands, Rasputina as they were doing a UK tour and I couldn't miss the opportunity to see them. I'm not sure if they've been to the UK before or if they will come again so I didn't want to miss out!

I went via coach as it is super cheap - if I book in advance I can normally get single tickets for £5 each (for some reason coaches don't offer return tickets, probably because they are so cheap in the first place) but I left it a bit later this time and got two single tickets for £7 each - shock horror, two whole pounds extra! XD It takes a little longer to get there by coach than train but as long as I have music, a book, Gameboy or DS, snacks, etc. I'm fine! My bum ends up hurting and my left ear from my headphones pressing on my scaffold piercing for four hours but it's a small price to pay! XD

I went with my friend Jess and we hung out in Camden for a bit like proper stereotypical Goths. XD The gig was at The Purple Turtle, an indie/alternative bar near Mornington Crescent so we didn't wander too far away. We went to a cool alternative pub called The Devonshire Arms before, met a couple of Jess's friends and then headed off to the venue on our own.

There were two support acts on - Jo Quail, an experimental cellist and The Memepunks, a mash-up act featuring keyboards, an accordion, cello, vocals and other elements. They did awesome mash-ups including one of the Firefly theme tune + Bon Jovi's Dead or Alive (as much as I dislike Bon Jovi it went very well in a tongue in cheek way) and Inspector Gadget + The Cure's Love Cats! They were really cool and warmed us up nicely! Rasputina were so awesome - their outfits were so cool and cute, Melora was cool and cute and the songs were awesome! She had her 'old time American settler' voice on and introduced each song in such a way. Some of the songs she played included 1816, The Year Without a Summer, Saline the Salt Lake Queen, Humankind as the Sailor and even a cover of Barracuda by Heart. XD

I decided to stay overnight in London as I wasn't sure what time the gig would end and my last train/coach was around 11.15pm-11.30pm. I definitely didn't want to leave the gig early, rush to the station and even risk missing the trip home anyway so I strived to find a place to stay in London on the cheap. I tried a few hotel comparison websites but the cheapest hotels in London start at £50 and I definitely couldn't afford/justify that on an event that was only costing me £25 for the transport and tickets.

I had the fleeting idea of staying in an Internet cafe all night but this quickly dissipated as I realised the money I would spend hiring a computer for 5-8 hours was the same price or even more as booking a hostel. I was reluctant to book a hostel as hostels in the UK aren't usually very nice and conjure up imagery of dodgy homeless people, drug addicts and getting your stuff stolen whilst you sleep. Thankfully there are a lot of reviews for hostels on and so you can get an honest review from people in similar situations to yourself. There were a few VERY cheap hostels - I'm talking £5-£8 a night but they all had varying reviews and only around 60% recommendations, claiming they were dirty, noisy, dodgy and the staff didn't care. Also they weren't in a good location for me - I needed somewhere either close to the venue or close to Victoria coach station, preferably the latter. A lot of the reviews for the cheaper hostels recommended paying a couple of pounds extra to stay somewhere a lot safer.

In the end I decided to go for Travel Joy Hostels - they are a chain of hostels and have one located in Pimlico/Chelsea that was around 15 minutes away from Victoria coach station. The first thing that made me feel more at ease is the fact they are a chain of hostels and have them all over London - they must be relatively successful to have a chain of hostels all over London! The second thing that made me book them immediately is that they had one of the highest ratings out of a selection - 90%+ ratings and recommendations. They were £11.99 a night so I booked one night and paid a 10% deposit.

When Rasputina finished, I had to make my way to the hostel. I got the tube to Pimlico and got the tube station manager to call me a taxi as my phone was dead. He was so nice and helpful, even telling me to come back and find him if the taxi didn't arrive as he didn't want me waiting around on my own late at night (I got into Pimlico around 12am). I didn't know where the hostel was so I agreed to pay a mini cab £10 to take me there, only to find it was about 5 minutes away and on the main road overlooking the Thames! I was a bit annoyed but I'd rather have paid £10 than walk there and risk getting mugged and raped, especially since I didn't know it was a pretty nice area at the time. XD

Travel Joy Hostels is part of a pub called The King William IV and has a door on the side of the pub where you can check in via an electronic screen late at night. It gives you a code to open the door, another code to open the inside door to the hostel rooms and the same code to open the door for your room too. It also told you your room and bed number but me and an Asian couple in front of me were having trouble with the door and by the time we got it open, my details were gone and I'd forgotten them. XD So I checked in at the bar, paid the rest of my night's stay and was given information about the hostel. The staff were amazingly helpful, one of the most helpful staff I've encountered! They walked me through the whole checking in procedure, including a £1 door card deposit I got back when I checked out and gave me a leaflet about the hostel, one about London in general, a tube map, a bus timetable and map and a card to get discounts on Vodka Red Bulls and Jagerbombs. The man at the bar even drew me a little map on how to get from the hostel to Victoria coach station in the morning!

The thing I was worried about was that even if a hostel and its surroundings are nice, it's the other people staying at a hostel that make or break a hostel stay. If a hostel is in a popular or busy location and is very cheap, you might get scary druggies, mentally ill or homeless people staying there who might steal your stuff and make your stay very unpleasant. Obviously there are homeless people and drug addicts who are nice people at a bad time in their lives but you never want to risk it with your own safety. However, when I checked in and went up to my room, there were about 5 people there and they were all asleep! So I put my stuff under my bed, changed clothes, took my make-up off, brushed my teeth and went downstairs to the common room to charge my phone and ring my boyfriend to let him know I was okay.

When I woke up at 7am, there were a few people awake in the shared bathrooms getting ready as they were travelling, sightseeing in London, etc. and I had no problems leaving my stuff in my room and getting ready in the morning. When I'm in a hostel or hotel, all I care about it being able to sleep safely at night so the fact I was able to do this makes me so happy. Why pay hotel prices if all I want is literally a bed to sleep in and I don't use the features/benefits of a hotel?

However, what made this stay awesome is all the free stuff that is included for the price of a night's stay in a hostel! They give you free towels and bed linens that you take downstairs when you check out to get your £1 deposit back. They give out free soft drinks all day and night which includes coffee, tea and hot chocolate, plain and fizzy water, lemonade, apple, orange and cranberry juice, Pepsi, Diet Pepsi and Tango! Seriously, you can just ask at the bar and they will give you any of those drinks for free, as often as you want. Because they are a pub as well, they also give you a discount on Vodka Red Bulls (£2.50), draught drinks at £3 between 6pm-9pm and discounts on bottles of beer and cider any time. I don't really drink but this would be very good with friends. They have free lockers you can store your items and valuables in which is a must at hostels but other hostels usually charge you per day! As I mentioned before though, I didn't even feel the need to put my stuff in lockers as I arrived late and departed early but I would make use of them if I stayed longer. They also have a tub of free earplugs at the bar for anyone to use! I tried to use them but they just kept falling out of my ears haha...

Not only that but breakfast is included in your night's stay too. A few hotels and hostels offer free continental breakfast and I never expect more than a bit of toast and cornflakes but Travel Joy Hostels breakfast includes omelettes, pancakes and smoothies made to order for you!!! They have a little setup near the breakfast tables and you just ask for what you want - they have various fruit for the smoothies (and I suppose pancakes) and various fillings/toppings for omelettes. They also have cereal, toast, fruit juice and yoghurts. I didn't have enough time to try their omelettes, smoothies and pancakes so I just had some apple juice and muesli but I saw the guy refilling the muesli and it's not even Tesco Value or anything similar, he was filling it up with Alpen! Wow!

They also offer discounts to many London events and attractions including The London Eye and Madame Tussauds. They have a couple of PCs to use like an Internet cafe and you can pay £1 to use their WiFi each day and the first 30 minutes are free. They have free salsa classes on Wednesdays and open mic nights on Friday. If you need a padlock, plug adaptor, bed light or hairdryer, you can rent them for £5 each and get your deposit back when you bring it back.

These are features I haven't even seen in hotels and if they are included, it's normally for a premium price or extra add-ons. It's the little things like these that make you feel much safer, more at home and like the staff care about you. I wouldn't normally write a review on hotels but I just had to mention this hostel as I will definitely be going back there when I need to stay overnight in London - it may even work out cheaper to stay overnight when I wouldn't otherwise if there is a cheaper train ticket available earlier the next morning. It is an especially great place to stay if you travel to London on the coach or arrive at Victoria train station. I walked to Victoria coach station the morning I departed; I set off at 7.50am and got there at 8.15am so it took 25 minutes but I didn't know where I was going, asked for directions and my feet hurt a little from wearing platforms haha. If you know where you're going and are wearing comfortable shoes, you could easily walk to the station in 15 minutes. I would book through HostelBookers as you only have to pay a 10% deposit - the prices for a night's stay varies on how much in advance you book it, what days, etc. so be sure to check around and possibly through different booking venues. Also clear your cookies and cache after each time you search as some comparison websites make the prices slowly 'creep up' the more times you check a website so that you think the prices are going up and book it for more than you could've paid!

I'm really glad I took the time to choose this hostel and I had a really good time seeing Rasputina! Have you guys stayed in hostels before? What are they like all around the world?