The final installment of shopping offbrand is here. So far we’ve covered shopping for clothing and shoes and bags to match your lolita wardrobe. In this post we will discuss accessories. Why, you might ask? Because a surprising number of people, particularly newbies, still don’t get this quite right.
Accessories, items like jewellery and hair pieces, are arguably the easiest ones to find offbrand. Many lolitas, both new and experienced, will use these to fill their collection. There is a wide range of places to shop at, from popular chain stores like Claire’s to second hand shops. Finding something that works for your style should be easy and having those accessories can make or break an outfit. With the right piece you can spice a simple coordinate up, balance colours better, fill an empty space, tie in a theme and more. The use of accessories is usually what distinguishes an experienced and a beginner lolita. Moreover, this is what makes a coord stand out and look unique rather than feel the same as others.
Still, despite the ease of access, it is easy to get offbrand accessories wrong. The experienced lolitas have already learnt, often the hard way, what doesn’t work, but newcomers may miss the mark. The sources of your offbrand jewellery and hair accessories will be similar, so there’s no need to differentiate based on substyle. The best way to help you distinguish the pieces that will work is by material they’re made out of. Given how vastly different individual styles may be, the focus in this post will be on how to recognise quality. There’s no point in discriminating against any particular source or type of accessories. That won’t help anyone learn any better. Instead, remember that not all accessories are created equal. The same shop may have something amazing right next to something awful. The key is learning how to tell the two apart.
Accessories made out of fabric are very common, particularly for hair pieces. Flower and bow clips are easy to find, as are berets, fabric headbands and potentially even veils, if you shop smart. Moreover, fabric accessories are easy to make, starting from bows to 3-D pieces crafted out of felt or crocheted. These work as brooches as well as hair clips, which lets you double up on use.
With fabric accessories the focus is on the quality of the fabric itself. You can easily spot that through touch and by buying what feels softer and/or thicker. Avoid plasticky-feeling fabrics or ones that look a bit shiny, as those are telltale signs of lower quality materials. With flower clips, the more realistic they look, the better quality they usually are. It’s also better to buy individual flower clips than ready-made flower crowns. If you need a flower crown, it’s better to spend a bit more, as the cheap offbrand ones are usually not high enough quality to work with an elaborate lolita coordinate.
These pieces are fantastic for bulking up your wardrobe at a low cost. Where possible, aim to buy two of each clip, so you can do symmetrical looks with braids or buns. However, this is an individual preference and always choose accessories that will compliment your hairstyle.
These are most commonly seen in sweet lolita, although they aren’t exclusive to it. Seasonal accessories for holidays like Halloween mean that goths can also find something for themselves. With plastic accessories the feel of the material is less important, although you should still inspect it. Is the plastic thin or thick, and how sturdy does it feel will help eliminate things that might damage after one use. However, plastic is a cheap material in itself, so how to tell what will be high enough quality for lolita? There are two main aspects to consider: construction and other trims.
The first one is easy to inspect. Whether it’s a ring or a hair clip, the plastic should feel securely attached to the base. Of course, with a little bit of hot glue you can fix most mishaps with plastic pieces coming off, but you shouldn’t have to do it constantly. Well made plastic accessories will stay attached for years before they might need a repair.
Secondly, if the accessories use other trims besides plastic, focus on those very carefully. If they’re made out of fabric or lace, use the same guidelines as for fabric accessories outlined above. Moreover, consider the colours featured on it, though this may apply more to Halloween lovers. You may find plenty of accessories that would work if they weren’t on a bright green or orange bow. Even sweet lolitas may experience this if an accessory uses too bright a pink to match their pastels. Some colours are not very common in lolita and while they may still be coordinated successfully, this likely requires more experience in the fashion.
You will look at various kinds of metals mostly when looking for jewellery. Having said that, there are some hair accessories like tiaras or combs which these tips will also apply to. As far as the metal itself goes, your biggest concern will be colour. Those very keen to achieve colour matches may find themselves overwhelmed with the many shades of gold, silver and bronze. Where possible, go for metals that are naturally that colour rather than coated. For example, a steel pendant will retain its silver colour for years with proper care, but a silver-coated one will lose it over time. Lastly, consider any allergies or sensitivities you may have. Some people are allergic to nickel, which is commonly used in fast fashion jewellery due to its wide availability.
Then, similarly to plastic accessories, the rest depends on other trims used on the piece. When opting for something sparkly, look for realistic looking gems. You don’t have to splash on precious stones or real Swarovski crystals, simply avoid any that look like they belong on a child’s princess play set. There are also plenty of semiprecious stones which are cheaper and sparkle just as much. Also focus on the finishing of accessories, like how securely attached the various pieces are, and on durability.
The advantage of metal accessories over other ones is not only that they’re common everywhere, but also the sustainable options. Particularly classic and gothic lolitas will find wonderful jewellery second hand, from antique pieces to modern ones. Including those in your lolita coordinates gives them a new life, as well as makes your coordinate unique. It may take a bit of patience to find the right piece for you, but it’ll be worth the wait.
Hair accessories and jewellery come in all shapes and sizes, as well as in all kinds of materials. Fabric, plastic and metal are the most common ones, but they’re not the only ones. You may find strings of wooden beads or feather fascinators which could be perfect for the coordinate. The general rules about quality of construction and materials still apply. When the accessories feel sturdy, soft to the touch and don’t look like cheap knock offs, chances are they’ll work with your coordinate. And if in doubt, there is one trick you can use to make these work. Simply ensure that the doubtful accessory is balanced out with other elements that are made for lolita fashion.
When shopping for offbrand accessories, you should be looking for good quality, durable materials and construction. Many aspects of jewellery and hair pieces are down to your own taste and style, and can be worked in to a coordinate with the right piece. Lastly, consider how big the piece itself is and how visible or focal it will be within the outfit. An elaborate coordinate using good quality lolita pieces will compensate for a small, cheap ring. On the other hand, a large cheap-looking flower crown will stick out poorly in a simpler coordinate. And of course always ensure that what you buy will fit with your lolita wardrobe.
29-year-old Capricorn, Polish-born, UK-based and in love with Japanese fashion (predominantly Lolita). I enjoy a good bargain, OTT coords, cats and baking, and when in Japan I’m a self-confessed purikura addict. When I don’t blog, I work in the education sector, overseeing international exchange programs, and sometimes I get to do some exciting freelance translations on the side.
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