I was utterly horrified when I saw that crop tops were back in style. I remember the last time they were in style, and it’s not a good memory. There are few people who should be showing their tummies in public, and just as few situations where it would even be appropriate. But after seeing some coordinates with crop sweaters, I realized what they are good for. In Lolita fashion, and often in Gyaru as well, skirts sit high up on the natural waistline. If the skirts are full at the waist, regular length sweaters won’t fit over them, but a cropped sweater would be just the right length. To be safe, though, I would wear a shirt under the sweater and tuck it into the skirt.
Left: Yes! Middle: Yes! Right: PLEASE NO. Images from Liz Lisa, Forever 21, H&M.
Better yet, these short sweaters can be worn over dresses to show off your waistline while keeping warm! I always struggled with finding sweaters that wouldn’t make my dress bunch awkwardly around the hips, and usually resorted to wearing coats and jackets over my dresses instead. I recently picked up a few cropped sweaters from Express though, and they look really cute over my fit and flare dresses. I’m always cold, so I’m glad to have these sweaters to cover my arms without covering too much of my dress. Cropped hoodies and sweatshirts would also work for a more casual look. I have some Lolita boleros that I like to wear with my dresses, but it’s great to have options from American brands, too.
I have been a longtime admirer of Lolita fashion, but didn’t start seriously dressing in the style until more recently. When I first started cosplaying, Malice Mizer was becoming popular, and a number of my friends cosplayed Mana. Even though I am not into gothic styles or J-rock, it was through these trends that I learned about Lolita fashion in general and discovered Gothic & Lolita Bible (a magazine) and Baby, the Stars Shine Bright (a Sweet Lolita brand). I browsed the BtSSB web site periodically and saved images of pieces that I liked, but I had to be content with admiring these pieces from afar. I didn’t have any connections to get them for me from Japan, and I didn’t have any money either (and Lolita is expensive).
Gothic & Lolita Bible: Vol.1 (2001), Vol. 16, Vol. 36, Vol. 50 (latest)
Some of my cosplay friends sewed their own Lolita outfits and were active in the Lolita community, organizing and participating in events at anime conventions. I put together a few Lolita-inspired outfits myself, but was not at all active in the community. In 2007 my friend Lynleigh started her own Lolita brand called Sweet Rococo. Her site had a Design Wizard where you could create your own dresses, skirts, and accessories using fabric and lace from Japan. I bought a few dresses and accessories from her. Unfortunately she has just closed her business making custom items, as she no longer has time for it, but she will be opening an Etsy shop in the near future.
In 2008, Baby, the Stars Shine Bright opened a store in San Francisco, CA, which is where I live. I could hardly believe it, it was like an impossible dream come true. It seemed so unreal that I could just drive into the city and buy these beautiful clothes that I could only daydream about before. Still, Lolita is a big investment, and it wasn’t until 2009 that I received my first two pieces as Christmas gifts. The first was the Jewel Tree Bouquet OP (One Piece) in black. I usually prefer lighter colors, but the print looked so striking on the black background. The second piece was the Heart Heart Blouse in off-white, which happens to be one of the items I had saved a picture of many years before. The Heart Heart Blouse is apparently one of their staples that they frequently re-release.