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Classic Lolita is a more mature Lolita style, centered around elegance. it's right in the middle of sweet and Gothic Lolita so a nice choice if you like both, but don't want to go so OTT ^^
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first things first, if you haven't already: do some research. take inspiration from pictures and learn the rules of Lolita.I really recommend hellolace.net and lolitafashion.org, as well as the Lolita handbook. these sites should have everything you need. you may also find my blog helpful (see links box or my profile for link)
Now go to your local charity shops, thrift stores and other cheap clothing sources and choose a victim. the example I'm using here is a sundress (this particular one is an old Primark one). use your new knowledge to pick a dress in an appropriate fabric, length and with useful features. this one has shirring and ruffles on the bodice, perfectly loliable. the trick is to pick one in a few sizes bigger than you, so you can gather the skirt to give it more fullness. here you can see that this dress is around three sizes too big for me.
detach the bodice from the skirt. turn it inside out and pop it on to a correctly sized mannequin, or yourself. now take it in at the seams with pins until it fits properly. sew it, and try it on the right way round. you may have to take it in a little more, but once it fits trim the seam allowance to a centimeter and finish the new seams.
sundresses usually have really thin straps. remedy this by taking them off and cutting them to the correct length. take out the stitching and then iron so you have two strips of fabric. now take a matching fabric to use as lining. stitch these together at the sides, turn and iron. you may or may not want to add lace edging. I know I say this every time, but make sure you know which lace is good and bad first. look at the Lolita handbook to get tips.
While the skirt is still unattached, add any trim. some classic Lolita skirts are without trim, but it's useful to at least have a bit of lace. I'm using some antique cotton lace sewn flat on to my hem. if you have a matching or identical fabric, you can also make a ruffle or some gathers. if your skirt is long enough, you may also want to make a few pin tucks.
Now we've made a jumper skirt. but the rules dictate that you are not allowed to have bare shoulders (of course, the rules can be bent or broken, but not if you're a beginner). so select a plain blouse or shirt. cut and resew the collar so it is a peter pan shape, them widen and embellish with a matching Broderie Anglais (eyelet lace). if it's flat, you're going to want to gather it. I've cheated and used pre-gathered. Save some to decorate the cuffs with. alternatively, use any good lace or a matching fabric frill.
the next step is to get the correct undergarments. Bloomers are pretty essential. But a petticoat is a must. buy or make one in a suitable length and color for your skirt. I won't tell you how to make the petticoat and bloomers here because there's loads of tutorials on cut out & keep on this subject. If you plan on buying a petti, it's recommended you get an a-line one as this is most appropriate for classic Lolita. not too much pouf.
select your leg wear. there's a few types and combinations you can go for.
A) opaque tights. these are the more mature option, covering your whole leg.
B) lace tights. sheer, but opulent. can be worn under socks.
C) over the knee socks. The most common choice.
D) knee high socks. these are better if you're younger, and have really nice knees.
E) ankle socks. you may be told to steer clear of these, but they're making a comeback in Lolita fashion, particularly classic. they look great over lace tights.
Now to find yourself some shoes. if it's cheap Lolita shoes you're looking for, check clobba online or ebay (use caution when using ebay). shoes A are from bodyline, another good source for cheap Lolita shoes (bodyline is usually good quality- I find that the service's good, and the sizing on the site is accurate. measure your feet in centimeters to get your size). Victorian style boots are acceptable for classic Lolita, like boots B from new look. You might be able to find a plain pair of shoes with little heels like C, which are fine in classic. they need to have rounded toes and flat heels though. none of this pointy nonsense. If you're really lucky, you might find some Lolita platforms in your local shops. you can decorate these with bows, see shoes D.
now to the business of headgear. you're always going to need it, and there's a million tutorials out there.
A) the head eating bow, probably better with sweet Lolita but fine with classic none the less. simply fine a tutorial for a 'Lolita bow' or 'Alice bow'.
B) the canotier is just a piece of lace gathered in a circle with decoration in the middle. if you want to make one of these, take a piece of good wide lace and cut a length six times it's width. sew the short edges together, then gather it so it becomes a rosette. you may or may not want to repeat with thinner lace and sew this over the top. next sew some decoration (bows, flowers, sparkey things) in the centre and stitch onto a headband or clip.
C) the rectangle headdress has gone out of fashion a bit, but you can still pull it off. make it thin (no wider than 5cm) refrain from using too much trim, don't gather your lace and stitch it on to a stiff Alice band.
D) a corsage is commonplace in classic. buy or make one with fake flowers and pretty bows.
E) smaller bows on clips are good with high hairstyles.
F) a simple bow headband is enough with most outfits.
G) if you want something more casual, go for pretty hair slides and clips.
of course, you may be able to get your hands on or make a victorian-style bonnet. but please make sure it has a stiff brim, floppy gathered brims are for sweet lolitas.
Do your makeup in a natural and classy way. over dramatic makeup is not suitable for classic Lolita. do your hair elegantly, or just leave it down. on no account just put it in a ponytail down your back! curled hair is most common, but soft waves and straight hair is also good. buns, bunches and up-dos are good. you may or may not want to have blunt bangs put in, some girls find getting their bangs cut is a right of passage into Lolita. if you don't like them, don't get them done. you can manage without. in this photo I'm between trims. If you really want, wear a wig. but make sure it's good quality and natural-looking.
grab some elegant jewelry if you want. here I'm also carrying a parasol. which was an umbrella which I replaced the cover for. also grown-up looking bags are useful. and now you're ready to wear it ^^ If you're feeling brave, wear it out and about. if not, have fun dancing around and drinking tea in the comfort of your own home. If you didn't get it right first time, try again and learn from your mistakes! practice makes perfect.