Category Archives: Fashion

Hanadoki Con 2016 Solo Dance Performance

KieIdol

Last Saturday I went to a small convention in San Diego called Hanadoki Con.  I thought it would be a great opportunity to take a look at the local anime community, since I’m new in town.  I tried to arrange a show for Angel Hearts too, but it turned out I was the only member who could make it to the convention!  I decided to go ahead and do a solo performance, which was a first for me.  After 13 years and 53 performances though, I can’t help but think I should’ve done this sooner!  It may not seem like it, but I’m a really shy person (like painfully shy), so having to rally people to come watch and MC for myself was a challenge, but I feel like I leveled up.  I guess I was also always afraid to do solo shows because I thought I would look awkward and lame dancing by myself, but I tried my best to pick songs that were interesting on their own, and I think the audience enjoyed it!  Even though most of the audience wasn’t familiar with idols, they still clapped along and cheered, which made me really happy!

There was a little mishap with the schedule though.  I’m still not entirely sure what happened, but it seems my performance time got switched with another performer’s, and nobody on staff had any idea.  It worked out in the end, but I had to perform later than planned, and unfortunately I had to shorten my set list.  Also, no one knew about my performance time of course, so at first there was no one there in the audience.  It was pretty much a performer’s worst nightmare.  Another idol fan did me a huge favor and ran around the convention announcing my show.  I did a bit of that myself, but as I said, I’m terribly shy, so it took a lot of courage.  Fortunately, once the show started and the music was playing, more people came over to watch.  In the end, the show went well, and it was a huge relief!!  Thank you so much to the people who came to talk to me afterward and show their support.  It meant a lot to me! ♥  I feel really bad that there were people who came at the wrong time and were told I canceled, though.   I enjoyed performing at Hanadoki Con, so I hope the staff are a little more careful in the future, and something like this doesn’t happen again.

I’m really glad I had this opportunity to do a solo show.  It was really exciting getting to choose whatever songs I wanted!  Some of my favorite songs work better in groups, so I didn’t pick those, but narrowing down a set list was still hard!  There were way too many songs I wanted to do!  In the end, I learned eight new songs.  I practiced nonstop for three weeks!  Here are the songs I danced to:

Part one: THE IDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls – Onegai Cinderella, Transing Pulse, Star!!
Part two: Aikatsu! – Idol Activity!, Hello New World, lucky train, Original Star☆彡
Part three: Wake Up, Girls! and Hello! Project – Tachiagare!, Balalaika (Kirarin Revolution), and Ne~e? (Aya Matsuura)

Part four was supposed to be IDOLM@STER 765Pro and end with Thank You!, but sadly I didn’t have time.  I was especially excited to finally be able to perform Ne~e?, as Aya Matsuura is my #1 favorite idol.  I was also impressed that people knew Balalaika!  One girl in the audience was even singing along and doing some of the moves.  It’s definitely a very fun song.  I was very happy that people seemed to enjoy the Aikatsu songs too, even though they were not familiar with them.  Aikatsu needs more love! ♥

As for my outfit, I used this opportunity to make an original idol-inspired outfit that I’ve always wanted to make, but never had a reason to.  The outfit was inspired by obnoxious sparkly and fluffy Hello! Project concert outfits, awesome holographic confetti dot in some of my favorite colors, and some matching turquoise and hot pink petticoats and shoes that I found online.  Sadly, the shoes are in storage right now, but they probably would’ve been hard to dance in, anyway.  Luckily I found some silver holographic sparkle character shoes (made for dancing!), and they arrived literally MINUTES before I left my apartment for the convention!  They went perfectly with my outfit!  The dress design is simple, but I love the bright colors!  Seriously, I feel so happy every time I look at my outfit, haha.  I layered three petticoats, alternating hot pink and turquoise, for maximum poof.  The skirt turned out a little shorter than I had planned, but it was so fun to dance with such a bouncy skirt!  I wore a wig because my own hair would’ve gotten frizzy, but I think the pigtails may have been just a little too big!  They were heavy and a bit hard to dance in.  I had so much fun putting this outfit together.    I couldn’t help but come up with even more ideas!  Getting to do my own show really inspired me, so I hope I get another chance to do one sometime in the future!

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How to De-tangle a Curled Wig

Here’s a simple tip for both cosplayers and Lolitas — how to de-tangle your curled wigs without ruining the curls!  With light wear, a curly wig can be carefully finger-combed if it is only a little tangled.  After a couple of wears though, wigs can get pretty tangled, but as you may have realized, you can’t just take your brush and brush out your curly wig like you would a straight one.  I mean, you could, but you’d end up with a poofy wavy wig instead of a curled one.  That doesn’t mean you can’t brush it, but the key is to carefully and patiently work on each section, one at a time.

WigDetangle1

This wig got pretty messy after a windy day out.  The left side has already been carefully combed out, while the right side still needs work.  I started by pinning my wig on a stand so it’s well anchored and easy to work on.  Even if you don’t have a wig stand, finding some way to hang it will make things easier.  Separate out one lock of hair, and very carefully and gently comb it out until it is completely smooth.  Since wig hair is plastic and the curls are heat set, you won’t ruin the curls if you are gentle with your wig.  Once it is tangle-free, you need to re-form the curl.  I do this by wrapping the lock of hair neatly around my finger and then gently releasing it down into a spiral.  That’s it!  No product needed.

WigDetangle2

When I am finished with a piece, I clip it out of the way so I can work on the next piece.  Work your way from one side of the wig to the other.  It can get pretty tedious if you have a long, full wig, but the results are worth it.  Your wig may even look as good as new!  If you aren’t so particular about having well-defined, tight curls, you can brush larger sections and then run your fingers through afterward to break the curls back up into smaller sections.  Either way, with a little patience your curled wig can look fresh and springy once again!

Simple Nail Art Tips

My Nail Polish and Supplies

I LOVE nail art.  I try to keep my fingernails painted on a regular basis because my nails are particularly thin and brittle (due to health conditions), and polish helps keep them from breaking as often.  I have over 150 bottles of nail polish, which I blame partially on the year I spent working front desk at a nail salon, staring at a wall of polish all day.  I became interested in nail art when I saw Japan’s INCREDIBLE nail art magazines.  You can see some of the designs I’ve done on my Facebook page.  I haven’t tried any of the more complicated designs, but there are a lot of easy things you can do to jazz up your manicure or pedicure.

Nail Decorations

Tools and Materials:

  • Nail polish – This is obvious, but there are different kinds of nail polish too, like glitters, sheer iridescent colors, and shatter polishes, which you can use for layering.  You can also get small bottles of polish with skinny brushes which are specifically intended for nail art.
  • Base coat and top coat – It’s important to use a base coat to protect your nails from staining and a top coat to seal in all your work when you’re done (and give it a glossy finish).  They also help your manicure/pedicure last longer.
  • Nail stickers – You can get full-nail stickers for an “instant manicure” or smaller designs that you can scatter on your nails.  They’re easy enough to find at drug stores and Target and such, but you’ll probably find a better selection at a beauty supply store (like Sally’s Beauty Supply).
  • Confetti, jewels, and 3D decorations – jewels are easy to find but you’ll probably have to go to a place like Sally’s or a nail supply store to get things like 3D hearts, flowers, chain, etc.
  • Loose glitter – Any kind of craft glitter will do.  Some nail supply stores will sell small containers of loose glitter, too.
  • Misc tools – Beauty and nail supply stores offer variety of tools to help you with your nail art.  Wooden sticks and clean-up pens can help you clean up your edges and remove polish from surrounding skin.  Tiny brushes help with painting designs (I’ve been meaning to get a slightly larger one for doing French tips).  There are also dotting tools (my angled brush has a metal dotter on the other end) and pickup tools with rubber tips that let you pick up confetti and jewels more easily.  Tweezers also help with placing decorations.

Nail Art by Kie

Easy designs you can do:

  • Paint each nail a different color – or just use two or three colors.  You can do rainbows, ombre, or other coordinating colors.  This is the easiest thing to do to make your nails a little more fun!  For a while it was trendy to just paint the ring finger a different color.  I like to use at least three colors though.
  • Stickers – stickers are super easy to use and make your nails look like you spent way more time on them than you did.  After your base dries, just plop your stickers on top (it’s easier if you use tweezers), put top coat over everything, and you’re done!
  • Glitter – Layering with glitter polish is really easy, of course.  Painting designs in glitter (tips, half-moons, stripes, dots, etc.) takes a little more skill and patience.  If you want to use loose glitter, you can paint your nails or part of your nails with clear polish (top coat) and then sprinkle the loose glitter on top.  After it dries a little, you can brush away excess glitter and put more top coat on top to seal it.  It’s messy so I do this on top of a sheet of paper, then I try to collect the excess glitter and put it back in the container.
  • 3D decorations – These can be added while your polish is still tacky.  Just press them into your wet polish or top coat and they should stick.  Then cover them with a layer of top coat.
  • French tips – this takes a little more skill… or you can cheat and use French tip stickers to tape off the end and help you get a clean tip.  Tips don’t have to be white!  Try different colors!
  • Paint your own designs! – This is a lot more difficult, but your imagination is the limit! …. or maybe your skill with your non-dominant hand.  Once your base color dries, use a small brush and draw stripes, dots, hearts, flowers, or whatever you want.  With nail art pens, you can draw patterns on your nails more easily.  Sally Hansen’s nail art pens can actually be washed off with water, so if you make a mistake you can always wash it off and try again (but when you get it right, make SURE not to forget your top coat, or it will come off the next time you wash your hands)!  If freehand designs are intimidating to you, try starting with just one nail, like your ring finger or big toe.

I hope this helps inspire some of you to try some nail art of your own!  Special occasions and holidays are great chances to experiment with festive designs.  Have fun with it!

Crop Tops Are Back

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.

How I Got Into Lolita Fashion

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

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.