I have no new sewing to show you.  Plus, our camera broke so if I had new sewing to show you, I wouldn’t be able to anyway. But following up on yesterday’s guest post from Inkstain (Dinah Lee Küng) on Little Girl Dressing, I thought I’d show you a glimpse of the very far extreme end of the scale (undoubtedly well beyond what Dinah was referring to in her essay).

After reading yesterday’s comments, I was reminded of the “Sweet Lolita” trend in Japanese street fashion. For those of you not already familiar, this fad has been around for several years (perhaps that means it’s no longer a fad?) and I remember noticing families of Japanese tourists here and there a few years ago in New York, in which the teenage and 20-something daughters were dressed in this style, which was probably at the height of its popularity.  The first time I saw someone in this dress, I assumed she was performing in some sort of play. When I saw someone else in this type of outfit in a different part of the city later in the day, I figured there must be some sort of event going on in New York. I didn’t realize that this was simply a clothing style that people wore out until some weeks later when I discovered tons of books and magazines of Japanese Lolita fashion sewing patterns while browsing eBay for Japanese sewing books.

Here’s a page from one such book- you won’t find these patterns flipping through the Simplicity catalogue!

As a Westerner and one who has only ever visited Japan as a tourist, it’s hard for me to make any sort of meaningful or insightful commentary on this style that isn’t totally warped by my own expectations arising from the culture in which I was raised. If this trend had originated in the US among American teens and 20-somethings and they were popping up at the Whole Foods dressed like this, I’m sure I’d be ranting to friends and co-workers using very judgmental words like “pedophilia” and “infantilism.” But Japanese street fashion is its own wacky machine, a far more extreme form of self expression through clothing than any zany trend you’d see in New York, with its own set of gender and sexual connotations. It’s undoubtedly perceived differently in Japan than it would be in the US, though I can’t even begin to fathom what those differences are. So all I can really say is, “Ummm… yeah. That’s… pretty wack” and stare with my jaw hanging open. But I guess you probably don’t go out in this if you don’t want attention:

Incidentally, the Sweet Lolita trend is tightly intertwined with the Gothic Lolita trend, being sported in the photo above by the girl in black- it’s similar with a bit more of a goth or steampunk flavor.

One kind of has to be impressed- these girls go all out. It’s not just the dress, but the ruffled bonnet and petticoats, the lace-trimmed socks, the parasols, bows on the shoes, and even… a teddy bear?? There’s certainly no lack of attention to detail or skimping on accessorizing!

Ultimately this trend strikes me as being less influenced by Nabokov’s Lolita (whom I always picture in tomboy clothes rather than lace), or children’s fashion, but rather the desire to look like a life-sized baby doll:

Well, for those of you whose love of ruffles knows no bounds and want to try out this look, it’s a good thing you sew because these garments aren’t so easy to come by in most of the world. Head on over to eBay to check out some of these books!

And do come back and show us what you’ve come up with, ok?

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