Hello Spring – もしもし春

I'm Back & Inspired

Took the month of March to regroup and to chill. I took a vacation both figuratively and literally. Its been on my mind for awhile about how to better focus my ramblings here. What is this little blog all about? Well, I have some fresh new ideas about that. But before I spill the beans I am going to put my concept through the paces on paper and see if it sticks.

If budget permits, this refresh hopefully will also include a redesign. There is a new WordPress template that has caught my eye but would need a designer’s finishing touches to really make it shine and bring my vision to life. So in the meantime, while those gears continue to turn behind the scenes, makes sense to keep on keeping on.

Inspired in Shibuya

Two glorious weeks in Japan will inspire anyone. However, it only takes one afternoon in Shibuya to get up to speed on what is hot in Tokyo right now. Even just riding the escalator up and down Shibuya 109 will fill you up with more ideas than you can imagine. Saw some perennial spring trends and a few new twists, as well as fresh updates to a few styles popular in recent years.

Zipper’s May edition hit all the highlights I encountered, but to really sink in what piqued my interest sketching seemed the best way to cement things in my memory. I haven’t sketched in years! And to be frank, was never great at it back in Art School {he he he.} Putting pencil to paper takes energy, far more than flipping the pages of a magazine, and so its a great way to capture a moment as well as allow for personal interpretation to sneak in. Regardless, here is what I saw popping on the streets of Tokyo today.

puffy tote bags, petit usagi hairbands, and candy necklaces

Puffy Tote Bags | Cropped Sweatshirts | Sheer Details | Fabric Candy Necklaces

full circle skirts, cherries and floral headbands

Floral Alice Bands | Short Full Circle Skirts | Cherries, Cherries, Cherries

varsity jackets, sailor collars, and gingham everything

Varsity Jackets | Chenille Patches | Sailor Collars | Winged Backpacks |Gingham Everything

floral neko mimi, cardigans with lace, ribbons and cutouts

Cardigans with Lace, Ribbons & Cutouts | Cat Ears Stuffed with Fake Flowers & Lace | Sheer Details

wide suspenders on salopettes and ribbon badges as accessories

Pleated Skirts with Wide Suspenders | Badges Trimmed in Ribbon and Lace

This year’s big surprise was SHORTS! And it is Shibuya, so when I say shorts I mean shorts. Short shorts. The more leg you can show the better. For my own personal taste there was another option.  Shorts that were fuller, that could almost be mistaken for a skirt, and with peak-a-boo lace showing at the hem. OH, and there was lots of denim and overalls too.  Overalls are so much fun. Not the most flattering if you are not a twig, but still so comfy and cute!! Then there are the ski caps. Everywhere and everyone has them. Making them spring worthy the fabric and colors are adapted to give them a lighter feel.

OK, so I didn’t actually see anyone wearing the neko mimi. But there was no way for me to take a picture and I just wish you could have seen it. There was this one shop where the girls deco anything and everything. Hot glue heaven. The mimi were amazing with tulle covering tightly packed roses trimmed out with more flowers and lace. Hu hu. So cute.

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The Mission: Lolita Spa Days

I am usually not a huge fan girl. Of course I completely appreciate and admire a lot of models, actors and the likes. The attention they get and the need to always be “on” in the public must be exhausting. In NYC you bump into a lot of famous folks. That’s just how it is. My rule is leave them alone – they are just people too. But Misako Aoki apparently was my kryptonite. I think I lost my mind the week she was here. Well and even the month leading up to her visit.

lolita nails by kayo at hopscotch

For 2 events I ended up at my favorite salon, Hopscotch, 3 times. Once for nails, second for make up for the lecture and fashion show, and then a third time for the tea party reception. The reason for this was only part because I am rubbish at doing hair and make up myself. The other objective was to get some pampering. I fully admit that I have reached the point in my life where its really nice to leverage the services of others. {We finally got a housekeeper last year for example and my word how my life has changed.}

Mai, who I have known for years, helped me with make up for the lecture. I’ve only ever had my make up done by someone else twice in my life. The first was on my 40th B-day at a Roppongi salon that did my hair, make up and dressed me in kimono for the special day. This was my second time. I was just too much of a tomboy in my youth I guess.

lolita make by mai at hopscotch salon

I had Dolly Wink lashes for the occasion, but DOH, forgot to bring them with me to the salon. Oh well. I still like the simplicity of the look. I know, I know, this is boring compared to all the amazing make up videos and images online. But, again, this wasn’t about flash for me, it was about relaxing and letting someone else take charge for a change. Pampering is fun guys!! I highly recommend it. Well and add to it the fact – how do you find a place in Connecticut that understands lolita make up? The answer is, you don’t. So I am happy that Hopscotch was good sports and entertained this “not normal” request of mine.

Hopscotch Salon Logo When it came to hair, I told my stylist I wanted to do something radically different from my norm. I love my simple twin tails and wear them daily. I am not sure if it is because this is how my grandmother styled my hair everyday as a child, but I really like having my hair pulled up and off the back of my neck. On the rare days when I wear my hair down it usually lasts a couple hours and then I end up pulling it up. But this was not a normal day so we tried something wild. And damn, that is some big hair girl!!

thats crazy big hair sheri

Felt like the early 90′s all over again. We decided on clip in hair extensions for the occasion. We could have done a wig but in the end thought this would be fun and different. The look came out more hime than sweet lolita. And wow – all those extension are heavy! However, mission accomplished. Its weird looking at the pics – it so different for me.

hime lolita hair do hopscotch salon

lolita salon transformation complete

In the end I paid more getting ready for the events than on the cost of the events themselves. So this is not something I recommend for lolitas on a budget. But if you’ve made your way in the world, have good savings in the bank, and are financially comfortable – there is nothing like spa days. I enjoyed being able to sit back in the chair, close my eyes and relax. Ahhhhh.

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Too Cool for School in Japanese Seifuku

japanese seifuku school uniform trend

I am way late to this trend and honestly never expected to be swayed by it. But Japanese School Girl style and seifuku (uniforms) are seeping into my consciousness. More and more schools in Japan are moving away from uniforms and that seems to be helping boost their popularity more than ever. There are so many different ways to personalize this style – from gal to fairy kei. I might be boring but I like just the traditional look. What I call the “after class transformation” style. Imagine the bell rings and it’s time to hit Harajuku for a crepe with your mates. What can you change to mix it up without spending hours preening? Put your belt to good use and hike up your skirt, from your bag you pull out a few badges to pin to your cardigan or blazer, instead of loafers maybe mix in playful shoes, and for the cherry on top plop something cute into a simple twin tail hair style.

too cool for school in japanese uniforms

I will warn you. It isn’t a great idea during lunch, at work, to type in seifuku in Google. I love anime but dang a lotta panty shots came back in my query and didn’t want to look like a perv. Actually that is the hardest part of this fashion style for me to feel comfortable trying it myself. I am not modest, ok, well maybe a little. But I really don’t like super short skirts. Yeah, in my 20’s the shorter I could find them the better. But at this stage in my life I am so over it. Not to mention I don’t want to be plopping down on the subway or in a movie theater and having my bum touching the gross seat. Anyway, I digress.

seifuku uniform styles

My favorite part of seifuku fashion is how easy it is to pull together with a range of budgets and using offbrand pieces. I am convinced a low budget top notch coordinate is achievable. If you want the real deal than the #1 place for uniforms is CONOMi. You name it, they have it. And its good quality. You might need a shopping service to use their site directly but I have seen their items pop up on other shops with international shipping. Lawrara Shop is another popular choice but their prices are steep. Bodyline is another option but not my favorite as their quality is questionable.

Lands’ End School Uniforms

lands end school uniform

Tie  |  Blouse  |  Cardigan  |  Skirt

If you have a good eye then you can use everyday items to pull together a plausible seifuku look. If you are not ready to invest in international shipping and want to try something closer to home, believe it or not, Lands’ End has good base pieces you can start with. I recently fell in love with their cotton peter pan collar blouses. What I didn’t expect was finding something cute on their site in the first place, nor that I would spend so much time in their school uniform category. I didn’t even know it existed. But the best thing about it is they have most of their school uniform items in adult sizes!! So no matter what shape or size you are – you have choices. While they have ties that match their skirts, you won’t find the uber cute Japanese-style ribbons. So I do recommend using a Japanese or Korean source for ribbons to get that authentic look.

Credits:  (1)  |  (2)  |  (3)  |  (4)  |  (5)  |  (6)  |  (7)
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Feeling Retro

addicted to vintage these days

Thoroughly frustrated with finding good brand lolita blouses that will fit me I have since resorted to vintage. Vintage was my lifeline in college. There were some amazing, with an upper-case A, thrift stores in the greater Detroit area. At 50 cents to a few dollars it was all I could afford. God, I remember panicking over buying a pack of Gap socks one winter knowing it meant going without food in order to afford them.  Frozen feet won out in the end.

When I first moved to NY some of my first freelance jobs were working for Emanuel by Emanuel Ungaro and Tommy Hilfiger. I was emboldened by the NY fashion scene and was always after something new and fresh. And slowly but surely I also got my financial sea legs. So it is funny that now at my current fork in the fashion road the journey has me returning to my fashion roots.

It took just one Etsy purchase to pull me back in hook, line and sinker. The peach number selected for the recent lecture and fashion show at Japan Society lead me to coveting many more items on Etsy and eBay. Most wound up in my wish list and too many in my cart. And it wasn’t just blouses that lured me in. I have amassed a staggering collection of 1950s and 60s bed jackets (chiffon robe / peignoir) on the want list. The cult party kei girls are tugging at my fashion heart strings right now. Uhh, and then there was the have-to-have-it brass ribbon and Japanese vase … no clue where I am going to fit those into what is turning out to be a very stuffed studio in the new house.

blouses on my watch list

I am hoping to get the sailor style blouse above this week. All the rest are in the mail! But this one blouse is still tempting me, calling to me, whispering in my ear. “Sheri, you need me.”  And I expect I will cave to temptation.  Hello vintage, bye bye Bodyline.

Long Bed Coat  |  Short Bed Coat  |  Brass Ribbon  |  Lolita Girl Vase  |  Ruffle Blouse  |  Sailor Blouse (my secret for now)
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Saturday Style: Iced Valentine

be my valentine

{skirt, necklace, bracelet – Angelic Pretty | sweater – JCrew | collar – handmade by me | boots -Ugg | leggings – Locomo}

OK, technically this is cheating. This was yesterday’s coordinate – he he he. I don’t usually get to dress up during the work week and so “being myself” is a weekend thing. But thanks to the snow storm(s) I got to work from home on Valentine’s day. This meant a perfect opportunity to get all decked out for the holiday. The snow plow finally arrived mid-day and liberated us from the house so it was off to school in my my frosted pink valentine coord. Talk about sticking out. On the walk from Grand Central to Japan Society you couldn’t miss all the pink in the sea of black New York uniforms.

alice in wonderland inspired leggings on amazon.com

The main point of my outfit is the leggings.  So cute all covered in card suits – hearts, spades, diamonds and clubs. I stumbled upon these in a late night Google search for Alice in Wonderland inspired tights.  Was worried about the size but for 15 bucks + shipping was well worth the gamble.  I am 5’8.5″ which means they do ride up above my ankles when worn.  But with boots in the winter they work great!  I am thinking of ordering the white on black colorway now too ☆ミ(o*・ω・)ノ

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Lolita Fashion: Costume or Culture?

misako aoki lolita panel nyc japan society

On Wednesday, the Japan Society provided the NY Lolita Community with a precious gift. They showered us with a panel, fashion show, and meet and greet with the one and only Misako Aoki. Not even an ice storm could keep our EGL gals and guys away. The topic of the panel was Lolita Fashion: Costume or Culture? I prefer the later, thank you. Here is a quick breakdown of the details:

  • Gwynn Galitzer of Dirty Bird Production, moderator
  • Former Kawaii Ambassador Misako Aoki, panelist
  • Carolyn Dee author of FYeah Lolita, panelist
  • Christina Gleason author of Ramble Rori, panelist
  • Baby, the Stars Shine Bright, fashion show
 

The Panel Discussion

lolita lecture panelist christina and carolyn of rufflecon

Most panels on Lolita fashion stick to the “101″ facts. This panel didn’t deviate much from that script. But what I enjoyed most was to hear Misako, Christina and Caro talk about what is currently on trend. In particular a return to more classic-style coordinates instead of sweet-style dominating the scene. The longer style of dresses in particular being the new and very popular option. Misako also mentioned that she is very fond of the long and flowy trumpet sleeves right now. For example, Baby’s Labyrinth in the Reminiscent Mirror Flower Lace Blouse or on their Doll Coronet Aria Onepiece.

misako aoki discussion trumpet sleeves in lolita trends

misako aoki discussing lolita fashion in new york

And if you can believe it, Misako flew to NY from Tokyo in her coordinate. Bonnet, petticoat, uh huh. Yep she is the real deal.

Baby, the Stars Shine Bright Fashion Show

After the Q&A panel there was a mini fashion show featuring eight looks from Baby, the Stars Shine Bright and Alice and the Pirates. While the wedding coordinate is always greeted with oohhs and aahhs. This time it was the pirate boots and hat that accompanied the look Kitsy modeled which attracted the most attention.

grace

tia

tanya - tаня

yanise

tara

stephanie

kitsy

lexie

misako's fashion show

misako aoki

Sweet Dreams,
Sheri

P.S. If you haven’t already, be sure to get your tickets for RuffleCon, the first Northeastern USA convention dedicated entirely to Japanese alternative fashion.

12 Feb Update:  Japan Society posted a video of the lecture to their website.  Be sure to check it out.

Antique Frame Credits:  (1)  (2)  (3)  (4)
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Mad Hat’n

The week many of us having been waiting for has at last arrived. My nails are polished – first time doing gel nail art! Coordinates are finally decided upon. Alas my choco bear concept just wasn’t working so I went back to my original plan of Promenade de Paris.

misako nyc visit lolita coordinates

Vintage Blouses

The time has come to make the break from Bodyline blouses. They got me through for a while but I really can’t stand the quality of the lace. S0 after scouring eBay and Etsy for hours my favorites and watch list are filled with many frilly vintage potentials. Yesterday the first purchase, a vintage 70′s blouse, arrived. Its more peach than pink and has such an adorable pleated collar that ties with a ribbon. Admittedly, it’s a bit punchy with the pink of the Angelic Pretty dress, however that contrast seems to be working well. For the tea party, Anthropologie came through a few years ago with a rose and lace adorned cream blouse which is sweet and elegant.

Petite Chapeau

Next challenge was hair accessories to complete the coordinates. Inspired by and in keeping with the Alice theme I played the role of the Mad Hatter the past week. Over the summer my love affair with hats began; I bought an entire coordinate from Alice and the Pirates all just to match the Tricolour Toy hat.

angelic pretty promenade de paris eiffel tower hat and broach

First up was a mini top hat in pink to match the Paris print. I have been collecting the pieces for this project over several months. During early autumn I found the Eiffel Tower cabochons. But it was only recently that I purchased the hat and the large brown swiss dot ribbon. The material of the hat is rather fantastic. It holds its shape but is easy to sew through. Since this hat is to coordinate with Angelic Pretty I didn’t mind going a little more OTT.

baby the stars shine bright alice's dollhouse matcing lace hat and rose necklace

As for the Baby, the Stars Shine Bright inspired hat things didn’t go as planned. The original concept was to use dollhouse pieces to match the clock room in the print. No matter how I positioned them it still looked like a hot mess. So in the end simplicity and refinement was the path to follow. Some lace and ribbon and one embellishment. I am elated with the colors and the outcome. I think the hat really resonates well with the dress.

I still haven’t given up entirely on the dollhouse pieces. Something tells me that they could work if used with a bonnet. All the local girls are raving about bonnets right now which could be a sign. However there’s no time before the event to whip up a bonnet so for now the mini hat will do nicely.

pink sweet lolita mini hats hair facinators

I do hope to get back to more sewing soon. I certainly adore making accessories but I really have an itch to make more substantial pieces. Time will tell. 2014 has been off to a frenetic pace already that I should count myself lucky I had time to make hats (^_-)☆

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Choco Bear – Too Sweet or Too Much?

Misako-chan is coming to New York!!!!  It’s less than a month away and I am already fretting over what to wear.  I think a lot of us are since we learned that the fashion show will be run by Baby, the Stars Shine Bright to boot.  This is huge.  In addition, the local community was able to arrange a formal tea party.  Which means needing two complete coordinates pulled together.

sweet lolita chocolate bear coordinate

Later today, the post should deliver Melty Royal Chocolate cardigan in Pink from Angelic Pretty.  When the US site added the pink and mint back online I pounced on it.  My idea was to wear it with Baby’s My Sweet Mate Kumya’s Honey Hunt skirt.  It sounded really great in my head and then I got nervous.  Will the browns match?  Are the two prints too clashy? What do you think???  Will I look like a hot chocolate or a hot mess?

Originally I planned to wear AP’s Promenade de Paris.  But had a change of heart when I learned of the fashion show update.  So this Choco Bear combo I was hoping would be a good way to mix and match both of my favorite brands.  I guess I won’t know until it arrives.  Made this collage over the weekend to test it out but its so hard to know the real color from online photos.  Worst case I abandon the chocolate and go with a plain pink cardigan.  Not as much fun – but safe.

When it comes to the tea party, that is much easier.  I have been dying to wear Baby’s Alice’s Dollhouse.  After my tartan dress it is quickly becoming my next favorite.  It has 50% shirring and adjustable straps so is really comfortable.  It is also a much more refined look than some of my sweet prints.  Cute and sophisticated and Alice in Wonderland themed – oh and pink – its perfect.

baby alices dollhouse diy clock hat

And no coordinate comes without its challenges.  I waffled when Dollhouse was on reserve and only picked it up once the San Fran shop had it available.  Which means I missed out on the socks.  And I adore the socks.  Maybe they will pop up on Tokyo Rebel, who knows.  If they do I will grab them.

And then I need to shove something into my hair.  I have officially given up on wigs and head-eating hair bows.  Neither works for me.  They never look right.  So I scoured Etsy and found several miniature dollhouse clocks and a small table.  Specifically items that look like they match the clock room in the print.  I have a couple of mini top hats I have been meaning to deco so here’s my chance.  Add a little lace, paint the table pink, throw in a ribbon then hot glue to my heart’s content.  Should be fun.

baby the stars shine bright alices dollhouse

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Pretty Maids all in a Row

the ultimate organized lolita wardrobe

A place for everything and everything in its place.  In our last home we didn’t have proper closets.  So it is really refreshing to have 3 in the new house.  There is another one upstairs but it needs some drywall before we can confidently increase the count to 4.  We were patient and thankfully the Elfa Sale started right after Christmas.  It was so worth it.

The shelving is 30% off which is the best part.  But on top of that, because Container Store doesn’t have a Connecticut store we had them deliver the materials to our house which meant it was an online transaction and no sales tax!  So that saved us enough money to also splurge on having it professionally installed, which was also 30% off.

We will also invest in a few standalone wardrobes from Ikea.  And when that is all said in done it meant that I am able to have one closet completely dedicated to my “play” clothes.  Yes, I officially have a J-Fashion / Lolita closet!

a look inside my wardrobe

This closet is in the sewing room and I hope serves as inspiration to get back into my Candy Shoppe Girl collection challenge.  Originally the closet had an ancient wooden rod that was at risk of snapping in two at any moment.  That and a rickety shelf made by two warped boards precariously floating above the rod.

With the Elfa system, we were able to design it to be split into two halves – one side for long hang and the other for short hang.  Dresses, blouses and skirts each have their own rod.  We also squeezed in 4 shelves.  The one below the blouses will be for boxes of jewelry, above the dresses will be boxes of bloomers, cardigans and other bits and bobs.  The final two shelves are for purses.  Mind you, still really don’t have a clue how to store petticoats – hum.  For now, we have also temporarily put a tie rack on the door to hang necklaces and pochettes from.  The posts are too close together so all the necklaces are jammed in.  Its fine as an interim solution since I need to pace out the spend on our home improvements and we already had the rack making it free so to speak.

More work to do but having a well organized closet is giving me peace of mind.  Hopefully we can hit Ikea this weekend and by the end of the month should be able to completely finish unpacking all our boxes!! Yay!!

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Mood Board: Toasty Tootsies

HAPPY NEW YEAR!  Hope everyone had a spectacular holiday!!  Today Mother Nature is giving us a blizzard here in Connecticut.  And honestly, it is so much fun.  The new house is starting to feel like home so I don’t mind being all curled up inside with a nice cup of hot tea, a fluffy blanket, and the interwebs.

hime room wear rilakkuma kigurumi

1. Hime Kotatsu  |  2.  Liz Lisa Room Wear  |  3.  Character Slippers  |  4. Korilakkuma Kigurumi

But it got me thinking about keeping warm in kawaii.  Not so much inside but when outside.  Anyone who has been into lolita fashion for a while knows that the materials used for coats and boots are not exactly made for the elements.  And if there is one thing that I can’t deal with it is cold feet in the winter.  Sure there is a fair selection of sweet boots available to choose from.  But they are all form and no function IMHO.

typical winter sweet lolita shoes

5. Angelic Pretty  |  6. Queen Bee  |  7. Winter Lolita Perfection  |  8. Angelic Pretty  |  9. Baby, the Stars Shine Bright

So I am inspired to try my hand at a DIY option in the coming days.  I still want that sweet look but also want warmth.  I hope I can pull it off without it looking too far fetched.  The obvious go-to is Ugg.  Some will argue that Ugg is all function and no form.  I’m pretty smitten with them for sure so will argue otherwise.

ugg style sweet lolita winter-boots

10. Sweet Ugg  |  11. Fluffy Ugg  |  12. Pearly Ugg

Found a few really cute options to get the creativity flowing.  But my real muse will be Baby, the Stars Shine Bright’s Little Princess Coat.  Ideally I would like something that coordinates well with that overall esthetic.

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